Six new April reviews from Linda and Al Lerner on Movies and Shakers



Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in this film is gritty gold and bold. You won’t recognize him as Joe, a damaged war veteran who uses brutality to save young runaway girls used in the sex trade.

Phoenix was already slated to play Jesus in the upcoming Mary Magdalene, beard and all. When Scottish Director Lynne Ramsay called to ask him to play Joe, the beard had to stay. And to accommodate Phoenix’s packed schedule, it had to be shot in 8 weeks. The film was edited quickly to be presented at Cannes where it won Best Screenplay and Best Actor at Cannes and then tightened up for the theatrical release. He is in almost every scene.


Helicopter parents act worse than the kids in this ridiculous and hilarious raunchy romp. But apparently it didn’t take much for Director Kate Cannon (Pitch Perfect) to get Leslie Mann (This is 40), John Cena (Trainwreck) and Ike Barinholtz (TV’s The Mindy Project, Neighbors: 2) to be so completely uninhibited. A film about parents trying to prevent their daughters from losing their viriginity on Prom night is material enough, but John Cena dropping trou to do a butt chug is a visual you may never be able to unsee.


Jon Hamm gives his best performance yet as, a smart, burnt-out U.S. diplomat set in the volatile Middle East in the 1980’s who is brought in by the CIA to negotiate a life/death situation 10 years later. This is a film rich with visuals showing place and time and how the warring factions refused to stop the annihilation of Lebanon.

Tony Gilroy (Bourne films, Rogue One, A Star Wars Story, Michael Clayton) wrote this script eons ago in 1992. Who knew it would be as relevant today! It took 26 years for this to come to fruition but it is well thought out and orchestrated by Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian).


This could be the scariest quiet movie or the quietest scary movie you will ever see. It’s nearly silent except when it counts. Could this be 2018’s break-out surprise horror hit, as Get Out was last year?

John Krasinski, stars, directs and co-wrote the script with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck who are both credited with the story.  As with most successful scripts, the premise is exceedingly simple. A loving family are left to fend for themselves on a remote Upstate New York farm after an alien apocalypse has reduced the human population to near zero. These aliens are blind, but can hear the slightest sound and use it to find their prey with deadly speed and accuracy. No one ever sees these creatures and forget getting a good night’s sleep. Snoring is not an option.


Expect to get bombarded, and like it. Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One imagines mega sensory overload in 2045. Prepare to be overwhelmed with games, avatars, and blasts from the past in this sci fi visual extravaganza. There is so much to digest here, especially if you lived through, or just love the 1980’s.

Tye Sheridan (Mud, Joe, X-Men Apocalypse) is Wade Watts but his game avatar is named Parzival. He lives alone in a dystopian world that became that way because of overpopulation. People literally live on top of each other. Yes, there are messages that surface about society throughout the film, especially about how we use technology.


Some long for a dog’s life, but this one is uniquely animated and laced with political overtones. What a cast of characters! Not only the stop-motion animated canines you see on the screen, but the cast of Oscar nominees and awards winners who voice them. There is a lot to digest in this film with several story lines running at once, a big cast and an exorbitant amount of detail. It’s about outcasts, flu epidemics, respect, tolerance, immigration, activism, fake news, politics, loyalty, and friendship. It’s relevant, a little confusing, but still entertaining.



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