Honestly, I wondered if the COVID-19 pandemic ended my days of getting paid to write movie reviews. Not only are movie theaters closed, but Asheville’s Mountain Xpress, where most of my reviews run, had to pare down due to a lack of ad revenue.
But indie theaters have been showing movies virtually, with part of the rental fees going to those venues, providing publications with films to review. And thankfully, the budget to pay for those reviews is opening up again.
So I was eager to review Lucky Grandma when given the opportunity:
Director Sasie Sealy (who co-wrote the script with Angela Cheng) builds her feature debut around a memorable grouch, Grandma Wong (Tsai Chin), whose fortune changes when a huge amount of money literally falls into her lap.
Lucky Grandma is a clever spin on the crime caper genre, thanks to Chin’s wonderfully cranky performance and Sealy trusting her warped morality tale to play out to its natural end.
As I was sitting in the theater before Bloodshot began (preceded by about 25 minutes of trailers, of course), I realized that this could be the last movie I’d see in public for a while. Even before chain and independent theaters implemented social distancing measures, then closed entirely, major releases had been pushed back for months (at least), so we wouldn’t have been getting new movies for a while.
So if Bloodshot was the last new movie I’d see in theaters until maybe — maybe — the summer, did Vin Diesel send us into self-imposed isolation on a high note? Well, sort of.
Releasing a basketball movie in March, when so much real drama and joy is on TV with college hoops, seemed kind of risky. But The Way Back isn’t entirely a basketball movie, which may surprise some viewers.
Sports movies — portraying sports in pop culture and media — fit solidly into Awful Announcing’s beat. So I reviewed the movie for the site. Here’s an excerpt:
Some viewers might prefer a more predictable, more conventional sports movie with an uplifting message. But director Gavin O’Connor and Ben Affleck know life isn’t that simple and a tidy resolution doesn’t often make for a good story. What feels more gratifying is that viewers can determine how this story ends. Maybe it goes exactly as you would’ve predicted. But maybe not. Being trusted as an audience to deal with the many possibilities at hand makes it worth seeing. This isn’t the movie you think it is.
Is this really my last radio hit for 2019? I wish I’d been more aware of that while recording, though I did make sure to wish Pat Ryan and the WISE Guys crew a Happy New Year.
Catching up on some baseball news after Christmas week, Pat and I cover former Asheville Tourists star Corey Dickerson signing with the Miami Marlins, and the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox taking big steps toward building playoff contenders for 2020. Oh, and some Star Wars!
Thankful for a new Podcass? We’re thankful for you listening!
First, we review the Mister Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (06:45). Then, some WISE Sports Radio talk on Major League Baseball’s bold proposal to cut down the minor leagues (13:20). One more movie review, catching up with Ford vs. Ferrari (25:57). And we close out with some love for Huey Lewis and the News (34:03).