Movies with Michael: Dream Scenario, Napoleon, The Killer

Movies With Michael, December 1

Lift movie expert Michael Gendron has your latest recommendations for movies in theaters and streaming.

Lift movie expert Michael Gendron has your latest recommendations for movies in theaters and streaming.

Dream Scenario

Nicolas Cage stars as Paul Matthews, a boring family man and professor, who unexpectedly becomes one of the most famous men in the world when he inexplicably begins to appear in people’s dreams.

Despite dreams being a major driver of the plot, this isn’t a “what’s real and what’s not?” type of movie.  The majority of the film takes place in the real world and its always clear when it’s entered the world of dreams.

Dream Scenario premise may be fantastical, but its surprisingly grounded- as is Nicolas Cage’s performance.   His Paul isn’t a larger-than-life figure. He’s a boring, sometimes awkward man who’s just trying to navigate his newfound fame.  It’s as good a performance as the Oscar winner has had in his career.

Michael Cera and Julianne Nicholson turn in great supporting roles as well—Nicholson being especially effective as Paul’s wife who does so much with subtle looks.

The film’s marketing may play up the film’s comedic elements, but director Kristoffer Borgli deftly navigates between humor, romance, drama, and even some light horror.  The disparate tones never feel jarring.

This one comes highly recommended and its currently playing at the Zinema in Duluth until December 7th. Rated “R”.


Who needs historical accuracy?

Director Ridley Scott takes creative license in his exploration of Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power.

The film does feature its fair share of thrilling battle scenes, but Scott is far more interested in depicting how Bonaparte navigated his life’s three loves; France, the Army, and his wife Josephine.

Joaquin Phoenix brings Napoleon to life and portrays him as an off-kilter wife guy who just happens to be very good at his job. It’s a surprisingly funny performance bolstered by a surprisingly funny script.

Phoenix is a lot of fun to watch, but Vanessa Kirby is absolutely mesmerizing as Empress Josephine.  I was spellbound by the performance and Kirby just has one of those rare faces that’s meant to be seen on the big screen.

Scott is a director who’s known to improve his film’s with director’s cuts and with a four hour version of this film already announced for Apple TV+, I’m curious to see how he expands upon certain elements of the movie which admittedly can film a bit meandering in its current state.

While I had some trouble completely settling into the film and didn’t care for its desaturated color palette, the set pieces and central performances still make this one well worth seeing on the big screen.

Napoleon is in theaters now. Rated “R”.

The Killer

An assassin with a set code and philosophy and a love of the Smiths goes on a globe trotting mission of revenge after he misses a shot.

Director David Fincher brings us into a stark and icy-cool world of organized killing where its more about the waiting and the process than explosive action scenes.

This is by no means a boring movie, however.

Its propelled by stunning imagery, a darkly comic script, and a couple genuinely thrilling set pieces.

If you’re a fan of slick 60s European cinema or the previous works of director David Fincher, you’ll find a lot to love in this Netflix original.  Rated “R”.