Thursday, July 1, 2021

Capsule Reviews - July 1, 2021

The Aviator (2004)

A biopic on the life of millionaire Howard Hughes, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator has a lot going for it, not the least of which is a stellar performance by Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. It is an amazing portrayal; when DiCaprio is on screen, the electricity flows, and The Aviator certainly benefits from the fact that he is on-screen most of the time. Whether he’s barking out orders to his subordinates, tangling with actress Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett, in an Oscar-winning turn) or going up against the United States Senate, Dicaprio’s Hughes is a force to be reckoned with. Along with his incredible confidence in his own abilities, we see the other Howard Hughes as well; the man so overcome by his fear of germs that they could reduce the mighty tycoon to a quivering mass in an instant. Even here, DiCaprio does not falter, giving us a Hughes trying his best to maintain some dignity as he suffers through his crippling personal horrors. Having worked with the actor a number of times (including Gangs of New York, The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street), it’s easy to see why Scorsese once dubbed Leonardo DiCaprio his ‘next DeNiro’; this guy man can flat-out act!
Rating: 9 out of 10

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

A 1973 release directed by Nathan Juran (who helmed one of my favorite Ray Harryhausen movies, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad), The Boy Who Cried Werewolf is about a young boy (Scott Sealey) whose father (Kerwin Mathews) is attacked by a werewolf, then slowly transforms into one himself. At times the film has the look and feel of a TV movie, and the father-son relationship is well explored. There’s also a side story about a group of religious hippies in the woods that is both funny and effective (especially when they have their own encounter with the monster). The werewolf make-up isn’t the best, but the story more than makes up for this shortcoming.
Rating: 7 out of 10

Honeyland (2019)

This is a Macedonian documentary about a female beekeeper forced to cope with some new neighbors, who not only try to duplicate the success she’s had but also threaten her very livelihood with their carelessness. Honeyland was shot over the course of three years, during which time filmmakers Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov gathered hundreds of hours of footage. There’s no narration… we the audience are tossed headfirst into this setting, and that stylistic choice goes a long way in pulling us into this world. Honeyland is an extremely engaging motion picture, and was nominated by the Academy for both Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language Film.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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