“Hearts Beat Loud”
The best way for me to praise this remarkable movie is to say that it joins “Harold and Maude” (1971) as one of my favorite independent films of all time. Quite frankly, the music in “Hearts” sustains its emotional magic in the same fashion that Cat Stevens’ soundtrack did in “Harold.”
Here, Director Brett Haley, who previously graced us with “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (2015) and “The Hero” (2017), brings us a story of a father and daughter living in New York who are both wrestling with their future. The father, played brilliantly by Nick Offerman, has run a record shop for 17 years that he is being forced to close. His angst is enhanced when his daughter is preparing to leave for medical school at UCLA.
What makes this movie so engaging is that it reflects the consequences of the gradual aging process on parent and child. Offerman’s Frank, a widower, is obviously attracted to his business landlord Leslie, played in expected eye-catching style by the talented Toni Collette. When not distracted by a mother (Blythe Danner) dancing on the edge of dementia, he drowns his sorrows at a local bar run by his friend Dave, played by Ted Danson in a memorable role. The relationship between these characters reflects their honest attempt to find meaning in life, and it is both heartwarming and quite funny at various moments.
However, as good as Offerman is, this movie belongs to Kiersey Clemons, who plays daughter Sam. While she is dedicated to attending college and becoming a doctor, it is hard for her to leave New York given her intense attraction to Rose (Sasha Lane) and a sneaking desire to form a band with her father. There has never been a more entertaining scene in films of any caliber than when you watch Sam and her father, who used to play in a band, entertain each other at home by exploring their mutual musical skills.
While I don’t dare give it away, the film’s ending leaves an emotional impact that you will embrace with joy. On the night that Offerman’s dad has to close his shop, he and daughter Sam put on a short performance in front of a few patrons where they sing three songs that were composed at home. With Offerman playing both drums and his guitar, Clemons belts out the songs, one of which entitled “Hearts Beat Loud” is likely to be nominated come Oscar time.
This moment will leave you embracing father, daughter and their music with the same wide smile as seen on the customers’ faces in dad’s store.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
The plot of this film is basically irrelevant. In a nutshell, we have dinosaurs living on Isla Nublar facing extinction as a result of the eruption of a giant volcano. Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), a California magnate who was a partner with Richard Attenborough when the dinosaurs were created in the original film, hatches a plan to have several brought back to the States to live in a preserve where they will be beyond human contact.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard rekindle their roles from the last film, here returning to the island with Lock-wood’s assistant, Eli (Rafe Spall). It turns out that Eli has other plans, and his small armed force betrays our heroes in order to bring the dinosaurs back to California where they will be auctioned off to nefarious bidders from around the world.
With Toby Jones playing an auctioneer without any conscience, you know that the dinosaurs are not going to be kept in their cages for long.
Having discovered their betrayal, Pratt’s Owen Grady and Howard’s Claire Dearing find a way to hide in the villains’ massive ship with their two spirited assistants, Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith). The rest of the film takes place on Lockwood’s Versailles-like estate where villain after villain become little more than appetizers for the dinosaurs.
With the exception of the performance of Pineda, the only other memorable role belongs to Isabella Sermon, who plays Mr. Lockwood’s suspicious granddaughter. It is worth noting that she joins Mckenna Grace and Dafne Keen from last year’s “Gifted” and “Logan,” respectively, as young actresses that need to be remembered. They all provide a spirit and energy that was central to defining the emotional strength of their respective films.
Though this movie confronts a moral dilemma as it wrestles with a decision to let the dinosaurs die or release them into the wilds of California, you have to swallow a lot of nonsense while watching this movie that lasts more than two hours. While the eruption on the island leaves you a bit teary-eyed as you watch it engulf a large brontosaurus, it is incredible how our unarmed heroes dodge harm. They seem to have been immune to the toxic vapors penetrating the atmosphere from the flowing lava, something that we have just observed taking place with the eruption this year of Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii.
But like it or not, there likely will be another sequel.
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.