Robin Holabird

Commentator, Robin Holabird's Film Review

Robin Holabird reviews movies for KUNR. A former radio news reporter, Robin appreciates that the KUNR format explores stories in depth. Robin's reviews have aired on KUNR for more than 30 years. During that time, she has had a high profile in the Nevada film community. She worked as a Nevada Film Commissioner for more than 20 years, helping producers use state locations and resources for such projects as "Love Ranch," "C.S.I.," "Sister Act," and hundreds more. She is a founder and first president of the Reno Film Festival and active in other cultural groups like Sierra Arts. When not hanging out in darkened movie theaters, Robin is an outdoor enthusiast who has run the Boston Marathon six times.

Actor Guy Pearce stands in front of two paintings
©2020 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.

Appreciating works by an all-time great artist took an extra hit when the COVID-19 pandemic closed most museums and delayed the release of a film called The Last Vermeer.  Many museums remain shuttered, but local theaters started screening The Last Vermeer in November, providing the chance to once again appreciate the genius of the man whose Girl With a Pearl Earring painting inspired a well-liked arthouse film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson nearly twenty years ago.

Two men ride bicycles while a red car drives behind them.
Sony Pictures Classics

The Climb takes an amusing look at the ups and downs of friendship. Director Michael Angelo Covino shares writing and acting duties with his real-life buddy Kyle Marvin, exploring the dynamics of a relationship that survives many years, despite the two men's hugely different approaches to life.

Someone holds a film clapboard in front of a girl.
Shudder

Normally, ponderings about scary movies end right after Halloween or Day of the Dead.  Covid times merit further consideration of scary issues, along with the upcoming release of a documentary called Leap of Faith. The project features director William Friedkin’s thoughts about his huge hit, The Exorcist.

A crowd separated by police barricades standing in front of a courthouse.
Netflix

Focusing on a controversial event from fifty years ago, Aaron Sorkin reminds us that other eras produced conflicts to match today’s contentiousness. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" melds Sorkin’s fascination with history, politics and justice, issues he previously explored as writer for "The Social Network," "The West Wing" and "A Few Good Men." Concerned about issues dealing with power abuses, Sorkin turns to a high-profile trial pitting the political establishment against individuals who wanted change.

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones sit on a couch looking at the camera.
A24 and Apple TV+

Actor Bill Murray and screenwriter/director Sofia Coppola found their way to Oscar attention with "Lost in Translation," but they tread a lesser path with their new pairing called "On the Rocks." A slight premise limits them, but the duo nonetheless provides an enjoyable jaunt that covers several topics and ultimately solidifies itself by celebrating father-daughter bonding.

Memories of Murder movie poster. A woman with a black umbrella stands behind a scarecrow and faces away from the camera.
CJ Entertainment

The prestige of Korean films exploded since the time nearly twenty years ago when I traveled there as a panelist for the Busan Film Festival. Korean Air screened the first Korean movie I ever saw; back then, the country’s films rarely made it to United States theaters. After that, I went out of my way to catch Korean movies, which was not an easy task.

Robert De Niro and Oakes Fegley stand in front of a messy room while look at the camera.
101 Studios and Brookdale Studios

Except for a brief period as a pre-teen and a short stint teaching middle school, I’ve spent most of my life avoiding twelve-year-old boys. This makes me the wrong audience for the new feature film, "War with Grandpa." True, filmmakers try to lure a broader, family audience that includes adults by hiring a terrific older cast. Robert de Niro plays the title’s Grandpa, his mob movie credentials making him a tough opponent for anyone, even a twelve-year-old boy. Also playing to their movie track records, Christopher Walken and Cheech Marin step in with their own brands of humor.

Movie poster for The Glorias. A woman's face, wearing aviators, looks forward. Betlow her two other women are both holding their right fist in the air. The women are surrounded by a yellow and grey collage of newspaper clippings.
LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions

You don’t expect a musical number in a biopic about Gloria Steinem, but Director Julie Taymor puts a little bit of song and dance into the mix with her new movie about the activist.  As she did when she won a Tony by turning Disney animated characters into live actors handling puppets for Broadway’s "The Lion King," Taymor looks for unexpected approaches to spice up the action.

Movie poster for Long Way Up. Two people sitting on their motorcycles in the desert.
Apple Inc.

Movie star Ewan McGregor lets fans armchair travel with him on his newest project, an Apple TV series called "Long Way Up." But rather than relax in a comfortable chair himself, the screen’s iconic Obi-Wan Kenobi from the "Star Wars" franchise sits on a motorcycle and steers it some thirteen thousand miles from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. Not willing to settle for regular bikes — which offer a difficult enough journey on their own, McGregor and his riding partner Charley Boorman decide to break ground as the first guys to travel the route on electric vehicles.

Movie poster for the Broken Hearts Gallery. Two people sitting on a couch and looking at each other.
Sony Pictures

The chance to see Geraldine Viswanathan in three new projects makes it a great season for her. “Who?” you might ask. The actress defies old-fashioned movie star traits, yet she headlines the theatrical release of "The Broken Hearts Gallery" and boasts the title role in "Hala," a film streaming on Apple Plus. Throw in a key part for HBO’s "Bad Education" with an Emmy-nominated Hugh Jackman, and Viswanathan not only runs a pace worthy of any certified star, but she also shines in all her works.

A movie poster for the film 'Tenet'
Warner Brothers

When you watch a movie by writer-director Christopher Nolan, you find either time travel, explosions, or Michael Caine. Nolan provides all three in his newest release called “Tenet.”

Long-haired man and woman in hijab look at each other while sitting in pews
Izaak Todd / Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

Full of classic Shakespeare plotting elements, an updated version of “Measure for Measure” moves smoothly into modern-day Australia.

Tesla movie poster. A man's back is facing the camera. He is looking over his shoulder toward the camera.
IFC Films

Northern Nevadans know Tesla as the name of a big job provider in the region, but film director Michael Almereyda sees something different. Here's KUNR's Robin Holabird with a review on the new biopic on Nikola Tesla.

An astronaut next to a smoking piece of futuristic technology
Courtesy of IFC Films

In its own warped way, COVID-19 adds extra resonance to horror films, demonstrated by two new releases that deal with types of fear.

Black Is King movie poster. Typography of the movie name against a black background.
The Walt Disney Company / Wikipedia Commons

The Disney+ channel released two in-depth projects demonstrating the evolution of the company’s musical endeavors.

The Old Guard challenges traditional action movie conceits by putting women front and center as director and stars. Sure, D.C.’s Wonder Woman already did that—but with colorful, form fitting costumes designed to please comic book fanboys.  While The Old Guard’s graphic novel source bears similarities to comics, the team dresses in practical army gear.

Covid-19 failed to stop Reno’s annual movie festival, despite the closing of traditional venues. Joining with Artown for several free presentations, Reno’s Cordillera Festival put its “summer shorts” lineup at the West Wind El Rancho Drive-in. I watched all seven entries and love the quality, ingenuity, and insights the dedicated filmmakers create.

The movie Rag Doll gets its punch from a twist on the sports film genre by focusing on a young woman whose fight to survive takes her into mixed martial arts. 

Covid Cinematic alternatives flourish this month in Reno during Artown.

Disney Plus puts “The Room Where It Happens” in homes for streaming a version of the play Hamilton, once bound for movie theaters. Covid-19 changed those cinematic plans, moving the project’s release up to the thoroughly appropriate July Fourth weekend. 

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