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Amanda Glam
home : features : amanda glam
December 1, 2021


8/20/2021 12:43:00 PM
Amanda's Picks

Amanda Glam
Entertainment Writer


Stillwater
Remember Amanda Knox? The American exchange student fueled one of the biggest news stories of the 2000s, when in 2007, she was imprisoned in Italy for murdering her roommate. She was eventually found not guilty and she returned to the U.S. Imagine being Amanda’s father. That’s the premise of the new movie Stillwater (R, in theaters), the first for director Tom McCarthy since winning the 2016 Best Picture Oscar for Spotlight.
Matt Damon is Bill Baker, a semi-employed construction worker in Oklahoma who we meet cleaning up a neighborhood destroyed by a hurricane. A couple of scenes later and he’s checking into a Best Western in Marseille, France and obviously not for the first time. Bill is visiting his daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin), in prison where she’s five years into a sentence for killing her girlfriend. She asks her dad to bring new evidence to her attorney. When the attorney rejects Allison’s tip, telling Bill it’s a lost cause, Bill decides to extend his stay and pursue the lead himself. This could be redemption for being an absentee father and general screw-up. Since he barely speaks French, he enlists the help of Virginie (Camille Cottin), a charming actress he met at the hotel, and Maya, her even more charming daughter.
Marseille might be on the beautiful Cote D’Azur, but Bill’s search for “the real killer” takes him to the projects, where he is ignored, beaten up and surprise, people aren’t being helpful. His quest becomes secondary to the life he is building with Virginie and Maya. Bill may still prefer foot-longs from Subway to coq au vin, but he is assimilating. He buys a car, gets a job and picks Maya up from school. Damon’s everyman persona, aided by facial hair, a few extra pounds and a decidedly unFrench wardrobe, help sell the persona of a tough guy dealing with guilt, anger and a chance at a new life.
What Bill does with that chance involves a couple of very bad decisions and some stellar acting from Damon. While I was a bit let down by the ending, I was moved by Stillwater’s thoughtful and different take on an American abroad. Ultimately Stillwater is Bill’s story more than it is Allison/Amanda’s.


Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar
You’ll take a very different trip in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (PG-13 on Hulu). This frothy, fun comedy was written by the stars Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, who also wrote the screenplay for the monster 2011 female buddy comedy, Bridesmaids.
Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) are best friends in Nebraska who are happy working at Jennifer Convertible, shopping for culottes and meeting with their “talking group.” When their friend (a criminally underused Wendy McLendon-Covey) tells them about the magical land of Vista Del Mar, Florida, Barb and Star decide to treat themselves and take their first plane trip anywhere.
I was prepared for these 40-something BFFs with the fluffy hair and the bad wardrobe to be awkward and ridiculed, but they are so happy and confident in their skin that the first night, in a really funny scene, they land a hottie named Edgar (Jamie Dornan from the 50 Shades movies). The problem is the hottie is at the hotel on a mission from his evil-genius boss who wants to release killer mosquitos to get revenge on the town. The other problem is the hottie threatens to come between Barb and Star’s friendship.
Barb and Star is a very funny, very silly movie. Not every bit works and there are so many cool cameos that before you can say, “Wait, is that Andy Garcia?” Andy Garcia is gone. Mark Jonathan Davis’s lounge singer is a scream and I wanted more of his songs. Thankfully Damon Wayans, Jr. gets a bit more screen time as an epically incompetent secret agent. And, of course, you have a crab that sounds just like Morgan Freeman.
Everyone seems to be having fun in Barb & Star, especially real-life BFFs Mumolo and Wiig. Not every joke hits (and seriously, killer mosquitos?), but enough do to make this the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. With everything going on in the world, isn’t that enough? I would definitely recommend packing your best culottes and tagging along with Barb and Star.


Amanda Glam is a former B-movie queen who appeared in such movies as “Space Shark” and “Horror at Hoosier High” and the British mini-series “What’s All This Then?” She has retired to Englewood and is thrilled to share her Hollywood know-how and movie insight with Review readers.






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