“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” (Comedy: 1:42)
With : Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown and Austin Crute
Director: Adamma Ebo
Note : R (Strong language, sexual content)
Film critic: “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” marks Adamma Ebo’s directorial debut for a feature film. She leaves an impressionable mark, even if the antics go too far.
Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Brown) and his wife, First Lady Trinitia (Hall), are leaders of the Southern Baptist megachurch, Wander to Greater Paths.
The church has just lost 25,000 members thanks to a scandal involving Pastor Childs. He was accused of sexually coercing a number of young men into having relations with him.
As the pastor and his wife strive to restore their ministry and rebuild the church congregation, they face marital problems.
Despite the title of this film, it is not a religious film per se. It’s a prank that exposes the shenanigans that happen in a mega-church. The satirical moments are written, directed and produced by Adamma Ebo (“CRE.AM & Butter” (2018), who is developing his 2018 short film titled the same. This film and the short film are a seemingly comedic recap of Bishop Eddie Long events that made headlines over a decade ago.
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” has a message about organized religion, but it challenges the system. Instead, it ridicules religiosity. The antics work thanks to the acting of lead actors Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown. They are both phenomenal.
Again, this is a comedy about religion, not a faith film.
The characters, especially Hall and Brown, are irreverent as they are well acted. At times, many characters appear far from holy. It’s a laugh, though a lot of the material is adult material that pushes the envelope in subtle ways while bordering on clever and silly moments.
To note: B- (This film honks for interested audiences.)
“Gigi & Nate” (Drama: 1h54)
With : Marcia Gay Harden, Charlie Rowe, Diane Ladd and Jim Belushi
Director: Nick Hamm
Note : PG-13 (Thematic Elements)
Film critic: This family entertainment slips on emotional aspects but it has its moments. Often, small family storylines receive negative reviews for being too rosy in their intent. The intention of this film is to inspire audiences with decent fun for the whole family. This movie achieves that.
Nate Gibson (Rowe) is a young man who loses his will to live after a near-fatal bout with bacterial meningitis that leaves him quadriplegic. Nate’s life of depression changes when he receives a capuchin monkey named Gigi. The service animal soon becomes an integral part of Nate’s life, giving the young man a reason to live again.
What Nate wins is hope. Now that the COVID pandemic is waning, many people returning to see movies can use this kind of escape. “Gigi & and Nate” inspires if nothing else, even when too voluminous for its final 30 minutes.
To note: B- (A good duet.)
“One Way” (Thriller/Drama: 1h36)
With : Colson Baker, Storm Reid, Travis Fimmel, Drea Matteo and Kevin Bacon
Director: Andre Baird
Note : R (Intrusive language, violence and drug use)
Film critic: Sometimes a little-known film manages to amaze with its ability to grab attention and create constant entertainment.
“One Way” is an interesting thriller that takes place over a few hours one night. The narrative tells an inviting piece of a criminal with a gunshot wound.
Freddy (Baker, better known as Machine Gun Kelly) is a wounded man with money and drugs stolen from a notorious crime boss, Vic (Matteo).
Freddy is on a bus that departs from Lake City, Florida, makes a stop in Valdosta, and ends its night run in Cairo, Georgia. Along the way, Freddy faces multiple dangers while forming various relationships with several people on the bus.
Ben Conway’s screenplay is imaginative, even if one feels left out by some of the outward elements of its narrative. The characters spend much of their time talking in this dramatic gangster film.
Yet much of the plot exists off the bus as well as on it when the characters on the bus are fascinating character studies of their own accord.
Conway (“Nightrider”, 2021) is creative with its setting and characters.
Baker’s looks make him an attractive choice for this film’s lead role, Freddy. He is the henchman of a small gangster boss, but his character is also a man who tries to do good for the people he can help.
Freddy plays a role in a film noir. Freddy is not a saint but he has good intentions. The problem is that his intentions are charged with a tumultuous past and Baker works in that role.
However, Storm Reid (“Sleight”, 2016) is a talented young actress.
She has a certain beauty in this role. She comes across as a real person. She rivals Baker as a character by providing a richly developed character on the bus.
A classic noir thriller, “One Way” features an array of characters. Pretty much all of them are sleazy in one form or another, ranging from child molesters to mafia agents.
The characters work in a small setting, though you never get to see much beyond the darkened windows until the final 20 minutes.
The film begins in a way that appears in the middle of the story. You have to adapt to the characters as the plot progresses. However, the film attracts enough attention to make it worthwhile.
To note: B- (Go to a captivating thriller.)
“Medieval” (Drama/History/War: 2 hours, 6 minutes)
With : Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe, Til Schweiger and Michael Caine
Director: Petr Jakl
Note : R (Violent and macabre content throughout, and some nudity)
Film critic: “Medieval” is a “Braveheart” longing to be. It’s an interesting tale that lacks the epic of its historical figure, the Czech general Jan Zizka.
Seasoned 15th-century leader Jan Zizka (Foster) finds himself in the midst of warring factions after the death of the reigning Holy Roman Emperor.
As the kingdoms descend into chaos of feuding kings, Lord Boresh (Caine) hires Zizka and his men to kidnap Lady Katherine (Lowe), the fiancee of the mighty Lord Rosenberg (Til Schweiger). Boresh and others want to prevent corrupt King Sigismund (Matthew Goode) and Rosenberg’s rise to power.
As a biopic, this film falls short of historical figure Jan Zizka. Supposedly, he never lost a battle as a military leader. The war and other action scenes are energetically appealing, but the rest of the film fails to inspire.
Ben Foster does his best but he seems out of place with his overly modern western appearance. Despite other major talent attached to this film, it fails to capture attention beyond its gory action scenes.
To note: C+ (The tale of the Middle Ages is mediocre entertainment.)
“See How They Run” (Mystery/Comedy: 1 hour, 38 minutes)
With : Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, etc.
Note : PG-13 (Violence/bloody images, language and sexual reference)
Film critic: Agatha Christie’s ‘Mouse Trap’ is performed on stage in 1950s London’s West End. The stage play is gearing up for a cinematic release, so Hollywood director Leo Köpernick (Brody), who will direct the feature, watches room for movie ideas.
The hit play halts production after someone murders Köpernick. Cynical Inspector Stoppard (Rockwell) and ambitious rookie Constable Stalker (Ronan) solve the case, which sparks public interest.
This good polar satire goes into the underground operations of the theater. It’s a nice comic scenario on the backstage of a play.
As the main characters played by Rockwell and Ronan investigate, their clues lead them to interesting places. Some of their destinations are dangerous and lead to greater mysteries. As the crime crusaders pursue their case, audiences are treated to an array of characters, each with motives to kill.
“See How They Run” wanders off with its portrayal of Agatha Christie and other shenanigans nearing its end. However, he is still laughable. The panoply of characters intrigues thanks to the good performances of the cast.
To note: B- (Despite a short film stint, antics are fun.)
“Pearl” (Horror: 1 hour, 43 minutes)
With : Mia Goth, Tandi Wright, David Corenswet and Emma Jenkins-Purro
Director: Ti West
Note : R (Heavy violence, gore, strong sexual content and graphic nudity)
Film critic: Director-writer Ti West and actress and co-writer Mia Goth explain how Pearl became the oldest female killer in ‘X,’ which debuted earlier this year.
“X” and “Pearl”, Ti West is the director of both films and the scenarios are strangely inviting because they are bloody.
Mia Goth plays the crazy Pearl again because she is in “X”. Pearl lives in a rural area with her overbearing mother, Ruth (Tandi Wright), and paraplegic father (Matthew Sunderland) during the 1918 flu pandemic.
Pearl dreams of a life away from the farm. She wants to be a dancer in the cinema. As the young woman plans to leave the farm for the cinema, she encounters obstacles on her way. However, Pearl has ways of ridding those who stand in her way.
Pearl is an immersive character study about her declining sanity. His lofty goals for a better life outweigh any sense of morality. Mia Goth makes the role appealing, as Pearl is manipulative and off-putting but still fascinating. Goth demands your attention and she holds it.
“Pearl” looks like something out of a 1970s movie. Ti West’s skill at producing horror is excellent. It focuses on human behavior, people’s most primitive instincts. But he gives the reasons for the behavior of his people. Such works, though it pushes the boundaries with an abundance of violent moments.
To note: B (She is a pearl.)
Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been criticizing films for over 20 years in South Georgia.
Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been criticizing films for over 20 years in South Georgia.