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Música (2024) Review

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Música (2024) Review

Música explores how surroundings and upbringing shape us, offering a view of the world through others’ eyes.

No two people are the same, everyone has differences.  Physically families seem to show similarities but even they are not carbon copies of one another.  This is not only true for our physical appearance but also how we think and feel. We all have our own opinions and our views of the world at large are not completely alike.  Factors such as our upbringing, the part of the world we are from and those older individuals who help shape us, play into how we see everything and everyone around us.  For Rudy, this also includes his love of music.

Rudy (Rudy Mancuso; The Flash) sees the everyday world differently.  While other people may see two guys in the park playing basketball, Rudy experiences a drum rhythm keeping the beat as the ball bounces against the pavement.  Similarly, others would see a girl swinging back and forth on a swing set while Rudy hears the melody of a song as the swing squeaks with each rotation back and forth. For the musician in him, it opens his eyes and mind to songs that play incessantly in his head.  For the regular guy, it is often distracting and interferes with his daily life.

Rudy gets distracted while in class when talking to his girlfriend, Haley (Francesca Reale; Stranger Things), and even when he is having dinner at home with his mom. So when Haley dumps Rudy, the last thing Rudy needs is to meet someone new.  Enter Isabella (Camila Mendes; Riverdale)…the beautiful, intelligent, Brazilian, young woman working at the fish store.   Spending time with Isabella opens Rudy up in ways he never thought possible but when Haley wants him back he starts dating both ladies at the same time, and the results are disastrous. At the same time, these two women have just opened Rudy up creatively which helps him to expand his puppet show and become successful in the arts.

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Mancuso not only stars in the film but co-wrote and directed it as well.  As his feature film directorial debut, he does a very good job.  He exposes the audience to the world around him but shows it from a different perspective.  As demonstrated previously, the jackhammer breaking apart the street or the bus tires as they run over the rough and uneven streets all create a song in his head.  One only he can hear but one which he visually attempts to show us.

Mendes is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the “Gringa” Haley as Mancuso’s Mother, Maria (newcomer Maria Mancuso), likes to describe her.  She has an authenticity to her that helps the audience connect to her character.  Reale does a good job playing the rich, white girl who pretends to be sympathetic towards Rudy’s ethnicity but who simply doesn’t “get it”.  Mancuso’s mother playing his mother was a smart but risky choice.  She manages to pull it off though.  Rudy is a star and director of his own story and is the master both in front of and behind the camera.  It will be interesting to see if he could do as good a job as director with someone else’s work.

Música not only allows the audience to view the world from someone else’s eyes, but it also punctuates the idea that our surroundings and upbringing help us to meld into the person we ultimately become.  The writing, directing, soundtrack, cast, etc. pull the viewer in from almost the beginning and hold their attention for the hour-and-a-half run time.  With humor and heart, Mancuso adeptly brings the audience into his world and his mind and, not only leaves us wanting more but expands our horizons to attempt to get us to “think outside the box”.

Grade: A

Música images are courtesy of Amazon Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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Movie Reviews

Chhaya Kadam: Earlier my name wouldn’t even be written in film reviews, now I have a Grand Prix winning film at Cannes

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Chhaya Kadam: Earlier my name wouldn’t even be written in film reviews, now I have a Grand Prix winning film at Cannes

This is clearly the year of Chhaya Kadam! After a great run with the actor’s earlier releases, Laapataa Ladies and Madgaon Express, her film All That We Imagine As Light became the first Indian film to win the Grand Prix at the recently concluded 77th Cannes Film Festival. One of her other films, Sister Midnight, was also screened at Directors Fortnight. Talking to us after the Grand Prix ceremony, Kadam exclaims, “It was the first Indian film to be screened at the main competition in 30 years, and we directly won an award! We had a story rooted in our motherland about women like us. For a subject like that to get selected here… I have no words.”

Actor Chhaya Kadam

Acknowledging her great run this year, she says, “People in Cannes also recognised me as Manju Mai (from Laapataa Ladies); they would say, ‘hey Manju Mai, Chhaya Kadam’.”

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Kadam’s tryst with acting began in 2006, then she went on to star in Marathi films such as Fandry (2013), Sairat (2016) and Nude (2018). “Earlier, my struggle was to get work; now it is for good work,” she shares, adding that it doesn’t end there. While she’s enjoying the fame now, there was a time when the actor’s work wasn’t recognised. “Earlier, film reviews would miss out on mentioning my name, even if my character was important. Bura toh bahut lagta tha. But then I thought I should work so hard that people are compelled to mention my name in their reviews,” she ends with a chuckle.

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Ezra (2024) – Movie Review

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Ezra (2024) – Movie Review

Ezra, 2024.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn.
Starring Bobby Cannavale, William A. Fitzgerald, Robert De Niro, Rose Byrne, Vera Farmiga, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, Tony Goldwyn, Jackson Frazer, Greer Barnes, Tess Goldwyn, Ella Ayberk, Lois Robbins, Alex Plank, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Matilda Lawler, Joe Pacheco, Amy Sheehan, Barzin Akhavan, Donna Vivino, Jacqueline Nwabueze, John Donovan Wilson, Joshua Hinck, Sophie Mulligan, Thomas Duverné, Guillermo Rodriguez, and Jimmy Kimmel.

SYNOPSIS:

Comedian Max co-parents autistic son Ezra with ex-wife Jenna. Faced with crucial decisions about Ezra’s future, Max and Ezra go on a life-changing cross-country road trip.

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Undeniably made with good intentions, Ezra wants to tell a story about a young autistic boy and his father struggling to accept that uniqueness (lamenting that his son will never be “normal”) due to some personal baggage related to his rocky upbringing. Ezra is also a film that consistently gets sidetracked or finds itself telling that story in a broad, mawkish manner with outlandish plot beats that continuously sink the few elements that work. That’s also surprising considering screenwriter Tony Spiridakis (who had been working on the script for roughly 15 years) is basing that father-son relationship on his experience raising an autistic child. Why turn such personal material into… this?

A film about the challenges of parenting an autistic child and ensuring that everything from school to public behavior is going well has enough realistic, stressful drama to be relatable to anyone who has ever been in a similar situation. The dynamic that parents Max (Bobby Cannavale) and Jenna (Rose Byrne) are divorced (the actors are married with children in real life) adds another layer of domestic intrigue.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn, the film seems to have no awareness of when to stop manufacturing more drama or when it begins to feel like piling on for the sake of telling a story that quickly begins to feel false. It becomes less of an earnest look at autistic childhood and more of a far-fetched road trip flick where the logic for certain characters is nonexistent, and the narrative rapidly transitions to do something that could only exist in the movies, something that is counterproductive to why this film was made.

This is frustrating since there are touching flourishes whenever Max interacts with the titular Ezra (William A. Fitzgerald, a delight to watch and autistic). Despite getting expelled from school, Ezra is a kind soul with various stimulation triggers (such as hugs or sensitivity to eating with forks), who often speaks in famous quotes and takes everything literally to such a degree that when he overhears Jenna’s new partner jokingly talking about murdering Max, he frantically runs out of the house to warn his loving father. This leads to Ezra making the choice to run into the middle of the street while scared and avoiding a barking dog on the sidewalk, nearly getting hit by a car, with doctors under the impression that it was a suicide attempt, dealing with the incident by forcing the parents to put the boy into a special needs school and take antipsychotic medication.

That’s only the beginning of this exaggerated story, which then sees Max kidnapping his son from Jenna, believing that she has lost hope in fighting for his rights and is too comfortable listening to professional advice. He doesn’t like that the medication zombifies his son (understandably so) and appears to believe that allowing the boy to go to a special needs school means he is accepting that there is something wrong. Many of his hangups with accepting his son’s autism come from a tumultuous relationship with his father, Stan (Robert De Niro), a former chef who gave up his dreams to provide for Max after his mother left. This grandfather also has trouble acknowledging his grandson’s autism, uncomfortable uttering the term. Both of these men, in a sense, are hiding and running from reality.

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Perhaps a more skilled filmmaking team could make something out of that, but Ezra also has to contend with baffling subplots such as Max’s aspiring standup comedian career and his relative closeness to securing a spot performing for Jimmy Kimmel. There is also a road trip aspect that sees Max heading West with Ezra, coming across several old friends for the sake of convenience. In one sequence, the film makes the case that there will be kids (even girls) who accept Ezra and those who will bully him, doing so in a confused way, unsure if it wants to sanitize itself. It’s also accompanied by sappy music.

At a certain point, Ezra is officially reported as kidnapped with warnings and notices throughout the 24-hour news cycle. Max is aware of this, yet confoundingly still thinks showing up to audition for Jimmy Kimmel will end well. The occasional tender moments between father and son are continuously undercut by this stupidity and overblown narrative decisions. At least it follows suit, ending in a fittingly melodramatic cringe.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

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Movie Review: “Mad Max: Fury Road” Now Playing at Boone Regal

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Movie Review: “Mad Max: Fury Road” Now Playing at Boone Regal
May 27, 2024 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” was one of the most critically-lauded action movies not just of its year, not just of its decade, but of all time. I will forever curse “Pitch Perfect 2” for opening the same weekend and doing better at the box office, thus keeping me from reviewing “Fury Road” (for the record, I would have given it an enthusiastic B). While Tom Hardy’s Max was an important presence in that movie, audiences seemed to find themselves drawn to another character, one that had an even more commanding screen presence, did more to make the film instantly iconic, and more than warranted an expensive prequel. Alas, we’ll have to keep waiting for that origin story for the guitar-playing Doof Warrior. In the meantime, we have this movie about another beloved “Fury Road” character, Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa.  Read more
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