Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a street musician. He writes his own songs and is getting nowhere at becoming a professional musician. After another failed event, Jack is hit by a bus at the same time all the world looses power. When Jack comes to everything seems the same except The Beatles were never a band. After singing “Yesterday” to friends who say they have never heard the song before, he realizes he can claim all the Beatles songs for himself as though he wrote them.

Of course Jack becomes an overnight sensation, writing the greatest songs ever written, but will Jack’s guilt prevent him from enjoying the success? Lily James plays Ellie Appleton, Jack’s best friend and manager. Ellie is also the girl that Jack let get away. Ed Sheeran plays himself, asking Jack to open for his tour after seeing him on a local chat show. Kate McKinnon plays Debra Hammer, Jack’s new manager. Once again McKinnon’s character feels like one of her SNL characters that’s trying to steal every scene she’s in, and it doesn’t work in the film.

Danny Boyle directs this lovely charming film from a screenplay by Richard Curtis. I love Boyle’s choice of films. Everyone knows him for the Oscar winning Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire but his filmography is filled it wonderful stories and people we don’t see much of on the big screen. Curtis on the other hand has written screenplays for some of my favorite films of all times including Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bridget Jones’ Diary. This film has it’s flaws, but it’s heart and, let’s face it, amazing soundtrack, make Yesterday a treat for the movie goer.

Swanner: 3 stars

Toy Story 4


Swanner: When Bonnie goes to go to kindergarten she makes a toy out a spork and brings it home. The other toys are adjusting to “Forky” when Dad announces a road trip for Mollie and and the toys. While on the trip Woody spends all his time trying to keep Forky from running away. Woody also meets up with an old friend from the past who is living a life he never considered. Josh Cooley makes his big screen directorial debut.

Judd: I like that the plot is a continuation of the themes from number three. While it is a “new adventure,” the dilemma of what happens to a toy that is no longer played with, and what is the meaning of their existence, their purpose, is still a major theme of this movie. Forky only Hale), Bo Peep (Annie Potts), Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her creepy goons are excellent additions to the cast.

Swanner: I don’t think this is a spoiler but at the beginning of the film we find out that Woody is no longer one of Bonnie’s favorite toys; sometimes left in the toy box while his friends are playing. This gives Woody the motivation to keep Forky around because Bonnie loves him and maybe his selfless deeds will somehow regain Bonnie’s favor. So to your point, Woody was collecting dust which is something Woody’s never done. This element devastated me. It’s about being left behind, even if you’re in the same room. Deep issue for an animated film but nothing Pixar couldn’t handle with perfection.

Judd: The runtime of this fourth installment is quite a bit shorter than the others, and while that is usually a bonus for me, I was a little disappointed it ended so quickly. I could have done with more Forky and more Bo Peep. Gabby Gabby could have had a little more time being evil before finding redemption. I left wanting more, which means Pixar’s done their job, but this time it feels so final. Like the team is never going… And we’re never… I’m sorry, I can’t…

Swanner: I was a mess watching happy-go-lucky Woody become insignificant, but that’s what the brilliant folks at Pixar do best, they make you feel. This did seem final, but there is always a way of finding a new story to tell. Not because it will make a lot of money, but because it needs to be told. This fourth installment had be crying happy tears more than sad, which was confusing for me but after a day to digest, I’m very happy with the ending. Toy Story 4 might not be your favorite today, but in a few days you’ll find it’s themes filling your heart. 

Swanner: 4 stars
Judd: 4 stars

Men in Black: International

As a child, Molly (Tessa Thompson) had a close encounter with an alien. When the MIB agents neuralized her parents, she kept her memories. From that point on her goal was to be a part of MIB. After exhausting all federal agencies as an adult she realized she needed to find MIB headquarters.  Once she did, she was offered an internship and a mission in the London office. Once in London she is teamed with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), a seasoned veteran who has become a bit of a loose cannon. After the death of a royal prince in their care, the two have to find out who is behind the death of the prince before they are offered up to the royal family as a peace offering.

Probably sounds more complicated then it is but this is a way of rebooting the franchise with a new office and new agents. The only familiar face is agent O (Emma Thompson), who is still running the New York office. These films are usually funny action films with a big splash of special effects. Funny is the thing that’s missing here. Will Smith’s character was always the every-man that was still amazed at this crazy world of aliens he’d encounter where Molly, now agent M,  seems like she has seen it all. I’m not saying the film isn’t funny, it’s just not funny enough. 

Director F. Gary Gray has no problem with the action side of the film, which moves well, but the script gives the Molly character way too much confidence too early, to where she feels more like the Tommy Lee Jones character, and not a young woman seeing aliens from around the universe for the first time. She can still be confident and interject some wonder and humor. It sounds like a small problem but it’s really major. In the next sequel she’ll be fine, but here it’s what’s missing. Otherwise it’s story is good and the cast is great. One big stand out is Kumail Nanjiani who plays Pawny, and offers us what is the only consistently funny character. In closing, the film is still worth seeing on the big screen. The film is still fun it’s just not funny. Take these notes and apply them to the next film. 

Swanner 2 1/2 stars 

Late Night


Swanner: Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is the only woman hosting in Late Night TV. She’s told by the head of the network (Amy Ryan) that since her ratings continue to decline, she’s going to be replaced. Trying to save her show, Katherine goes to her writers for help. Molly (Mindy Kaling) is a new hire that has just joined the all male writer’s staff. She’s never worked as a comedy writer, so everything she does is something completely different from the status quo. Nisha Ganatra directs, and Mindy Kaling has written this amazing script.

Kaling picked an interesting subject matter to raise her issues. Not only the lack of women in Late Night TV, but that Newbury is being replaced by a young man, or how there is little diversity in television, and the pay grade disparity. She packed this funny and important script with what seems like every issue affecting the audience that will come and see it.

All the performances are great in the film, but the stand out is Emma Thompson. She’s a flawed Queen of Late Night, and we need her to keep her throne, or maybe loose the opportunities for women in television for years to come.  The 60 year old actress stands tall, proving what I’ve always known, that Emma Thompson is a national treasure, even if she’s not a US citizen. Mindy did write herself a nice role, but never pulls from the lead. She’s the heart and conscious of the film.  A curvy Jiminy Cricket you might say. She will ultimately change everyone’s lives, but mostly Newbury’s.

I love this film and everything about it. It’s an important film because it puts a face to all the issues it brings up. In a time where women are standing up and taking their place at the table,  this Female directed, Female written film, staring two amazing Women defiantly owns it’s convictions. The Best Comedy and my Favorite film of the Year

Swanner: 4 stars