THE LITTLE MERMAID – Review by Susan Granger

Why this live-action remake of Disney’s beloved 1989 animated classic? Because it’s “woke” 2023 – when audiences may want to see a more dutiful, diversity-aware approach to race and gender in The Little Mermaid. Sweetly guileless Ariel (Grammy-nominated Halle Bailey) is one of King Triton’s many, multiethnic mermaid daughters. Despite her widowed father’s disapproval, she avidly collects artifacts from the human world that she scavenges from shipwrecks with the help of her fish friend Flounder and Scuttle, a squawking seagull.

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THE LITTLE MERMAID – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Disney’s new live-action take on The Little Mermaid goes along swimmingly in its sweet romance, but it doesn’t diverge enough from its animated roots to truly make a splash. First things first: The charming Halle Bailey gets Ariel endearingly right, from her innocent optimism to unquenchable curiosity. Unfairly targeted with racist vitriol after the initial trailers, Bailey is a likable lead, and it’s easy to imagine young mermaid fans loving her and her sisters, who also are women of different races. The Little Mermaid is adorable enough in parts, but its story largely stays on the surface. Like Ariel in “Part of Your World,” I wanted more.

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THE LITTLE MERMAID – Review by Susan Kamyab

Thanks to the committed cast and their captivating performances, this is one of the few Disney live-actions I’m happy with. And if there was any reason for this remake in particular, it was to have Halle Bailey play Ariel. Baily shines as Ariel. Her voice is breathtaking and she’s a talented actor. It’s also heartwarming to know that so many young girls are going to get to see themselves represented through such an iconic Disney Classic.

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NINE PERFECT STRANGERS – Review by Susan Granger

When production in Australia began on this new Hulu series, Nicole Kidman refused to meet the rest of the cast until she was in character as beatific Masha Dmitrichenko, the mysteriously serene leader of a holistic wellness center who uses questionable treatments and experimental practices on her clients.

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THE STARLING (TIFF2021) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Eventually everyone gains expert status on loss. If you think you’re immune, you aren’t. This is something director Theodore Melfi banks on with his new film The Starling a dramedy in which parents Lilly and Jack Maynard are grappling with grief from losing their baby daughter Katie to SIDS. The Starling works the extended metaphor of Lilly’s inability to control a bird in her garden that repeatedly attacks her while protecting its nest as a reference reference the grieving parents’ inability to deal with their sadness. The film works and reworks that metaphor and others to such an exhaustive degree that it might as well be the audience members getting dive-bombed à la Tippy Hedren in The Birds.

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THE STARLING – Review by Martha K Baker

Oooh, you think, this is going to be a great movie. Just look at that cast! Melissa McCarthy! Chris O’Dowd! Daveed Diggs! Kevin Kline! Then you look at the movie, and you think, “Meh!” The Starling is a film with more promise than delivery but worth analyzing for what went wrong.

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THUNDER FORCE – Review by Martha K Baker

The problem with Thunder Force is that it’s unnecessarily complex. Two fine actors — Melissa McCarthy and Olivia Spencer — expend breathless monologues to explain the plot design, and, still they do not succeed to make it plausible or even fantastic enough for awe. So, bottom line, the problem is Ben Falcone. Falcone, McCarthy’s husband, wrote and directed Thunder Force.

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THUNDER FORCE – Review by Susan Granger

Unfortunately, inept writer/director Ben Falcone forgets about essential character depth and development, telegraphing the lame slapstick gags, which lack any sense of pace and timing. Worse yet, he totally wastes the considerable talents of Olivia Spencer, whose underwritten Emily is simply steadfast, drifting along for the ride as a relationship sidekick.

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THE KITCHEN – Review by Lana Wilson-Combs

The Kitchen, from director Andrea Berloff, is a crime thriller based on the DC Entertainment/Vertigo comic book miniseries of the same name. The movie stars Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss as the wives of Irish mobsters. The women decide to get tough and take over organized crime operations in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood when their husbands are sent to prison.

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