Four new Movies and Shakers reviews from Al Lerner and Linda Lerner

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CRAZY RICH ASIANS

This is one over the top, flashy flick. It took 25 years for a major studio to produce a film with an almost all Asian cast. And this rom-com is so big and ostentatious, it looks like it cost more than the $30 million to make. It’s filled with creative reveals of opulent sets, fashionista worthy clothes, and exclusive parties with what appears to be a cast of thousands against the sleek and breathtaking city of Singapore. Cinematographer Vanja Cernjul (TV’s The Deuce, Marco Polo, Orange is the New Black) captures the richness of the locations.

This film is kind of a cross between Big Fat Greek Wedding and Meet the Parents adding more weird relatives, friends, jealous socialites, plus a viper of a prospective mother-in-law.

PAPILLON

his is one long and tortuous ride. We felt pain for the actors who had to endure what it took to make this movie, maybe more than the lives led by  the real people they’re portraying. And they had big shoes to fill. It’s hard to replicate replicate the performances of iconic actors Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in the 1973 version of the Papillon movie. That film wasn’t completely well received then citing underplayed performances and also being too long.

Director Michael Noer depicts the contrast of Henri “Papillon” Charrière as the handsome, successful safecracking thief of Paris in the 1930’s to not only being put in prison, but put away in solitary confinement on Devil’s Island for trying to escape his brutal sentence after being framed for a murder.

THE MEG

Does this Sharknado on steroids sink or swim? There is exceptional cinematography above and below the surface. And plenty of surprise visits from the animatronic prehistoric Megaolodon. What a beast!

It is believed there actually was such a shark 23 to 2.6 million years ago, in the Cenozoic Era. And around the time of release of this film, a tooth believed to be from such an animal was found in Australia. But they’re definitely extinct. No fear of meeting up with one now. This is just a movie for Sci-fi thrill seekers, Sharknado and Jaws fans.

Director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure: Book of Secrets) reels you in with Bloody action and adventure for the first two thirds of this movie, but, after that, it gets pretty silly and sappy, including a romance, but not with the toothy Mega fish.  

BLACKKKLANSMAN

Spike Lee directs one of the most powerful films to date on racial discrimination. The images are even more impactful because the story is based on a true undercover investigation in the 1970’s. This film is Important because the same kind of hatred is even more mainstream today than it’s been in decades. This is Spike Lee’s first studio film in 10 years and he hits a nerve with scenes he creates showing tense racial conflict.

The director peels back the layers of racism within institutions and elsewhere that have still not changed. Spike Lee reinforces the activism, then and now, with archival footage. He includes newscasts, movies, (including clips from Birth of a Nation), rallies and protests, all the way up to the White Nationalist march in Charlottesville that became so violent.

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