May 17, 2022

Viewing the Videos: Complex drama, simplistic animation

View Original Notice ? Viewing the Videos: Complex drama, simplistic animation

The question for the group this week is, “Is an Adam Sandler movie without Sandler really an Adam Sandler movie?” You’ll find the answer below, along with a stunning new work, “The Lost Daughter,” a first-time directing job by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.

It’s Viewing the Videos.

STREAMING

The Lost Daughter (Netflix)

This is a complicated movie. For her first effort as director (and writer) Maggie Gyllenhaal has adapted a novel that deals with multiple layers of the characters and jumps back and forth in time.

Fortunately for all of us, Gyllenhaal selected the great British actress Olivia Colman as Leda, a divorced mother. When her children take off to be with their father, she heads to Greece for a holiday. Things take an unsettling turn as she is forced to confront the memories of her difficult past and the choices she made in her life.

Irish actress Jessie Buckley (who appeared in the little-seen but high quality “Wild Rose”) is Leda in her younger years and brings the same depth to her character.

What was supposed to be an idyllic vacation is disrupted when a raucous family that includes Dakota Johnson crashes in with noise and problems of their own that spill over into Leda’s life, reminding her of family problems in the past.

Definitely not the feel-good movie of the year, but an outstanding debut for director-writer Gyllenhaal. Great work by Colman, Johnson, Ed Harris and Peter Sarsgaard, who is Gyllenhaal’s husband.

Gyllenhaal is a great actress and this movie shows she also has tremendous skill as a director.  I look forward to more work from her as a director.

Four Palm Trees.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (Amazon Prime) 

This movie is a puzzlement. If you do a sequel to an Adam Sandler movie without Sandler, is it an Adam Sandler movie? And what if they hire an actor to impersonate Sandler as Dracula?

These are questions that trouble movie goers’ minds. But in this case, it doesn’t matter.

Even if Sandler isn’t on board, the movie is loaded with talent: Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade and Keegan-Michael Key.

But this is not a movie for adults. There’s kind of a plot, but it’s not important. This movie is for kids with non-stop silliness, goofy faces and characters seemingly made from rubber for stretching all out of their natural appearance.

This is from Sony Pictures Animation and their style is crisper and almost like live-action film. The colors are bright, but not excessive.

“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” (or “Hotel Transylvania 4”) is the fourth and final installment in the series. It’s hard to believe that this was supposed to be a theatrical feature, since I can’t imagine paying to take your family to theater to see this. It’s flashy and slapstick funny, but in the old days, this kind of movie would have gone straight to home video.

That’s what happened here. After a delay in the theatrical plans due to COVID-19, it was sold to Amazon Prime for streaming.

So, sit back, have a cup of coffee or a cocktail and park the kids in front of the screen. They’ll be occupied for one hour and 27 minutes again and again.

Two Palm Trees.

FROM THE VAULT

If you’re an Adam Sandler fan, there’s lots to choose from. As an actor, he’s pretty much critic-proof and his fans in Netflix love movies like “The Ridiculous 7,” “Hubie Halloween,” “Murder Mystery” and “Go with It.” The last two co-star Jennifer Anniston, who makes movies with Sandler because they’re friends.

HOW WE RATE FILMS

Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommended.

New Releases are rated as follows:

Five Palm Trees: Must see

Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen

Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen

Two Palm Trees: OK if you’re not paying

One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time.

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