payne’s picks

By Sarah Payne

Movie Releases

Hustlers – September 13 – I’ll admit that a film about former strip club employees plotting to scam their Wall Street clients isn’t exactly everyone’s cub of tea. It’s certainly not going to make the Oscars list, but with a fun cast that includes Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lizzo, Julia Stiles, and Cardi B, Hustlers could make for an entertaining night out with girlfriends. Lopez, herself a former dancer and known for her healthy habits, went through rigorous training with a pole-dancing guru for two and a half months to prepare for her role as the matriarch of the strippers, according to the New York Post.

Ad Astra – September 20 – Anyone who’s been reading my column over the last few years knows I get super excited about outer space movies. No, not like Star Trek – more along the lines of Interstellar, Gravity, or Prometheus. I love to imagine the possibilities of what we might find out there. In Ad Astra, Brad Pitt plays an astronaut, following in his father’s footsteps. His father, played by Tommy Lee Jones, disappeared while on a top-secret mission, and the government believes he might still be out in space. Pitt’s character is tasked with solving the mystery of his disappearance and learns secrets that could threaten our planet and human existence. Early estimates are predicting the opening for Ad Astra could be as high as $30 million, which is great news for those of us who still enjoy the traditional movie theater experience.

Movie Reviews

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Is there any better feeling than walking into a movie with modest expectations and walking out of that same theater completely blown away, wiping tears away because you laughed so hard, you cried? That was the feeling I had walking out of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Now I know why the film received a 7-minute long standing ovation at Cannes (though I’ll admit that’s still a bit excessive). It’s not so much that Hollywood was celebrating Tarantino for celebrating them. It’s that Tarantino’s ninth movie is perfect in almost every way. It’s running time is nearly two hours and forty-five minutes, but each minute includes carefully crafted details that build up to an epic payoff at the conclusion of the film. I won’t give away the ending for those who haven’t seen it yet (Tarantino actually sent a letter to all Cannes attendees asking them not to spoil the ending for the rest of the world, too). But I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. They play actors struggling to get by, waiting for their big breaks. DiCaprio’s character has particularly low self-esteem, even tearing up a few times when he can’t get his lines right. There’s a playful aspect to his character’s sensitivity, which I like, because it shows DiCaprio and Pitt are able to poke fun at their profession a bit.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – On a recent flight back from Dublin, I caught this 2018 film based on a confessional memoir by writer Lee Israel. Melissa McCarthy plays Israel, who was caught forging letters from deceased authors and playwrights in an attempt to save her writing career. McCarthy shows her serious side in the film and rightfully earned herself a Best Actress nomination at this year’s Oscars. Her character lives alone with her cat, pushing away anyone who tries to get close to her emotionally or physically. While there are funny moments, it’s more of a dark comedy than McCarthy’s typical physical humor, and her character is a lot less lovable. It wasn’t one of my favorite films this year, but it did succeed in making me question anyone who claims to have an “authorized” historic document – considering how easy they are to forge!

TV Review

Workin’ Moms – Season 2 – Although all three seasons of Workin’ Moms have already been released in Canada, those of us in the U.S. only just got a chance to binge season two of the too-real-it’s-almost-cringeworthy portrayal of modern motherhood on Netflix. Spoiler: It’s just as cringeworthy, yet hilarious as season one. Though I still have a few more episodes left, I really enjoyed that fact that one of the storylines features a single dad this season. Afterall, moms aren’t the only ones who struggle with work/life balance.