Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain epitomized the ethos of his rock-and-roll idols: live life as an adventure, and always tell it like it is.  An admitted former heroin addict in his teens, he was inspired to become a cook while working as a dishwasher.  Roadrunner chronicles Bourdain’s amazing life, which included several successful careers: cook, chef, best-selling author and Emmy-winning host of a popular television show.  Ultimately, Bourdain was a restless soul whose all-consuming quest for experience took him around the world, several times over.  Emotional commentary by family, friends and colleagues help us to understand who Bourdain was, beyond his television persona.  Roadrunner paints a stunning portrait of a larger-than-life person who was loved and appreciated by many, but for some reason never felt it or believed it.  Highly recommended.

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Black Widow

Black Widow is an odd entry in the MCU: a solo outing for a female superhero that has already died (see Avengers: Endgame), and who’s actor (Scarlett Johansson) has gone on record saying that she will not return to the role after this outing.  In spite of those headwinds, anticipation for Black Widow was high.  Unfortunately, Black Widow is of two minds: quirky indie dramedy interspersed with a Marvel movie.  The comedic elements are fine, but don’t mix well with the going through the motions action sequences.  Johansson and Florence Pugh, as younger sister Yelena, are fine, and David Harbour is funny as an over-the-hill Red Guardian.  The movie’s two villains are dull as dry toast, however.  We know Natasha survives all of the proceedings, so the stakes are non-existent.  Worse still, Black Widow references two events that would be much more exciting to see than anything we end up seeing.  A disappointment.  Not recommended.

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Fear Street: Part One 1994

Fear Street:1994 opens promisingly with a skull-masked slasher taking out a young, pretty bookseller at the mall.  The movie then introduces five high schoolers who unwittingly unleash the malevolent spirit of the Fier witch when they disturb her bones lying in the forest.  The witch was killed back in 1666, but has been the influencer behind inexplicable homicides for decades.  The actors portraying the teenagers either bring too much or too little intensity to their roles, resulting in a “who cares” attitude when they are eventually stalked by resurrected killers from the past.  1994 Is competently directed, and I liked its day-glo aesthetic, but its reliance on  Nineties music becomes a distraction.  Not recommended.

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Zola is a neon-tinged adult nightmare, featuring pole dances, hard core rap, violent pimps and sex work that goes from pitiful to dangerous.  The movie is a darkly funny road trip, starting out innocently (!) enough as a way for Zola and her BFF Stefani to earn thousands of dollars  dancing in strip clubs in Florida.  Zola, the movie’s heroine quickly becomes ensnared by her Stefani and her pimp in prostitution.  Zola keeps her cool, hopeful that she’ll be unharmed and free to go at the end of the weekend.  The movie is an entertaining, if frustratingly superficial, ninety minute dance on the wild side.  Recommended.

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Werewolves Within

Werewolves Within is a throwback to the werewolf-comedy movies of the Eighties, where classics like The Howling and An American Werewolf in London unabashedly combined macabre humor and gruesome killings.  Based on a video game, Werewolves Within is actually a mashup of two genres: werewolf-movies and murder mysteries, with some romance thrown in for added seasoning.  I enjoyed the horror-comedy and the quirky romance between the leads, but found the mystery uninteresting and unnecessary.  Overall, the movie is a solid B-movie.  Recommend for the parts that work and gratuitous use of Ace of Bass.

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