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Marlowe Review | Neeson’s 100th Role is a Dud

‘Marlowe’ is in theaters now.



Liam Neeson is one of the best actors of all time, no doubt. He’s been in Oscar films and B-level action movies (that he makes more than watchable). Recently, Neeson has been a constant fixture in Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment’s slate ranging from some good (The Marksman), some bad (Honest Thief) and some ugly (Blacklight), and despite how bad they can get, I can only hope that he’s getting a nice payday with each outing. Even at 70 —a very spry one at that — Neeson’s kicking ass. His latest film sees him shift gears a tad — at least in comparison to the rest of his Open Road-Briarcliff slate — from his usual ass-kicking self to a Humphrey Boghart or Jimmy Stewart type in Marlowe — a new noir thriller. Perhaps this wasn’t for the best as Neeson’s 100th role is a dud. 

The scene is 1939 Los Angeles — the year of The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind — and Philip Marlowe (Neeson) is approached by a glamorous heiress named Clare Cavendish (Diane Kruger) and hired to find her ex-lover. Believe it or not, this isn’t yet another Taken variation — “Taken on a Plane” (Non-Stop) is my favorite — though I can see how this just sounds like “Taken in Los Angeles.” 

A still from Marlowe. Photo courtesy of Open Road Films/Briarcliff Entertainment.

To begin positively, what Marlowe has going for it is its aesthetic and leading man. While this version of Los Angeles is not quite sci-fi like Blade Runner, I’d say it’s much more akin to Chinatown (which is an equally good compliment). There’s not a lot of scope, though, but the sets and score — composed by longtime Steven Soderbergh collaborator David Holmes — bring it home. 

The script, which was an adaptation of John Banville’s 2014 novel The Black-Eyed Blonde written by William Monahan, is a mixed bag. Monahan, whose career peaked early with his award-winning script for The Departed and has recently ranged from the 2014 remake of The Gambler and Ben Affleck’s almost-stellar The Tender Bar, wrote a script that’s simply too long and overstuffed with an unnecessary amount of red herrings and twists. 

While watching Neeson galavant around 1939 Los Angeles can be entrancing, you need visuals at the level of Blade Runner 2049 to pull the pace at which Marlowe moves off. Sure, Marlowe is finding clues as he goes along, but the pacing of the film makes the methodical pace oftentimes too methodical. I guess the film has a built-in excuse that the film is set in the 1930s and also plays like one, but we’ve seen 1930s-style films update themselves for the modern age like Live By Night. I’m not asking for a Knives Out-paced story, but this film feels eerily similar to Neeson’s own A Walk Among the Tombstones, just set in a different place and time. 

It’s not all bad, though. Alan Cumming is completely hamming it up to great results — even if it appears he’s in a different movie than the rest of the cast. It’s also simply impossible to root against Neeson in any of his roles. He does get a couple of moments to kick ass, thankfully, and at least the crew of Marlowe and specifically editor Mick Mahon were smart enough to edit around Neeson’s age, unlike last year’s Blacklight. Kruger is fine in her scenes but is treated like a femme fatale and is hardly on-screen. That’s a trope that you’d hope would be gone by 2023. 

A still from Marlowe. Photo courtesy of Open Road Films/Briarcliff Entertainment.

Perhaps part of the issue is that the character of Philip Marlowe has been around, but the novel that Marlowe is based on is a more recent novel that was authorized rather than one written by Raymond Chandler himself (for obvious reasons). It’s similar to what Confess, Fletch recently did in a way — though even that was based on the original works by Gregory Mcdonald — but maybe that’s why Marlowe oftentimes feels like a wannabe noir film than a straight adaptation. Imagine a new Godfather film being made except it’s not a remake — it’s an adaptation of The Godfather Returns, which was not written by Mario Puzo

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. In the case of Marlowe, despite the best efforts of Neeson and Cumming and the craftwork behind the camera, the film mostly falls flat due to its lethargic pacing. The overabundance of red herrings certainly doesn’t help, either. In what marks Neeson’s 100th role, it’s sad to report that this film is a letdown. Here’s hoping that role no. 101 is an improvement! 

Marlowe is playing in theaters now. 


Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”



Ariana DeBose as Asha in Wish (Disney)


Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.

Ariana Debose as Asha in Wish (Disney)

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The film is inspired by Disney’s centennial, which ties together a central theme across most of the Disney-related stories — of wishes and dreams coming true. One can view it as the origin story for the wishing star, albeit a funny star. Disney delivers a feel good story filled with humor and the occasional teases and links to other Disney-related works. Ariana DeBose braces the big screen as the hero, Asha who discovers a sinister secret about King Magnifico and his use of the wishes.

Ariana’s performance performance is amazing and I enjoyed listening to the songs she performed. I foresee “This Wish” topping the charts at Spotify soon.

This Wish by Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

Chris Pine plays the part of King Magnifico and delivers a good performance as the villain. We hear him sing a song alongside Ariana, At All Costs.

At All Costs by Chris Pine & Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

The story delivers the usual fun characters that Disney brings along in all stories, amazing graphics of a magical world, and an amazing song library for everyone to listen to. This movie is excellent for young and old, delivering a feel-good movie for all. Wish is yet another treasure in the world of Disney.

I’m really excited for the next 100 years of Disney magic. The movie Wish has the potential to become a sequel, or even provide potential spin-offs exploring the wishes and dreams of others in the magical Disney Universe.

My wish is for more many more years of movie magic from Disney. What is yours?

My rating is a 4 out of 5 for Disney’s Wish. Watch at a cinema near you and join in the Disney centennial celebrations!

Wish Official Trailer (Disney)

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‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy



Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in 'The Holdovers' (Focus Features)

“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.

The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.

Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers’ (Focus Features)

There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.

Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.

All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.

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‘Nightingales In The Cocoon’ Review | A Captivating Tale Celebrating Hope and Joyous Shared Moments



Official poster of 'Nightingales in the Cocoon' (Unchained Pictures)

Nightingales in the Cocoon is a vivid and heartwarming portrait of transformation and connection in a bustling city. The short beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the power of shared experiences. In just five minutes, this story carries a profound message that transcends its simplicity. Dharavi, often characterized by its challenging environment, serves as the backdrop for the story’s beginning. It sets the stage for two children’s life-altering decision to break free from their past. This decision, in itself, is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the pursuit of a better life.

The symbolism of leaving behind what is perceived as “trash” is a powerful metaphor for shedding the burdens of the past. The discarded keyboard, seemingly insignificant, becomes a symbol of forgotten dreams and overlooked opportunities. As fate would have it, two young kids in Navi Mumbai stumble upon this abandoned keyboard, which becomes the catalyst for a heartwarming journey. The excitement and curiosity the keyboard sparks in them are relatable and heartening. It reminds us of the pure joy that simple discoveries can bring, especially to young minds eager for new experiences.

A still from ‘Nightingales in the Cocoon’ (MUBI)

The act of acquiring batteries to breathe new life into the neglected instrument is a moment of resourcefulness and determination. It’s a reminder that even in the face of challenges, a little effort can rekindle lost passions and unlock new possibilities. The transformation of the once-silent keys into a source of melodies that fill the air is a beautiful metaphor for the transformative power of art and creativity. The kids’ dance to these newfound tunes is a celebration of life’s simple pleasures and the joy of shared experiences.

This story serves as a reminder that shared moments of happiness can bridge the gaps between individuals and communities. In the bustling city where stark contrasts exist, the shared joy and rekindled dreams bring people together. It’s a testament to the universal language of music and the ability of the human spirit to find connections even in the most unexpected places.

Nightingales in the Cocoon beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the universal desire for connection and joy. It’s a brilliant and simple narrative that reminds us of the beauty in the everyday moments of life and the power of transformation and human connection.

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