The Black Phone Review


Films with kidnapping and horror are my jam when it comes to suspense films, because there’s always the question whether the kidnap victim can survive. The Black Phone had me asking that question multiple times.

The Black Phone is a new level of horror and terror with a unique setup. The film contains a generous amount of back story and frequent twists. Ethan Hawke plays a character known as “The Grabber”, and he is the one who drives the terror. Hawke still has that nice guy personality in this role, but here it’s blended with a healthy dose of evil.

The Black Phone is set in a small town where children have been going missing. There is a boy named Finney, played by Mason Thames, who is fascinated with horror flicks on TV. His world changes when he is abducted by The Grabber, who puts him into a soundproof basement. A creepy feature of The Grabber is that he always wears a ghoulish mask. Finney’s options are limited until he comes across a phone that is broken, but can mysteriously be used to talk to The Grabber’s previous victims. These victims help Finney try to find a way to escape the basement.

The Black Phone is a film with many dark corners that can be very anxiety-provoking. It is also one of the best horrors flicks I have seen in a while. It manages to come off as authentic, and Hawke is truly magnificent as the stylish masked enemy. He delivers his performance in his mellow-toned, but here very menacing, demeanor.

For fans of the horror genre The Black Phone is going to be a wild ride. Again, this film takes scary to new heights. The realism grows the horror and there are many mind-boggling moments as Finney tries to fight back and The Grabber enjoys tormenting Finney. Do not miss this original horror blockbuster. Three and a half stars for The Black Phone.

Elvis Review


The grandeur of director Baz Luhrmann is on full display in his newest offering, Elvis. The film starts with nostalgic visuals and the excitement builds with anticipation as it progresses. Elvis is faithful in its direction and narration, and the vibrance and brilliance is there throughout the film. But everyone knows the tragedy that ensued in the King’s life, so the viewer needs to be prepared for a large dose of sadness.

Presley is played by Austin Butler, and he is the top-notch Elvis Presley that the world will love. Butler can also make us feel Elvis’s heartache. Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, is played by Tom Hanks. The film often feels like a heavyweight match between the two characters.

Elvis tracks Presley’s career from the start, when his dance moves cause all kinds of controversy and his relationship with Colonel Tom Parker begins. Parker helps Presley sign big contracts for big money. Presley has the moves, the personality, and the voice to make the ladies blush. But despite his positive qualities, Presley builds a mixed reputation. He is criticized for his famous leg moves, which are deemed to be sexual or crude. It is his voice that sells, however, and Parker finds a way to help Presley get his name out there more and more. Presley soon finds himself with shows in Tennessee and Las Vegas, at massive venues. Despite his success—or maybe because of it—Presley falls into a downward spiral of drug use, and his relationship with Parker falters.

Luhrmann has a method of fading colors in and out, making the colors go wild and happy when there is success and fading them to a melancholy feel when there is failure. He also creates shadows, quick transitions, and he throws in tangents to heighten the interest. His use of imagery creates a landscape that tracks Presley’s successes and failures.

The tension and the struggles of Presley will hit his fans emotionally. He had a wildly successful career but he struggled in other parts of his life, including relationships and finances. Luhrmann knows how to make his audience cry, so bring tissues. Where I felt the film was strongest, though, was when Presley pulls himself up again after he falls. He continues to perform, and to inspire. He also begins to realize that he doesn’t need Parker all the time.

Director Luhrmann is visually audacious with Elvis, and it is his brilliance beyond anything else that makes the film mesmerizing. Despite the sadness, it is still a worthwhile and wonderful experience that will have audiences jamming to Presley’s music, laughing, and crying. Three and a half stars for Elvis.

Brian and Charles Review


Creativity is a subject that can spark a confident message and can be elaborated on in many ways. Brian and Charles is all about creativity which Brian demonstrates with his robot, Charles. The film’s cinematography feels real and displays painful emotions. The movie deals with finding ways to overcome boredom and loneliness. Brian uses his ability to invent things to cope with his isolation. Brian and Charles has a retro feel and the robot helps enhance the film with positive humor.

The film is solid in its delivery. The writing for the film was done by David Earl and Chris Hayward. Earl also plays Brian in the film and Hayward plays Charles the robot. The film grasps the narration process through the eyes of Brian as he elaborates in fragments about why his life is how it is and about being an inventor. The film follows a standard format before rolling into the more exciting events once there is a clear understanding of what Brian’s goals are. His ultimate invention is Charles which provides him with a new buddy.

Brian is one of those people who experiences melancholy moments. He lives in his quiet home in the mountains of North Wales and has a fascination for experiments and inventions. Because he lacks a social life, he builds Charles which is a robot made from a box refrigerator and a bunch of wires. The bond between Brian and Charles grows strong. Charles has a Stephen Hawking type of voice, and their communication is joyful,endearing, and entertaining. Charles helps Brian gain confidence in himself and helps Brian deal with his depression. Brian and Charles is a film that shows there are endless possibilities for bright lights in life.

In the eyes of Charles, however, I also felt some grief and pain. Charles expresses an enthusiastic interest to see the real world and other countries. Brian doesn’t feel that can happen, becauseCharles is a robot and his invention. The many frustrations between robot and reality for Charles are heartbreaking. Charles creates a sense of security for Brian and helps him cope with his loneliness. The sad part is that Brian can do more than Charles because he is a human and Charles can only do what Brian thinks is best.

The scenery plays a big role in portraying Charles’ feelings of despair. Set on the empty lands of North Wales, Brian and Charles is a film of parallel feelings between the characters as they figure things out against harsh landscape. As the seasons pass in North Wales, the more Charles wants to see the world. As the old saying goes, “Where there is a will there is a way!”

The creativity in Brian and Charles displays faith and positivity for both characters. The film reminded me of how loneliness can feel, and how the connections in our lives help us not feel so alone. In this heartfelt film, Brian used his skill of inventing to create his friend Charles. Three and a half stars.

Treating cinema in many forms of art!

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