Thursday, September 14, 2017


Last night I saw It, starring Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis.

Based on the famous Stephen King novel, It certainly delivers on its promise of shivers and scares.

When we first meet the residents of Derry, Maine, it's because we're watching a sick Bill (Lieberher) finish making a paper boat for his younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) to float out in the rainstorm. He can't go out in the storm to supervise because of his illness and mom is busy playing the piano.

Once ready to set sail, Georgie takes the boat outside and giggles happily along the street as he communicates via Walkie Talkie with Bill, who is watching out his bedroom window. Of course, before long, Georgie veers out of view and the boat sails right into the sewer. Worried that his brother will be angry with him, Georgie attempts to retrieve it and is met by a "friendly" clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), who offers to hand it back to him.

We know where this is going before it happens, but it's still jarring to see the young boy snatched up by this menacing monster. The story continues as other kids disappear, and one of the new students in town does historical research on the town. He discovers that awful things have been happening every 27 years.

The group of Bill's friends, made up of kids who consider themselves "losers" because they are bullied, teased, abused, etc. bands together to confront the evil—and in the process face their own demons.

There are many opportunities for the film to go cheesy, but it really never does. Skarsgard's Pennywise is angry and creepy, but not the least bit campy. The other manifestations a la Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, such as a painting that comes to life, are even more disturbing.

What's great about the film is the heart of the kids we get to know and the faithful nod to the era of Walkmans and Rubik's Cubes.

If you can stand the occasional gore and potential nightmares, nothing should stop you from seeing It.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Home Again

On Friday I saw Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon and Pico Alexander.

Alice (Witherspoon) is a single mother, separated from her husband, who is a big-wig in the music industry. To make a fresh start she moves back home to L.A. with her two girls. On a night out with her friends, she meets Harry (Alexander) and two of his friends; all are trying to break into the film business. Her father was a legendary filmmaker. Before long, the three are living in Alice's guesthouse and she and Harry are falling for each other.

Things get complicated when her husband, Austin (Michael Sheen), decides he'd like to reconcile and makes his way to L.A. Alice is torn between starting over and returning to a comfortable familiarity for her kids.

This is a textbook rom-com with a convenient love triangle, which addresses age, commitment and societal norms. That said, it is also thoroughly enjoyable. Predictable, sure—but enjoyable.

Witherspoon is delightful as a genuinely good mom who only wants what's best for her kids, and the supporting players all foster her decision-making by staying true to their personas. The girls who play her daughters, Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield, are also spectacular. They hit just the right notes of confusion and joy as their lives take a topsy-turvy turn.

If you're looking for something deep or dark, this isn't the film for you. But if you want to take a break from our fractured world and breathe for a while, I can safely say you'll be in good hands with this sweet flick.