Here’s a bit about the Oscars and a look at two new movies.
The just-concluded 95th annual Academy Awards was a pleasant ceremony that couldn’t possibly have irritated anybody, unless, of course, you were among the unlucky folks who had to sit in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood behind singer-songwriter Temilade Openiyi, known professionally as Tems, who was wearing a gigantic white lace headpiece that blocked the view of the stage for far too many people.
That Tems, an Oscar nominee for co-writing the song “Lift Me Up,” was trending on social media shouldn’t have surprised anyone. I felt sorry for the attendees sitting behind her. People pay a lot of money for tickets to the Academy Awards.
The show was enjoyable, often surprisingly entertaining, and included a lot of heartfelt acceptance speeches, especially supporting actress winner Jamie Lee Curtis’s speech. She had the grace to thank horror movie fans, who have famously supported her career. The program was well-paced, including the use of presenters doing double duty reading the winners of multiple categories. Host Jimmy Kimmel kept the atmosphere light, and overall, the program didn’t feel 3-1/2 hours long.
I never watch any Oscar pre-shows; therefore, I was unaware that there was some controversy about an interview conducted by Ashley Graham — I didn’t know who she was — with the always witty actor Hugh Grant, who was, as he often is, a curmudgeon.
I later watched the video of it, and Ms. Graham was lucky Grant didn’t just walk away from her outstretched microphone. I guess she’s never seen him on “The Graham Norton Show.” Whoever she is, she wasn’t qualified to conduct any interviews, and she irritated Grant with some ridiculous questions. I have interviewed Grant one-on-one for television, and he was delightfully grumpy. and funny. Is it any wonder that the robustly talented Grant’s “Notting Hill” is one of the great romantic comedies?
Speaking of the red carpet, oops, the beige carpet. Oops again, I mean the champagne-colored carpet. Anyway, it was a silly change and a mistake.
I have little quarrel with who and what won at the Oscars, except perhaps for International Feature winner “All Quiet On The Western Front,” which is about as original a war movie as a pancake is to others in the stack. It’s even a remake for crying out loud.
My score was 15 correct out of 23 categories. I still recommend seeking out “Elvis,” “Tar,” “The Banshees Of Inisherin, “Empire Of Light,” “Women Talking,” “Close,” “Babylon,” and “Guillermo de Toro’s Pinocchio” and watching them. The best picture winner, “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” returns to movie theaters on Friday.
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Regarding movie theaters, it’s where you can also see “Moving On,” a new revenge comedy starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Aside from the wonderful opportunity to again watch them together on screen, you also get to appreciate veteran actors Malcolm McDowell and Richard Roundtree.
Written and directed by Paul Weitz, whose father was the famous menswear designer John Weitz, “Moving On” follows the exploits of Claire (Fonda), who is determined to avenge the misbehavior of a deceased female friend’s husband (McDowell as Howard). Claire tells Howard that she’s going to kill him. Why? That’s the part of the story I won’t share.
Reconnecting at the woman’s funeral with Evelyn (Tomlin), a former college friend, Claire turns to her for support in her unusual quest, which really is murder. She also has ideas about getting back together with her ex-husband (Roundtree as Ralph).
Tomlin provides good comic relief and both she and Fonda are terrific to watch. The film has some secrets to reveal, and everything is carried out in a clever and thoroughly believable manner.
“Moving On” is a dark comedy in the tradition of the entertaining “Throw Momma From the Train.” Its subject matter might be considered serious, but the comic movie is robustly entertaining. Everything is conducted by the sterling cast with great style and self-assurance.
On Monday afternoon, I went to the Capitol Theatre, Niagara Falls’ newest cinema showplace, which is scoring points with regional moviegoers. The former Regal multiplex, now owned by the Dipson Theatres chain, is a sparklingly clean venue with great sight lines, comfortable seats, and pristine projection and sound. Manager Peter Lambert said that he and his staff are thrilled by how welcoming Niagara Falls and Grand Island area movie fans have been.
I went to The Capitol to see the new caper adventure “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” which stars action hero Jason Statham. I enjoy a good caper film and “Operation Fortune” hits the mark. It’s directed by Guy Ritchie and co-written by him, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies. Ritchie and Statham have successfully worked together four times prior, and they’ve scored another success. There’s a lighthearted esprit de corps to the goings-on that only comes from comfort levels between moviemaking friends.
Statham is excellent as world-weary super-spy Orson Fortune, who is called upon to track down and stop the sale of dangerous technology that threatens the world. It’s controlled by billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds, who is deliciously acted by the aforementioned, and wonderfully snarky and beguiling, Hugh Grant.
Fortune’s team includes: Sarah, a computer wizard played by Aubrey Plaza; Cary Elwes as Nathan, the operation’s boss; Bugzy Malone as J.J. the weapons expert; and Danny Francesco, Hollywood’s biggest movie star, acted by Josh Hartnett. Will their globe-trotting mission (England, France, Morocco, Spain) save the world? The cast is very good, with extra points to Plaza, who is especially appealing in a tongue-in-cheek role that could have been tedious, but happily, is breezy and entertaining.
“Operation Fortune” has a clever plot and includes a number of well-placed and well-structured action set-pieces. If good spy movies are your pleasure, go follow Orson and his crew.