December 6, 2021

The Movie Man: A Ticket to ‘Dune’ is Worth Every Penny

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

There is nothing groundbreaking about Dune (think special effects or storytelling). But every technique invoked was done in the proper manner. I was beyond satisfied with every choice made in production. Cinematography, music, acting, editing … it was all done right.

I cannot emphasize enough how pleased I was with this adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel. While I had not read the book (beyond the first two chapters), friends raved about the adaptation being everything for which they could they could ask.

I also had not screened the 1984 adaptation helmed by David Lynch, but was aware of its poor reception. This is not intended to be a single film, as the novel was the first in a series, and we saw no sequel to Lynch’s version, which should tell us everything we need to know about its quality.

Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel ‘Dune’ has been made into a just-released movie.

Director Denis Villeneuve (whose previous films include Arrival and Blade Runner 2049) has now delivered a film that makes us eagerly await its next installments. I would say it is the equivalent of a perfectly-pitched TV pilot.

Perhaps what I was most impressed by was the explanations for intricate details and rules for this universe without breaking the fourth wall. It was as if we were conveniently learning everything in preparation for future events without making it obvious and cringeworthy.

There is also the establishment of Zendaya’s character. Although her formal performances are reserved for the end of the movie, she appears via interwoven vignettes throughout the film, conveying her importance.

I cannot review any further without giving away spoilers, even in the slightest manner (I know many people who would react to a minor revelation in a manner equivalent to Frank Costanza on Seinfeld: “I like to go in fresh!”)

In short, the ticket is worth every penny and the trip to the theater is worth every second spent away from home.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: Craig is Captivating, Seydoux is Stunning, But ‘No Time To Die’ Fails to Live Up to Expectations

Daniel Craig at the film premiere of ‘Spectre’ in Berlin. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Special to LymeLine.com

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

This is a special review for me.

My first ever published piece as a writer was a review for the previous Bond film, Spectre. Much has transpired since then, both for me and the world.

But the appreciation of the art of cinema, manifested in many forms, remains as we struggle with whatever trouble life throws our way. Paraphrasing Mel Brooks, it’s, “Just another defense against the universe,” and a defense that has a special place in my heart.

Bond films are not known for their groundbreaking, cinematic expertise, even if they do consult Stanley Kubrick for lighting (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977). Yet, they remain a necessity for the movie-going experience. Indeed, there were plenty over the years that pushed boundaries and blew us away.

But No Time to Die is not among those ranks.

Apart from being another installment in the Bond franchise made for the sake of pure entertainment, this one is necessary for screening since it is the final performance of Daniel Craig, who, I will proudly assert, is the best performer to take on the role of Ian Fleming’s iconic spy.

I will praise the movie on three separate counts. Two of them being characters and the other being a driving force for the plot.

Craig’s final run as Bond is indeed the most vulnerable of the 25 occasions the character has graced the silver screen, often portrayed as hardened man, who turns to booze, pills, and sex as a coping mechanism for years of trauma.

Then there is Léa Seydoux, who is the only actress to reprise her Bond girl character from a previous movie. For the record, yes, Maud Adams appeared in two films, but as two separate characters, namely Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun and the title character in Octopussy.)

Seydoux is, without question, the most sophisticated of all the women, who have blown the world away with their beauty alongside Bond, and she has now provided additional reasons for us to remember her contribution to the franchise.

While I can praise Craig and Seydoux, the same cannot be said for the film’s villains (Academy Award-winners Christoph Waltz and Rami Malek), who simply cannot live up to their performers’ hypes.

Then there is the plot.

Upon screening it, viewers will pick up on some hackneyed elements. But the danger is perhaps the most authentic since Goldfinger (in which the title character seeks to detonate a dirty bomb inside Fort Knox and the subsequent contamination of the gold thus wrecking the US economy.)

Why repeat the evil plans of the third film? Simply put: to remind the reader how impressive it is.

I close this review by thanking Craig for breathing new life into a character. When he took on the role, he transformed Bond from the occasionally campy figure to the gritty, no-nonsense, adrenaline-pumping performances he gave for an era dealing with new forms of international turmoil.

Will he read this? Very unlikely (unless he decides to scavenge local, online newspapers throughout the world), but I can dream, can’t I?

Again, thank you, Daniel Craig. The history of cinema will unquestionably look kindly on you.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: Ganey Highly Recommends ‘The Green Knight,’ Says it is ‘Unlike Any Other Fantasy Adaptation’

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

After more than a year of abstaining from movie theaters, as well as keeping up with new releases (since we were all so incredibly overwhelmed by the tumultuous year that was 2020), I was finally able to screen a new movie in the manner in which this medium was originally intended: on the big screen, sitting among strangers.

I can say unequivocally that it was good to be back!

The Green Knight is unlike any other fantasy adaptation that I have screened throughout my life. (Here is a link to the official trailer for the movie to give you just a sense of it.)

Abandoning the traditional methods used for films among the likes of Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, or The Lord of the Rings, the film takes an unnatural approach through unusual cinematography and editing (perhaps to best emphasize the surrealism of medieval legends), akin to the films of Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick, or the newly recognized Ari Aster (Heredity and Midsommer).

While this film is a fantasy in terms of setting and events, it also blends a thought-provoking arthouse air with what is presented.

I will be completely forthcoming and share that I did not understand many aspects of this movie. Despite this, I will hail it as fantastic.

Why? Because it reminds me of the genre usually produced by the artists I previously mentioned. And like the works of Anderson, Malick, and Aster, I anticipate an analysis to be made available, and I will gain a further appreciation for this piece.

This is not an entirely faithful adaptation of the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (rarely can one adapt one medium while retaining every aspect of its source material). However, there are many instances in which those behind the movie were able to adapt the original poetic dialogue of the epic in a manner fitting for a motion picture, the lines able to convey the grandness of the subject at hand.

To be fair, the only way I was able to notice these differences was by looking up the summary of the original epic. The last time I read it was during my British literature class senior year of high school (okay, I was assigned it and just listened to my teacher and classmates discuss it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done that!)

For me, the greatest satisfaction came in the depiction of the title character, the Green Knight.

Going back to my high school years, if this story ever came to mind, I would wonder how this character would be portrayed. How would he be green? What would give him the recognition and terror that was woven into his identity?

Enter a man who appears to be a hybrid between human and vegetation, and a bellowing English countryside voice (provided by Ralph Ineson).

The Knight requires an appearance that would make him inhuman and terrifying. How else could we justify a character who, upon challenging Gawain and the rest of King Arthur’s court to chop off his head, was able to arise and carry said head off with him? (Not a complete spoiler, as this is the central driving plot of the original epic poem).

In short, I urge everyone who appreciates the fantasy and arthouse genre to see The Green Knight

Above all, I urge all of us to search for an analysis of the movie that will give us a greater appreciation of it. While many pieces of art embrace what appear to be bizarre and nonsensical (think Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody), a proper walkthrough can make us fall in love with the unusual.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: ‘Jingle Jangle, A Christmas Journey – Perhaps a ‘Cult Classic,’ But No Way a ‘True Classic’

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

While Jingle Jangle A Christmas Journey provides spectacular visual effects, catchy songs, and lovable characters, I fear it will go down in film history as only a cult classic that is adequate at best.

The reason for this being just another Christmas film is the plot: Journey Jangle, granddaughter of legendary toymaker/inventor Jeronicus Jangle, seeks to restore faith in her grandfather, who has become disenchanted after his apprentice Gustafson had stolen his ideas decades earlier.

This is a recycled plot that has been used on a myriad of productions over the years. I could see each detail coming around its respective corner.

For the most part, the casting was great, except for one character: our antagonist, Gustafson, played by legendary comedian Keegan-Michael Key. Because Key has left such a wonderful impression as a goofy comedian, it was difficult for me to accept him portraying a driven villain.

While there are plenty of comedians who have triumphed in dramatic roles (think Robin Williams and Peter Sellers), I do not believe this is the role for which he will achieve that feat.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed watching this flick, and I am sure that there are many who will want to screen it again each holiday season, but I have learned there is a clear difference between enjoying a movie, which is based on reaction, and praising it, which is rooted in artistic criticism.

I elaborated on this in one of my earlier reviews for Hubie Halloween.

Years from now, critics will not lump it together with other Christmas classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone, or even Die Hard.

So for those seeking simple entertainment, indulge … but for those seeking something bigger, look elsewhere!

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: ‘The Christmas Chronicles 2’ Misses its Mark

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

As somebody who looks for originality in nearly every aspect of life, I go into Christmas movies with a great deal of hesitation. And thus I approached The Christmas Chronicles 2.

My concern was justified.

Should anybody seek a Christmas-themed movie with an original take, The Christmas Chronicles 2 does not deliver … even for a sequel. With an abundance of unoriginal, rehashed story-elements, there are plenty of cringe-worthy cheesy moments to go around.

I originally looked forward to this installment, thinking it would be a flick that would be enjoyable in the end. That is, until I started watching it.

The movie depicts a disenchanted former elf named Belsnickel (played by Julian Dennison) hellbent on destroying Christmas, and once he appears to have the upper hand, our hero from the first Christmas Chronicles, Kate Pierce, must rise to the occasion again to save the holiday (one can already groan upon reading these details.)

Kurt Russell reprises his role of Santa Claus in the same manner as he did with the first installment. He defies the traditional depiction of St. Nick: overweight and jolly.

In these movies, the one visual detraction is his size, no longer overweight, but a slim and fit figure. He also is not happy and jolly, but rather a stud; bringing the cool vibes from Russell’s career defining action movies.

He delivers, however, the affectionate and caring Father Christmas traits that we would want in any actor depicting the man we on whom we pin our hopes as little children.

In contrast, the performance of Mrs. Claus (played by Russell’s real-life partner Goldie Hawn) does not deliver, appearing to lack the enthusiasm required for such a role. Russell’s run as Santa is probably the sole redeeming quality of this picture, in my opinion.

There are several appeasing action moments, usually involving Santa’s sled, but not every moment is spared the cheesiness (mainly seen in a sequence involving fighting off elves with a Nerf gun.) But I will concede there is a heartwarming moment or two.

Perhaps I am not taking into account that I am a cinephile and therefore not the target audience (which is most likely young families)?

But I am writing on behalf of all those who seek a good movie. There are moments when we will get excited when a child asks to watch a movie with us, and there are indeed plenty of family-oriented movies that we adults will watch on our own initiative.

But The Christmas Chronicles 2 does not fit either bill. All I can say it merits is an, “Eh, it’s the holiday season and I need to pass the time.”

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: ‘Tis the Season for Scary Movies, ‘The Changeling’ is an Oft-Overlooked Classic

Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws.

If I were to inquire among the public what they consider to be one of the scariest films ever made, I would hear countless familiar titles: The Exorcist, Alien, Jaws, The Shining, The Silence of the Lambs … each one terrifying in its own manner.

But there is one horror film that will linger in the viewer’s mind well after completing it, and it lacks a reputation akin to the films I listed above, which it truly deserves.

This movie is 1980’s The Changeling. I discovered it many Octobers ago when I was seeking a list of new scares for Halloween season and came across a list of scariest horror movies compiled by Martin Scorsese, who listed it as among his top 11 terrifying movies. To my luck, I found that it was easily accessible on YouTube in its entirety.

And to my surprise, it was the first movie to scare me in years. I had watched countless horror flicks as a teenager and college student, but I was always unfazed, as I was aware they were simply movies. This brought me back into the world of genuinely believing whatever I saw before me, as if it were happening to me.

George C. Scott stars as John Russell, a composer who relocates across the country for an academic career after his wife and daughter are killed in a road accident. Needing a place to live, he is hooked up with a home by the local historic society that once belonged to an influential local family. Upon moving in, Russell is harassed by the poltergeist of a young child, who seeks justice from beyond the grave.

The Changeling can be summarized in one word: creepy.

The supernatural root comes from the ghost of a child, who perished during the Progressive Era of our nation’s history, which, in my opinion, is the creepiest timespan in our history. Just looking at the black-and-white portraits that depict people not smiling (as early cameras took greater lengths of time to take pictures, try holding a smile for nearly a minute), in addition to the fashion that was in style back then. This goes on top of taking child-friendly themes that tend to border on creepiness to begin with.

It is perfect fertility for a ghost story.

Its horror is unique compared the movies I listed in the beginning of this essay, which tap into our fight-or-flight instincts (likely flight for most of us). The fear in those films is driven by survival instincts, whereas this film involves cooperation with a being that we cannot see.

Val Lewton pioneered the idea in filmmaking that it is not what we see that scares us, but what what we cannot see, and we are constantly terrified following an occurrence that we experience every day that was caused by something from the great beyond.

There is a sense of mystery, as Russell seeks to uncover the identity of the ghost and why it is haunting him, which leads him on an investigative trail that uncovers a scandal that had been buried for decades, which blends the feel of films akin to All the President’s Men, Spotlight, and Erin Brockovich.

Here is the YouTube link to the movie and I implore every reader to watch it when they have a chance during the remaining two weeks of October. You will not be disappointed. Trust me. It even has the approval of Stephen King, and that should be the ultimate authority!

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: Sandler Has Done It Again in ‘Hubie Halloween’

Adam Sandler being interviewed in 2018. This screenshot was originally uploaded on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc9jYc07e54&t=45s) under a CC license.

Adam Sandler has done it again.

No, he didn’t bring in a stunning performance to follow up Uncut Gems, but rather he has brought us another stupid movie that we can love: Hubie Halloween.

Ever since his movie career began in the 90s, Sandler has brought us countless flicks that have ridiculous premises, but lovable characters, who deliver humor that can be described as none other than guilty pleasure. From Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy, countless laughs have been produced from first watching these films to quoting them in front of our friends.

And like all of Sandler’s films since the 90s, they include tributes to the iconic characters and jokes from those name-making movies.

Hubie Halloween proves no different, as we see references to the O’Doyle family, Orderly Hal played by Ben Stiller, and cameos from star after star after star that he has collaborated with in the past.

Hubie Halloween follows its title character, Hubie Dubois, a zealous idiot with a heart of gold, despite being the constant object of ridicule from people he’s known his whole life in his hometown of Salem, Mass.

Although he is an idiot, Hubie happens to possess stuntman-like skills and a trusty thermos that can assist him in any situation, and it might as well have been made by Q in the 007 franchise. When trouble breaks out on Halloween night, Hubie must win the trust of his neighbors in order to solve the mysterious disappearances of townsfolk.

Hubie appears to be along the likes of one of Sandler’s earlier characters, Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy; however, this character does not match the potential when it comes to humor and lovability. It starts off slow, but there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as it progresses.

It does dabble in the sentimental though as it also presents cliched, but true, life lessons. 

Sandler should not be dismissed as a one-trick pony for this ridiculous movie. We must remember he has delivered repeatedly with Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, and most recently Uncut Gems (one viewer was so impressed that he personally called Sandler to share his satisfaction, and that was none other than Daniel Day-Lewis).

But why does he continue to produce his name-brand humor when he could be collecting award after award and potentially collaborate with greats like Scorsese? I can only speculate one reason: he likes to do it.

From a critic’s perspective, this movie fails at artistic achievements (though not as badly as Jack and Jill). It’s just another Adam Sandler movie, but that’s good enough for me.

This will not be added to any special lists by the American Film Institute, nor will it be included in the Criterion Collection.

No, it will just remain on Netflix to be selected whiled scrolling through the selections whenever you and your friends are simply seeking a good time.

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: Positive Thoughts on Dealing With the “Ambiguous Loss” of a Night at the Movies

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

Around the start of 2019, I published a piece lamenting the rise of A-list movies being released through direct-streaming services such as Netflix. I figuratively begged the cinematic geniuses to never go down this path and always stick to theatrical releases.

I was frustrated to learn that my favorite filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, was releasing his highly anticipated crime-epic, The Irishman, via Netflix, (but he revealed the main reason for choosing the source of lazy date ideas was because Netflix was the only studio that would fund the picture for its de-aging effects.)

But nobody would have anticipated this “new normal” that we would come to experience due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Studios that planned for new releases suddenly needed to get creative in order to assure they did not suffer financial losses, so many of these flicks were released via streaming services.

The first one that I watched through this ‘New Normal’ was Pixar’s Onward and it did not feel the same. It was as if I stumbled upon a movie that had been released in the last few years but had slipped my mind when it came to catching (this accounted for the fact that I watched it mid-afternoon while the sun shone through the windows.)

The new Bond movie No Time to Die was scheduled for a theatrical release in April but was postponed to this coming November. I fear that it is highly likely that the 25th installment of Ian Fleming’s iconic spy (and Daniel Craig’s last run as the character) will be released via Amazon or Apple TV via purchase, something Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman (the original creators of the James Bond films) never could have imagined.

My biggest lament when I wrote my original piece was that we would be deprived of the movie-going experience, from purchasing your ticket at the box office (or scanning your previously paid ticket on your phone), picking out your snacks, finding your seats, and chatting with your friends as the commercials and movie trivia games were displayed before you. Then the lights went down for the previews and you shared your desire to see it or skip it, after that the lights went down even further for the feature presentation, and finally — after the credits — you walked out, letting it all soak in.

Now it’s just turning on the TV, finding the app, starting it (and pausing it in case you need to take a phone call or go to the bathroom, which can lead to distractions and never finishing the movie.) Assuming you do finish it, you look over to whomever you were sitting with (assuming this is someone you can invite into your home without fear of infection) and critiquing it amongst yourselves.

But guess what?

Life happens, and pandemics are part of life, even if they only occur once every century, and we need to adjust. We need to make sacrifices. The main sacrifice that we have had to make is to forfeit our ability to socialize, which is truly a burden on us as social creatures.

This has led to athletes competing in “bubbles” as fans are no longer allowed to spectate, concerts have been called off, and, as we have recently seen, political conventions could only be screened on TV (though some participants still deliver their speeches as if there is a crowd before them, leading to an awkward scene [you know which person I’m talking about …]) Of course, this also includes going to the movies.

We’ve seen so many industries that have been delayed because of this and need to take a break in order to safely get back to work. This also includes the production of highly anticipated films and TV series that probably will not be able to be completed until it is deemed safe for the cast and crew to assemble together, and will perhaps require creativity to present our heroes always standing six feet apart.

Imagine how romance scenes will be filmed as they keep their distance while confessing their undying love for each other?

My mother recently shared the term, “Ambiguous loss,” with me, which she teaches in her therapeutic horseback riding work. Basically it’s a loss like any other, but there is no tangible or concrete end, such as losing somebody during wartime and having no answer to where they are.

It is quite clear that we are in the middle of an “ambiguous loss” at the moment, as we wonder what will transpire in the coming months (or even years) as we anticipate the arrival of a vaccine to defeat COVID-19.

She also shared a phrase that is often thrown around as a way to console others, “Everything happens for a reason.” I had to balk at that because there are clearly some things that happen, which have no rhyme nor reason whatsoever. She agreed, having observed in recent years that words matter and can have negative consequences.

After much discussion, we ultimately decided that a better way to justify these losses is to consider them not as the end, but rather that they could lead to something better if we put the appropriate effort into them.

While we must make sacrifices in the meantime, they will lead us to appreciate everything that we cherished or even took for granted. I hope that from a cinematic perspective, we can appreciate movies in the way in which they have been historically presented to us: as an extension of the theater — accessible to all throughout the world for all time. While the theater is no longer a top venue of entertainment, I hope that we can eventually appreciate our movie-going experiences and treat them like a night out at the theater.

As we long for an unimpeded return to restaurants, concerts, and sports events, so too we should anticipate and celebrate the return of a night at the local cinema.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

The Movie Man: ‘Joker’ Justifies Great Rating

The Movie Man, Kevin Ganey

Last month I emerged from screening It: Chapter Two with great satisfaction and went on to write a review asserting that the IT movies were practically gospel for horror fans. A month has passed and in that time, I was able to see multiple variations of reviews for the film and watch the IMDb rating drop to a 7.0 out of 10, with a dip in the 6 range highly likely in the foreseeable future.

Just last night I emerged from seeing an early showing of the highly anticipated origin story for the clown prince of crime of Gotham City, and I left with the same feeling of satisfaction, particularly with the characters and their actors’ portrayals. I chatted freely with my friend about how Joaquin Phoenix could possibly win the Oscar for his performance, making this the second time in Oscars history that two separate actors have won awards for playing the same character (the first, and so far only pair has been Marlon Brando and Joker’s very own Robert de Niro for Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II, respectively).

Phoenix would be joining said duo with the late, great Heath Ledger, who gave one of the most phenomenal performances ever in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. We parted ways for the night, and I proceeded to look up Joker on IMDb and was impressed to see that it was already on the Top 250 list at #13, but quickly saw that it holds a 62 on Metascore.

That stopped me in my tracks and made me think: “Wait a minute …”

I then proceeded to search the Rotten Tomatoes profile and saw that it held only 69 percent approval from the critics … Certified fresh, yes, but it still kept me in my spot, puzzled. I looked over to the next column to see that it holds a 92 percent rating from audiences.

This left me thinking: “Is this one of those moments when the critics don’t get what everybody loves? Or am I missing out on something?”

I will agree that there were some moments that were predictable and cliched, but that is generally the case when one is presented with an origin story for an iconic character. In this case, it is the classical fall into villainy and madness, with several rites of passage, including the first killings, that help bring Arthur Fleck to Joker, Batman’s eventual nemesis.

But I can say with pride that the movie left me satisfied when it came to finally giving the world an origin story to the Joker, whose background, until now, has been just as mysterious as it was the day he made his debut in 1940. We have been given a gritty presentation of a vulnerable man coping with mental illness clashing against a society that has so often kicked him while he was down (literally at one point).

Robert de Niro delivers, as he always does, this time as the bully talk-show host who exploits Arthur’s desperate desires to make the world smile, but while Zazie Beetz (best known from Atlanta and Deadpool 2) gave an acceptable performance, we need to acknowledge that it is because her role could have been made bigger than what she was left presented as a brief girl-next-door love interest.

So I must admit that I am hesitant to give this film a definitive, case-closed review due to my poor judgement with IT, but I can say that I would highly recommend seeing it if you have a chance. The movie may hold up, or it may very well dwindle into a disappointment, but hey, you might as well get a look while you can.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in the elite hospitality industry of Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, why not follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment?

The Movie Man: No Decisions to Make: You Have To See ‘IT: Chapter Two’ AND Follow Kevin’s New Website!

Kevin Ganey

Amazing.

Just amazing.

That is the simplest description I can give for IT: Chapter Two. Although I had never read the whopping 1,000+ page novel, I could tell throughout the screening that this adaptation was just what Stephen King, Pennywise, and the Losers deserved.

IT: Chapter Two follows up on the events of Chapter One, set 27 years further. We come back on the group of outcast pre-teens, who have aptly labeled themselves “the Losers,” who return to their hometown of Derry, Maine upon learning that the mysterious entity that they refer to as “IT” has returned, commonly portraying itself as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, in one last attempt to defeat It for good.

The film is incredibly layered, so my review will not cover much of the events and the portrayals. But I can say that this was done incredibly well. Throughout the movie, I had a clear understanding of whom the characters were through and through.

That is one of King’s talents: he creates phenomenal characters. Every actor gave a stellar performance, and our attention will always be drawn towards Bill Hader as comic relief Richie (who has conveniently grown up to become a comedian.) But make no mistake: Hader nails it with the fear and desperation aspects. Not only that, the movie contains fantastic scares (if you are into such things) that had me saying to myself in a shaken and impressed manner: “Damn!”

I have seen the 1990 miniseries with Tim Curry as Pennywise, so I knew what to expect as the movie progressed, but I feel I would have enjoyed it even more had I read King’s novel. I worry about attempting to read It now, as I believe I will not be able to shake the actors from my mind as I delve into the original story.

This is a must see if you love a good movie of any genre. It is an even further necessity if you are a horror fan, almost as if it were canonical in a Horror Bible. Even if you shy away from scary movies, I definitely encourage you to find the bravery to sit through the entire two hours and 49 minutes.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in the elite hospitality industry of Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, why not follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment?

The Movie Man: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is Deemed an “Entertaining Delight”

Kevin Ganey

New York City’s web-slinging superhero takes the stage all the way across the pond in Marvel’s newest installment, Spider-Man: Far from Home, and proves to be an entertaining delight.

Following up on the events of Avengers: Endgame in which the half of universal life that disappeared in what is referred to as “the Blip” has returned, Peter Parker and his classmates venture on a summer trip to Europe, where he unfortunately must confront another villain during his eager attempts to sway his crush, MJ.

We will notice that the iconic superhero, who debuted nearly 60 years ago, has been re-imagined in many ways. Aunt May is relatively young, Mary Jane is no longer a red-head and is now a different race — she also has a macabre sense of humor.

Changes in technology play a part in the plot, drones in particular, as well as internet-based news (this you will only see if you stay for the two post-credits scenes shown in every Marvel movie, and you will be more than satisfied to see the return of another important character in Spider-Man’s life, as well as the actor whose shoes nobody else can fill).

Tom Holland continues to deliver as Spider-Man, especially as his boyish looks allow us to believe that he really is a high school student, in contrast to the previous two actors who portrayed this character. Jake Gyllenhaal also delivers as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. In fact, the whole cast delivers on their performances, there was not a single character that I was not taken in by.

Photo by Muhd Asyraaf on Unsplash

There are only three complaints I had upon exiting the movie: the plot is somewhat predictable, the music just doesn’t live up to the hype of the action, and the design of Spider-Man’s suits. Okay, maybe the last one is based on a personal preference, but I still hold the design of the suits used in Sam Raimi’s trilogy to be extremely cool with the appearance of the “web” and “eyes.”

But you will get many laughs out of this flick, as Marvel is expected to deliver on this aspect. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Marvel always excels while DC’s movies tend to disappoint. Marvel makes their characters lovable and gives you a good time, without experiencing any form of despair, somewhat of a theme for DC.

If you are a Marvel fan, seeing this latest installment is a must.

If you are not a Marvel fan, I highly recommend you see this anyway because this movie will entertain you, either way (and isn’t that what the movies are all about?)

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

The Movie Man: We Really Didn’t Need ‘Toy Story 4’ … Pixar Should Have Stopped At Number Three

Kevin Ganey

Corporate Disney has tossed away creative Disney’s masterpiece ending of Toy Story 3 and continued the series in a shameless attempt to rake in even higher profits.

The third installment presented us with one of the most beautiful endings in movie history, in which grown-up Andy hands his boyhood toys to the next generation of children, and tearfully waves goodbye to his favorite, Woody, who mutters “So long, partner.” Anybody watching the third film could tell this was the perfect way to end a series revolving around some of the most lovable characters in cinema. Because of this, many of us were scratching our heads when we learned that Pixar would be producing a fourth installment of the series.

As the years have gone by, I have had the ability to reflect on the world of Woody, Buzz, Slink, Jessie, and the Potato Heads and realized that all feature films, and even short films, revolve around the same plot formula: a toy goes missing, and the others must embark on a journey to bring it back. One could imagine my disappointment upon screening the trailer for the first time and observing that the plot remains the same for every film.

In the fourth part of this potentially endless series, Bonnie, their new owner, is off to Kindergarten, and Woody sneaks into her backpack and uses subtlety to help her create a new toy from the trash bin: Forky (Tony Hale of Veep and Arrested Development … to be honest, I’m always disappointed to see his characters with an in-tact left hand.) But Forky jovially identifies as trash and is always looking to return to the nearest garbage bin, much to the chagrin of Woody, who seems to be looking for something to fill his time as he is being played with less and less.

On a family road trip, Forky escapes and Woody dutifully goes to retrieve him, but on the way back runs into Bo Peep, who now lives an adventurous lifestyle as a “lost” toy near an antique store and temporary carnival. I particularly got a kick out of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s characters, Ducky and Bunny (aptly-named stuffed critters, who are prizes at the carnival), as well as the sub-plot of Buzz listening to his “inner-voice.”

Major film buffs will take pleasure in noticing one of the creepy songs that plays in the antique store where we meet our antagonist, a baby-doll named Gabby Gabby (voiced by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks.)

The viewer will observe that identity and vocation are the dominant themes during their screening. It’s never too early to teach little children about who they are meant to be and what their purpose is in society.

But I do hold some complaints about this installment, as the conflict does not stand out as was the case in the three previous films (escaping a sadistic pre-teen boy, Woody being kidnapped by a self-centered toy collector, and being held prisoner by a disenchanted toy at a day care center). The urgency does not match what was previously presented to us viewers, which I believe was also what made Finding Dory a disappointment.

However, Toy Story 4 remains an enjoyable flick.

Unnecessary, but enjoyable.

The Movie Man: ‘Game of Thrones’ Has Ended — What Did YOU Think of the Finale? And Will You Sign the Petition??

Kevin Ganey

“What is dead may never die.”

In spring of 2011 I saw advertisements for an upcoming fantasy show on IMDb, Game of Thrones. I did not pay much attention to it, but it did not take long for me to see its effect on everybody else. It became a phenomenon.

Two years later, South Park aired an episode parodying the affairs of Westeros with the imminent Black Friday as retail’s version of “winter is coming.” I was intrigued and asked around if this show was all that it was hyped up to be. My Christmas list that year included the DVD for the available seasons.

But I did not catch on.

I made it to the third episode and got distracted. This paralleled my fitness life, “I should get back to it, but I’ll need some motivation.”

So, the next several years passed by, and I was always out of the loop when it came to references such as “You know nothing, Jon Snow” and “Hold the door.” I even accompanied a friend to a tattoo parlor as he had the phrase “Valar Morghulis” (All men must die) permanently inked into his body. My other attempts of getting into the series proved to be fruitless, as well. But I was aware that nobody was safe, as George R. R. Martin killed off his characters like it was a bodily function.

Then in 2017, I happened to meet the actor Pedro Pascal through my job, and I had to confess I did not know who he was, and he proceeded to fill me in on his role as Oberyn Martell, but I informed him I had only made it three episodes in. Pascal consoled me saying that I would need to get into the second or third season to get that “hook” that everybody experienced. The next year, I tried watching again, and I made it past the first season, but was distracted (again).

Finally, after taking a position in the night shift, I decided to give it my full attention, and by the end of March 2019, I got “the hook.” After finishing one episode, I would instinctively start the next one, without thinking.

I finally understood what everyone was talking about when they repeated those iconic phrases, and the memes that would perfectly allude to real life events. I would spend hours watching interviews with the cast, particularly Emilia Clarke (her interviews prove that she is a phenomenal actress, nothing like the steadfastly ambitious Daenerys, but someone so silly and adorable that you feel the need to hug her.)

And above all, I was finally ready for the end of the series. HBO opted not to air the eighth and final season in 2018, but rather delayed it another year. Perhaps I can be naïve and think it was cosmically arranged for me to get caught up? But whatever. I had my computer ready to screen each episode after my work was done.

I enjoyed the first three episodes, tearing up when Jamie knighted Brienne, and clenching my grip on the chair as the North battled the armies of the Night King. I was already speculating on how the series would end. It was revealed in the previous season that the supposed bastard Jon Snow was the true heir to the Iron Throne, not Daenerys, the girl we were rooting for the entire time, so how would things turn out?

Would he abdicate in favor of the Mother of Dragons?

Would there be a conflict between the two of them?

And what would become of the malevolent and self-centered Cersei?

Nearly a third of my text messages in the last six weeks dealt with me trading theories with friends and commenting on whether they would work or not. It had to be good, since the show had so many satisfying moments in their conflicts, particularly when Sansa imprisoned the poster boy of sadism, Ramsay Bolton, who tormented her and several others, and had him fed to his own hounds (I was grinning ear to ear and pumping my fists when I watched this transpire.)

But when the last three episodes aired, I did not get the fulfillment I anticipated. To be frank, it was the weakest conclusion to the most intense series I had ever watched. It was almost as if one of Daenerys’ dragons gathered in as much air as he could, cocking his head back, and then thrusting forward to reveal, not a firestorm, but rather a mouth full of sparklers that had replaced his teeth.

Really?

I put so much priority over the course of five years to get myself hooked on the show that had taken the world by storm, and I finally caught on for the lamest conclusion ever. They had us on the hook for over eight years, and they could not provide a fitting conclusion. I sat before my computer, often wondering to myself out loud “How much longer is this?” It’s almost as if their creativity ran dry, and they thought to themselves, “How else are we going to get paid?”

Without giving away any spoilers, I can say, even if it seems arrogant, that this is not the ending we fans deserve. In fact, this is not the ending that the show, in itself, deserves (particularly the actors who have been there since the beginning!)

Yes, this is probably what was bound to happen when George R. R. Martin neglected to publish his final books as the series took the world by storm, having nothing to work with at the end of season five … but David Benioff and D. B. Weiss did manage to make the two following seasons without the use of Martin’s base material.

There is already a petition circulating the internet of fans demanding that the eighth season be tossed away, and a replacement season made in its place. A piece of retroactive continuity (similar to how Halloween’s sequels were done away with, and the 2018 installment is now a direct sequel.) Here is a link to the petition, and should a reader reach a similar conclusion as this review, I would urge them to sign it.

“And now our watch has ended.”

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

The Movie Man: The Joy of Going OUT to the Movies

As the calendar progressed through December, most people were looking forward to Christmas with joy and anticipation.

For me, as I looked at the calendar last year, I found myself looking back to a December from my childhood. The year is 2003, and I am recalling the day I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on the big screen; to this day it remains my favorite movie-going experience of all time.

I’m writing this because one of my recent reviews published in LymeLine.com was for a direct-to-Netflix release, not by some forgettable children’s movie, nor an attempt at slapstick by Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler … rather it was a film by the Coen brothers.

Years ago, we witnessed the vanishing of record stores with the digital revolution via iTunes. I was not alive when it was a social occasion to go to the record store and check out whichever new album had been introduced, but I did have a high school teacher who still raves about that to this day (I’m talking to you, Mr. Braychak.)

Going to the movies has always been magical for me. I recall that Steven Spielberg shared on Inside the Actor’s Studio that even he still takes his family to the theaters.

Years ago, I wished there were ways for me to see classic films on the big screen … how they were originally released. Lately, I’ve been able to see that wish fulfilled by catching The Big Lebowski, The Shining, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly courtesy of promotions by Regal Cinema, and the treasured Coolidge Corner Theatre (for those of you who have been in the Boston area).

And I firmly hold that catching a film on the big screen in its original run is as exciting and memorable of attending a live sports event. Both sources of entertainment you can watch at home, yes, but there’s nothing like being caught up in the energy of the moment.

A while ago, I developed the mindset of thinking that seeing a film by your favorite actor or director on the big screen is akin to seeing your favorite athlete compete. I am proud to share that I frequented Fenway Park and saw David Ortiz play. In time, I’ll talk of that in the same way that older folk today mention having seen Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams play.

Similarly, the day will come when Leonardo DiCaprio departs this world, and people will tell the younger generations about being caught up in Leo-mania with Titanic; or when George Lucas leaves us, people will recount the time they saw the unexpected sci-fi empire of Star Wars take flight at their local theater in 1977.

But as this ‘release via Netflix’ trend continues to gain momentum, I have to ask if we can really imagine replacing certain occasions that are meant for the theater to be changed to accommodate the streaming method? So many romantic relationships have begun with a date at the movies (Barack and Michelle Obama saw Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee on their first time out together).

Imagine this … “Alright! I got the computer ready … wait, the battery’s dead. Let me grab my iPad! Yeah, I heard this is supposed to be really great, didn’t you say you had a crush on … oh, come on! The Wifi is down? I thought I took care of that! Give me a couple of minutes to fix this!”

It just does not work.

Photo by Julien Andrieux on Unsplash

Going to the movies is quite simply magic … even if the movie does not entertain you. I always loved the process of lining up for my ticket (and skimming the list of other flicks that are playing), getting the drinks and popcorn, and picking my seat during the idle pre-showing ads.

Then the lights slightly dim for the previews, and you make remarks to either your friends or self as to whether the movie looks interesting or you plan on skipping it. Then the lights dim all the way until they’re out, save the little ones in the aisle.

Then the real magic begins.

And when it’s over, you leave, and you chat with whoever you came with about what you thought of the movie. Good, bad, whatever, and you marvel about the people attached to the project, and when their next movie is coming out.

Photo by Karen Zhao on Unsplash

The Lord of the Rings remains one of my all-time favorite movies. My love for the trilogy is increased all-the-more whenever I recall the day I went to see the final installment on the big screen on Dec. 20, 2003 … mainly because I felt like I was on my own personal quest towards seeing this film.

From Christmas of 2002 until the day I saw The Return of the King, I was on a metaphorical journey through the trilogy, in which I waited several months for opportunities to see each installment on DVD. This was also accompanied by a move to the home in which I would spend the rest of my childhood. Granted it was from Old Lyme to Lyme, so I would not be dropped somewhere with which I had no familiarity whatsoever, but leaving the place I had spent two thirds of my life was a big deal.

Not exactly like being taken halfway across the country and plopped in a totally foreign environment, like some others experience. But I was leaving the home that I had lived in for nearly nine years — three quarters of my life. It was all I knew.

We moved from Chestnut Hill in April of that year. But we did not move into our eventual home on Hamburg Road until that November. The home’s previous resident had dozens of animals on her property (some of you may be fondly smiling as you will recognize to whom I’m referring) and her new residence was not finished.

We therefore arranged a real estate deal that involved us renting the home to her, and since we had already sold our home, we briefly rented a home on Griswold Point. It was a beautiful home right on the Lieutenant River, and my mother raves that it was her favorite house. The only downside for my brothers and me was … it had no cable. Not something kids want to hear. But no cable meant … more time for The Lord of the Rings.

When we finally moved to Hamburg Road that November, the adaptation of the journey’s end in The Lord of the Rings seemed to go hand-in-hand with the fact that my own residence journey had also ended. All I had to do was wait another month.

But lo and behold, I was never a good student, and I got in trouble academically, resulting in the loss of my media privileges for over a month, which, in turn, meant I could not see The Return of the King.

What a devastating blow to the gut!

However, my mom understood how much this movie meant to me, so she made a compromise: if I went an entire week without a teacher calling to say I was missing homework, my punishment would be lifted (how bad a student do you have to be for a compromise like that?)

Luckily for me, I made it in time, and the Saturday after the film was released, Dec. 20, I ventured off with a friend to the Marquee Cinemas in Westbrook to catch the final installment. I remember standing in the long line, fretting over whether we would find a seat with a good view, drinking all of my soda before the movie started (and subsequently suppressing my need to use the bathroom for the next three hours), and once the movie was over … clapping vigorously when the words ‘The End’ appeared on the screen.

I left the theater more than satisfied.

I left fulfilled.

But I wonder how different this story would be had Netflix started the streaming business back then, and Peter Jackson opted for this method? I could not imagine myself getting hyped up for a groundbreaking movie that I would watch at home, leaning forward on my couch at the TV, no matter how sophisticated the device is?

If this is an action/adventure movie, and special effects are supposed to be out of this world, do I really want to see it on a 50-inch TV, and miss out on the sound system the theaters have? As much as we rave about Game of Thrones and treat each new episode as a social occasion, we can tell the special effects are not of the same quality as those we enjoy in full-length features. It’s almost as if everybody in the entertainment industry understands this.

Should the next Star Wars movie have the option for watching at home, I surely would skip that and go through whatever it might take to see it on the big screen, as it deserves. My plea to Hollywood legends is to not opt for the easier option, regardless of how much profit it might generate.

I certainly pray that if Mr. Spielberg reads this (first, I would faint upon learning he decided to read LymeLine.com!), he continues to respect the importance of the social aspect of movie-going … and that the rest of movie-dom join him in that belief.

Editor’s Note: Top photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

The Movie Man: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Offers Existentialism for Kids 101

In this sequel to 2012’s Wreck it Ralph, the title character and his adorable best friend, Vanellope, venture beyond their familiar arcade community into the world of the Internet.

And this depiction of the Internet is a tangible and personified version of the World Wide Web, akin to a thriving city with anthropological beings embodying many things with which we are familiar, such as algorithms and search engines (including a frustrated reminder to say “thank you” when your search engine brings you what you were seeking.)

There are some philosophical themes in these movies, at least entry-level for the younger crowds screening them (despite reading Dostoyevsky at a book club meeting later on, the film does not exactly go into themes from The Grand Inquisitor about whether we are responsible enough to handle freedom).

Vanellope ponders what the meaning of everything is beyond their games, the stark reality of being 0’s and 1’s, and wanting more, while Ralph expresses, not only contention, but joy with what his life is.

The previous film tackled the issue of personal identity and worth, with Ralph wanting to be more than just the “bad guy” character and Vanellope being included in her game.

This installment now tackles the issue of friendship, and what being a true friend really means: whatever is best for your friend, regardless of how it affects you. (And this is where memories of my Catholic education came to mind, reminding me that the real definition of love is to will the good of the other).

While the Wreck it Ralph movies have not demonstrated themselves to be Disney’s most groundbreaking movies in recent years (the plots can seem familiar at times), they still prove to be highly entertaining and filled with unique, lovable characters.

And Disney did have the joy of referencing itself by bringing Vanellope to Oh My Disney to see numerous iconic characters and environments, making everything more enjoyable. And the theme of Girl Power is brought up when she takes refuge in the Princesses’ dressing room, which will delight numerous girls (young and old.)

For the sake of pure entertainment, I would definitely recommend this film to viewers of all ages. It is not necessary for Disney to break ground through every film they release, but they certainly know how to make a good time at the movies.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Kevin Ganey.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chow

The Movie Man: ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ Delights, Challenges

It seems that the newest trend in film is to go from first screenings at movie theaters to permanent availability on Netflix, following the trend that TV shows have started.

Originally, it was seen with popular, but not so artistically influential, stars such as Adam Sandler. But now iconic brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have followed through on this trend with the release of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a Western collection of vignettes ranging from bank robberies to covered-wagon journeys.

I finished the film as I expected I would: scratching my head, pondering the meaning of every story in the anthology. But this is the case with nearly every film by the Coen brothers. This happened when I finished No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, and even The Big Lebowski.

But have no fear, in our digital age, you will not be perpetually stumped. With the assistance of Google, one can find a medium that can help you understand the artistic, and often spiritual, meanings of these films.

But make no mistake: you will enjoy Buster Scruggs. This will not be ranked as one of the Coen’s most memorable and definitive films, but you will be entertained.

They’re back at it with their quirky humor and folksy manner of storytelling that is present in every film (even ones as dark as No Country, upon further reflection.) You will also see tributes to other iconic directors, such as Stanley Kubrick (through their amazing landscape shots that help reinforce the environment of the story), and Spaghetti Western legend Sergio Leone (via silence, creating a build-up of suspense) — and this is more than fitting, being a Western movie.

For most readers, it will be quite easy to screen Buster Scruggs on finishing this review. Simply open a new tab in your internet explorer and log in to your Netflix account.

For everyone else, you will have to go through the painstaking process of pulling out your credit card and paying a whopping $8 to $14 to have thousands of videos at your disposal. It is a convenient way to watch movies now, but I believe it takes the joy out of the occasion of going to the movies … and I hope to write about this in the future.

‘Til next time, this is the Movie Man signing out …

Return of ‘The Movie Man’: ‘Beautiful Boy’ Reveals Realities of Relationships Controlled by Addiction

Editor’s Note: We welcome Kevin Ganey back to LymeLine.com. We have missed his stimulating, thought-provoking, intensely personal reviews of movies and are thrilled he has returned

Author’s Note: It seems that in the last two years, I’ve fallen off the edge of the earth when it comes to keeping up with current films. In this time, I’ve skipped the Oscars, and have not even watched trailers to highly anticipated future features. I’m also too intimidated to watch whichever new Marvel film has been released, due to fear of being unable to follow the story. But I have spent a great deal of time immersing myself in older ones, and I owe a great deal to the Criterion Collection for this. But make no mistake, I intend to continue critiquing films for the readers situated in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

The cover of the book on which the movie is based.

I left the screening of Beautiful Boy in a depressed mood.

The film, starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, depicts the relationship of a father and son, David and Nic Sheff, during the latter’s tumultuous period of drug addiction. While many fans of Dunder-Mifflin’s greatest regional manager will take delight in seeing that Nic’s mother is played by none other than Amy Ryan (Michael Scott’s wife), this will not contain any of the goofy humor we saw on the iconic sitcom. It deals with the gut-wrenching and horrific truths of what addiction is.

This is a true story, based on the memoirs of both father and son.

It captures the grim reality of addiction. From Nic’s days of smoking weed (with his father, on occasion) to his bodily dependency on heroin and crystal meth. In several points, Nic gets sober (at one point lasting over a year without using anything), only to fall into relapse.

The film captures the ugly truth of addiction’s harm to the user, and to the user’s loved ones; depicting Nic stealing prescription medicine from his girlfriend’s family, as well as taking the only money his younger half-brother has (a mere $8).

Along with addiction, this film also brilliantly depicts the relationship between David and Nic. We get to see things through David’s perspective as he watches his son spiral out of control and sends him to rehab time after time after time. We clearly see David’s frustration as he wants what is best for his son, whom he loves more than everything.

While I never struggled with drug addiction, I could see myself in Nic pleading to David in regards to numerous subjects, asking his father to have faith in him, and David’s stern responses, all in vigilance to protecting Nic’s well-being. For once, I could understand the mindset in which my parents denied my numerous requests throughout youth, and I could see the arrogance in the “What do they know?” reaction I would give.

This is not a film to see on the basis of pure entertainment. I could hardly imagine any filmmaker with a sound conscience taking addiction as a subject with the intent of making a light-hearted humorous project. I was also dissatisfied with the story’s editing and basic setup.

Without giving away the ending, I was unable to perceive the narrative had finished until the credits began to roll. The performances were stellar, and I would not be surprised if any of the cast receives award nominations, Chalamet, in particular.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Kevin Ganey.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chow

The Movie Man: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is an Unexpected Delight

kubo-main_0Truly, if you enjoy learning about ancient mythology, you will enjoy watching Kubo and the Two Strings, brought to you by Laika, the filmmakers behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls. With an all-star-studded cast that includes Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and Star Trek actor/turned social media personality George Takei, this stop-motion animation film does not disappoint.

We are told the story of Kubo, a young one-eyed boy, who cares for his ill mother by transforming paper into origami masterpieces through his shamisen (a string instrument indigenous to Japan). After staying out past dark (as he was warned against many times), his mother’s sisters destroy his village and attempt to take his remaining eye.

Upon escaping the terror of his aunts, Kubo comes across the incarnate version of his wooden monkey (voiced by Ms. Theron) brought to life by his own mother’s magic, and eventually Beetle (Mr. McConaughey), who join him on a quest to retrieve the armor worn by his father, a Samurai warrior.

The film often invoked reminders of ancient mythology, in which the character is forced to embark on a quest, accompanied people who are both reasonable and unreasonable, in which the protagonist must locate something precious in regards to the parent he never knew, who was a great warrior and up to whose image he seeks to live. This ranges from classical mythology to modern entertainment (think of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, prior to learning his father was the enemy he was fighting all along [not spoiling anything about this film, disclaimer] or even Telemachus, son of Odysseus in The Odysessy.)

Perhaps what is most rivaled by its story and performances is its original score, which I have no doubt will at least be nominated by many award shows this upcoming season.

It was released in 3D, a trend in movies that I do not understand. Despite being a family-friendly film, I would caution those who have very young children from seeing this. One of the main themes revolves around the title character missing an eye and his grandfather and aunts seeking retribution on his life or his remaining eye, as well as there being some frightening images and scary scenes.

But anybody above the PG-warned audience will find this movie to be an ultimate delight.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

The Movie Man: Don’t Waste Your Money on ‘Suicide Squad’

Suicide_Squad_compressedOne would think that gathering together all of DC’s most memorable villains for a single movie would be appealing. After all, that’s how big-named stars such as Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, and Margot Robbie were probably hooked on this project. Unfortunately, big names could not save a super-villain movie that lacked the type of lure that films in said genre should have.

I guess I have to give myself a break for ultimately being disappointed after seeing the trailers over the last year. Mainly because this film was produced by Zack Snyder, who was also behind 2013’s Superman film, Man of Steel, which I left disappointed. An opinion shared by my brother and a friend with whom we screened it.

I cannot determine what it is about this new string of DC movies that include Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Godot as Wonder Woman, and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther that turns me off. Is it the writing? It ultimately must be.

As I said earlier, it lacks the “lure.” I did partially read a review in The Washington Post that criticized this film and tried to put it aside to see if I could screen it unbiased. After several hours of reflecting, I guess I was wrong. What I can say is the film does include fitting performances for their characters, so I guess that is the silver lining?

What first lost me was Jared Leto’s portrayal of the Joker. Now, maybe this is the result of us all being spoiled (and still enthralled) by Heath Ledger’s portrayal of one of the greatest villains of all time in The Dark Knight back in 2008, a time when we were going through a presidential election that did not involve dirty tricks, lying, and childlike name-calling. Now it is possible I am being unfair, as Ledger did go on to win a posthumous Academy Award for this performance.

But Leto also earned himself the same honor in the same acting category (Supporting Role, for Dallas Buyer’s Club.) It certainly cannot be because of his acting since he seemed to give it all he had as the psychotic killer clown. But it has to be how the Joker is presented.

He is not much of a clown, as we have seen him depicted throughout the character’s history, ranging from Cesar Romero in the campy 1960s Batman series, Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation, Mark Hamill’s great vocal performance for multiple animated gigs, and, of course, Ledger’s run in 2008. He is not a clown, but rather a … punk, which I believe is the word that best describes him. Nothing clown-like about him, just a crazed psycho.

Will Smith delivered, as always. It was unique seeing him as a villain, but then again, he did serve as the protagonist who ultimately had a heart of gold, mainly because of his love for his daughter. And Margot Robbie certainly proved herself as Harley Quinn, bringing back her memorable Long Island accent from The Wolf of Wall Street, making her character as crazy and, well, sexually seductive, as possible (what else will people think when a character has an outfit like that?)

I will make a prediction, as I have heard people comment on the web, that girls will go crazy over Harley Quinn and many will dress as her for Halloween this year. And one cannot go wrong with casting Viola Davis, one of the most talented actresses of our era, as she portrays the cold and heartless government agent who recruits the “suicide squad” (as Smith character, Deadshot, coins it), and she does not invest much emotion through it (after all, less can be more sometimes.)

You will hear many classic rock songs in this flick, if that will bring you to the theaters. Songs include Bohemian Rhapsody, Fortunate Sun, and Spirit in the Sky. But then again, as I have always thought, if the promotions for the movie include lists of popular songs that the viewer will eventually hear, that is an indicator of desperation.

Overall, I would not recommend this flick. Earlier when I reviewed the Bond film, Spectre, I suggested viewing it despite its “meh” quality because it was James Bond, something well embedded in our culture for over 50 years. While these DC characters have been known as long as Bond (well, Joker perhaps), it has not been as part of our movie-going experiences like 007 has. Nobody has hyped about the highly anticipated DC comics film as frequently as Ian Fleming’s iconic spy.

But to simplify it: this movie is not worth the price of the movie ticket.

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

The Movie Man: “The Conjuring 2” … Enter If You Dare

Conjuring_2 A little disclaimer: unless you like “jump” moments in movies, avoid The Conjuring 2 (there’s a lot of them).

The sequel to the highly successful 2013 film, The Conjuring, tells the story of another paranormal case tackled by real-life demonologist couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Ed passed away in 2006, while Lorraine still lives in their family home in Monroe, Connecticut). The Warrens are perhaps best known for investigating the claims of the Amityville Horror.

For those who are not familiar with this legend, as well as the references and parodies throughout pop culture, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo, Jr. murdered his parents and four siblings in the middle of a 1974 night, claiming he was coaxed into committing the acts by “voices.” A new family, the Lutzes, eventually moved into the home a year later, had their priest bless the home, and claimed that during the blessing, he heard a masculine voice tell him to “get out,” accompanied by a slap across the face, bleeding hands, and flu-like symptoms. The Lutzes only lasted 28 days in the house before they took off.

Upon researching the Warrens, it came as no surprise that they were subject to a great deal of scrutiny and controversy, as many skeptics claim there are holes in their stories regarding their investigations. This can be said about the Amityville Horror, as well as another case that took place in Seymour, Connecticut, and was featured on Discovery Channel’s A Haunting program. The list goes on and on. However, even if you do not believe any piece of their stories, you cannot deny the horror that is embedded in them, and they will be sure to keep you up at night, worrying about all you cannot see.

I am not writing this as a way to propose or criticize claims about ghosts and the supernatural, although I have had certain experiences in allegedly haunted locations that have made me a believer in regards to the supernatural. The only form of apologetics I will engage in is quoting Hamlet, in regards to those who consider themselves to be “rationalists”, in saying:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, [t]han are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The Conjuring 2 opens with Ed and Lorraine investigating Amityville with the Lutzes. Lorraine goes into a trance and witnesses the massacres that took place in said home, as well as other frightening supernatural images, including a large nun with a demonic appearance. After this investigation, she urges Ed that they not take any cases for a while. Unfortunately, due to their newfound popularity, a family all the way across the Atlantic is able to plead to them for help, claiming a poltergeist is harassing them, and has taken a special interest in their daughter, Janet. Much to Lorraine’s chagrin, they take on the case in hopes of defeating the evil spirit.

There is something about director James Wan’s take on depicting this story, especially through his cinematography involving slow zoom-in’s and “jump” stills in which we suddenly see something that has transcended our senses, as if it has taken off a mask that allowed it to remain unseen (or a ring, for those of us who are fond of J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth?). The soundtrack proves to be unique amongst all other forms of music, focusing mainly on violins and cellos reaching low and shrill notes. But what helps make this a great horror film is not the amount of disturbing images or loud sounds, but in its stories that are woven in and out of the main plotline, depicting Ed and Lorraine’s marriage bond, and the victim family’s sad home-life.

I have said this to many people in the past, and I will say it again: too often Hollywood makes horror films that are comprised of excessive blood and gore, and hires models, not to act, but to read lines. If you want a good horror film, you need a good story and good actors, and most of all a good portrayal of everyone’s relationships. Just because you have beautiful college girl in nothing but her underwear screaming loudly and blood sprays on her does not guarantee a critical success. Perhaps a financial success, and maybe some experience for up-and-coming actors trying to get their feet in the door, and at the very most cementing a scene from the film into pop culture (but not for good reasons).

A great film for anyone who appreciates cinema, is fond of ghost stories, loves to be on the edge of their seat, or repeatedly scared to death. Enter the theaters, if you dare…

Kevin Ganey

Kevin Ganey

About the Author: Kevin Ganey has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at LymeLine.com, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.