REVIEW: TRUTH BE TOLD – SEASON 1

Truth Be Told (2019)

Starring

Octavia Spencer (Ma)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Hunter Doohan (Your Honor)
Lizzy Caplan (Now You See Me)
Elizabeth Perkins a(28 Days)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Haneefah Wood (Schooled)
Ron Cephas Jones (Luke Cage)

Octavia Spencer in Truth Be Told (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tami Roman (Saints and Sinners)
Rico E. Anderson (Hole In One)
Annabella Sciorra (Jungle Fever)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Nic Bishop (Snowfall)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Lyndon Smith (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Jeff Kober (Sully)
Laura Allen (The 4400)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Tim DeZarn (The Cabin In The Woods)
Billy Miller (Suits)

Aaron Paul in Truth Be Told (2019)Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul and Lizzy Caplan star in this Apple TV+ mystery crime drama about a journalist who creates a podcast to exonerate an innocent convict. These stories always start with a jaded veteran cop who comes out of retirement for one final case: the case that made (or broke) his career. Except in Truth Be Told, the story starts with a jaded veteran reporter who leaves The New York Times to start a podcast: a retelling of the case that made her career.Creator Nichelle Tramble Spellman based this series on the novel Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber, which in turn was heavily inspired by Sarah Koenig’s juggernaut investigative podcast Serial. The plot centers on a decades-old murder case that may have convicted the wrong killer (what else is new?). Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer stars as a journalist who feels creeping guilt from having condemned a teenage boy accused of murder 20 years ago and publicly reinvestigates the case in order to redeem herself and exonerate him. Her podcast narration becomes our framing device, full of bon mots about truth and justice. Think of it as a gritty, long-game Murder, She Wrote.cristo-coolSpencer’s Poppy Scoville-Parnell made her bones publishing stories on the violent 1999 death of Stanford professor Chuck Buhrman and the weirdo neighbor kid eventually sentenced for the crime. But when a tape surfaces showing Buhrman’s teenage daughter being coached during her statement to the police, Poppy decides to reopen the case, putting herself at risk from her judgmental family, the sinister Buhrmans and the supposed murderer himself, played by Aaron Paul. (Can he please do a rom-com or something? This guy is bumming me out.) The timid teen has grown into a snarling prisoner covered in swastikas, which presents logistical and psychological challenges for Poppy, who grew up in a family of radical civil rights activists.MV5BODE2MjIzNDI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk2OTIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1489,1000_AL_The racial undercurrents of the show are one of its core strengths — how frequently do you get to see a successful, plus-size black woman on TV absolutely owning her writing career and intimidating the hell out of her naysayers? (Spencer nails this commanding role.) But so many people close to Poppy question why she would help a guy in the Aryan Brotherhood that you, too, start second-guessing her endeavor. As Poppy might tell you, something something justice, something something the truth will set you free. Watching the episodes, replete with weak coincidences and dopey plotlines, I did not care at all if Paul’s character was guilty or not, nor did I care who even killed this professor. (You literally learn almost nothing about him, anyway.) Instead, what occasionally thrilled me were the compelling family dynamics at play here, with prosperous Poppy returning home to the Bay Area — and her family’s biker bar — after living an entire other life out on the East Coast.MV5BODE2MjIzNDI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk2OTIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1489,1000_AL_We’re also treated to some delightfully creepy adult twin interactions here, thanks to Lizzy Caplan’s compelling dual performance as Buhrman’s daughters Lanie and Josie. It’s just too bad these nuanced relationships are stuck inside a mediocre murder mystery bound to a meaningless title. While Poppy reopens old wounds in Menlo Park, furtive Lanie and Josie play out their own psychodrama far from prying eyes. Lanie, a brunette hospice care doula and likely sociopath, raises alarms when Poppy comes sniffing around all these years later, but has no one to turn to but a protective aunt. Her twin sister vanished without a trace years ago, though the audience soon learns she’s now blonde, living in New York City under an assumed name and an assumed British accent. The mystery of why she disappeared is the only captivating question mark of the series, a credit to Caplan’s vacillating vulnerability and menace, which she infuses into both characters simultaneously. “You terrify me,” Josie tells her sister. (Josie narrates the original novel, where Poppy was a mere supporting character, so the switch-up here is a fascinating choice.)MV5BODE2MjIzNDI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk2OTIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1489,1000_AL_I was most interested in Poppy’s relationships with her biker family, including her skeptical sisters, played by Tracie Thoms and Haneefah Wood, and her prickly father, played by Ron Cephas Jones. I appreciate the authenticity of Poppy and the Scovilles’ complicated connection, despite her stereotypically glamorous TV job. Wood particularly stands out during a brief but heartbreaking silent scene where her character is arrested and processed in jail, gradually humiliated as an officer removes all of the elements of her femininity. It’s a cold and powerful look into the dehumanizing experience of the American penal system. Jones is magnetic here, playing a former Black Panther who may be in the early stages of dementia. With his long face and daunting stare, he reminds me of a sea deity — a King Squid — and his patriarchal imperiousness chilled me, as though I were his daughter. Poppy, still traumatized by her mother’s early cancer death, struggles to know what to do about “Daddy’s” erratic behavior. When he speaks to her hatefully during a fugue state and later grabs her after a tense family moment, Poppy doesn’t just let it go and forgive. Instead, she holds on to her pain because of her self-respect and because she knows it might help save her dad. These are the moments when Truth Be Told sings. I would watch a version of this show as a biting family drama, but its gaze into the court of public opinion leaves it toothless.

 

REVIEW: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (The Boss)
Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
Kate McKinnon (Masterminds)
Leslie Jones (Trainwreck)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Neil Casey (Fort Tilden)
Andy Garcia (The Unsaid)
Cecily Strong (The Bronze)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Michael K. Williams (Gone Baby Gone)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Katie Dippold (The Heat)
Jessica Chaffin (Spy)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Dan Aykroyd (Evolution)
Ernie Hudson (The Wrong Guys)
Sigourney Weaver (Galaxy Quest)
Annie Potts (Pretty In Pink)
Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)
Justin Kirk (Goats)

Physicists Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) are co-authors of a research book which posits the existence of paranormal phenomena such as ghosts. Erin has disowned the work and become a professor at Columbia University, while Abby continues to study the paranormal at a technical college with eccentric engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). Erin learns Abby has republished the book, threatening her bid for tenure at Columbia. She reunites with Abby and, in exchange for Abby removing the book from publication, reluctantly agrees to assist her and Jillian in a paranormal investigation.

The group witness a malevolent ghost (Bess Rous), renewing Erin’s belief in the paranormal. However, a video of their investigation is posted online, and Erin is denied tenure. She joins Abby and Jillian’s project, but when a new institute director learns its nature, he fires them. They open an office above a Chinese restaurant and call themselves the “Conductors of the Metaphysical Examination.” They build equipment to study and capture ghosts, and hire dimwitted but handsome Kevin Beckman (Chris Hemsworth) as a receptionist.

MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) witnesses a ghost in a subway line and contacts the group. They document the ghost and successfully test Jillian’s proton containment laser, but their findings are again dismissed. They continue to develop their technology and advertise their services as what pundits have dubbed the “Ghostbusters”. Patty joins the team, providing historical knowledge of New York City and a repurposed hearse, “Ecto-1”.

Unbeknownst to them, the ghosts are being summoned by devices built by Rowan North (Neil Casey), an occultist and mad scientist attempting to bring about the “apocalypse”. When Rowan plants another device at a live music venue, the Ghostbusters are called in and capture the ghost in front of the audience. When supernatural debunker Dr. Martin Heiss (Bill Murray) challenges the Ghostbusters, the incensed Erin releases the ghost as proof; it throws Heiss out a window before escaping. The Ghostbusters are brought to see Mayor Bradley (Andy García) and his loyal secretary, Jennifer Lynch (Cecily Strong), who reveals that the city and the Department of Homeland Security are aware of New York’s ghost problem. While privately supporting the team’s work, the mayor’s office and DHS publicly denounce them as fraudsters.

The Ghostbusters realize Rowan is planting his devices along ley lines which intersect at the Mercado Hotel in Times Square, a site with a history of paranormal activity, and discover Rowan building a portal to the ghost dimension in the hotel basement. To avoid capture, Rowan deliberately electrocutes himself to death, after which Jillian deactivates the portal. Erin discovers a copy of her and Abby’s book among Rowan’s possessions, and realizes that he killed himself so that he could become a ghost and command a spirit army. Rowan returns as a powerful ghost, possessing Abby and then Kevin. As Kevin, he opens the portal and releases hundreds of ghosts. The police and DHS are quickly subdued, but the Ghostbusters fight through the army of ghosts to reach the portal.

Rowan takes the form of the ghost in the Ghostbusters’ logo, grows to enormous height, and attacks the city. The team devises a plan to use Ecto-1’s nuclear reactor to close the portal and return the ghosts to their own dimension. The plan succeeds, but Rowan drags Abby into the portal with him; Erin leaps into the portal and rescues her. The mayor’s office agrees to secretly fund the Ghostbusters’ research while continuing to publicly denounce them as frauds. With new funding, the Ghostbusters move to a better facility, a disused fire house. Despite the mayoral smear campaign, New York lights up with thanks and tributes to the Ghostbusters. In a post credits scene, Patty listens to a recording of a ghost encounter and asks the others if they have heard of Zuul.

Don’t listen to the trolls. This was a great re-make of the original classic. The leading ladies did a great job and introduced their own personalities to the parts. The story includes some interesting backstory of the character’s history and how they met. The added details make the characters more interesting. Kate did a fantastic job with the “mad scientist” role. The cameos by some familiar faces was an added bonus. But it would’ve been nice for Slimer to have a bigger role. Overall the movie was funny and entertaining. Would definitely recommend it.

REVIEW: HOP

CAST

Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Tiffany Espensen (Repo Men)
David Hasselhoff (Click)
Chelsea Handler (Fun Size)
Dustin Ybarra (Gotham)
Hugh Hefner (Citizen Toxie)

MV5BODg2NzE5NDY1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMzNTY3NA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1317,1000_AL_The character of E.B., who is the son of the Easter Bunny is the main animated character in the film. I felt the animation for him was really good, he was a realistic looking bunny, wearing normal clothes, and certainly appeals to the films younger viewers.He’s voiced by Russell Brand his voice suited the character and I felt he really brought E.B. to life. E.B. himself is fun, loves life and wants to be a drummer, something you don’t expect of a rabbit and this is why he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. But I enjoyed the change in the character when he realises his father is in danger, and it sends a good message to the movies younger viewers.Film Title: HopJames Marsden is the human character in the film, Fred O’Hare. Fred is a grown up who has no idea what he wants to do with his life, so ends up house-sitting for his sister’s rich boss. He meets E.B. by chance, and the pair strike up an unklikely friendship. Considering he is having to act to something that isn’t actually in front of him, Marsden does a fantastic job interacting with the character of E.B., and at no point do you think he’s acting to nothing, he does a great job, he’s very animated and the friendship between Fred and E.B. is really genuine and sweet. I also have to mention the hilarious chick called Carlos who is determined to become the first Easter Chick against the odds, Hank Azaria voices him wonderfully and he’s simply hilarious to listen to and watch!The story itself isn’t anything amazing – Easter Bunny wants his son to follow in his footsteps, son doesn’t want to but when he realises his dad is in danger tries to save the day. There is a quite a bit of comedy throughout the film, mainly courtesy of Carlos, but Marsden does his best with the script too. I did like the 2 Pink Berets, action bunnies sent out to hunt down E.B.The animation was lovely, the story a bit ridiculous with some adult references in there the kids won’t get (the Playboy mansion!) but overall a watchable children’s movie. It isn’t the best by means, but it’s a nice way to pass the time!

REVIEW: 28 DAYS

 

CAST

Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Dominic West (Punisher: Warzone)
Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)
Azura Skye (Red Dragon)
Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Diane Ladd (Joy)
Margo Martindale (Orphan)
Dan Byrd (Heroes)
Mike O’Malley (My Name Is Earl)

28 days DI 2
Sandra Bullock plays, Gwen Cummings, A successful NYC journalist who takes her passions to an extreme. Always ready to party, she drinks to excess and is also addicted to prescription medication. Her excesses have all been “accepted” until she ruins her sister’s wedding day by destroying the wedding cake, making a toast that shamed everyone present and the final insult, taking the limousine on a drunken high speed drive through quiet Bedford, NY, crashing into a home and totally destroying the porch and first floor of the house.

Realizing she is a menace to society in her current state, a judge sentences her to 28 days in a re-hab clinic in upstate NY. Instead of Vicadin, chanting is the drug of choice and instead of alcohol, warm hugs, prayers and singing are the order of things. Needless to say, she is out of her element and unwilling to stay in “geekdom”. With an addicted boyfriend who enables her at every moment and a totally unreal approach to her problem, Gwen has her hands more than full. Not too mention the characters she meets in Re-hab! 28 days is a sobering look at life in the fast lane and all the problems that come with a speedy existence!

i didn’t think I was going to like this one but I was pleasantly surprised. I am so not a fan of Sandra Bullock’s previous work but found many reasons to enjoy her performance in 28 Days. It’s tragic, it’s funny, sad but most importantly, it’s redemptive, showing the worth in all of us when we take the time to look at who we really are versus who we’ve become