LAMBORGHINI: THE MAN BEHIND THE LEGEND -- A Biopic With a Few Directorial Tricks That Didn't Work
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend is another origin story of a businessman who created an empire, but his drive to succeed got him into trouble with his family and his rivals. I'll be honest — I didn't know much about the man behind the great car manufacturer, Ferruccio Lamborghini (Frank Grillo), but when I finished the film, I understood who he was and his drive to succeed against all odds. He was a man who wanted to succeed despite the cost to those around him.
Ferruccio Lamborghini as a young man, was a farmer like his father. He longed for more, though. He had a lot of ideas in his mind regarding motors and building things people needed. With this ability to tinker, he got a friend to help him develop a new kind of tractor. This tractor is lighter and sturdier and can go a lot further on a tank of gas, revolutionizing farming. They get rich on this device, but this isn't enough for him. He wants more and tries to compete with Enzo Ferrari (Gabriel Byrne) by creating a better and faster race car.
Like many successful men, Lamborghini neglects his family and loved ones. He feels his success allows him to do what he wants regarding his private life. He sleeps around and ignores his son and current wife after his first wife, whom he loved dearly, died in childbirth. His rivalry with Ferrari clouds his judgment and makes him push everybody away, even his friends. This man has tunnel vision regarding his drive to be better than everybody he believes is in his way. This is a dangerous lifestyle if it doesn't succeed.
The director chooses to go into a few different aspects of this movie to make it not a standard biopic. The first is a framing device of a race between the two car magnet owners in their respective cars to prove who is the best. The other two are that the film is split into three segments depicting the life of Lamborghini and his friends and family. Set in the '60s in Italy and a couple of decades later. These directorial and script tricks are typically useful in movies. This time they were for not. This movie just didn't work all the way around.
Frank Grillo lucked into acting when he was offered to be the trainer on Warrior. The director liked him so much that they offered him one of the film's supporting roles as an MMA trainer. This led to bigger and better roles in the MCU as Crossbones. He is usually good as an occasional hitman or stunt driver, but he seemed out of place in this role. He just didn't come across right to me as this farmer-turned-car manufacturer. His line delivery is slow and clunky, and out of depth. It's sad because I wanted to see him in a starring role like this.
As a biopic, it just doesn't work, either. The movie's length seems like a red flag that something is wrong with this production. It was a very short film considering everything the filmmakers tried to cram into it. The script and acting from all seem a bit dumbed down to me. It looked like this movie was meant to be something bigger but ended up being a badly edited-down version of what they initially wanted it to be: an engaging story about a man who had nothing and made himself into something.
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend isn't a good biopic, and it's not a good film in general. The director Robert Moresco tried a few tricks with the narrative that didn't work in the end. Grill as a leading man was a mistake as well. This didn't seem like the version of the movie that was supposed to come out. It is a shadow of what it should have been. The length and all the editing are disguising something that wasn't on the screen, but I can't put my finger on it. Just skip this biopic and watch some other fall films instead.
Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend hits theaters and VOD on November 18.
[Miami GEMS 2022] SHE SAID -- A Subpar Investigative Film With Bad Performances From Its Leads
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Films about journalism are some of my favorite movies. All the President's Men and Spotlight are two of my favorite films of all time. They just get the right vibe for this genre of film. The performances in both movies are amazing, and the topics that are talked about mean a lot to me and a lot of others. She Said is a very similar style of film but falls very far from the tree, considering the high standards it had to live up to.
Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) are two investigative reporters for the New York Times. They are both mothers and wives. Their careers are foremost in their lives, though. When they get accolades for exposing Donald Trump for sexist activity regarding his pageants, next on their radar is Harvey Weinstein. They go full bore towards taking this Hollywood producer down.
This subject matter is very important. It is the first step in exposing sexual assault in the workplace by many people. This story breaks the ice on this type of crime. The film does everything it can to convince the audience of how powerful this is. The problem is the filmmaker and writer don't do enough to make this story come across on film as well as they should. The acting by the two stars isn't that good. They aren't taking this role to the limit as they should. I don't take these two characters seriously while watching them.
The investigative work done by them is very good. The questioning of potential contacts regarding the article they are planning to write is done superbly. That said, the film is disjointed in how it presents all the evidence gathering and so forth. There are some very good performances of women willing to go on the record to expose Weinstein and men like him. Jennifer Ehle and Emily Morton are very believable as women who Weinstein victimized. Their stories come across strongly in the narrative of the movie.
The film is set in New York but also in other locations like San Francisco and England/Ireland. The film's lifeblood is The New York Times office. The floor has a lot of activity, and the various offices and rooms they use to film many meetings between reporters and editors and people being interviewed are filmed beautifully by Natasha Braier. Braier is one of many women who have worked on this movie that is — I'm sure — very important to them regarding the subject matter depicted.
Rebecca Lenkiewicz wrote the screenplay based on the reporting of Kantor, Twohey, and Rebecca Corbitt. Understandably, the studio, producers, and director wanted to assemble a team of women to work on this movie who may have had a vested interest in it. The problem is they may not have been the best people for this project. That includes the main actresses. There was just a disconnection from the creative side to the finished project that bothered me. Some things didn't work in the context of the overall story and execution of the said story.
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan are two outstanding actresses, and Mulligan, in particular, is coming off an Oscar nomination with Promising Young Woman. They just didn't have a good day at work, as far as I'm concerned. They didn't come across as well on screen as these two women. These performances should be very powerful, but they seem out of place in this movie. I don't know how all the behind-the-scenes stuff works regarding how actresses get cast in specific films, but I think the casting director could have found more committed actresses for the roles, or the director could have tried to get better takes in some of these scenes.
She Said lacks empathy for the victims of Weinstein, and the film has a disconnection regarding how this movie is brought to the screen. The performance of the two starring actresses is on par with that fact. A couple of supporting performances bring emotion where it is needed, but it's not enough to get this story to where it needed to go. I didn't feel like I should have while watching this story unfold. That was an unfortunate circumstance. Viewers needed to have a hatred for this man who was accused and eventually convicted of these crimes. And that didn't happen for me. The #MeToo movement came out of this article and changed how the workplace is handled from this day forward. This movie didn't do anything to help that movement from where I'm sitting. It is unfortunate because this should have been handled better all the way around.
She Said screened as part of the 2022 Miami Film Festival GEMS program, which runs November 3-10.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Family dramas are an interesting subsection of films in the drama genre. Most family films are considered comedies or children's films. This time out, Noah Baumbach — not usually a director who does sci-fi or fantasy films — changes direction. He mixes sci-fi fantasy with a family drama, and I think it gets lost in translation because all I could say when I walked off the theater was, "What the heck was that?" I think he needs to stick to his strength of comedy/drama films dealing with the family dynamic in a grounded way. White Noise was a mess.
Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) is a professor of Nazi history at a local community college in his town. He lives an idyllic life with his wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their kids. When a train wreck occurs on the outskirts of town, sending a massive black plume of smoke up in the air, he has to evacuate his entire family. This throws their seemingly happy lives into chaos, alongside his co-workers and the rest of the townspeople. This isn't the norm for this little town.
Baumbach has crafted a different kind of film. This family sci-fi film has a unique sense of comedy, but all the elements didn't come together completely. Add in some action sequences, a la Christmas Vacation or The Mitchells vs. the Machines, and you have a quirky, weird family film. Baumbach also wrote the screenplay, so he has nobody to blame for the oddness of this movie but himself. A few things made this movie a halfway decent watch, though.
The cinematography by Lol Crawley was gorgeous. An unmistakable grain and eighties style made it stand out among so many normal-looking films. The color palette was a conscious choice by the production designer, filled with colors from oranges to reds and purples that made it look vibrant despite the graininess. Along with the cinematography in the movie were the costumes and hairstyling and makeup. This made these characters look the part of a suburban family with a station wagon for a family car.
Baumbach wanted to channel so many other movies with a similar vibe, but he fell short of that goal. There is a subplot involving the main character's wife that is just so incomprehensible it's funny. It is not supposed to be funny, but you just can't help but laugh during these scenes because it's so bad. The banter between the two characters is ridiculous. The script is all over the place, though, so that's par for the course of this movie. Baumbach's usual quirky or odd banter is just a bunch of gibberish here.
The cast is pretty good, but Driver and Gerwig can't save this film. The rest of the cast includes Don Cheadle as another professor at the community college, a friend of Driver's character. They have some good scenes together, including a debate about Elvis's mother and Hitler's mother. The actors that play the kids are fine as well. They're not too annoying as far as kids go. Jodie Turner-Smith is completely wasted as a science professor.
White Noise is a film that wants to say something about the world we have been living in for the last few years, but instead, it is an incomprehensible mess. Stars like Driver and Gerwig can't save this family drama that also wants to be a sci-fi film. In the end, it doesn't know what it wants to be. The look of the movie, namely the cinematography, is one of the most redeeming qualities, along with the costumes and hairstyling and makeup departments — they are superb. Baumbach wanted to channel family films like Christmas Vacation and The Mitchells vs. Machines, but it didn't come close to these films. It just ends up as a mess of a movie with no real direction.
White Noise screened as part of the 2022 Miami Film Festival GEMS program, which runs November 3-10.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
There are many things about Say Hey, Willie Mays! that can also be said about his baseball career. He is considered one of the best of all time. I would say the title of the best of all time goes to Ted Williams but it all depends on who you talk to regarding who is actually the best of all time. His record and stats speak for themselves.
Willie wasn't an outspoken guy, but when he had to step up in Alabama on the Black Barrons or when he was with the Giants in New York and later San Francisco, he became the unspoken leader of the teams. He mostly let his bat, glove, and legs do the talking for him. That is all he needed to get the respect he deserved, especially since Brooklyn/Los Angeles, the Dodgers got Jackie Robinson. He had to show the fans he was as good, if not better, than Robinson. The two teams were huge rivals and often met for the National League Pennant. That fueled their rivalry quite a bit.
Even though Willie was a great player on the field, his business off the field was kept relatively quiet. He kept to himself in his lovely home overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. When he wanted to do charitable things, he often kept them to himself or signed autographs and took pictures with the youths around the ballpark before games. This wasn't enough for the country at large, though, because the Black community was going through segregation and race wars. Celebrities like Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and other activists wanted Willie to get involved, but that wasn't his bag. He always did things his own way.
The film gets to the heart of this complicated man who had his ups and downs in life but never or rarely showed how tired or exhausted he was from playing ball all the time. John Shea, his autobiographer, had a lot of good anecdotes to share in the movie, as did his godson Barry Bonds, NBC and MLB baseball announcer (and all-around baseball historian) Bob Costas, and some of his ex-teammates — Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and Reggie Jackson — whom he befriended and took under his wing in that era.
The filmmaker Nelson George infused the documentary with a few things that set it apart from other documentaries. The archival footage was pretty awesome. There was a lot of footage from when Mays played ball in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. There were a few animations and various things that broke up the monotony of the talking heads. There was a conscious effect to show a different side other than the baseball player. Even stuff about his nickname and the adjacent song was fun to find out about, which is the film's title.
Say Hey, Willie Mays! was not your average documentary. It got to the heart of a man many people didn't know about, and I learned about his motivations regarding charity and activism. He knew he wasn't doing things the way others would have wanted him to, but he banged his drum to his own beat. He was his own man. The talking heads and archival footage tell a story of a man that was revealed by his fans and those that truly know him. This was a fascinating film, and I was glad I had a chance to learn about this great man and baseball legend.
Say Hey, Willie Mays! streams on HBO Max beginning November 8.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Over the years, there have been many different animation styles. Hand-drawn animation was the style for decades before computer animation took over the last twenty-five years. Along the way, stop-motion animation caught on. Although the Disney-Pixar style may have become dominant, several filmmakers are still pushing the conventions of animation. My Father's Dragon has one of those different styles from an animation studio called Cartoon Saloon. They are popular for films such as The Breadwinner, Wolfwalkers Song of the Sea, and Secret of the Kells.
Elmer Elevator (Jacob Tremblay) is a little boy growing up in Nevergreen with his mother, Della (Golshifteh). They are supposed to start a store together in their new home, but this doesn't happen due to financial struggles. He gets frustrated with his mother, so he embarks on a trip to a secret wild island with the help of a cat, voiced by Whoopi Goldberg, and a ride from a whale, voiced by Judy Greer. While there, he meets a new friend, a dragon named Boris (Gaten Matarazzo). They go on an adventure to save this island full of creatures.
This island is full of amazing creatures, as well as some normal animals such as a gorilla (Ian McShane) with ulterior motives, a rhino mom (Diane Wiest) and her cub, a crocodile (Alan Cumming), and a monkey (Chris O'Dowd), along with a couple of tigers. The island has so much mystery, and the movie lets the main characters and viewers uncover that on their own.
This story is fanciful with all its fantasy and mystery elements and the beasts. The main focus is this little boy and his relationship with this dimwitted dragon, but along the way, they develop a connection that makes this story worthwhile for kids and adults alike. These two have a quirky friendship, sometimes getting on each other's nerves, but they rely on each other more as this story unfolds. They both have qualities the other needs to do what they need to do to save the day. It is a pretty cool relationship between the two. The actors do a great job portraying these roles. They are great together in this film.
Cartoon Saloon has made a meteoric rise in the animation game over the last few years. Their films have garnered a lot of critical acclaim, along with a pretty good fan following. Their animation varies from film to film, but with each movie, the stories dictate the various styles in which they are told. For instance, The Breadwinner is entirely different from the Irish trilogy, and those films are different from this one. In a way, it helps distinguish this studio from other animation studios. With the help of local governments, this studio will hopefully continue to succeed in doing great work for years to come.
My Father's Dragon has a very engaging story with good voice-over work from its entire cast. The financial struggles of the boy and his mom hit home for me. Although different from the other Irish trilogy and The Breadwinner, the animation style is consistent with how this studio does business. It changes the animation for who is paying to make the movie. It's a very good financial strategy. Netflix is on board this time, and hopefully, families will find this charming little film to watch over the next few weeks and during the holiday season.
My Father's Dragon hits theaters on November 4 and streams on Netflix beginning November 11.
THE INDEPENDENT -- A Solid Political Thriller Coming Just in Time for Our Election
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Political thrillers involving newspaper reporters can be a bit hit-and-miss. The Ides of March, Spotlight, and All the President's Men got these genres right. They got to the bottom of the subject they were trying to investigate or focus on regarding elections and or corruption/illegal activity. The Independent hopes to capture some of these ideas, and surprisingly, it largely succeeds.
Elisia "Eli" James (Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim) is a young novice journalist for the Washington Chronicle, a fictional newspaper. She and an idol of hers, a grizzled columnist, Nick Booker (Brian Cox), help each other uncover a far-reaching conspiracy that may have a massive impact on the recent presidential election involving the incumbent President — a Republican — his Democratic opposition (Ann Dowd, Mass), and an independent candidate, Nate Sterling (John Cena, The Suicide Squad), a good-looking man of the people.
As far as political thrillers go, this one isn't bad. Director Amy Rice and first-time scriptwriter Evan Parter keep the twists and turns coming throughout the film. The suspense and intrigue are very good in the script. The characters played by the entire cast are all pretty good, even John Cena, who's not usually in these kinds of films but holds his own amongst some heavy hitters like Cox, Turner-Smith, and Dowd.
In this day and age, politicians will try anything if it means they have an edge in an election. The plot in this political thriller isn't as far-fetched as it would seem. One of the characters uses a small business to funnel money into a super PAC, which happens in real life. Having one of the main candidates as an ex-olympian is also an intriguing idea on the part of the filmmakers. We've had plenty of athletes run for office and win elections in the past, including — right now — Herschel Walker, who played football for the Georgia Bulldogs in college and the Vikings and Cowboys in the NFL.
This movie is coming out at the right time for US audiences. With the thick of election season happening as we speak, this is the perfect time to put out a political thriller such as this one. The story by Parter and the direction by Rice are good. The acting by Emmy Award winners Cox and Dowd is exceptional, but Turner-Smith is the real star here. And Cena surprises to no end as this charismatic political contender who hopes to change the White House as an independent candidate. The Independent was a pleasant surprise.
The Independent streams on Peacock beginning November 2.
CAUSEWAY -- A Less-Than-Stellar Performance From Jennifer Lawrence Fails This Film
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Jennifer Lawrence had the most meteoric rise I've seen of any recent movie star in Hollywood. When she popped on the scene with a gritty and raw performance in Winter's Bone, she caught everyone's eye, including producers and casting directors in Hollywood. She jumped on a couple of big franchises and every good role she could find until, finally, she was burnt out from Hollywood and being a big star. She took some time off and is now back in Causeway, an A24 and Apple Original film.
Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence) is a US Soldier recovering from a traumatic experience in Afghanistan during her time over there. She returns home to New Orleans, where she grew up, to try to regain her mind and body from what happened to her. She moves in with her mother and finds a job as a pool cleaner. While getting her life back together, she meets a man named James (Brian Tyree Henry, Eternals), who has his own traumatic experience in his past.
This film is a two-hander with the friendship between Lawrence and Henry's characters at the forefront of the movie. There are a couple of supporting roles for Jayne Houdyshell as a caregiver of Lawrence's character at the beginning of the film, Linda Emond as Lawrence's character's mother, and Stephen McKinley as Dr. Lucas, the man who has the future of Lawrence's character in his hands. Most of the cast does a good job in this movie with an important story.
That being said, Lila Neugebauer, the director, doesn't do anything too dramatic with this story or its characters. She keeps the film and story a little too subtle, whereas other movies about a similar subject matter are depicted more dramatically. Lawrence showed in her award-winning performance in Silver Linings Playbook that she is capable of better in her career. She usually brings drama to all the characters she plays. This time, she's just too quiet and generic, and it doesn't do the role much justice. Henry is pretty strong in his role, though.
Causeway wants to say a lot about PTSD, and it falls short of that. It just doesn't bring the heat where it is needed. Lawrence seems like she's going through the paces in this role. She's capable of so much more. The director couldn't get anything out of her in this role. She might as well have stayed on the bench if this is going to be what she gives audiences. This should have been a powerful performance, and it's not, and the film as a whole fails because of that. Even Henry couldn't save it with his performance. Without Lawrence's full commitment, this film failed to hit the dramatic moments it needed to be effective as a good piece of cinema.
Causeway is now in theaters and hits Apple TV+ on November 4.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
There have been many films dealing with the illness of a family member or loved one, and Emmanuelle Bercot's Peaceful is another such film. It's a pretty straightforward drama about a sick man, but it's strong enough to be worth your time.
Benjamin (Benoit Magimel) is a 39-year-old acting teacher who tries to get the most out of his students. Unbeknownst to his students, he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His mother (Catherine Deneuve) worries that he hasn't taken his diagnosis seriously. She gets him to see a specialist, Dr. Eddie (Gabriel A Sara). He has some unusual methods of doctoring, but in the end, he does his job perfectly regarding how he prepares his terminally ill patients for what they need to be ready for with these types of illnesses.
The director Bercot handles this subject matter very well. What could have been a very melodramatic story turns out to be a very touching film about a sick man, his mother, and the physicians trying to help him get better. The acting she gets from her cast is very good all-around. Cecile De France also turns in a strong performance as a nurse who gives the main character some much-needed comfort during a hard time for him and his mother.
A plot device in this movie that is very well used is that the film spanned a year in time, and as that time went by, so did the seasons. This man's illness scanned this amount of time, and during these months, we, as the viewer, see how his illness digresses. Which in turn makes him look worse and worse. Even when a blood transfusion is needed, he doesn't get better.
Deneuve is a world-renowned actress here and abroad. She can do anything when it comes to acting. Roles in Bel De Jour, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and The Hunger prove she can do it all. She has a difficult task in this film because she is not the main character, but she has to come across as sympathetic to what her son is going through. Deneuve has a lot of heavy lifting in this movie, even though it's not about her. She is the epitome of a concerned mother in this film.
Peaceful is an aptly named film. It has a quietness despite its subject matter. It is a very somber film with a sad score that accompanies it. The director uses kid gloves when she deals with this subject matter. We aren't far removed from a pandemic in which many people died. So if this is going to be done right, you have to be careful, and she is with every aspect of it.
Peaceful is now playing in theaters.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES -- Del Toro Does It Again With This Crazy, Weird Assortment of Stories
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Guillermo Del Toro is a filmmaker who likes to create weird and out-of-the-ordinary types of characters and stories. His early work --Chronos, The Devil's Backbone, and Pan's Labyrinth — are prime examples of this style. His last film Nightmare Alley, was a little more straightforward, though. He gets back to the weird and out-of-the-ordinary stories and characters with the help of some relatively known directors, actors, and writers who have a similar sense of taste in storytelling as Del Toro does in Cabinet of Curiosities.
Cabinet of Curiosities is an anthology series produced and hosted by Guillermo Del Toro. It features eight episodes from various directors, each with a distinct eye for the macabre, including Ana Lily Amirpour, Jennifer Kent, and Cathrine Hardwicke. They all happen to be female directors. This series is similar to The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, albeit to another level. It is a bloody, gruesome show that goes beyond the boundaries of what can be seen on television or, in this case, streaming.
The best episode of the series is "The Murmuring," about a couple of bird watchers, Edgar and his wife (Andrew Lincoln, Essie Davis). They go to a secluded island to study birds but get more than they bargained for involving the previous residents of a house they are staying at on the island. This is episode eight, and I thought the direction by Jennifer Kent and the look and feel of the episode was good. The story is based on an original concept by Guillermo Del Toro and has some nice suspenseful moments.
"Dreams in the Witch House" has many moving parts, but like "The Murmuring," it has an underlying story that keeps the viewer in suspense. This one has some cool visual effects and creepy cinematography. Catherine Hardwick kept the story by Mika Watkins, based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, moving nicely. There weren't a lot of slow moments. The acting by all, including Rupert Grint (the Harry Potter franchise) and Ismael Cruz Cordova (The Rings of Power), was very good.
And "The Outside," directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and starring Kate Micucci, Martin Starr, and Dan Stevens, was a very interesting episode. It really uncovered a thing in this country and the world that has been going on for a while: how beauty is only skin deep, but people, especially women, are so concerned by it.
The worst of the eight episodes was "The Viewing," directed by Panos Cosmatos, not because of the episode's look but how it ended. It started interesting, the setting was beautiful and fascinating, and the cast was very good, but the ending wasn't there. Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart Ahn just dropped the ball on the ending of this episode.
Another episode with a bad ending was "Graveyard Rats," directed by Vincenzo Natali. The main character, played by David Hewlett, was engaging, and his plight was interesting to follow along with. The claustrophobia was pretty scary at times, and the rats were a bit creepy. It just didn't feel like it ended right.
"Lot 36," directed by Guillermo Navarro and starring Tim Blake Nelson, isn't anything special. I liked the performance by Nelson as this shady storage lot dealer and treasure hunter. I always like seeing him in films and television shows. It has some cool visual effects and a fascinating story based on a short story by Henry Kuttner.
Another episode called The Autopsy was bizarre, but it starred Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham. It's a pleasant surprise to see him in things these days. He's not in a lot of films or television shows anymore. The direction by David Prior was a bit disjointed, though. I just couldn't get a good feel for this episode.
"Pickman's Model" was one as I was watching it I had high hopes for. The cast, including Ben Barnes and Chrispin Glover, was pretty good in it, but the idea behind the story was the real aspect I liked. The director Keith Thomas, adapting another H.P. Lovecraft short story, did a good job showing the creepiness of the world he was setting up. It just didn't come all the way home for me.
Guillermo Del Toro has created a great series of creepy, weird tales of suspense and terror. He has assembled a great group of directors with unique storytelling styles. The cast in the episodes was very good as well. Actors like Nelson, Abraham, and Kate Micucci did an excellent job in their various episodes. This series captured the feel of classic shows like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents but added in Del Toro's signature flare for the dramatic and odd spine-tingling terror he is known for. These creators channeled him and his ideas of what is scary and creepy. The audience watching should be afraid while viewing these episodes. It is one of the best things I've seen this Halloween season.
Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities streams on Netflix beginning October 25, with new episodes airing daily through October 28.
THE RETURN OF TANYA TUCKER: FEATURING BRANDI CARLILE -- An All-Access Peek at the Life of a Flawed but Talented Woman
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Tanya Tucker was nine years old when she started singing at various events in Texas and Arizona. She was eleven when she officially got her first contract. Her father was never too far behind. He was always there to help her when she needed his advice and comfort. She is considered one of the old-time stars of country music, but when her father and mother passed, she didn't have it in her to sing — even when she was poked and prodded by some of the greats in the industry to get back on the road. The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile is about her journey after almost twenty years away from the business.
Brandi Carlile is a singer-songwriter in her own right. She convinces Tanya to come out of retirement to make a new album with her. This movie depicts how they made this album, produced the songs, and what transpired after the record was finished. All the while, Tanya is still struggling with her past drug abuse and dealing with various personal problems. Being in the industry for fifty years didn't necessarily make her welcome back after all her marital problems with Glen Campbell and everything being put in the tabloids for the world to see.
Like many singers and entertainers, Tanya struggled with substance abuse in no part to her husband, country music legend Glen Campbell. They were twenty-something years different in age. Due to these issues, she stepped away from Nashville and The Grand Ole Opry, where she made her name in the country music industry. After seventeen years, she came back with new energy and a vim and vigor of a young person half her age. She is sixty, though, so the years have made her a bit tired from time to time. Carlisle and company have to live with that while making this new album.
This film uses various techniques to tell Tanya Tucker's story. First and foremost is the album's production, new songs, and so forth, with a lot of talking heads and sitting around and talking about the arrangement of the songs on the album. The second part is archival footage of her as a child with her family or performing at various venues and her life with her husband, Glen Campbell. The third is after the album is finished, and she has to see what her life brings next, whether it's awards for the album, singing at tribute concerts for her friend Loretta Lynn, or just taking in this newfound success. She had to move forward with her life, and she did that.
All good documentaries have to draw the viewer into what is being depicted on screen, and this one uses Tanya Tucker's story and her music. Songs like "Delta Dawn," "Texas, Love Me Like You Used To," or her newest hit off the record they are making in the documentary Bring My Flowers Now can express her story. They get to the heart of this woman's life like no other way can. She is a storyteller in her songs — a rare gift for singers. Country singers have it more than others do, though. Even though I am not the biggest fan of country music, I was drawn to her story.
The Return of Tanya Tucker brings new and old audiences into the life of this woman who has struggled with her own demons. From relationships to substance abuse and poverty at a young age, she has experienced a lot of heartaches. She used these moments to bring the audience into her life via her songs. This documentary shows a different side to her where people can see into her life and process. That process helped bring her back to a place where people could express their love for her. Music is an expressive medium, and what you give as an artist can be returned tenfold by the fans and people buying albums and going to concerts. That's the ultimate show of respect. This film does a great job of showing all sides of this flawed but talented woman.
The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile is now playing in theaters.