All posts by Vince Leo

I Am Mother (2019) | Grant Sputore



n this thoughtful sci-fi film, Clara Rugaard plays a young teenager we only hear referred to as ‘daughter’ by ‘mother’, who is has an android body with a soothing woman’s voice (Mother’s finished voice-over acting provided by Rose Byrne). We soon come to find that Mother is an artificial intelligence robot that works within a facility that is raising children in order to learn how to properly nurture them to adulthood, for the purpose of one day repopulating the contaminated Earth that lies outside of their safe enclosure in this post-apocalyptic tale. Daughter is the only living human in the facility, though Mother says that her family, which is a collection of human embryos currently being kept on tap, can be born and raised using a quick-gestation technology that we see Daughter produced from when the time comes. Hilary Swank also appears in a supporting role in this film directed by Grant Sputore.


Men In Black: International (2019) | F. Gary Gray



For this fourth entry in the series, out are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.  Instead, we get two new characters to follow working for the super-secret government organization to protect Earth from interdimensional threats and to keep knowledge of alien lifeforms away from human knowledge. The two are Tessa Thompson’s newly on-board Agent M and Chris Hemsworth’s roguish veteran named Agent H. The two “Men in Black” get their assignment from their boss, High T (Liam Neeson), to look after an alien of some renown and influence that is sought after by sinister forces for reasons come to learn more about through the course of the film. In the ensuing attempt at assassination, M is given a mysterious crystal object, one she knows must be important enough to make her a target, but something that serves no use to her until she can unlock its secret purpose. F. Gary Gray takes over the series from Barry Sonnefeld.


Dark Phoenix (2019) | Simon Kinberg



The plot, initially set in 1992 after a prologue with a tragic event in Jean Grey’s childhood back in 1975, continues with the First Class set of mutants and involves a presidentially sanctioned trip into space in order to rescue a space shuttle. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) commits an act of heroism in trying to keep the space shuttle together as the crew is rounded up to safety, absorbing a massive wave of energy that should have easily taken her life. She ends up surviving the ordeal, much to everyone’s relief.  But something is a bit off with Jean, finding herself with enhanced senses, and growing even more powerful than she had ever been before.  Exhilarating at first, but now she’s becoming increasingly unstable, scared she’s beginning to lose control to her new nature, with an internal fight going on that is an even bigger match than the external one that involves her in a battle with fellow mutants who are trying to contain what is rapidly becoming the most powerful, perhaps even unstoppable, mutant of all. Simon Kinberg writes and directs.


Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) | Michael Dougherty



Eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), who has taken as hostage a paleobiologist under the employ of the Titan-research group known as Monarch, Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), along with her teenage daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), to utilize Orca, an experimental mind-control technology she created to try to control the Titans, the giant monsters of the Earth that he sees as protecting the planet from humanity’s continued exploitation and destruction, effectively by destroying most of human civilization as we know it. Emma’s estranged husband Mark, who is trying to get his life back together after losing his son in the wake of Godzilla’s 2014 rampage, is out to find them and save them from further efforts to destroy the world, or themselves. Mark soon hooks up with Emma’s team of scientists at Monarch, as well as members of the military, to try to find a way to thwart Jonah’s plans and to keep the escalating numbers of monsters, led by the invasive three-headed alpha Titan named King Ghidorah, from destroying everything we hold dear. Godzilla may be their last line of defense, but where is he?


Always Be My Maybe (2019) | Nahnatchka Khan



The main premise is that two childhood friends, Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park), end up consummating their time growing up together as Asian-American teens in San Francisco with their first sexual experience, only to find their friendship has become awkward after going beyond the friend zone. These besties soon drift apart and lose connection as they progress into adulthood, with Sasha hitting the big time by becoming one of the most successful celebrity chefs in Los Angeles, while Marcus works by day in his father’s small-scale HVAC company while performing at the same dive bar frequently with the hip-hop group he’s been in since he was a teenager. When Sasha going to the opening of one of her posh restaurants in San Francisco, she ends up getting reacquainted with her old friend Marcus and finds him exactly in the same place, driving the same car, doing the same things all these years, while she’s become a jet-setting millionaire.  Neither can stand each other’s lives, but they seem to enjoy each other’s company for the time being, and with both stuck in relationships that may not lead anywhere, there’s a “maybe” that develops, even though it seems their different lifestyles can never coexist without someone giving in.  Nahnatchka Khan directs this romantic comedy in the vein of “When Harry Met Sally”. Keanu Reeves gets an inspired bit part.


Booksmart (2019) | Olivia Wilde



BFFs Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) have busted their tails off academically all through high school to set themselves up for post-graduation excellence, with Molly accepted to Yale and Amy going on a mission to help the poor in Africa. Their world gets rocked when they realize that the kids around them that looked like they just lived for partying are also going to similarly great colleges, or have lucrative careers waiting for them. Upset that they sacrificed all their fun for the same rewards, Molly and Amy decide to go out and have a blast and finally “break some rules” at the biggest house party in town for their last night before graduation.  However, they soon learn a few things about life, themselves, and one another, especially in how things don’t always go according to plan. Olivia Wilde directs this teen comedy.


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) | Chad Stahelski



John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum spins off its plot from something that happens in the second chapter, namely that John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is now “excommunicado” by the High Table that controls the world’s leading organization of assassins for killing someone inside the assassin’s “sacred ground” of the Continental Hotel in New York – a big no-no. that sees a huge bounty put on his head. John has very few places he can run, and he’ll eventually run out of safe havens, but he means to keep himself alive long enough to be able to get himself back into the High Table’s good graces somehow.  Nevertheless, the assassins after him are skilled and ruthless, especially the calculating woman known as The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), who is busy dishing out nasty revenge on anyone caught helping out their buddy in defiance of the orders.


The Professor (2018) | Wayne Roberts



Johnny Depp stars as an English professor for a prestigious New England college named Richard Brown who learns he has late-stage lung cancer and probably only six months to live without treatment, which he doesn’t plan on seeking.  On top of this, Richard is also a terminally bored, self-absorbed jerk whose own life has been falling apart long before this diagnosis. His wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) is cheating on him, with the chancellor at his school (Ron Livingston), no less. Now he can say whatever he feels like, knowing he’s on his way out, and what he has to say is not always kind.  With perhaps only months left, he decides to continue to teach his literature class, hoping to impart some actual value to his current crop of students before he succumbs to the disease. He’s also going to try to experience life without worrying about the consequences – a life he comes to realize he should have been trying to live all along.


Wine Country (2019) | Amy Poehler



Amy Poehler directs her first feature film with Netflix’s WINE COUNTRY, about six women who question their friendships and futures when they take a girls’ trip to Napa Valley, California, to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of them.  Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey, Tina Fey, Jason Schwartzman star for fans of old “Saturday Night Live”.


Long Shot (2019) | Jonathan Levine



In this raunchy romantic comedy, schlubby Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), an established left-wing journalist whose uncompromisingly progressive Brooklyn-based online news site has found itself taken over by a right-wing corporatist that he refuses to kowtow to. Due to his deep-seated principles, Fred quits immediately, but he’s bummed out at having to start over again. His best friend, Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) takes him out to blow off some steam and forget hir troubles for a while with a performance from Boyz II Men at a swank charity fund-raising party, and while there, Flarsky ends up running into the Secretary of State of the United States, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who he just so happens to have once known, as the older girl next door who used to babysit him, and with whom he has had a crush ever since.  The two end up catching up, and it just so happens that she’s looking for a writer to punch up her speeches with wit and humor, and with him needing a job, it’s impossible to say no.  He’s a refreshing change of pace to Field, who hasn’t been able to enjoy herself for a very long time, but with presidential aspirations on her horizon, the gossipy public isn’t likely going to accept such a mismatch should she pursue Flarsky romantically.