Up first this week is The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – the sequel to the blockbuster film The Hitman’s Bodyguard. If you liked the first film you’ll enjoy this sequel as it’s quite similar, but makes Salma Hayek’s character one of the leads and takes out Gary Oldman and replaces him with Antonio Banderas as the bad guy. Overall I didn’t mind either film, but they both suffer from the same issues. First the positives. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson have fantastic chemistry together. They are both naturally funny guys and play off each other very well. Reynolds plays the “straight” with Jackson the “wild card” in this two-man comedy act. With this movie Reynolds is even more straight-laced giving up guns and violence and trying to get straightened out and licensed. Jackson, like the first film, is shoot first, ask questions later and drops a whole lotta mother*******. Hayek gets a lot more to do this time around being just as much a foil to Reynolds as Jackson and maybe out swearing even Sam. Both men are veterans of action movies so the action is pretty solid as well. Sure the film relies heavily on CGI and some of it looks ridiculous, but that is pretty expected in today’s films. There’s plenty of fighting, driving, explosions and more all set against beautiful backdrops. Unfortunately it being an action-comedy it struggles to remember to do both at times. The action is good when it’s there, but the second act is a glorified buddy road comedy which the first film also struggled with. With the three leads on the run, it’s more about them getting away, trying to get to Tuscany for help than it is about action. It suffers from too many tonal shifts and forgets what kind of movie it is often. The biggest issue is the swearing. It was my biggest complaint with the first movie as well. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero issue with swearing and with Sam Jackson in a movie you expect to hear mother****** often, but it’s excessive in these films especially from Hayek. I do think the film also wasted Frank Grillo who’s a talented guy when it comes to action films. They do very little with him and his character could be cut completely and the movie wouldn’t change much. Like another sequel released this year, A Quiet Place Part II, your enjoyment of this film will depend on how much you enjoyed the first one.

Second we have Midnight Diner. The synopsis of the film is all you need to know: A small, counter-only restaurant, open daily from midnight to 7, is lovingly helmed by its mysterious owner and chef, a quiet enigma who provides no menu yet can make any dish the customer desires. Year after year, people flock from far and wide to the mysterious Midnight Diner to share their stories, savor delicious home cooking, and finally, to leave refreshed, feeling equally full and ready for their next adventure. So basically there are different customers from business people to musicians to regulars to a mother and her child in a wheelchair that all eat at the midnight diner. They have stories to share while Tony Leung Ka-Fai cooks. It’s based on the manga series “Shin’ya Shokudo” which I’m unfamiliar with. There’s nothing wrong with the movie, but not much really happens. You watch it, it’s enjoyable enough and well made, but it’s also somewhat forgettable as you move on to the next film.

That next film was Little Q which is based on a true story. It’s also another film where the synopsis tells you exactly what to expect: Little Q, a yellow lab with a curious birthmark, is training to become a guide dog for the blind. When his training is complete, Little Q is sent to help Lee Bo Ting, a famous, recently blinded chef. Irritable and bitter, Bo Ting is at first reluctant to rely on Little Q and even tries to drive him away several times. But through his loyalty, Little Q eventually teaches Bo Ting how to trust again, opening him up to a new life of wonderful possibilities. By the film’s end you know the chef will fall in love with the dog and grow to accept his help. It also takes a slight turn with a young girl who originally had Little Q getting him again and you wonder if something will happen to the dog at some point. It’s a heart-warming animal film, something has to happen to the dog right? It’s nice, but I’m not exactly the target audience for it. Great for families though.

Fourth we have the 10 episode The Real Thing. This Japanese mini-series is about a man who works for a toy manufacturer. One night he saves a woman whose car stalled on train tracks. He had seen her a few minutes earlier at a convenient store and their meeting throws his life into chaos For a while you think she’s a con-artist. She’s constantly broke and taking every bit of money he offers. She doesn’t pay for her rental car, owes money to the type of people you don’t want to owe money to yet he puts up with her. He’s with a co-worker and another co-worker is interested in him as well so you really don’t know why he’s putting up with this woman. As her past rolls out over the series you start understanding her a bit more, but then a husband and previous lover are involved and she’s constant trouble. I guess it’s interesting in that it does keep you guessing and wondering where it will end up. The final episodes time jump into the future and sort of flips the story, but even now I still don’t trust her nor do I really know why he put up with her!

Next is Nakom. It comes from Ghana, but it’s a pretty universal story that anyone can understand. A young man is in medical school trying to make something of his life when he gets the call his father has died. He must go back to his small village for services and decides to put a hold on his scholarship to help out back home. Once he’s back at the village there’s expectations of him to right the farm, take care of people, make money and stay there. He wants more of course, but his traditional family does everything they can to convince him to stay. Like I said, universal story. The ending definitely surprised me which is good because you tend to be able to figure these movies out well in advance. The lead actor is also good as well.

Stone Time Touch is a documentary about a a trio of Canadian Armenians originally from Lebanon visiting Armenia. The one woman talks about how she imagined it and how it’s nothing like what she expected. She pictured a beautiful place and not what it’s become over time with earthquakes and devastation. It uses personal touches like diary entries, Armenian folk music and shared stories to give you a view at what is happening and how it’s perceived by those in the film. It’s well made and those interested in the subject matter will enjoy it.

Last we have A Discovery of Witches Season 2. This might have come out last week, but I’ve seen different dates for it and I didn’t get it until late last week anyway. I enjoyed parts of the first season, but was not familiar with the Young-Adult novels it’s based on. In the first season I enjoyed the folklore and mystery, but it ended up being your typical YA love story. It did end on a big cliffhanger and that’s where this season goes, Elizabethan London. Like the first season there are things I liked about Season 2 and things I could do without because I’m clearly not the target audience. With Matthew being a vampire he has ties to the past and Diana needs another witch to help her control her abilities. It also has stories going along in present day as the couple deal with their issues in the past. If you liked the first season you’ll like season 2. It has the same pros and cons to me. Great set design and costuming and some great folklore and then there is the love story all YA adaptations have.

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