Leo Brady reviews “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Always at the Carlyle,” and “Jamon, Jamon” at AMovieGuy.com

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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

For all of these Star Wars films we’re getting, it is the prequels that continue to stretch the limits of our love for the George Lucas universe. Rogue One felt slightly fresh, introducing us to a new collection of characters and Episodes I, II, and III left me asking if they were even necessary? Prior to its release, Solo: A Star Wars Story was hit with a blaster shot from producer Kathaleen Kennedy, who made the shocking decision to fire directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller midway through production. Typically, that’s not a good sign, but in enters Ron Howard, with a script from Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan, telling the origin story of the gun slinging scoundrel. This new installment casts newcomer Alden Ehrenreich of Hail, Cesar! Fame as the snarky Solo. It is a role he could never truly succeed at. How could he? Harrison Ford made it his own, but Ehrenreich does leave his own mark. Ranging from spectacular to the painfully awkward, Solo: A Star Wars Story may be rocky at first, but when it finds a groove it’s an adventurous heist film, worthy of the character it represents. Give this Han Solo kid some time to warm up, I think you’re going to like him.

ALWAYS AT THE CARLYLE

Always at the Carlyle is half informative documentary, about one of the oldest and most famous hotels in all of New York city. The other half is a 92 minute self-serving advertisement for why you should stay at The Carlyle hotel. For just the low-low price of a thousand dollars a night too! And that’s if you stay in one of the smaller rooms. From presidents Harry Truman to George W. Bush, to actors like George Clooney, or musicians like Billy Joel, The Carlyle is the swankiest place one could rest their head. Chalk full with a rich history of high-class characters gracing their rooms and elegant service, there’s a reason it’s a famous place to stay. In director Matthew Miele’s documentary, we get a peak at what makes this hotel special, through talking head interviews with various staff members, celebrities who frequently stay, and unknown stories of past and present. Always at the Carlyle is a brisk escape to the lap of luxury, but also feels a bit outdated and out of touch with reality today.

JAMON, JAMON

A film like Jamon, Jamon is out there and it deserves much more praise than it has received. For those who have experienced the Bigas Luna film are truly living. They saw the movie that began the romance between Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Other films, such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie), Brokeback Mountain (Michelle Williams & Heath Ledger) or Swing Shift (Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn) have blossomed into romances behind the camera after the director said cut. Only this was much more than just the start of a beautiful friendship. Jamon, Jamon is a wild mixture of passionate love, soap opera style drama, and a Shakespearean tragedy. Jose (Jodi Molla) and Silvia (Penelope Cruz) are in love and when Silvia reveals that she is pregnant, Jose must finally introduce her to his mother (Stefania Sandrelli). The problem is that his mother disapproves of the relationship and in order to end it, she pays Raul (Bardem), a model, to seduce young Silvia. It turns into a triangle of love, but quickly evolves into a circle of mistrust, where everyone is finding ways to deceive their significant other. Luna’s direction is sultry, as the boundaries of love are blurred, and leaving hearts in pieces. You can watch it all now available on DVD & Blu-Ray with Olive Films.

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