Ilove the way Javed (Viveik Kalra) loves Bruce Springsteen in “Blinded by the Light.” The Pakistani-British youth sings and dances in the street once he gets the Boss bug. He smiles when listening to the lyrics. He writes about the Boss for his school paper. He wins an essay contest and a trip to America by waxing poetic about Springsteen.
In 1988, Alan Moore wrote “The Killing Joke,” imagining the Joker’s origin story outside the primary DC Comics continuity. And now director/co-writer Todd Phillips (“The Hangover” films) does the same with “Joker,” a movie set outside the DC Extended Universe that imagines the Joker’s origin story in more robust fashion than ever before seen on film. It happens to be better than anything in the DCEU so far, so it’s a shame that this is a side project, especially since it builds up Gotham and the Wayne family so effectively.
Yesterday” isn’t the first movie to use Beatles songs as its foundation – see also 2001’s “I Am Sam” and 2007’s “Across the Universe” – but writers Jack Barth and Richard Curtis deserve credit for coming up with a killer hook. Struggling British singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) gets hit by a bus at the exact moment of a 30-second worldwide blackout and awakens to a planet that’s the same in every way except that the Beatles never existed.
The New Mutants” has been drawing buzz for a few years for being a superhero/horror mash-up, but as it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that movie will ever be released, “Brightburn” – from James Gunn’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) production team – steps in. In the “Superman” and “Roswell” sagas, the kids from other planets are benevolent and the humans are potential threats, but “Brightburn” asks “What if the roles were reversed?”
Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) turns into Dark Phoenix for the first time on the new timeline in “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” but nonetheless, I’ve seen this story before. Granted, this is a more robust telling than the one in “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006), which was on the previous timeline. Jean’s possession by an evil cosmic force, based on the famous 1980 comic arc by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, was (weirdly) a B-plot in that movie; it gets all of the focus this time around.
In the next movie, I’d like to see Godzilla and his nemeses fight in conditions other than driving rainstorms, but even though there isn’t a wide variety of weather in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” this is a top-shelf monster spectacle. The titular creature from the 2014 movie is back, and director/co-writer Michael Daugherty and his team throw a smorgasbord of beasts at the screen to take him on, notably the three-headed dragon Monster Zero, who has a fascinating mythology behind him.
Booksmart” has a lot going for it. It’s the centerpiece high school comedy of 2019, and it represents modern times well despite fitting firmly into the genre. But perhaps we use the word “comedy” too automatically in stories about high school graduation and teenage romance, because “Booksmart” isn’t all that funny. Really, this film is about best friends – Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, who resembles Robin Tunney at that age) and Molly (Jonah Hill’s sister Beanie Feldstein) – and that part is fine. But director Olivia Wilde’s debut never connects on a big or gut-busting moment. It’s too low-key and casual, regardless of what genre label we put on it.
By accident, I’m the target audience for the theatrical re-release of “Midsommar.” It was one of the summer movies I was most looking forward to, but it was in and out of theaters in a tiny window, so I missed it. But I didn’t want to wait till Oct. 8 for the home video release. Probably the real impetus for the re-release, which is a director’s cut nearly as long as “Avengers: Endgame,” is to give horror nerds a chance to further soak up the latest artistic, moody masterpiece from writer-director Ari Aster (“Hereditary”).
Two of Peter’s classmates have a whirlwind romance on a school field trip. Nick Fury is grumpy about his calls going to voicemail. And to Peter’s consternation, Happy and Aunt Mae are flirting. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” flips the cliché of a blockbuster where we marvel at the action sequences and yawn at everything in between. My mind did wander at times during the film, but it was during the bravura special effects – because we live in an age where everything that makes it to theaters has bravura special effects.
You know what kind of movie “Always Be My Maybe” (Netflix) is, and the people who made it know what kind of movie it is, but that shared knowledge works in its favor. In this tale of two childhood besties who are soul mates but don’t realize it, Ali Wong and especially Randall Park give the types of performances where they know they’re in a movie but they let it all flow over them, from the clichés to the plentiful moments of at least mild inspiration.