Movie Preview: The New Red Band “No Hard Feelings” trailer strips the shame out of Jennifer Lawrence as Sex Worker

Not as many laughs in this trailer, and as this narrows the focus of this tale to broke barmaid/Uber driver who “dates” a young guy because her parents promise her a Buick Regal, that’s all on the star.

Jennifer Lawrence goes all-in for comedy of the lowdown and physical and frankly sexual variety. An inept first time “sex worker.”

Will she deliver?

“Red Band” because of the profanity and the profane R & B?

June 23.

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Classic Film Review: Angela Bassett as Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” (1993)

When “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” hit the road a few years back, two different women were cast to play the singing, dancing tyro from “Nutbush City Limits.” The producers weren’t stupid. What mere mortal could pull off what Turner did, night after night, on stages all over the world?

You hear that, and remember the big knock against “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” when it came out in 1993. A well-cast musical bio-pic that earned Oscar nominations for stars Angela Bassett in the title role, and for Laurence Fishburne, magnificently loathsome are her controlling, abusive Svengali husband Ike Turner, “Love” never quite got past the feeling that Bassett somehow should have attempted to sing like Tina.

After all, if Gary Busey of all people could transform himself into Buddy Holly (1978) and Sissy Spacek could channel the Queen of Country Music, Loretta Lynn (1980), if you want your movie to become an Oscar-honored classic, that’s the extra effort you’ve got to make.

Turner, who just died this past week, had a distinct persona, dance style and voice. “Inimitable?” Maybe.

Remember, Jessica Lange didn’t dare do her own singing for the Oscar bait Patsy Cline biography, “Sweet Dreams” (1985). Remember too, that not nearly as many people remember “Sweet Dreams” as recall “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Buddy Holly Story” or the new gold standard for musical bio-pics, “Ray.”

I rewatched “What’s Love” when some canny film packaging service re-sold the film to free streaming services when news of Turner’s turn for the worse came out a few months back. It’s a thoroughly entertaining, emotionally-involving story of obscurity turned into success thanks to the rock’n roll meritocracy and the American work ethic that saw the former Anna Mae Bullock leave it ALL on the stage, every night.

Bassett, on the short list of Best Actresses Never to Win an Oscar, is riveting in the title role. And rewatching it, I have to say Fishburne was even better. The fact that she seemed destined to lose the Oscar for not singing probably hurt Fish’s best shot at an Academy Award.

He gives Ike the silky, seductive charm that would have won Anna Mae over, the business savvy and drive of an R&B man who knew he’d have to work twice as hard just to break even, much less break through, being Black, and the bitterness of an abusive husband who took out his frustration — violently — on his wife and others.

We’ve always talked up Bassett’s step-perfect Tina impersonation. Fishburne, playing the uglier role and doing his own singing, knocks this Ike right out of the park. He’d turned the role down more than once, but when Bassett signed on, he did, too, and the movie got made.

But at Oscar time, one couldn’t vote for “Ike” if Tina wasn’t going to get your vote as well, could one? What kind of message would that send?

“Tina Loses to Ike at the Oscars!”

Coming back to this 30 year-old bio-pic, you can see the signs that it wasn’t the prestige picture it might have been. Disney was famously tight-fisted back then, and Touchstone produced it. Director Brian Gibson was best-known for music videos before this outing, and nothing he made afterwards — Gibson died in 2004 — was on a par with his Tina pic.

Casting the comically-snide Jenifer Lewis as Anna Mae’s eyes-on-the-money-prize Mom paid off, but aside from Chi McBride and Khandi Alexander, the supporting cast showed more Disney penny pinching.

The narrative covers Tina’s childhood, belting out tunes at her suburban Memphis church, left to be raised by her grandmother, her discovery by Ike when she auditioned to be a new singer — he went through them — her early grasp of stage presence and the power in her performances, the hair-straightening accident that pointed her toward a lifetime of wigs.

The dialogue doesn’t have the humor of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the pop of “Ray.”

“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” is most moving when Tina, after years of abuse, escapes Ike’s clutches, embraces Buddhism and comes back as the Last Rock Star, a figure the entire world would mourn when she passed at 83.

Some criticized the production’s decision to use the “real” Tina, in performance, in the closing moments as disrespecting Bassett’s performance and perhaps costing her the Oscar.

I couldn’t help but notice that “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in which Rami Malek didn’t get to take his best shot at singing like Freddie Mercury, didn’t make the same mistake, decades later. He and his movie went on to win Oscars.

Every musical bio-pic to come along since, especially the ones that had Oscar hopes but slim budgets, has gone to school on “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” — “Respect,” “Get On Up,” “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” among them.

“What’s Love Got to Do With It?” manages to show us a classic rise/fall/comeback tale with a little flair and a lot of heat. Bassett lets us see Tina Turner’s complexity without taking us into her faux British accent — befitting a Queen — later years. Maybe when this is remade, we’ll get a look at that chapter of the Tina Odyssey.

By the time this movie came out, Turner had gone MTV, dueted with Mick and Bowie and scored monster hits, evolving into the stadium show superstar and bucket list concert icon she was up to the day she died. Maybe we’ll see that remake some day. But until we do, this version will suffice, leaving us with a strong but suffering Tina and an Ike we won’t ever forget, for reasons good and bad.

Rating:  R for domestic violence, strong language, drug use and some sexuality

Cast: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Khandi Alexander, Rob Labelle and Chi McBride.

Credits: Directed by Brian Gibson, scripted by Kate Lanier, based on Tina Turner’s autobiography of the same name. A Touchstone release on Amazon, Tubi, Youtube, Movies! etc.

Running time: 1:58

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Movie Review: A Lot of Care went into Bringing Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman” to the Screen

Craftsmanship counts for a lot in the pristine, PG-13 frights of “The Boogeyman,” a polished and well-cast Stephen King adaptation.

As spine-tingling suspense is a reflexive human response that can generated by shot-selection, lighting, music that sets a tone and jolting sound effects and editing, almost irrespective of the performances, calling “Boogeyman” well-crafted isn’t a grand compliment, on its own.

But throw in sympathetic performances, actors framed in tight closeups and a child actress who knows how to play “The Boogeyman is REAL” and convince us and everybody else she believes it and you’ve got another example of Stephen King delivering the goods.

Granted, the title of the short story sold it. And it took three screenwriters and the efforts of the cast and director Rob Savage (“Host,” the Zoom meeting seance movie, and “Dashcam” were his) to flesh this out to feature film length. Because that story was thin, and truthfully, the plot to this thriller and the “rules” of this “monster” are vague, under-developed and not on a par with the master’s finest work.

But Savage keeps his camera tight on the members of this family that finds itself under assault when a walk-in client brings his “problem” to Dr. Will Harper, who runs his psychiatric practice from his big and baroque wood frame home.

Sophie Thatcher of “Prospect” and TV’s “Yellowjackets” is Sadie, our protagonist, a teen who was having enough trouble fitting in at school before her mother died. She’s just now going back, still grieving, her concern for her not-yet-adjusted little sister (Vivien Lyra Blair) her best distraction. Little Sawyer is having nightmares.

Their psychotherapist dad (Chris Messina) is back at work, solving Sawyer’s problem with strings of holiday lights hanging in her room and a glowing Moon ball for her to sleep with. No, you can’t tell where they put the batteries in that thing.

Sawyer and Sadie are in therapy (LisaGay Hamilton plays Dr. Weller), because Dad isn’t. He’s in denial. What’s he going to do when Sawyer asks him to look under the bed, or demands that he check out her closet, whose door keeps opening on its own, one more time?

“I TOLD you. It’s REAL.”

When that haunted stranger (David Dastmalchian of “Suicide Squad” and “Dune”) comes in, the good doctor can’t call the police fast enough to keep the guy from killing himself and bringing the film’s title character home to roost.

The stranger tries to warn them. This monster? It’s “the thing that comes for your kids when you’re not paying attention.”

And there’s your metaphor, an inattentive, perhaps guilt-ridden father doesn’t take the “real” monster going bump in the night seriously.

“Boogeyman” patiently dilineates characters, gives us a Sadie who “doesn’t WANT to move on” and hates dealing with classmate sympathy and mean girl “get over it” cruelty. It’s only been a month, we’re told.

Savage lets us take this journey from disbelief to shock via Thatcher’s face, captured in dimly-lit close-ups as she tries to rationalize what she’s heard, what she’s seeing, how that ties into the dead guy’s life and how her baby sister was right all along.

Blair is very good at getting across the horror of what she’s experiencing, even if the viewer is wondering how in the hell this kid isn’t leaving the lights on all the time and getting involve-the-older-sister-and-Dad LOUD about the thing skittering up her walls and charging the sofa where she’s playing video games.

I really like the one “rule” the movie seems to establish and the filmmakers find creative ways to illustrate. The Boogey, everybody knows, is afraid of the light. Sawyer fires a bright flashing weapon in her video game to light up the room and expose the beast.

The beast itself is a shrug, standard issue anteater-headed crab-beast with glowing eyes. The more we see of the monster, the less scary he is.

That almost goes for the more we learn of this mystery, too. Marin Ireland shows up as a properly-cracked “explainer” and battler with the boogeyman who is pretty sure a shotgun is all it’ll take to end this.

As I say, the story here didn’t do much for me and seems like a rickety, illogically-pieced-together structure to hang this narrative on.

But the players and the craftsmanship — the lighting, editing, silences and loud noise — make up for that and deliver those frights we ordered the moment we bought a ticket.

Rating: PG-13 for terror, violent content, teen drug use and some strong language

Cast: Sophie Thatcher, Chris Messina, David Dastmalchian, Vivien Lyra Blair,
LisaGay Hamilton and Marin Ireland

Credits: Directed by Rob Savage, scripted by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and Mark Heyman, based on a short story by Stephen King. A 20th Century release.

Running time: 1:38

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Netflixable? German teens cope with joking genitals — “Hard Feelings”

Be honest. It’s the alliterative, titillating headline that grabbed you, right?

Do yourself a favor. DON’T Google “movie with a talking penis.” There are a LOT more of those than you think, so no, it wasn’t invented with that “Pam & Tommy” series on Hulu.

“Hard Feelings” is an Around the World with Netflix teen sex comedy from Germany about a couple of kids not-really fretting about giving up their “v-cards” (they’re virgins) until a lightning strike allows their respective vulva and penis to start chatting, crudely lobbying for a little action — ANY action.

Whatever bestie/girl-next-door Paula (Cosima Henman) thinks about this turn of events, this is the LAST problem Charly (Tobias Schäfer) needs. He’s been nicknamed “Charly No D–k” since a middle school pantsing at the pool. He’s been traumatized ever since. Charly can barely stand to hit the water in swim class.

The taunting is relentless, and God forbid it cause some fresh mishap. That will go viral in a flash, furthering his descent into social outcast Hell.

But that lightning strike adds a new level of ostracizing. He’s now having shouting matches with his chatty, pushy penis, whose name is “Willy,” we learn. Willy, voiced by Tom Beck in the original German soundtrack (you can watch/listen to the film with subtitles, or dubbed) bullies the “boner loner” to act on his carnal urges, to talk to the prettiest and meannest girl in school (Samirah Breuer), or maybe the cute French exchange student (Vivien König).

Paula? Willy wouldn’t mind coming on to “little itty bitty t—ies.”

And Paula, in a pleasant screenwriterly equal-representation turn, is hearing the same patter from “Hoo ha,” aka “V,” her vagina.

“No, I’m your VULVA.”

Hoo ha is all about sexual release, about grooming “down there” and buying the right underwear for such an occasion. Willy’s passing on simular comically crude advice.

But events conspire to put these two into situations with unsuitable partners thanks to Charly’s reputation-changing viral moment and Paula’s too-public shopping for a way-too-sexy bustier. With final exams set to determine their whole future, Charly’s parents (Doris Golpashin and Alex Stein) about to break up and Paula taking sex advice from her wise-ass 10 year-old (Youtube trained) baby sister (Yuna Bennett), how will this all work out for the best?

The “view of another culture” material stuffed into this farce is fascinating, although one can easily read too much in a school that allows the brutal taunting Charly endures to go on, the parents who never ever knock on bathroom or bedroom doors and constantly interrupt whatever their kids are up to, and parents who require no “big conversation” before their child has her or his first sexual experience under their roof while the parents are at home.

The unequal treatment of each character’s new “reputation” is pretty much a global curse. He gets high fives as a playa, she is “slut” shamed.

“Hard Feelings” has a bit of nudity and a lot of vulgarisms packed around its sexual education content, and some of the Willy/Hoo-ha talk is damned funny, in German or in English.

“I would NEVER leave you hangin.’ Little penis joke, there!”

Cute gags including Marlene and her mean girls always chanting “No shaming” in unison after every instance where they’re laughing at shaming, or doing the shaming themselves.

The picture covers all the over-familiar teen sex comedy bases, with the only added bonus coming from wisecracking voice-over commentary from chatterbox genitalia (Monika Oschek is the ever-thirsty voice of “Hoo ha,” aka “V.”).

That over-familiarity is packaged in a film with a somewhat meandering pace, and the clumsy, obvious way everything is resolved is given away in the first act.

If they’re being honest, Netflix is trotting this title out in the US so it will be confused with the Jennifer Lawrence adult-with-a-young-guy sex farce, “No Hard Feelings,” due out in June.

But those reservations aside, “Hard Feelings” still manages to find a few outrageous laughs. So if your teens’ doors are locked and you hear laughter instead of, say, other incriminating sounds, it’s nothing to worry about. They’re just “watching a foreign film on Netflix,” folks.

Rating: TV-MA, sex, nudity and lots of profane talk about both

Cast: Tobias Schäfer, Cosima Henman, Samirah Breuer, Alex Stein, Doris Golpashin, Louis Jérôme Wagenbrenner, Yuna Bennett, Vivien König and Jasmin Shakeri.

Credits: Directed by Granz Henman, scripted by Alexander Dydyna. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:43

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Movie Preview: Idris Elba is Our Man on Board in the middle of a “Hijack”

A negotiator tries to keep himself and 200 disparate passengers Alice until they land.

A late June Apple TV+ release.

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The song they left out of the new “Little Mermaid?”

Considering the stiff and static new version of “The Little Mermaid” runs some 50 minutes LONGER than the classic it is remaking, the only reason to leave this out is…the violence.

If you’re giving us photo real (and emotionless) fish and crustaceans, I guess no one wants to see them hacked, filleted and fricasseed.

This scene’s omission illustrates my big complaints about the stiff live-action/FX-filled remake. This animation is fluid, it dances. The crab and the chef are emotive, all broad bouncy gestures easily registering with the viewer, especially the little kids for whom this masterpiece was made.

The new film lacks that riot of color and motion, scenes that literally dance, all overlapping, overlaying and stuffing the screen with fun and emotion.

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Movie Review: Just Get Gerard Butler to “Kandahar”

As this review is publishing, Hollywood screenwriters are still on strike, hoping to acquire better compensation for all the platforms their work appears on and unionized protection from all the things that AI-generated writing could take away.

Watching a strictly-formula thriller like “Kandahar,” one can understand their alarm. It feels as if it was conceived, scripted and cast by machine.

It’s a quest/chase actioner that bounces through Middle East intrigues on the dusty roads of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

It stars Gerard Butler, a workaholic spy who’s just helped his CIA “black ops” unit sabotage and blow up an Iranian nuclear plant. Tom has an exit strategy, a wife waiting for him to “sign those papers” back in London and a daughter’s graduation to get to.

But as he’s about to dash home, “one more job” comes up. He takes it. He’s got his “reasons.”

He’s sent a translator/guide (Navid Negahban), an older man, an Afghan native now living in America with his own “reasons” for taking on this gig.

And when they’re compromised, they have to cover 400 miles by truck and luck to make it to an “extraction point,” the famous war-torn city of the title.

They will take help from friends and face double crosses as they’re pursued by Taliban warlords ISIS, Iranians and a matinee-idol Pakistani secret agent in a black jumpsuit on a black motorcycle.

The stakes have our man Tom/Gerry growling “You’ll last longer when they start pulling your fingernails off,” and an Iranian villain answering a hostage’s “You said I could GO HOME” pleas with “You WILL. As a MARTYR!”

Firefights, oddly-conceived battles, payoffs and secret grief and “noble sacrifice,” “Kandahar ” is just a grab bag of action pic cliches.

Tell me a machine couldn’t have conceived, negotiated, packaged/cast and scripted this utterly generic road picture. While another AI program filled in the blanks while generating a review. Ahem.

The multiple competing agendas/points of view give the film the veneer of complexity. We try to follow the Pakistani (Ali Fazal) as he works his sources, pays off warlords and hunts a quarry he wants to “sell on the open market.” The Iranians are led by a fanatical Revolutionary Guard Colonel (Bahador Foladi) whose “pawn” in this game is taking a journalist (Elnaaz Norouzi) who helped “expose” the CIA’s involvement, and is TV-reporter pretty, the perfect hostage.

Taliban and ISIS factions also figure, but no money was spent on casting “leaders” for them.

And naturally, generic CIA honchos are watching all this unfold via drone images with strict “rules of engagement” that don’t allow them to engage.

Characters are forgotten, story threads sort of left hanging and the Saudi locations are no more impressive than any other place substituting for Afghanistan, and make one wonder if Gerard Butler & Co. have gone Phil Mikkelson, cinema-washing a bloody regime by working with its entities to make a mediocre movie.

A few wowza sequences lift “Kandahar” — a spirited chase through city traffic in what is meant to be Herat, Afghanistan, a night pursuit uses that “Midnight Special” stunt of keeping the lights off driving with night-vision goggles, which help a little when they’re chased down and must shoot their way out of another jam.

I say “their way,” but really, the movie is strictly a Gerry Butler vehicle, and he does almost all the fighting, if not all the emoting.

But in surrounding him with an almost-faceless and limited-fame/little-screen-charisma supporting cast, the picture has no pop or pathos between the sometimes top drawer action beats.

Hitchcock said, “Good villains make good thrillers,” and that’s really “Kandahar’s” undoing. All these possibilities, and nobody wanted to spend a dime on a “name” heavy — in the CIA, in Iran, in Afghanistan?

Fazal is a well-known Indian actor, and he gives us a taste of contemptuous professionalism and stands out from the many other villains. But he’s not on the screen enough, thanks to the many groups/agendas the Mitchell LaFortune script (tell me that doesn’t sound like an AI-generated “action film writer’s name”) piles on.

Every checkbox trope about this movie feels familiar, like we’ve seen it multiple times before, not necessarily always starring Gerry Butler.

Yes he’s a credible, charismatic action star who always delivers the goods, even in middling fare like this.

But if you have the money to fake a nuclear explosion, you’d still better set some of it aside for colorful actors and maybe a rewrite or two. “Kandahar” may only feel like the emotionally-flat, generic action beats AI future. But as of now, the only movies that work have to let us see and feel the human touch.

Rating: R for violence and language

Cast: Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal, Bahador Foladi and Elnaaz Norouzi

Credits: Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, scripted by Mitchell LaFortune. An Open Road release.

Running time: 1:59

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Movie Review: A Comic invites a Legend to Play his Dad — “About My Father”

Sebastian Maniscalo is a bouncy, animated stand-up comic who uses his Italian-American background in his act. So when he whipped up a screenplay with some of that material as a star vehicle, who’s he get to play the title character in “About My Father?”

Oscar-winner Robert DeNiro is who, The Greatest Screen Actor of his Generation — untouchable in dramatic roles, and pretty damned funny in comical ones.

So Maniscalo, who was in “Green Book” and “Tag” and “The Irishman,” whose biggest screen role before this might have been his turn as the “smart” younger brother in the Ray Romano dramedy “Somewhere in Queens,” is sharing scene after scene — riffing and parenting and pleading and swapping complaints and insults — with The Greatest Screen Actor of His Generation.

And whatever else you or I think about this “Family, amIright?” culture-clashing comedy, know this. The kid holds his own. Robert Freakin’ DeNiro is staring back at him and they’re male-bonding and all of that, and Maniscalo gives as good as he’s gets.

The film is a meet-the-prospective in-laws/”Meet the Fockers” variation. A Chicago boutique hotel manager (Maniscalo) travels to the posh part of coastal Virginia to be with the woman he hopes to marry (Leslie Bibb, down to play), her Senator Mom (Kim Cattrall, fierce), born-to-money hotelier Dad (David Rasche) and their amped-up and entitled “bro” son (Anders Holm) and his flaky New Age flake sibling (Brett Dier).

The catch? Sebastian Maniscalo — yes, he uses his real name — can’t leave his widowed, cheap, Sicilian-immigrant hairdresser Dad (DeNiro) alone on the Fourth, “his favorite holiday…because you don’t have to buy presents.” Besides, the old man won’t pass on his grandmother’s ring to Sebastian to give to his intended Ellie until he’s “checked ‘them’ out.”

The rich and privileged, in their golf course-side McMansion, where peacocks walk the grounds, will host “a working guy” who has a permanent, generational case of “How much a place like this/a table like this/a yacht like this cost?”

So yeah, cultures will clash and put-downs will be delivered, almost entirely from son to father — about his tact, his clothes and his shoes.

“You look like the guy who killed John Wick’s dog!”

The script has some funny lines, one outrageous sight gag and a few less outrageous ones, and director Laura Terruso (“Good Girls Get High” and “Work It”) keeps the camera tight for the zingers and wide for the slapstick.

But the best scenes — all of them — are the father-son dynamic, arguing at home, in Dad’s murderously-maintained garden (he poisons any wildlife that comes for his veg), in Dad’s seriously Sicilian beauty salon, in the attic dormer where they room together in Virginia.

My favorite running gag is the father-passed-down-to-son affection for colognes, a bit of shtick borrowed from Maniscalco’s physically-demonstrative stage act. Each man has his “signature scent.” Each sprays his into the air, and each peacocks his way through the mist to achieve the perfect application. It’s freaking hilarious.

The rest of the movie? Frankly, that’s a bit on the “meh” side. Jokes and situations we’ve seen in lots of other comedies, and none them helped by the hack screenwriter’s laziest or in this cast most egocentric crutch — voice-over narration.

We don’t need to hear “I WORSHIPPED my father” or the other pages and pages of lines narrated. Just SHOW us, and if it’s funny enough, it’ll work. Maniscalco’s incessant narrating sounds like a desperate stand-up comic hitting material too hard to let it land.

The supporting cast has its moments, but this movie sinks or swims with this father-son dynamic. And their banter, not the constant “ba-da-BING” of would-be punchlines voiced-over by Maniscalco, is what’s funny.

The kid indeed does hold his own in his many scenes with the master. If only he’d known enough to shut his yap off camera…

Rating: PG-13 for suggestive material, (profanity) and partial nudity

Cast: Robert DeNiro, Sebastian Maniscalco, Leslie Bibb, Kim Cattrall, Brett Dier, Anders Holm and David Rasche

Credits: Directed by Laura Terruso, scripted by Austen Earl and Sebastian Maniscalco. A Lionsgate release.

Running time:

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Movie Review: Brian Cox and Sinqua Walls are Wounded Warriors “Mending the Line,” trout fishing for Closure

“Mending the Line” is a simple, sentimental story of combat veterans bonding and healing the wounds of war via fly fishing in Montana.

A fine cast doesn’t turn this into any sort of existential epic, as it doesn’t transcend any of the genres it mashes up. No, it isn’t “A River Runs Through It.”

But the the PTSD is treated realisticially and with sympathy. And the metaphors for fishing and life, the appreciation of fly fishing as a subject for some of the most sensory and soulful sports literature and meditative moments on the stream lift it and make it worth your while.

A prologue tells us how Marine John Colter (Sinqua Walls) came to be in a VA hospital in Montana, healing his broken bones and torn skin, but crawling into a bottle to cope with the survivor’s guilt over the fateful command decision he came to make and lives altered by it.

His doctor (Patricia Heaton) hears his hopes of “going back home,” to the Corps, “the only real family I’ve ever had.” And she sees how little good group therapy is doing him.

As she’s got this cranky old Vietnam War vet (Brian Cox) who won’t heed her advice about not going fishing alone thanks to his advanced years and shaky health, she takes a shot at solving both her problems.

Colter is sent to see Old Man Ike about learning to fish.

Ike Fletcher’s regular fishing buddy is just as timeworn. And if you didn’t think you needed to see the star of “Succession” swapping jibes and casts with Oscar winner Wes Studi, you haven’t been thinking hard enough. Their scenes are a little underwritten, but they don’t need a lot of help creating crusty but sweet chemistry.

Perry Mattfield plays Lucy, a sad-eyed local librarian who occasionally goes to the VA hospital to read to the veterans. When Ike puts Colter to work cleaning the back room at the local flyfishing shop, he not only chides him with “There’s tactical training and there’s boot camp. THIS is boot camp.” He assigns his reluctant pupil reading.

“There’s more great literature written about fly fishing than any other sport.” That’s how Colter meets Lucy and discovers books like “Casting Forward.”

“There’s a great deal about living that trout can teach us.”

There’s not a lot to this picture, even though our three leads harbor “secrets” and even though not all problems can be solved by “healing on the water,” learning how to properly cast. The pacing is a bit slack, as well.

But Walls lets us feel the pain of his injuries and his imagined guilt, Cox uses his new student to try and find one last “recon” mission and Mattfield lets us ponder her “secret” and the ways it has taken away her spirit and being trapped in this town and human reminders of this tragedy is killing her spirit.

And the patience of the sport and the tranquility of the settings casts a spell, and it all comes together in modestly, honestly moving ways.

Rating: R (Language|Some Violent Images)

Cast: Sinqua Walls, Brian Cox, Patricia Heaton, Perry Mattfield and Wes Studi

Credits: Directed by Joshua Caldwell, scripted by Stephen Camelio. A Blue Fox release.

Running time: 2:02

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Tina Turner: 1939-2023

She was a fair villainess in a “Mad Max” movie, sang an underrated James Bond theme.

She was subject of a good almost great bio pic starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne.

Oh, and she was the headliner in the best concert I ever saw.

This, BTW, is how you shoot and edit a legend’s concert film.

A singular talent, an electrifying live performer, icon, role model, survivor.

Look at all her concert clips on YouTube. Her backing band loved her, her backup dancers so awed they dare not let her down.

RIP, Tina Turner.

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