Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 3, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 4, 2020

The Secret Garden
Rated PG for thematic elements and some mild peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at time of writing
Available on Paid Streaming

Originally bound for theaters but driven to On Demand due to Covid is this retelling of the classic story based on the 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett about a young girl who, upon the death of her parents, is forced to move in with her newly widowed uncle and his sick child. To cut through the gloom, the girl is led by a bird and a dog to a marvelous secret garden with the power to heal everyone’s massive depression and ailments. There have been several versions of this story over the decades, including a terrific film in 1993 and an inventive Broadway show in 1991, so I’m not sure this version is entirely necessary. They made a slight change in the timeline, as this one occurs post WWII rather than in the turn of the century, but most of the beats are largely untouched. What the film does have going for it is a beautiful score by one of my favorite composers, Dario Marianelli, a lush production and some great special effects. It also helps to have Colin Firth and Julie Walters along for the ride. But in the end, I’m not sure we needed this reimagining, as it wasn’t nearly imaginative enough to stake its claim. B-

La Llorona
Not Rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Available on Shudder
In Spanish with English Subtitles

Not to be confused with the silly horror film “The Curse of La Llorona” which released earlier this year, La Llorona follows the struggle of the family of a genocidal Latin American general as the spirits of the Mayan people he has brutally killed start to encroach into their lives. Premiering on the new streaming site for horror films, called “Shudder,” the film is far less horror and much more riveting drama. The storytelling really stands out here and the acting truly enhances the flow as the performances are both organic and gut-wrenching. And while the folklore of La Llorona is somewhat touched on here, the biggest flaw of the film seems to be its title, which makes it out to be just another cheesy low budget wailing woman flick, when it is really so much more. A-

You Should Have Left
Rated R for some violence, disturbing images, sexual content and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%
Available on DVD and Paid Streaming

From writer/director David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) comes this thriller staring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried about a formerly successful businessman and his young actress wife as they rent a house in the Welsh countryside while she’s on a film shoot. But the house begins to feel like a trap as revelations are made about his past begin to make their presence known. This project seemed to be a promising one as its creator and cast are all mostly dependable. Unfortunately the whole thing seems off due to an overly predictable plot and a poor excuse for scares. There might be the bones of a decent little thriller here, but it just doesn’t come together. C-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Ten
Hook
Rated PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%
Available on Showtime and Paid Streaming

In 1991 Spielberg took on the story of Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, by casting America’s favorite comedian, Robin Williams, as the adult version of that boy, now living in the regular world as a boring lawyer who neglects his children. But when Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his kids, Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) takes Peter back to Neverland for an adventure to get them back. With a lavish and beautiful production, some terrific performances and a truly magical feel, Hook ends up being a fantastic journey and a lesson in not allowing the real world to overwhelm you and completely change who you are. Of all of the films I’m exploring in this summer series – this one certainly has the most detractors. Sure the script is a bit flawed and it feels a little theme-parky. And then there are the critics who seemed to pile on pretty sharply. Try to ignore that. This film is way better than its 28% Rotten Tomatoes score. The film received 5 Oscar nominations in a really tough year and it still remains fun and emotionally resonant to this day. Hook is a much better film than it has ever been given credit for.

One Reply to “Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 3, 2020”

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