Weekend film reviews: ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter,’ ‘Monica’

In “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” the senior friends are headed to Italy for a bachelorette party. Video by YouTube.

The latest film releases include “Book Club: The Next Chapter,” “Blackberry,” “Monica,” and “L'immensità.” KCRW gets reviews from Alonso Duralde and Dave White, co-hosts of the movie podcast Linoleum Knife.com. 

“Book Club: The Next Chapter”

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen reunite for this sequel to the 2018 film. The senior friends are headed to Italy for a bachelorette party.

Duralde: “This is not a movie where a lot happens, but it's not supposed to be the kind of movie where a lot happens. You don't want to see them get tied up with jewel thieves. You want to see them drink Prosecco and try on dresses, and that's what they do pretty much for the whole movie. It's a fun hangout movie to follow these four women on a beautifully-shot trip through Italy. The jokes could land better, but it's a breezy enough good time.” 

White: “It's like if ‘The White Lotus’ didn't have murder, and everyone was nice and talked about how much they care about each other, and then they all get to stay on vacation, and have sex and drink wine and shop. And what's not enjoyable about watching that? All four of these women are so immensely appealing. You've spent your entire life watching all of them, in one way or another, and they feel like your old friends.” 


Jay Baruchel stars as the man who founded and introduced the Blackberry — the phone with the tiny, highly-addictive keyboard. 

White: “It is a film about the destructive side of capitalist competition, which requires endless growth and bigger, bigger, more, more. It's shot like a mockumentary. … It's a film about a bunch of tech nerds who aren't necessarily looking for something to overwhelm their lives, but they get it anyway. And in the end, it all goes down the toilet, and you wind up feeling for their loss. You're on their side.”

Duralde: “You have these brilliant, but socially awkward, guys who are totally worked over by this greedy CEO, and he makes the whole thing collapse. Glenn Howerton’s performance is blistering, and it's the kind of villain you can't stop watching even though you know that he is doing terrible, terrible things. And then, of course, you do get the pleasure of watching it all collapse upon him and having him suffer for his hubris.”


Trace Lysette plays a woman who goes home to take care of her dying mom — they haven’t seen each other in years. Initially, her mother (played by Patricia Clarkson) isn’t aware who her daughter is. 

Duralde: “This is a really lovely movie that exists in all of the silences of what people aren't saying. … People don't declare how they feel or what they've done or where they've gone. You are meant to glean all these clues by their behavior. The result is just a really lovely and heartbreaking film.”

White: “Trace Lysette [is] giving this fully realized performance as a woman who knows deeply everything that she's coming back to, and what she was forced out of. There are some very intensely felt moments where you see what often happens to queer children who are forced out of their families. That sense of loss and the longing for something that the other siblings got, but you never did.” 


From Italian director Emanuele Crialese and starring Penélope Cruz, a trans preteen must navigate through his parents’ unhappy marriage. 

White: “The film's told from the point of view of Andrea, and it's not so much about the specifics of his understanding of himself, as much as it is about the family dynamic in the home. It's an unhappy one, the parents' relationship is bad. And the other kids have all taken on the roles that children often take on in problem families. The heart of this movie, though, and what makes this such a beautiful experience, is that it is a powerfully loving and protective relationship between the mom and the kids.”

Duralde: “There's a whole lovely subplot where there's this plot of land across the street that involves this thick forest of reeds that the kids aren't supposed to go through, but they do anyway. They find an encampment of laborers who built these shacks, and Andrea meets a girl, and they have this lovely relationship, and it's this place where Andrea can be Andrea. Everyone there knows this boy is a boy. It's a space for him to exist that way.”