A bit of something for everyone in this week’s line-up of ten films, five fiction features and five documentaries. Leading off our blockbuster list, we have Keanu Reeves returning in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Rating: B-plus), “parabellum” being Latin for “prepare for war.” Jim Slotek finds parallels to ballet and Looney-Tunes cartoons in this dynamic action flick, as super-assassin John Wick, with a big bounty on his head, dodges legions of enemies including a lethal sushi chef.
English director Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy, Mr. Turner) has a new historical drama, Peterloo (B-minus) recalling a workers’ protest and massacre in Manchester, England, two-hundred years ago. Reviewer Thom Ernst was impressed by the visual detail and the rousing pay-off, but warns there’s some heavy lifting keeping up with the characters and their agendas.
Jim Slotek also looks at Aniara (B-minus) a Swedish space movie, based on the epic Cold War poem by Nobel Prize-winner Harry Martinson, features thousands of people stranded on a mall-sized space ship, with limitless alcohol, orgies and an AI system that gets so depressed it shuts down.
There’s a space connection in the teen drama, The Sun Is Also A Star (B-minus), a creamy-dreamy Manhattan love story with a speck of topical grit, featuring Blackish star, Yara Shahidi as a teen astronomy geek facing imminent deportation after meeting the boy (Riverdale’s Charles Melton) of her dreams. Thom Ernest reviews the sentimental A Dog’s Journey (C) about a good dog, who through several re-incarnations, keeps biting the wheel of life.
There’s a rich collection of documentaries this week, starting with Bonnie Laufer Kreb’s interview with the 90-year-old sex therapist, hoarder and Holocaust survivor, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, star of director Ryan White’s poignant and insightful, Ask Dr. Ruth. The Biggest Little Farm (B-plus), is an appealling personal documentary shot over several years, follows a Los Angeles couple who explore the complex reality of managing an ecologically-friendly farm. Kim Hughes’ reviews City Dreamers (B-plus) about a quartet of veteran women architects in their eighties and nineties, who broke the gender barrier to change the urban landscape.
Meeting Gorbachev (B) sees the usually gloomy Werner Herzog in full fan mode in a series of interviews with former Soviet leader. Finally, the Nova Scotia-set This Is North Preston (C-plus) looks at community stigma and solidarity in Canada’s oldest black community.
In this week’s podcast, we talk about the Zen of Keanu, Cannes memories and the difference between lost-in-space movies and booze cruises.
Have a great weekend.