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Hanks, Murray, and 2021’s Best Pic: A Free Week of Apple TV

Your Webb Weekly correspondent spent a week with omicron in April — during which he took a free trial of Apple TV to help with long days alone. Here are three choice picks from that service’s current slate: Winner of the 2022 Oscar for Best Picture, “Coda” is the wonderfully acted tale of a New

Your Webb Weekly correspondent spent a week with omicron in April — during which he took a free trial of Apple TV to help with long days alone. Here are three choice picks from that service’s current slate:

Winner of the 2022 Oscar for Best Picture, “Coda” is the wonderfully acted tale of a New England family struggling to uphold their way of life as boat-owning fishermen. The quartet’s arduous, early-morning work is hard enough due to the fact that Mom, Dad, and son are all deaf, while their teen daughter not only interprets for seafood sales but also wrestles with teen ostracism due to her unusual home life — and to regularly arriving at school in a fragrant miasma of discarded fish-parts.

Then young Ruby joins the choir and falls for a charismatic fellow singer. Before long, her musical aspirations begin to conflict with family commitment, especially as she’s convinced them to sell on their own rather than through a price-gouging middleman.

Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, who had the lead in 2016’s marvelous “Sing Street,” co-stars as Ruby’s crush. Mom is played by Marlee Matlin, who nabbed Best Actress for “Children of a Lesser God” in 1986. Like Matlin, the other two performers playing Ruby’s family are actually hearing-impaired; this provides galvanizing authenticity, especially as directed by Sian Heder, who also wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay. Heder triumphs with two audacious scenes toward the end — one involving Ruby’s concert and the other a post-show tete-a-tete with Dad. Despite some racy content, this Oscar-magnet is surprisingly upbeat, inspiring, and old-fashioned.

I also enjoyed “On the Rocks,” a marital comedy starring the unbeatable combo of Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, and Marlon Wayans. Jones plays a 39-year-old mother of two who suspects her jet-setting husband (Wayans) of cheating — feelings fueled by her father, Felix (Murray). A lifelong womanizer, Felix naturally doubts every other man’s fidelity; and he has the connections to begin spying on the hapless husband, who frankly doesn’t seem like a cheater — but then, there’s plenty of incriminating evidence.

The radiant Jones manages to look a bit worn-down and frumpish as a harried stay-at-home mom — while Felix, despite a literally prehistoric attitude toward females, remains engaging thanks to Murray’s good work; one can certainly see why women have been drawn to him all his life.

This 2020 film was written and directed by Sofia Coppola, who won an Oscar for her screenplay to “Lost in Translation,” also starring Murray. “Rocks” is not as good as that masterful rom-com, but it’s consistently absorbing and an awful lot of fun.

But my favorite from the one-week Apple harvest was “Greyhound,” an explosive and gut-wrenching World War II drama whose intended 2020 theatrical release got scuttled by COVID.

Starring Tom Hanks as skipper of a U.S. destroyer escorting a fleet across the U-boat-infested Atlantic, “Greyhound” looked to me like something of a toss-off — but boy was I wrong. Its bone-rattling, nonstop action is confined to the 50-hour window when Britain-bound ships were without air cover — a grim and scary interval during which Hanks’ captain never leaves the bridge to sleep.

“Greyhound” is a pulse-pounding actioner, starting in high gear and never letting up till its tear-inducing finale, with heartfelt cheers from hundreds of grateful sailors.

Hanks wrote the screenplay, based on “The Good Shepherd” by C. S. Forester (“Horatio Hornblower”). The script incorporates a good deal of very apt prayer and Scripture; indeed, with only one fleeting moment of gore, “Greyhound” is amazingly family-friendly for a modern war movie — of which it ranks among the very best.