Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us his take a few recommendations.
TED LASSO Season 2 (AppleTV+)
Jason Sudeikis went from making audiences laugh on Saturday Night Live to making them laugh, tear up, and feel all the emotions with his AppleTV+ series Ted Lasso. It’s back for a second season and trust me when I say “Believe” in Season Two. The first episode finds Ted and his coaching team for the AFC Richmond soccer team in a bit of a pickle as they continue to have a tied record. They find themselves in the news again after a jaw-dropping game thanks to kicker Dani, played by Christo Fernández. Let’s just say this game will be something to be remembered. Hannah Waddingham plays team owner Rebecca and is in a better place after last season as she’s now back on the dating scene thanks to Keeley’s dating app Bantr. Keeley’s a darling character thanks to actress Juno Temple. As for our bad boys, Roy and Jamie, they find themselves in uncharted territory.
These characters are so well loved not only by the audience, but you can feel that in the writing and the performances. Season Two offers a deeper look into the private lives of many of the supporting soccer players on the team. All of these characters are written with such specificity and getting to know them on a deeper level strengthens the relationships they have with each other on and off the field.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
OLD (in theaters)
Night Shyamalan has taken audiences on a mysterious journey for most of his career. His latest film, OLD, is another head scratcher but one that have you thinking until the last scene. Heading out to a gorgeous resort sounds perfect right now. For Guy and Prisca Capa, it’s the last time their whole family will be together before they divorce. They’ve been keeping this a secret from their two kids. The resort seems to have everything, wellness activities, hand delivered cocktails, and a beverage bar for the kids. The hotel manager takes the Capa family along with a few other guests to a remote, secluded part of the beach for a day of fun in the sun. Their day of fun comes to a halt when the body of a dead woman washes ashore, and they all start to age at a rapid pace right before their very eyes.
Shyamalan found a way to give this film this constant, unnerving momentum, much like the character’s aging problems yet he never rushed the discoveries along the way. He shoots it in a way to capture characters from behind or keep them slightly out of frame to pan out and reveal their shocking fates when other characters are noticing them for the first time. He’s making his audience work at the same rate his characters are in terms of figuring out what’s happening.
So many of us go on vacation and getaways to slow down and take a breather from our normal hectic, everyday lives. I couldn’t help but wonder if Shyamalan was making a commentary on how we live in a go-go-go society oftentimes missing what’s going on around us. We’re literally aging and growing up without enjoying the present.
Like most Shyamalan movies, it comes with that final act twist that’s hinted at early on yet always left to be an ambiguous illusion. The twist in Old kept me thinking as Shyamalan seems to open this open up into another commentary that I wouldn’t dare reveal. It worked for me even if I can’t explain it all, but I think that’s his point.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER (Netflix)
There’s something about settling in for a sweeping romantic drama hoping that it takes your breath away. That’s the goal for the new Netflix weeper, The Last Letter from Your Lover. Author Jojo Moyes is no stranger for taking readers on a ride. Her latest page to screen adaptation spans decades thanks old fashioned, long form love letters. It’s London 1965 and Jennifer Stirling seems a bit unhappy in her new life with her husband. It’s the stuffy and privileged life she isn’t accustomed to. When a journalist played comes to do a piece on her husband, she becomes smitten with him. A love affair transpires with secret meetups, love letters, and tragedy. In present day, Ellie is a journalist for the Sunday Chronicle newspaper who sets out to write a piece on Jennifer Stirling. Her research leads to boxes of these love letters unraveling this mysterious affair. She becomes obsessed with putting the pieces together of what exactly happened to Jennifer, her husband, and this rugged journalist.
The story sets out to be that whimsical escapist romance with a European setting where love and heartbreak span decades in that mystery format. Director Augustine Frizzell pulls out all the stops at making this film the unabashed epic romance that it is. There are no apologies for pulling at the heartstrings.
Something happens to Jennifer that causes her memory to lapse and as Ellie’s reading these letters it cuts to Jennifer reading them curious as to who “J.S. and The Boot” are. If you allow yourself to go along for the ride, it’s easy to escape into the world Jojo Moyes created thanks to this cast and that fantasy of falling in love, getting swept off your feet and literally keeping it all a secret for decades.
The Last Letter From Your Lover isn’t overly original and yet I still found myself wrapped up in the whole affair. These actors are all quite comfortable in their roles and each couple has fantastic chemistry. Luckily, it has more of a Richard Curtis (Love Actually) vibe than Nicholas Sparks (A Walk to Remember).
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS