Category Archives: Film reviews

Easter Sunday Review

Director Jay Chandrasekhar directs a comical and lighthearted flick that is purely a joy. Easter Sunday is astounding in its comedic continuity. With Jo Koy as the lead, he displays his energetic comedy vibe. He blends it into the life of a father navigating many challenges with family and career conflicts. I saw Koy himself perform at the Chicago Theatre in the fall of 2021. Looking back at that performance of his, I realized how much Koy can bring his energetic comedy material to a lighthearted comedy. Easter Sunday made me realize how much meaning there is around family and the obstacles some may go through despite its setbacks.

With the concept of family, tradition, and culture being a major element in Easter Sunday, the scenario of Koy’s character juggling many frustrations spoke to me. Even though many families keep their traditions, Koy’s character finds ways to spark the joy of his family to make up for his own insecurities. Easter Sunday is engrossing as Koy’s character tries to keep the positivity with his family and himself intact. There are numerous annoyances illustrating tardiness, lack of communication, or just Koy’s character trying to find diplomatic solutions for his errors (even though many of them are not intentional). I found the joy in Easter Sunday when Koy’s character finds himself in problems with karma. That is because even his problem from the past is ones that he tries to resolve with his clever sense of humor.

In Easter Sunday, Koy is Joe Valencia. An actor and a comedian in Los Angeles, California. The film is based of the real-life of Koy’s career with stand-up comedy. Joe tries to land a big acting project, but he is also trying to be a good father for his son Junior. Junior is played by Brandon Wardell. In between Joe waiting for news from his agent, Joe is also getting ready to celebrate the tradition of Easter with his family. Joe’s mindset starts to hit plateaus as his mother Susan starts to stress out. Susan is played by Lydia Gaston. Apparently, Joe’s extended family keeps bringing in all kinds of problems to the table on the traditional holiday. This includes financial struggles, honesty problems, and a whole variety of cultural binds. All in between these problems Joe himself is still waiting from his agent and trying to connect with his son and his family. Easter Sunday continues keeps bringing in all kinds of family problems to the table, but it is presented in the most charming and entertaining perspective.

Koy is mind-boggling in his performance as an actor, comedian, and a father. He has that laid-back mindset, the positive attitude focus, and many quotes that many people will connect to. His presentations of them are true and honest. In a scenario of talking about family and all, there is a moment where he says, “My son dies when I take aways his phone.” That reminded me of how many people today state the obvious of the many distractions with the ones we love. The relationship between Joe and Junior has its moments. Easter Sunday reminded me that even at times when people in my family tell me something I do not want to hear, that it is never to be personally rude. It is just a reminder that some priorities are more important than the technologies that we are hooked on.

Easter Sunday is an adventure of laughter, disconnect, and many funny first-world problems. Koy’s performance had me in laughter. The times culture and tradition in Easter Sunday is relevant to today’s society. It is presented in the most faithful and enduring style of filmmaking from Chandrasekhar. Three and a half stars for Easter Sunday.

Bullet Train Review

What country has almost two thousand miles of very high speed “bullet” trains? Japan. What happens to a bullet train if anything goes wrong at those speeds? The passengers—and the main characters in the film Bullet Train—are of course in very serious risk of harm. What actor can deliver a dark humor with laughs and deceit that can stand up to these extreme risks? The one and only Brad Pitt.

In Bullet Train, a film directed by David Leitch, Pitt is Ladybug, a man who does dirty work for high pay. He is assigned to retrieve a briefcase on a train, but there are others aboard the train who have the same goal. There are two agents, Tangerine and Lemon, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry. There is Prince, played by Joey King. And there is Kimura, played by Andrew Koji. All have one element in common—they are all assassins. Ladybug realizes that the other operatives aboard the train will make his mission more difficult, and that there are many dangers associated with the mission.

With Bullet Train, Leitch uses violence, conflict, and characterizations for numerous surprises. With Pitt as the lead character, there is no question that it will be a ride of high-octane fun. Pitt’s down-to-earth attitude and method style acting is a perfect fit for this film. His character here is reminiscent of his role in Mr. and Mrs. Smith(2005) blended with Fight Club (1999).

The character development in Bullet Train is superb. There are tons of satirical conversations between Ladybug and Tangerine, and Ladybug and Lemon. All of the main characters are criminal pros, and as the tension grows they think back on their background and to funny conversations with clever metaphors and references. Be ready to hear a generous amount of references to Thomas the Train. One character repeatedly refers to it as his way of coping with stressful situations, and the references are always hysterical.

Bullet Train is flat out fun with many tangents, and it’s unforgettable. There are many blindsiding scenarios where the film becomes a ride of laughs, action, and non-stop brilliance from the mind of director David Leitch. It is an action hijacking film on acid, a warp-speed of brilliance and engrossing suspense. I did not want the train to stop. With Brad Pitt in fight mode there is always an extra hit of something, an iron fist, sarcasm, misdirection, or a combination of the above. See Pitt in his epic performance on a very fast train. Four stars for Bullet Train.

Vengeance Review

In his directorial debut, B.J. Novak (Ryan from “The Office”) brings us Vengeance, a hysterical and dark film that defines how small a world can be for an introverted reporter with an articulate and creative mind.

In Vengeance Novak plays Ben Manalowitz, a radio host in New York City. When a girl that he previously hooked up with is found dead, Ben decides to go down South to investigate her death. The women’s family hosts Ben and the trip ends up being more than he anticipated. He gets more insight on the girl he dated, but also gets a taste for the place she grew up —a town with an oddball of a family and lots of redneck activities.

Director Novak goes all out in culture mode in Vengeance, and the reporter side of Novak’s character brings out the craziness of the quirky characters in the film, including mother Sharon, played by J. Smith Cameron, and odd town gang member Quentin Sellers, played by Ashton Kutcher. Both actors have laid-back personalities, and they can both be silly, which works well with this dark comedy.

With the small-town setting, the background of Novak’s character, and the mystery, Vengeance is a ride of deceitful but clever humor. The title of the film may make its audience assume that the film is geared toward revenge, which is what the girl’s family wants in the beginning. But that is certainly not the film’s focus. It is more about Ben, a New York City guy, learning to blend with the rural folks and starting to become one of them.

Novak’s directing in Vengeance is top-notch, his character is outstanding, and the film is a slightly quirky but rather intriguing flick. It had me deep in thought and curiosity, but it also made me laugh a lot. I was sold on the news and reporting concept, and it was fascinating to see Ben try to adapt with the people he meets in the film. Vengeancebrings a small world of possibilities together, and it is stellar. Three and a half stars for Vengeance.