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Branching Out, by Bob Connally

30 Oct

Matt Smith stars as Jack and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release.  
Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

After honing his skills on the cult comedy television classic Spaced, director Edgar Wright made his brilliant film debut with 2004’s Shaun of the Dead. Working as both a zombie film and a romantic comedy, Wright displayed an uncanny ability to blend genres which he perfected in his follow-up, 2007’s Hot Fuzz, which is easily one of my top 10 personal favorite films of all-time. His next two movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The World’s End were further illustrations of Wright’s unique comedic and filmmaking talents. He then followed with 2017’s Baby Driver, a film with plenty of humor but the first movie of Wright’s that one wouldn’t primarily classify as a comedy. 


Good News, by Bob Connally

22 Oct


The French Dispatch is the 10th feature film directed by Wes Anderson and you know by now whether or not you like his movies. If you don’t then this one will certainly not change that so if that’s you, then feel free to move along. However, if you’re like me and there’s nothing funnier to you than Gene Hackman criticizing his young (“adopted”) daughter’s play as “just a bunch of little kids dressed in animal costumes,” then you are in for top tier Anderson. Rushmore will probably always be my favorite as it’s a movie with a place in my heart few other films have but The French Dispatch – at least based on this first viewing – is up way up there with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel. It has everything you expect and want from a Wes Anderson film but, more importantly, he delivers all of those things about as well as he ever has.


Lord of the Ten Rings, by Bob Connally

11 Sep

2021 hasn’t been the busiest year in the world of film or television, with many releases and productions still being delayed, but Marvel Studios has already churned out more in a calendar year than ever before. Four TV shows on Disney Plus along with two films already released and two more movies to come before year’s end. This MCU avalanche has kicked off the franchise’s Phase Four as Marvel charts a new course after its decade in the making payoff of Avengers: Endgame


Listen to the Music, by Bob Connally

6 Sep

Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a young girl in high school but she’s already had a great responsibility aiding her family. Both of her parents and her older brother are deaf so her ability to hear has helped them greatly in their family fishing business in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Going out on the water every morning before school makes staying awake through the day difficult and her classmates mock her for being the child of deaf adults (or “CODA”). Her great escape is singing, which she joyfully does around her family who can’t hear her anyway. She honestly has no idea if she’s any good at it or not. Nervously, she joins the school choir to find out. To Ruby’s surprise, she’s not only good, her teacher Mr. Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) sees something incredibly special in her.


Dynamic Do-Over, by Bob Connally

7 Aug

Five years ago, almost to the day, I wrote my first ever review for More Than One Lesson. It was for Suicide Squad and I concluded it with, “In this age of constantly remaking the wrong movies I can’t help but feel that Suicide Squad is exactly the sort of movie that someday should be remade. There’s potential with this premise and these characters. David Ayer couldn’t deliver. Maybe in about twenty years, someone else can. Maybe we’ll get to see the Suicide Squad this movie should have been.” Well, it’s not really a remake and it’s 15 years earlier than I had predicted but Warner Bros. and DC clearly learned from their mistakes on the 2016 film. That movie was taken out of Ayer’s hands and edited by a trailer company to try to fool audiences into thinking they were seeing a James Gunn film. This time, WB and DC actually hired Gunn and it would appear that they largely stayed out of his way creatively (or as much as ever happens with movies like this). While the end result is certainly not a masterpiece, it is a significant improvement over its predecessor.


An Actor Repairs, by Bob Connally

21 Jul

Thanks to technology and social media, today we are able to document as much of our lives as we please but long before smartphones or Instagram, Val Kilmer was shooting thousands of hours of footage on film and video from a very young age. Having recently survived a throat cancer diagnosis that has left him needing a tracheostomy tube to breathe and speak, he is using that material to tell the story he has long wanted to tell about acting and about the “line between truth and illusion.” Directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott have taken the actor’s treasure trove of footage and crafted a fascinating and moving look at Kilmer’s life.


Search for Swine, by Bob Connally

17 Jul

When the basic premise of a film is Nicolas Cage plays a man in search of his lost pig, it’s highly probable that one’s first thought will be, “Oh, man, get ready for Full Cage.” Some people will be excited by that, others won’t. But from the very start, Michael Sarnoski’s excellent debut feature reveals itself to be something else entirely and Cage reminds those who may have forgotten just how great he can really be without going “Full Cage.” Pig, it turns out, is something very special.


Jane Wick, by Bob Connally

15 Jul

After the release of Die Hard in 1988, action movies for the next decade imitated Die Hard. Then in 1999, The Matrix came along and action movies imitated that. Then it was the Bourne movies with their frenetic editing, but since 2014 the most imitated action film has been John Wick. From its trailer and based on part of its premise, it would appear that Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Milkshake would be another in a long line of riffs on the Keanu Reeves franchise and while there are certainly similarities, there’s a more lighthearted tone here that some audiences may not appreciate. While Papushado’s film certainly has its issues, there’s an inventiveness and sense of fun to it all that make this well worthwhile. Just don’t expect the grit of Wick.


No Movie for Old Men, by Bob Connally

10 Jun

There’s a scene near the end of Ed Wood where a couple of Baptists who are funding Ed’s “supernatural thriller,” Plan 9 From Outer Space question his ability as a filmmaker. It’s a breaking point for the already harried director, who runs off the set declaring, “These Baptists are stupid, stupid, stupid!” Despite the struggles, Ed’s movie is completed and released soon after. I can imagine a similar moment taking place in 1973 when horrified members of the Lutheran Society first watched George A. Romero’s The Amusement Park, a film they commissioned to raise awareness about the plight of the elderly. The two key differences being that Romero was a decidedly more talented filmmaker than Wood and unlike Plan 9, The Amusement Park was shelved, seemingly to be forgotten forever. But 48 years later, Romero’s movie is finally being released to the world and it absolutely deserves to be seen.


High Spirits, by Bob Connally

8 May

For the past few years, Tyler has been kind enough to post my annual Bob Awards to this site. Every year there are a few key films that for one reason or another I am not able to see in time and when I finally get around to some of them, I regret not having seen them sooner. A past example of this was 2018’s Suspiria, particularly for the performance of Tilda Swinton. For obvious reasons, there were a few films in 2020 that I simply haven’t had the opportunity to see yet but there is one that was released on Hulu in plenty of time that I just didn’t get around to. Until now. It pains me because Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round is almost certainly the best movie of 2020 that I have now seen.