The new film”Cha Cha Real Smooth” is almost as unusual as its title. This film is available on Apple+ and in some theaters. Cha Cha Real Smooth is a coming of age story, with the main character Andrew, played by newcomer Cooper Raiff, coming to grips with his life after college and starting to pay the price that most of us pay when we are young. What do you do with our lives? How the hell are we going to be able to make a living? What about my student loan debt, that for anyone graduating college in recent years can be a life long nightmare.
Andrew thinks he is still in love with a much older woman he knew when he was a young teenager, who is now living in Spain. Andrew is a DJ, lives with his mother and also works in a bad fast food restaurant. Along the way Andrew runs into an older woman who is about to get married and is the mother to a genius Autistic daughter who is able to solve Rubik’s cubes that are 13×13. Much of the story and dialog is both very unusual and at times brilliant, with Dakota Johnson playing Domino, as the mother of the Autistic child, showing that she is an extremely accomplished actress. Others in the cast include Brad Garret’s as Andrew’s stepfather and Leslie Mann as Andrew’s very worried mother. The acting is very good by all, making this one of the better coming of age stories I have seen in a long time.
The ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are a very high 86%, with my rating in the 80% range and a solid recommendation.
Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977 almost 45 long years ago and after all of this time, Hollywood is still making movies about this life. This is representative of his huge world wide fame that eventually killed him at the young age of 42. In far too many cases, the greatest and the best entertainers that so many have said are the greatest ever, just cannot handle the abnormalities of their lives and die young. Considering the insanity of any life in a spotlight of world wide fame, is it possible for anyone to live a long time? Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, just to name three. The other problem is dealing with a mundane and boring real life opposed to the times when you are on stage, in front of many thousands, considered the best ever. In order to be a great entertainer, it takes much more than just talent. It also takes the ability to stand in front of thousands of people and not get stage fright. You must have the skin of the rhinoceros, you must be able to manage the money and not pay too many people in your security team and entourage, this last one being one of Whitney Houston’s biggest problems, along with Elvis Presley. Eventually you must come to the realization that its just singing and dancing, its not curing Cancer or saving the world. When it all goes to your head, your life will become uncentered and too abnormal. When you are not happy at the top of the world, the only remaining direction is down.
As far as the new movie “Elvis”, unfortunately it is told in an unexpected and different way, with too much jumping around from scene to scene, with too many different timelines. This film is not enough unlike the way Michael Bay directs a movie, and I for one, have never been a fan of Michael Bay. This movie is well acted throughout, making it more of a shame the way the story is told in too many sudden fragments, rather than just a simple straight forward story. Many times, trying to be different and innovative can backfire, as is the case here.
As far as the story, there is not too much we did not know that is revealed in these two hours, other than the fact that Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s promoter for almost all of his career, was stealing from him out of greed and to fuel his gambling habit and ongoing debts. Tom Hanks plays Tom Parker and the good news here is that Hanks wore a fat suit, rather than gaining and then having to lose a great deal of weight – an ongoing health hazard with too many movies. Hanks is unrecognizable in this film due to an outstanding makeup job, as well as his acting, that once again is great. The lead role of Elvis Presley is played by actor Austin Butler and the accolades from critics about his performance are all well deserved.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are a moderate 79% and I agree with that number only because of the performance of Tom Hanks and Austin Butler – with an equally moderate recommendation, despite the bad way the story was told.
Some years ago there was a report on 60 Minutes about a retired couple in Michigan, Jerry and Marge Selbee, who due to a flaw in the mathematics of a local Michigan Lottery, Jerry was able to figure out that the odds, based on certain conditions, would allow them to win every time. When all of this played out for years, the Selbee’s were able to create their own investing corporation and get all of their friends in their small town in Michigan involved. They also made 28 million dollars, all of this legal because it was an error loophole in the lottery that they discovered on their own. It also turns out that the Lottery commission also did very well, due to the greatly increased number of tickets that were purchased and another group of people at Harvard University that also found the same loophole.
“Jerry and Marge Go Large”, stars Brian Cranston and Annette Benning, who are both very believable in their roles. True stories like this always make for the best movies, and I was impressed with all that Jerry and Marge had to go through to get this lottery idea off the ground. Very soon after they started buying lottery tickets in Michigan, this specific lottery ended, forcing them to drive 800 miles to Massachusetts many times to buy thousands of lottery tickets there, every 3 weeks. Then add the amount of work it took to go through thousands of printed lottery tickets and pick out the winners from the losers, so many times. This story is another example of a true story that would probably never make it as fiction, because nobody would probably believe it.
The acting is outstanding throughout this movie, realizing that both Cranston and Benning are two of the best actors available. I am surprised at the below average ratings for this movie of only 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. Once again, the critics are wrong and my rating is in the 80% range with a solid recommendation.