Paul McGuire Grimes from Paul’s Trip to the Movies shares his reviews for this week!
EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE (in theaters now, Amazon Prime 9/17)
The musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has won over audiences in the West End and has now been adapted for the big screen. The art of drag has exploded over the last decade thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s hitting a younger and younger audience including Jamie from Sheffield, England. The movie and its staged version are based on the true story of Jamie New, played by Max Harwood, who is celebrating his 16th birthday. It also happens to be career day at school where Jamie envisions himself being a celebrated performer, model, and drag queen. He’s relentlessly teased at school, and yet, Jamie finds himself driven even further to be his true authentic self. He decides to attend his prom in drag causing quite the uproar. His best friend Pritti, drag mentor Miss Loco Chanelle, and his mom all inspire him down his road to being a drag queen.
-Starring: Max Harwood, Richard E. Grant, Lauren Patel, Sharon Horgan, and Sarah Lancashire.
-I haven’t seen the staged musical, but I can picture it being a large extravagant piece of theater akin to Kinky Boots. The movie feels like it takes a smaller, intimate approach like Billy Elliott or The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert before those was also turned into musicals.
-It’s evident that this is a small town with certain conservative values. There are gender roles and rules at school and in society for what the boys should look like, what they should wear, and how they behave. The school doesn’t quite know how to deal with Jamie and even his own father has disowned him.
-The story is less about performing in drag shows but rather the power drag can have over the performer and that inner transformation. Jamie’s friend Pritti reminds him to “stop waiting for permission to be you.” It’s one thing for Jamie to be confident while in drag, but it’s in his realization in how to live in the same confidence outside of drag.
-Max Harwood is an energetic delight as Jamie. It’s his film debut and its clear he’ll have a future ahead of him whether it’s on the stage or on film. Richard E. Grant is also quite lovely as retired drag star Miss Loco Chanelle. He has an impactful scene with Jamie recounting Miss Loco’s drag past and the impact AIDS had on the drag community.
-Everybody’s Talking About Jamie may be an unfamiliar title, but it’s a wonderful high school coming of age story with a pop-inspired score with high energy numbers. It’s the rare movie musical that feels intimate without being distracted by A-list Hollywood talents. It should resonate well with young high schoolers who trying to find their voice and passion like Jamie.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (In theaters)
Add Simu Liu to your list of fantastic new Marvel actors. He leads their exciting new film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In present day San Francisco, Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi, who goes by Shaun in America, and best friend Katy (Awkwafina) work as valet drivers at a fancy hotel. After an action-packed bus ride, Katy learns Shaun can kick butt and save the day with his precise martial arts skills. He opens up about his family after receiving a threat made against his sister Xialing. It’s a part of a larger plan brought on by his father, the legendary master Wenwu and his army The Ten Rings. Shaun’s brought back into a family history he thought he left behind for good.
-Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung, Meng’er Zhang
-Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has the same fresh and invigorating feeling that I felt with Black Panther. It honors the Chinese culture and tradition that belong to Shang-Chi and his family.
-Marvel has had an overarching theme of family in many of their films from Black Panther to Avengers to Black Widow. That carries on here with Shang-Chi learning about the legacy of his family, the good, the bad and how he must accept and grow from the pain that resides in his past. It’s darker than expected as the family conflict is quite thick and complicated – not something you typically find in other Marvel films.
-The film is part origin story but I never felt it fall into the traditional origin story traps that have plagued other Marvel films. His origins are a catalyst for dealing with the present.
-The film comes with the thrill of traditional martial arts mixed with the magical and mystical realm of Marvel. Some of the sequences are quite gorgeous to look at as it’s shot and choreographed like a beautiful dance. The camera follows the action in a slick and smooth fashion.
-Simu Liu and his character of Shang-Chi will have a lasting impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Liu brings a natural presence to the film. He’s charming, soulful, and makes for a great pair with Awkwafina. They are pitch perfect together. She gets to play into her brand of comedy quite easily.
-Marvel Pro tip: watch Iron Man 3 before this movie.
-Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings blends traditional martial arts elements mixed with the magical powers of Marvel to great effect.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
It’s been twenty years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. We’ve seen a few movies tackle it, but the new film Worth dives into the victims’ stories and the legal battle that followed. What is life worth? How does the law put a price tag on someone’s existence? Those questions are what faces lawyer Ken Feinberg, played by Michael Keaton. He’s fought for many high-profile settlements and is a professor at Georgetown. Everything stopped the morning of September 11, 2001. The world stood and watched the events unfolding before their very eyes. Ken decides to take on a settlement case reaching out to victims before civil suits could be stacked up against the airline industry potentially destroying the economy. What lies ahead for Ken, his partner Camille Biros, and their team is a two-year project determining who’s eligible and how much each victim and their family is worth as part of a settlement.
-Starring: Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Laura Benanti, Stanley Tucci
– I felt the urgency in their story right from the beginning with a victim sharing their story directly to the camera. This concept is repeated to great effect throughout the film. It’s emotional without being contrived.
-It then takes on that countdown approach as we see the deadline date quickly approaching throughout various time stamps. You may remember headlines regarding the Victim Compensation Fund, and Worth delves into that deeper in a David and Goliath type of legal drama. There’s an Erin Brockovich feel to this film.
-The script takes a big and complex legal battle and strips it down to a manageable and humane story. It keeps the legal jargon at a minimum while focusing on the victims reminding the audience that they all matter despite the broken system within the law.
-A different script or actor may have made Ken Feinberg the villain, but Michael Keaton gives an Oscar worthy performance as he balances the duality within Ken. He’s struggling to stay objective knowing that’s the job he’s hired for while trying to stay approachable and empathetic to the victims. He admits to being in a lose/lose situation It’s captivating to watch that pull and tug Keaton so easily lays out.
-Amy Ryan is absolutely heartbreaking in how she holds all of the inner grief Camille has for her clients. She carries a lasting impact over the film despite the quiet, inward appearance of her character. There isn’t a weak link in the ensemble as Stanley Tucci and Laura Benanti are equally strong with a focused mission.
-Worth may have a familiar trajectory in how the story unfolds, but it will grab your attention and have you pause to consider the inner complexities that comes with the aftermath of tragedy.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS