Dear Evan Hansen Review

Dear Evan Hansen will touch many audiences around the world. The film is faithful to the musical stage play on which it is based, and the music is touching and spellbinding. The film conveys the positive message that although some people may feel alone, they are not as alone as they think.

Evan Hansen is a seventeen-year-old approaching his senior year in high school. He suffers from social anxiety and lives with his mother Heidi Hansen, played by Julianne Moore. Evan has his friend Jared, played by Nik Dodani, but no other real friends. He writes a letter to himself as an assignment from his counselor, and that letter falls into the wrong hands of a boy named Connor Murphy, played by Colton Ryan. At first Evan is humiliated that someone has his letter, but the story takes a drastic turn when Connor takes his own life.

Connor’s mom, played by Amy Adams, and his dad, played by Danny Pino, find the letter and believe that it was Connor’s last words. Evan also has a cast with Connor’s name written on it, and he starts creating stories about he and Connor being friends. Evan gains more popularity, and for once in his life he feels that he matters. He finds love with Connor’s sister, Zoe Murphy, played by Kaitlyn Dever. Evan’s deception goes viral and he becomes an icon to his high school and many around the world.

No one plays Evan Hansen better than Ben Platt. He was also the lead when it opened on Broadway. I saw the Broadway in Chicago version of the production, without Platt, but it was still wonderful on many levels.

I felt a connection to Evan, and many audiences members will feel the same. Evan’s challenges correlate to real-life challenges for many adolescents and teenagers. Like many other young people, Evan experiences moments of loss, moments of disconnect, but also moments of success.

I loved Dear Evan Hansen. I too have had my share of struggles in life. I have had times where I felt my was in life in limbo and I struggled to find inspiration, so I could truly relate. And Evan’s feelings of not wanting to be alone are universal. Ultimately, the true importance of Dear Evan Hansen is to remind us that we all need love, and that there is nothing wrong with being different. Three and a half stars for Dear Evan Hansen.

Cop Shop Review

Director Joe Carnahan’s Cop Shop has some cheesy moments, but those moments only add to the fun. In fact, I thought Cop Shop was as funny as Carnahan’s The A-Team (2010), although the violence and profanity are up several notches in Cop Shop.

Cop Shop is set entirely in a small town Nevada police station. Frank Grillo plays Teddy Murretto, a con artist who gets detained in the station along with hitman Bob Viddick, played by Gerard Butler, and psychopath Anthony Lamb, played by Toby Huss. Alexis Louder plays police officer Valerie Young.

Cop Shop displays Gerald Butler’s witty sense of humor and sarcasm well. As he tangles with Grillo, Huss and Louder it becomes hard to know who the main antagonist is. The pacing of the destruction and disasters, arriving in unexpected moments, makes for unexpected laughs as well. Cop Shop is a rollercoaster ride of a cat and mouse game.

Again, the violence in Cop Shop is extreme at times, but I didn’t find it over the top or too disturbing. Overall, the film has lots of laughs and is a general good time.

I actually had low expectations for Cop Shop, but it was a thrill ride of fun that I ending up loving. The premise and humor are brilliant. The destruction is out of this world. And there was seemingly something new and exciting at every turn. Three and a half stars for Cop Shop.

Blue Bayou Review

I knew that Blue Bayou was going to be an emotional film, but it felt so real and is such a compelling topic that it elicited a range of emotions, from sadness to surprise. I actually found myself crying several times during the film.

Justin Chon is the director and had the lead role in Blue Bayou. The film is based on real-life issues in our society, and Chon creates a portrait of an emotional journey that can have irreparable consequences. His directing  and dramatic portrayal in Blue Bayou are astounding.

The title Blue Bayou comes from a place that carries much of the film’s cinematic empathy. The lighting and cinematography in the bayou scenes deliver surrealism and sympathy. It is also the epicenter of the film’s dark moments.

In Blue Bayou, Chon plays Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean American adoptee living in the United States with his wife Kathy, played by Alicia Vikander, and Kathy’s daughter. Antonio has a criminal background and little education and he struggles to make a living for his family. After Kathy becomes pregnant and Antonio discovers he’s on the verge of being deported, his life begins a downward spiral.

Justin Chon’s performance as Antonio as well as his directing are calculated to elicit maximum emotion, and he also displays a great amount of understanding about the subject matter. Antonio’s fight for his right to stay in the United States relates in many ways to present real-world America. And both Chon and Vikander give extremely vivid performances.

Blue Bayou is certainly a heavy film. But Antonio also gives us a life lesson on not giving up, and a picture of how far a family will go to fight for the ones they love. Three and a half stars for Blue Bayou.

Treating cinema in many forms of art!

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