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Movies that make me unsure if I really liked it or not don't come around all that often, but Midway will be the film that fits that description for me when looking back on 2019's film offerings. If you've seen movies like 2012 or Independence Day, you should know what to expect from a Roland Emmerich directorial outing. That said, this movie feels like clash in management. Written by first-time feature writer Wes Tooke, it definitely shows that he needs to grow into his talent a little longer. Although filled with exciting moments and some great actors, here's why I believe Midway isn't really worth your time overall.
After the attack on Pearl Harbour, Midway follows a group of U.S. soldiers as they formulate a plan to attack Midway. While this premise does make for some exciting battle sequences, it's undercut by side plots that feel slightly unnecessary to the overall arc of this movie. I understand that it was trying to cover all the bases during the events of this piece of history, but there is a specific portion of the film that feels rushed on top of having nearly nothing to do with the overall premise, so I was scratching my head on why it was even included in the first place. Other than that, this movie is fairly focused for the most part.
I think the biggest weakness of this film, however, is the fact that I truly do not buy that Ed Skrein is a leading man. I've enjoyed him as secondary characters or as a villain in movies like Deadpool, but for the lengthy screentime he gets here, I don't believe his performance held this movie together very well. I'm usually in full support of actors breaking out with large roles, but I'm just not sure he is one to carry the weight of powerhouses like Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Luke Evans, or Patrick Wilson. The entire secondary cast outshined him throughout the entire film and I really did think that was a detriment to the movie as a whole, which is a shame since he does have potential.
Now, I don't want to make people believe that this film is a pile of trash because it's not, but the most enjoyable aspect of this movie for me was also a mixed bag. Midway's strongest suit is that it doesn't hold back on the action. From the Pearl Harbour attack to the final act of the movie, there is a significant chunk of this film that's dedicated to action, and most of it is well-done in many regards, but it's far too artificial to buy into most of the time. Much like Roland Emmerich's recent movies, this film heavily relies on CGI, but I just don't think the team who worked on this movie truly delivered on what the budget was. A lot of this movie looks and feels fake, which really took me out of the battle scenes. With that said, aside from feeling artificial, it is well-filmed nonetheless.
In the end, Midway isn't going to be remembered as one of the year's best films by any means, nor as one of Roland Emmerich's better efforts, but it may please some action junkies or fans of the war genre. Other than that, it's pretty standard fare with some questionable lead acting, although it does feature some exciting moments. This movie is a fine watch in retrospect, but nothing really worth recommending and nothing I'll ever have the desire to watch again. Again, some viewers may get a kick out of the exciting elements, but it just wasn't enough for me.
I've been trying to come up with a way of reviewing this film in a way that doesn't seem like I personally directed it or something, because movies like Marriage Story don't come along very often and I just feel like gushing about how incredible is. Netflix has been releasing tons of quality content this year and this may very well be the best of their entire catalogue of feature films. Alone with Roma and their recent release of The Irishman, I believe you'll be seeing Marriage Story in contention for many, many awards in the coming months. Here's why I believe Marriage Story is a must-watch.
Not all relationships work out and if every single Romance film ever made had a happy ending, then that would just be a lie. It's nice to see a movie tackle this subject matter and stick with it from start to finish. Marriage Story is a look into the lives of Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) as they are clearly not able to keep a working marriage, but also don't want to ruin the family they have made. From gut-wrenching scenes of excessively honest dialogue and a conclusion that feels raw and true, this movie is one of the best dramas I've seen in years.
Take your pick at who outshines who here, because it really is a toss-up as to who is more incredible between Driver and Johansson. It does help that writer/director Noah Baumbach gave them outstandingly good dialogue to work with, but the way these two play off each other is as if they were given a year to prepare for these roles and get to know each other. Everything about this film felt authentic, which made the overall impact so powerful. It's not easy to watch a movie about a love story that's about how marriage sometimes doesn't work out, but this movie does it in such a way that it doesn't feel depressing throughout the majority of the duration. This is all thanks to Noah Baumbach though.
From Greenberg to While We're Young, Baumbach has been a director I've been keeping my eyes on, as I believe he has gotten better with each of his films, for the most part. It wasn't until The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) that I really started to anticipate his next movie, but now I'll be desperately awaiting to get another story from him. His talent as a director, especially on Marriage Story, is truly something else. He is best suited for movies like Marriage Story or While We're Young, where it's all about the characters because he very clearly has a knack at getting the best possible performances out of his cast.
Marriage Story begins strong, easing you into what will be a very emotional film and concludes in a way that feels natural. Overall, from these award-worthy performances, superb writing and directing, a very minimal score, which lets you sit with these characters for extended periods of time, it's very hard to nitpick this movie. There is one scene that made me chuckle, purely because I felt uncomfortable, but this movie is otherwise perfectly done. By the time 2019 ends, I feel that I may have to say this is the best movie of the year. I absolutely loved every minute of this movie. I can't recommend it enough.
It's not very often that foreign films are able to break out worldwide, as they have certain restrictions, but it's always nice when platforms like Netflix make it easier to do so. I Lost My Body is one of Netflix's latest releases and not only is it a fantastic French animated film, but simply one of my favourite films of 2019. A unique premise can go a long way when it sticks the landing on everything it promises and I believe this movie does exactly that. At a breezy 81 minutes, this film is not one to miss, if you're a fan of a good story, regardless of the medium or style.
Following a severed hand, as it ventures out to find its body, the audience is treated with many flashbacks to when the body was whole. From losing his job to falling in love, this movie takes you on a grand journey. The fact that the movie follows a severed hand as the focal point may turn some viewers away, but I assure you that there is much more under the surface. The constant flashbacks create a lot of backstory for the core character and I found myself really caring about this hand by the end. Sometimes the best stories are told in unordinary ways, but they shouldn't be ignored for that.
From the score to the dialogue (or lack thereof) in each and every scene, this movie felt like a calm journey, with a bit of tenseness throughout. I was even on the edge of my seat and tearing up at times. This premise his me really hard and I wasn't expecting it to, which is probably why I feel the need to praise it. I think the biggest compliment I can give this film is its screenplay though, which is written by Jérémy Clapin and Guillaume Laurant. Laurant is best known for his work on Amelie, which I didn't even know prior to watching this, but it's very clear that award-worthy writers worked on this.
In the end, I Lost My Body is a unique premise that exceeds all of its promises by the end. With incredibly engaging flashbacks throughout the entire duration and dialogue that brought tears to my eyes, this is a wonderful movie all around. For those who can take in weird elements in exchange for a fantastic story, I can't recommend this movie enough. Not everyone will be able to latch onto a movie like this, but for myself, it's one of the best stories I've seen all year. I Lost My Body is a fantastic film.
I always seem to be fascinated by true stories that make it into a feature film, that were otherwise hidden until then, but I also wonder how true it really is, given the fact that these stories were kept a secret. That aside, regardless of the source material, I always go into movies like The Report with an open mind and try not to nitpick facts that probably aren't completely true. Put together in the same vein as movies like The Social Network or Molly's Game, the pacing of this movie is off the charts. While it's absolutely an imperfect movie in retrospect, this is a solid watch and here's why.
After the horrific day known as 9/11 had passed, Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) was recruited to helm an investigation into the CIA's secretive ways of interrogating individuals. Some of the findings were disgusting and thus sparked the need to get this story in the public eye. While I don't believe all stories like this need attention, I believe this one warranted a film adaptation. The material at hand and the nicely paced editing by Greg O'Bryant were the standout elements here because the wasn't always interesting enough to hold my attention.
The Report is a film that spews tons and tons of information on its audience. There are scenes where I found myself completely invested and others where I was slightly bored. Not to say the movie as a whole is boring, but I didn't think there were enough surprises to really make this movie hit home. From the editing to the quippy dialogue, it just felt like a movie that had the potential to be a great film like The Social Network, but it just didn't go the extra mile. Still, this is a solid film with some great performances.
Adam Driver seems to get better and better as the years go on and The Report is no exception to that. This performance shows his immense maturity as an actor and I truly do see a future where he wins an Academy Award one day. It also didn't hurt that he has a lot of great dialogue to work from, written by Scott Z. Burns. From The Bourne Ultimatum to Contagion, I have really liked his work thus far (excluding The Laundromat). This movie was a nice mixture of a lot of good, that just didn't quite become great in many areas.
In the end, The Report could've been a movie that received a lot of awards consideration, but I think the novels written about these behind-the-scenes events will probably be more informative. This movie feels more like a briefing, rather than an in-depth exploration. The movie has been made and I wouldn't touch it, but I think it could've worked much better as a television series. I can't exactly rave about the movie as a whole, but it's worth watching for the story alone.
From Looper to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Arian Johnson has been a filmmaker on the rise for the last number of years. Although many Star Wars fans seem to not like his addition to the Star Wars franchise, I loved it and I believe him to be one of the greatest directors out there today. My love for him as a filmmaker alone had me excited for his newest release in Knives Out. He took a step backward since his last outing, writing a directing a very small movie with a very large feel. This move was the best thing he could have possibly done for his career, because he has made one hell of a crowd pleaser. Knives Out is terrific and here's why it's worth your time.
Following the death of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), his entire family is questioned about his sudden demise. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) oversees this investigation and believes there to be a lot hidden under the surface of this story. This begins the story and classic "whodunnit" feel. There is something that feels very tradition about this movie, with updated dialogue and very unique camerawork to make it a fantastic watch. This movie is pretty much as good as you can get with a story like this these days. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Knives Out.
I can praise Rian Johnson for writing a clever screenplay that keeps you on the edge of your seat, which is does, or I can gush about the precise cinematography that is incredibly well-done, but this film is held together by an insanely talented cast who are all having a blast. If not for this stellar cast committing to these wacky and hilarious characters, then Knives Out would have been pretty boring. This movie benefits from the comedy and I think this cast has a lot to do with that. With that said, this film isn't quite perfect.
Even though nitpicking a movie like this is kind of ridiculous, due to the nature of it needing to contain twists and turns, I have to admit that the movie is slightly predictable, even though it leads you to believe it's not. Without ruining anything, it becomes fairly obvious where things will go after a certain point, so that was a detriment for me. Thankfully, the way everything is presented is very clever and definitely showcases the reveals in ways you're not expecting. Even if you figure out what happened, you won't be able to predict how it happened, and I really appreciated that aspect.
In the end, Knives Out has a nice blend of suspense and comedy to keep almost audiences engaged. I found this blend to be great and would happily revisit these characters again in the future. With fantastic writing and directing by Rian Johnson and a cast that's giving their all in the funnest way possible, it's hard not to like this one. For fans of murder mysteries, comedies, or even any of these performers, I highly recommend checking out Knives Out.
It has been six years since the release of Frozen, and since that release, the term "overrated" has been thrown around more and more. Personally, although I do think the music has been more than overplayed, I think the first film still stands on its own as a great animated feature film. Disney surprised me with that film in 2013 and even though I wasn't asking for a continuation, I was still very happy to watch it. Thankfully, even though it's obvious this movie got made to make the studio tons of cash, it also has some thought put into it, building off its predecessor the way a sequel should.
With a call coming from an enchanted forest that Anna and Elsa were warned to never enter as kids, the two of them, along with the return of Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf, all bravely venture inside. Discovering that she may be able to find the origin of her powers, Elsa splits from the rest of the crew. This movie separates these characters for the majority of the run time, which I feel may have slightly hurt the movie. There is some nice closure that gives reason for why everyone needed to be separated, but it would've been nice to see them all have a little more screen time together.
Aside from the song Let it Go, which will never be topped in terms of catchiness, I found that the soundtrack to Frozen II was far superior. The first film utilized the songs to tell the story most of the time, but also favoured them over the story at times. This film prioritizes them and works every song into the narrative in the way that I feel a proper musical should. Frozen II may not be an overall better movie than the first, but the musical aspect is very much an improvement.
As always, the visuals are breathtaking and almost look realistic at times, the voice work is very impressive, and the messages throughout the movie are all great for kids, which is who this film is made for first and foremost. One of my complaints however, even though I still enjoyed his presence, was Olaf. Much like the use of Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, he is overused for comedic relief, far more than he was in the first film. I really enjoy his presence as I said, so it didn't ruin the film at all, it just felt like a bit much at times.
In the end, with great music, a very solid story, visuals that would impress any viewer, and a worthy successor to that of the first film, Frozen II is worth your time. If you were a fan of the first film in any way, I think this movie will satisfy you if you have been eager to see this story continue. With that said, this really isn't a linear progression of the last film, but rather an evolution of it, which I appreciated. This is a solid sequel and I would gladly revisit it eventually, but I really don't see the need for another one. We'll see how much money this one makes I guess. Frozen II gets the seal of approval from me.
The formula of someone overcoming the odds and willing themselves into success has been done over and over again throughout the history of cinema. People complain about there being too many films based on comic books these days, and while I admit there are a lot, I would argue that there is an overabundance of every genre nowadays. There's so much content out there that the same story is probably told twice in the same year, if not more. It's an embarrassment of riches in terms of how many movies and shows are available for audiences to watch, so it's hard to see everything. Brittany Runs a Marathon looked like a movie that followed a very familiar formula, but I was still very much interested. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, I've finally had the chance to check it out.
Unhappy with her weight, diet, and overall daily routines, Brittany (Jillian Bell) decides to motivate herself to take baby steps, with an eventual goal of running a marathon. With the addition of new friends and other positive influencers entering her life, this positive story is one worth watching. Although she isn't always the most likeable character, that's the whole point of the movie in the end. It's really about not letting others get you down and taking it upon yourself to better yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this movie and Jillian Bell had a lot to do with that, surprisingly.
Being the secondary character to many stars throughout the course of her career and the comedic relief in films like 22 Jump Street or Rough Night, it's roles like that, that had me disliking her as a performer, but now I see that was just the roles being given to her. She has some real, raw talent and I actually look forward to seeing what she does next. I think she is a much better dramatic actress than a comedic one, although she does have her moments. The character is what makes this story good, but her performance is what ended up making the final film as good as it is.
Writing, directing, and producing his first feature film, Paul Downs Colaizzo does some stellar work here. From page to screen, he has adapted this story in such a way that I'm sure will resonate with many viewers. Whether or not you relate to the story on a personal level or not, he does a great job in sharing Brittany's story with those around her. I can see certain viewers seeing themselves in some of the secondary characters and having realizations of their own. This is a really well-done film all around.
In the end, Brittany Runs a Marathon may suffer at times from the lead characters making some unlikeable decisions, but it's ultimately a very inspirational story. From start to finish, I found myself rooting for her to get where she wanted to be. To reiterate, the screenplay and direction by Paul Downs Colaizzo are fantastic, Jillian Bell delivers the best performance of her career to date, and the final act of the movie was worth watching the film for. It really is one of the better movies of 2019.
Regardless of how much you liked any of the previous instalments in the Terminator franchise, it goes without saying that it has been a bumpy ride, story-wise. Losing James Cameron as the head of this franchise was always the biggest thing wrong, due to the fact that he told his story and wrapped it up in the second film, T2: Judgement Day. This is now the sixth film and everything past the second has been subpar to me, excluding the fact that I did get some enjoyment out of Terminator: Salvation. This time, although Cameron was not at the helm as director, he was actually backing it as a producer, so if any of these movies deserved a little hope, it was this one. After viewing it, this film didn't do anything to get me excited for another instalment or anything like that, but I enjoyed it.
Echoing many elements from the first two films, Terminator: Dark Fate follows Grace and Sarah Connor as they find themselves protecting a young girl from a liquid terminator that has been sent to kill her. Like many franchises that fear straying too far into original territory, this movie feels stale in terms of storytelling at times, but as a movie outside of the Terminator franchise, it's actually quite good. There are a few creative liberties taken throughout the movie that had me scratching my head, but for the most part, this film is just trying to deliver an exciting ride, which is what I feel it accomplished.
Quite new to the directing chair, Tim Miller had only worked on Deadpool before being hired for this film, but that didn't bleed through into the final product at all. I think this is a very well-directed piece of action cinema, with characters you love from the past and enough new stuff to keep you engaged. It may seem like a negative to say that this movie would've been so much better if it wasn't part of the Terminator franchise, but if you can look past that, I think you'll be able to enjoy yourself. This movie is riddled with story flaws, but that's honestly to be expected with these films at this point.
Terminator: Dark Fate picks up after the events of the second film, choosing ignoring instalments three to five. That will definitely be confusing to those who have followed the franchise and have no idea that's what they're doing here, but it's also a big positive. For doing this, it doesn't have to worry about the baggage that the previous films have created for any future instalments. This movie feels simpler than the rest, which was a nice change of pace. Still, this movie was more of a breath of fresh air for the franchise, rather than a great film.
In the end, I can both recommend this movie as a solid action film, as well as an okay sequel to T2: Judgement Day. Yes, it's littered with problems if you look closely and there are story choices that will more than likely annoy many Terminator fans, but I think this film falls much more in line with the classic Terminator storyline. Linda Hamilton is pretty solid as Sarah Connor once again, Arnold Schwarzenegger as a little more screentime than I was expecting, and Mackenzie Davis is probably the best performance in the entire film. Overall, this is a solid action film that I would recommend, even though this franchise is a mess in retrospect.
Disney has officially released its long-awaited streaming service, Disney+. While many viewers are excited to rewatch their classic favourites and new upcoming Star Wars and Marvel series, it also seems that they will be creating their own original films every so often as well. One of their first at launch was that of Noelle. Just in time for the Christmas season, Disney+ released this Christmas film to warm the hearts of families around the world. Sadly, I feel that the execution of this movie is a mixed bag. Do I think Disney+ is worth purchasing? Yes, very much so. Do I think this is the movie that you should watch before anything else? Probably not.
After the passing of their father, siblings Noelle (Anna Kendrick) and Nick (Bill Hader) find themselves having to take over the family business. With their father having been Santa Claus and them having lived in the North Pole all their lives, they know nothing else. Nick is next in line to become Santa but ultimately flees the scene when nerves kick in. Noelle ventures to find him and hijinks ensue. Noelle is a film that works as a sweet, yet super corny little Holiday flick, but the third act of the film sort of took away from the rest of it for me.
Without giving anything away for those who wish to watch, the third act of this movie really begins to hit you over the head with the messages it's trying to send. While I have no problems with these messages, it's almost like the filmmakers thought viewers didn't see these messages slowly presenting themselves throughout the entire movie. I liked the conclusion for what it was, but the way it was executed fell flat for me. There was a lot of emotion set-up throughout the movie that does have a payoff, but I felt disconnected from it all.
Anna Kendrick is as loveable and quirky as she has always been and Bill Hader (although having much less screen time) is quite good with the material he is given as well. Where this movie fell apart was easily in the screenplay. I didn't mind the direction here, in fact, I actually liked it, which was no surprise seeing as I enjoyed director Marc Lawrence's work on Music & Lyrics. With that said, he also wrote this screenplay and I found a few key elements were missing to make the finale of this movie truly work.
In the end, Noelle is a passable, at times very enjoyable Christmas movie, but ultimately collapses by the end for me. It's not that I despised where they went, it's just how it was done. For fans of Holiday films, no matter what they are about, this movie might appeal to you more. I personally love a great Holiday flick and I'm usually pretty forgiving of them, but this one didn't quite work. It's not a bad movie, but I was certainly hoping for better.
This usually happens to me about once a year or so, but it's so close to the end of this year that I didn't think it was going to happen. I usually find one film that warms my heart to the point that I find myself putting it on my list of best films of the year, simply because I found nothing wrong with it on an emotional level. The Peanut Butter Falcon is easily the best feel-good movie out there of 2019 and also one of the best overall movies of 2019, in my opinion. This movie has flown under the radar for mainstream audiences, so please, seek this one out.
Living with down syndrome in an old age home, young Zak escapes in hopes of find his wrestling hero that he sees on television on a daily basis. The film equally focusses on him, as well as Tyler, who has issues of his own and is currently on the run to save his life. Bumping into each other, the two of them form a bond that leads to a very heartwarming friendship. With a few more layers to unpack as the movie progresses, this film has all the heart you could ever ask for out of a film, without getting overly sappy.
Written and directed by two newcomers to the feature film sphere, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz have created one hell of a little indie here. It's very clear that this isn't their first rodeo in cinema/television, but as a first film, they deserve all the praise in the world. While this movie will most likely go under the radar when awards season rolls around, I truly do feel they have given some of the best work behind the camera all year. On top of their stellar work, the talent on-screen is just as notable.
Although Shia LaBeouf hasn't exactly quit acting, it has become very apparent over the last few years that he just wants to pursue smaller projects. Personally, I love that he has done that because his talents are far more suited for projects like this. Quite honestly, I'm not sure if I've ever seen him give a stronger performance than that of his portrayal of Tyler in The Peanut Butter Falcon. That aside, the true standout here is Zack Gottsagen as Zak. Nilson and Schwartz were able to bring out such a charismatic and natural performance from him and I felt like I was nearly watching a documentary with the amount of chemistry that LaBeouf and Gottsagen shared.
In the end, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a film that I have been looking forward to for a while and I'm very happy with the experience I had when watching it. This may seem repetitive, but I can't stress enough how heartwarming this film truly is. I watched this movie with a smile on my face the entire time and with such great performances and direction to boot, there really weren't any glaring faults. When this film hits home video in the coming weeks or becomes available to stream in your area, I can't recommend checking it out enough. The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of the best movies of 2019.
Netflix wasn't known for producing great films when they first started but rather produced some great television shows instead. Nowadays, with films like Roma being up for best picture, Eddie Murphy making his return in Dolemite is My Name, and Martin Scorsese releasing his three and a half hour epic gangster film in The Irishman, they are nothing short of being all-in. Sadly, for every great film, they're still releasing a poor one as well, and that's the case with the latest Stephen King adaptation, In the Tall Grass. While it had a promising premise and some unique ideas, it never fully grasps where those ideas should lead. Here's why I don't think this movie is worth your time, even as a casual watch on Netflix.
Stopping on the side of the road during a long drive, siblings Becky and Cal venture out into a field of endless, tall grass after hearing the cry of a young boy. Learning that this location has much more going on under the surface, other characters appear and other-worldly things begin to happen. Playing with time and horror, this is a premise that has a lot going for it but ultimately fails. Sadly, another aspect that didn't help the wasted potential, was the fact that the cast just really wasn't all that good. That's saying a lot coming from me because Patrick Wilson actually gets quite a bit of screentime, and I usually love his performances.
Laysla De Oliveira and Avery Whitted lead this film for the most part until other characters begin to appear, and while I can see the potential for them in the future, I haven't seen either of them in a film before and it really does show throughout. I will cut them some slack though because I truly feel the biggest culprit here is the screenplay. I was shocked to see Vincenzo Natali's name all over this film, because Paris, je t'aime is a fantastic film by him and I also quite enjoyed his little horror film, Splice. For these reasons alone I was interested in In the Tall Grass, but his dialogue here could have really used some work. Even less of it and using the score to keep the movie ominous I believe would have helped, but that's just my opinion.
The absolute best thing I can say about this film is the fact that it's actually nicely shot from start to finish. Known for working on very popular shows like Fargo, Legion, and The Umbrella Academy, his extensive resume shines through here and is on full display. If an award had to be given to any aspect of this movie, it would surely be for the cinematography. If for nothing else, I enjoyed looking at this movie. Truthfully, I believe the camerawork is what kept my attention the whole time.
In the end, In the Tall Grass begins with a promising concept, but is bogged down by a confusing finale, subpar dialogue, a cast that deserved to be in a better film, and direction that was very off, which is really saying something, seeing who was behind the camera and story here. There's no way I can get myself to recommend this movie to anyone, except for maybe suggesting it to cinematographers who like to shoot horror films. Good in theory, but gad in execution.
Director Bong Joon Ho has been on my radar for years now, as I believe him to be one of the best storytellers out there right now. Admittedly, I haven't seen the majority of his films but his two most recent works in Snowpiecer and Okja were among the best films of their consecutive years. I thought both of those films were great, so I was very eagerly awaiting his newest film, Parasite. After viewing, not only does this film deserve to be talked about as one of the best films to be released in 2019, but I personally think this may just be the very best movie you'll see all year. Now, some people may not like the turn it takes, but here's why I think Parasite demands to be seen.
To go into detail about this premise would be to ruin it for those who haven't seen it, so I'll stick to the basics here. The Kim family lives in a basement living space. All unemployed, they find any way they can to make things work. Ki-woo, the eldest sibling in the family, is given the opportunity to tutor the daughter of the rich Park family. Getting smarter and smarter as the first act really kicks into gear, the Kim family becomes a group of very clever con-artists. Meaning well and doing everything they can to keep things legitimate, this makes for some terrific tension.
The biggest praise I can give this film is that it's constantly in motion, never wasting a moment to surprise you. The set-up for this movie has many clever aspects to it, the second act throws you a real curveball and the finale doesn't disappoint either. Some viewers may think this movie goes off the rails toward the end, but I found it to be an overall brilliant piece of storytelling. Each time you think the movie has said everything it wants to, it becomes that much more interesting. In other hands, this story could've have come off as a very generic film, but there's truly something special about how well-made Parasite is.
Wonderfully shot by cinematographer Kyung-pyo Hong, each frame of this movie has more than one thing to say. It's very rare these days that shot compositions are done in such a way that they seem to tell a story as well, but even in the moments when the focus is on the characters alone, there are things happening in the background or even signs in the framing that things are coming soon. This movie is brilliantly made in every way.
It's very rare when I review a film and struggle to at least come up with one negative here, so I won't bother trying, because I loved this movie too much to let anything take away from it. I will just say that certain aspects may not work for everyone. Parasite is a perfect example of why I love movies so much. A great, engaging story that surprises you from start to finish, along with one of the best crews to work on a film yet this year. I can't praise this film enough. This Korean language film has broken through and I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if it takes home the award for best foreign film and even a nomination for best picture. This is as close to a masterpiece you can get today.
Eddie Murphy was known as one of the greatest comedic personalities of all time by many, and is still remembered for being that great, but it's safe to say that his career took quite the nosedive in terms of the projects he was attaching himself to. I would argue that his last truly committed performance was in 2006's Dreamgirls, even though I enjoyed him in Tower Heist as well. Now, with a stand-up special on the way, Coming to America 2 and Beverly Hills Cop 4 in the works, he seems to be on his way back into the spotlight if those movies turn out great. We're not here to discuss his career though. Dolemite is My Name is one of the latest feature films to hit Netflix and Murphy is the shining star here in what may just be his best performance in decades.
Following the tropes of many biopics, Dolemite is My Name follows Rude Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) as his stand-up comedy/rap routines are winning audiences over. With a very niche audience that follows his work, people never believed his personality could translate well to the big screen. Determined to show his character Dolemite to the world, he sets out to fund his feature film on his own. With ups and downs throughout his career, this true story lends itself to a very formulaic movie as a whole.
Thankfully, the care put into making this a great watch is very much present, leaving the issue of feeling like a retread by the wayside. Eddie Murphy delivers one of the best performances I've ever seen him give and the supporting cast in performers like Craig Robinson, Keegan-Michael Key, and even Snoop Dogg are all giving it their all. This movie needed to have a very specific type of feel in order to work and a lot of that weight was on the cast. Personally, I don't think a better cast of performers could've been put together for this particular story.
From a bizarre drama like Black Snake Moan to the remake of Footloose (which I happen to prefer over the original), I've always enjoyed watching one of director Craig Brewer's films, who was also at the helm here. The way this film is visually presented, along with the great performances from everyone involved, it really seems like his best work yet as a director. I'm very excited that he is the one who will be taking on the role as director for the upcoming sequel to Coming to America.
In the end, Dolemite is My Name has quite a bit of energy to it and the screenplay is very quippy, which made the run time not feel like the full two hours that it is. If you're a fan of Eddie Murphy, then I can't see why you won't be glued to the screen as I was. This character was pretty much made for him to play. I'm glad to see him making a comeback and having it work so well. This is a very, very good, funny, and engaging biopic that I feel a lot of people will get a kick out of. Come Oscar season, you may also hear some buzz about how good Eddie Murphy truly is here. This was a great watch.
I will always admire films that take chances or try to push the boundaries of cinema. Whether or not you enjoyed Avatar or not, it's without question that it was an exceptional achievement, visually. More recently, movies like Gravity or Life of Pi have also pushed the boundaries of the technical side of filmmaking and both accomplished wonders. Director Ang Lee, who also directed Life of Pi, is at the helm here for Gemini Man, and while it may look fantastic in terms of cinematography, this movie is a misfire. Here's why I believe Gemini Man isn't worth your time.
Following a hitman in Henry Brogan (Will Smith) as he's on the verge of retirement, this film kicks into gear when he discovers that a younger version of himself was cloned and sent to kill him. That's pretty much the premise of the movie, so if you were hoping to dive deeper than that, then you're going to be disappointed. Honestly, if you've seen the trailer for this movie, you've seen all the major story beats it hits. Gemini Man does nothing to wow or surprises its audience, which is a surprise in itself, given the director at hand.
From Brokeback Mountain to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee has directed a few of the most celebrated movies over the last 20 years. I haven't seen the majority of his filmography, but of the films I have seen, this is easily his weakest effort yet. Not to say he wasn't trying, because the effort is clearly on display, but it just doesn't work overall. The most notable aspect of this movie is the cinematography by Dion Beebe. This man has been in the business for over 27 years and his talents have yet to waiver. From the very opening shot, my eyes were glued to the screen. Sadly, the pacing and overall story ended up taking away from this, and not very subtly either.
Now for the most distracting and frustrating portion of the movie. The premise and the way it's executed are already off-putting enough, but the big selling point about this film is the fact that Will Smith gives two separate performances, both as himself and a younger version. He actually gives a far better performance than this film deserves, but even I (who is usually fairly forgiving about things like this) have to admit that the facial work on his younger version stood out like a sore thumb. Even down to the hand-to-hand combat scenes. It was clear that the person he was fighting had CGI work done to him. This idea is neat in concept, but it really didn't work here.
In the end, Gemini Man surely started as a concept that had director Ang Lee very eager to bring to life, and although his vision and Beebe's framing truly do stand out as positives, this is a film that had too many conflicted writers working on it, and it shows big time. Smith puts his all into this performance and his back and forth with Mary Elizabeth Winstead was even nice at times, but this movie extraordinarily suffers from a bad screenplay and distracting visuals. I really wanted to like this movie and even chose to ignore the audience and critic reactions, but I'm with the majority on this one. It's quite a bad film as a final product.
Films based on comic books have been the craze over the last decade or so, to say the least. From Iron Man launching a franchise bigger than any interconnected cinematic franchise in history to The Dark Knight being known as one of the best films of all time, we're currently living in the golden age of comic book adaptations, so it should come as no surprise that a few unexpected outings would be attempted as well. Joker has now hit theatres and while I can say right off the top that it won't be for all moviegoers, this is a fantastic piece of storytelling.
Being alone his entire life and thrown to the side by society, Arthur Fleck still lives with his mother well into adulthood and has a full-time job as a street clown. Having a condition that causes him to uncontrollably laugh, this character study is engaging from start to finish. Slowly realizing the truth about his life, things begin to devolve into chaos in his mind. Joker is simply a study of the mind of someone who has nothing left to live for or be happy about. For this reason alone, this is going to be a tough watch for certain viewers. Having a homicidal maniac as your core focus is not exactly an easy sell.
Now, Joker shares quite a few similarities to other classic films, which is being criticized a lot throughout many reviews, but I didn't see that as a negative. There are so many formulas that have been emulated to create great works of fiction that calling this movie a rip-off would be an insult to the filmmakers. On top of that, this movie is held together by a performance by Joaquin Phoenix that's truly out of this world, so any minor issues I had were usually overshadowed by him.
Phoenix's portrayal of this character, like every actor who has played this character in the past, is extremely committed, whether or not you like the outcome. Thankfully, I think his portrayal is completely different from anyone who came before him, making this movie one that will be able to stand on its own for a long time. From his quirks when the film begins to where he ends up during the final act, each and every moment was riveting.
In the end, Joker does borrow a little too much from classic to really call it a masterpiece or perfect, but it's pretty close in my opinion, in terms of holding your interest for an unlikely anti-hero. It's directed very, very well by Todd Phillips and I was more than happy to see him evolve as a filmmaker here. This is something that I never thought I would see him do and, aside from the level of great comedy in a movie like The Hangover, this is probably his best work to date. I loved nearly everything about this movie, even though it will upset some viewers and make them feel very uncomfortable. In fact, for that reason alone, it has done its job very well. You're not supposed to root for him, but rather understand where his actions come from. This is a great film.
Dreamworks has been hit or miss when it comes to releasing great animated films over the years. Whether it's Shrek or Kung Fu Panda, there some truly great movies out there, but I once How to Train Your Dragon hit theatres, and each of its consecutively great sequels, I found myself wondering if the studio had peaked with that trilogy. Well, Abominable is their latest upcoming release, and after seeing it at the Toronto International Film Festival, I can confidently say that this is surprisingly one of the very best animated films that they have released, ever.
Everyone knows that the creature known as the Yeti has been known to be a myth, but in Abominable, a young girl (Yi) finds that one actually exists. Having been experimented on in laboratories until escaping and finding its way onto this girl's roof, she befriends him and makes it her mission, along with two other friends, to return him to his home on mount Everest. This particular story has been told hundreds of times, but unlike many movies that choose to copy and paste formulas, Abominable is one that truly cares about the characters and the adventure they go on, which had me falling in love with it as it progressed.
Having written the story for Monster's Inc., worked in the animation department at Pixar on Toy Story and Toy Story 2, eventually directing her first animated feature in Open Season, and now officially writing and directing Abominable, completely bringing her full vision to life, Jill Culton is one with a storied career, albeit not massive. After her outing here, I must admit that I will be following her work for years to come because I believe her vision and how it was showcased, was honestly fantastic. On top of that, Dreamworks has been on a roll with incredible animation, and this movie is nothing shy of fitting that description.
It should go without saying nowadays that most films released by large studios will probably hire the best of the best to create the most beautiful animation, but I just have to commend them here as well. The smooth motions of characters and the detail put into the wide landscape shots are all superb, and these elements are only elevated by a very enjoyable cast of characters, on an adventure that eventually had me in tears. If for nothing else, you'll probably enjoy looking at this movie, but it has much more than that to offer.
In the end, Abominable does suffer from feeling familiar at first glance, but this movie embraces that and creates a journey that feels fresh. The themes throughout this film are meant for all ages, which is why I believe this movie will be a hit with families across the world when it hits theatres. I wasn't exactly jumping out of my seat with excitement when the trailers for this movie first began to circulate, but after experiencing it for myself, I must say that Abominable definitely surprised me in ways that I wasn't expecting. This is a great animated film and it deserves attention when it hits theatres.
The Sci-fi genre has always fascinated me the most in terms of cinematic experiences. Whether you're talking about though-provoking movies like Blade Runner or something as extravagant as Star Wars, there is a wide range of stories to explore. Ad Astra marks the most recent major studio Sci-fi release and it's absolutely a winner in my books. There's so much to admire here. I went into this film with slightly high expectations, simply due to the talent involved, and I was not disappointed. Here's why I believe Ad Astra is worth a trip to the movies if you're not feeling tired.
Ad Astra follows Roy McBride, an astronaut in the near future, as he ventures through space in hopes to find his father, who has been missing for years. Along the way, more secrets are uncovered and even deep emotional stakes are explored. Now, this premise seems like your average rescue mission, but it's definitely not that in the slightest. Yes, the movie takes you on this journey, but it really asks you to sit back, enjoy some breathtaking visuals, great sound design, a wonderfully immersive score, and a central character in Roy, who Brad Pitt commits very strongly to.
All of these elements are fantastic and I never found myself bored, but the pacing of this movie is intentionally very, very slow, which I fear will turn off some viewers. At two hours, this movie isn't very long, but it can feel it at times. Other than that, I think what this movie sets out to accomplish is done to near perfection. I was completely immersed in this world and the slow pace almost had me in a trance. I would highly recommend seeing this movie when you're wide awake, because the great score, complemented by a slow pace, will probably make some viewers doze off.
As aforementioned, Brad Pitt leads this film and demands your attention. Everyone knows that he's one of the best out there today, but it's always nice to see when a great actor goes the extra mile in terms of committing to a character. Through his performance alone, I truly cared about the final act of this movie and where certain events ended up. The way he exerts himself and becomes Roy for these couple hours was brilliant.
In the end, I seem to be boasting about this film endlessly in my mind, but I simply can't state it enough. For such a simple premise, the visual effects, score, emotional impact, and overall study of this broken character, I loved every minute of Ad Astra. It's a very relaxing viewing experience, so be wary of getting tired during this movie, but I found that to actually be a positive here somehow. Ad Astra is one of the best movies I've seen this year so far.
Back in 2017, the majority of audiences praised the fact that such a great Stephen King adaptation had been made in It. The television mini-series from 1990 was a very corny version of the story and it went without saying that it deserved a better treatment. Now, the second instalment of that great first film has hit theatres, and like the mini-series, the second portion of the story just isn't as interesting as the first. It: Chapter 2 does warrant a viewing though, especially if you liked the first movie because although it's not exactly great like its predecessor, there's a lot to like here.
Picking up 27 years after the events of the first movie, Pennywise (the clown) has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once again. Reuniting as they promised each other they would, this cast of characters come together to face him one last time. Through various side plots that each character find themselves on, this film may feel slightly long for some viewers at a beefy 169 minutes, but I found that the events unfolding and the performances surrounding them was enough to keep me interested.
Even if you find this film boring at times, it goes without saying that this is once again a stellar cast. Just as they brilliantly cast the kids in the first film, everyone here is on the top of their game. From Bill Hader stealing the show on multiple occasions to the star power of Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy leaping off the screen, there is an endless slew of great character moments. Where this film slightly fell apart for me was in the fact that this movie relies heavily on the past.
Almost seeming to be afraid of letting the past go, this movie flashes back and forth from past and present, showing moments from their childhoods that coincides with current situations. It worked simply due to the fact that the cast of both films is great, but it really did feel like it unnecessarily made the movie longer than it needed to be. With that said, I feel that will be the complaint for most people, but I actually didn't feel the length of this movie. That might have been because I was just in the mood to watch it, but I digress.
In the end, It: Chapter 2 has a great dramatic backbone to it and these performers are giving their all, but the sense of terror and tension is lost a little here in favour of the former. Still, I'm a sucker for a good drama and this film definitely delivers that tenfold. Both of these films feel like they have a sense of finality at the end of them, which is why they both work on their own. The fact that this movie constantly switches between past and present actually makes it easier to watch for those who missed the first movie, which is something I always love. While it's not going to be remembered as a great film on its own, I believe these two movies will work as a great double feature. It's absolutely worth seeing.
Nowadays, good mainstream comedies are very hard to come by. It seems like fewer and fewer are released each year. Since the year 2000, I would argue that the last recent comedy that will go down as a classic was 2009s The Hangover. Yes, we have received great comedies like Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street, and even Horrible Bosses to name a few, but none of those truly feel like they will be talked about by a wide audience in about 20 to 30 years. While Good Boys isn't worthy of that discussion either, I would absolutely say that it comes the closest out of any film that has come out this year.
Trying to make it to a party, Good Boys follows three young boys as they raunchily go about their day, discovering new things, cursing like crazy, being wrapped up in a stolen drug plot, and being chased by older girls. These kids find themselves in one ridiculous scenario after another, which makes for a very entertaining time at the movies. You don't go to movies like this hoping that it will be dramatically resonant with the audience, but it's always nice to see a comedy take the time to add that extra layer, and Good Boys definitely does that.
Jacob Tremblay has the most screentime here and he is fantastic as always. Since his appearance in the film Room, I have and will always continue to follow his career. He is a ridiculously talented young actor. Setting him aside for a minute, I would like to shed light on Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon who play his best friends, or how they refer to themselves, "The Bean Bag Boys." They have done work in television and film, but nothing that I ever recall seeing. With that said, there are multiple occasions where they steal the show and prove they're worthy of long-running careers in comedy as well, at least for now.
Now to comment/criticize the main type of comedy this film always goes for, which is the constant profanity, sex jokes, and adult-oriented humour. Good Boys is the type of film that feels like it's trying to capture the exact same vibe as Superbad, but replacing actual young adults with little kids. Personally, I found this aspect to be very effective, but the screenplay definitely took liberties in the fact that they have so much knowledge about certain things. I can see many viewers being turned off by the actions these characters take throughout the movie, but it worked for me, and let's be honest, it's just a movie.
In the end, I thought Good Boys was hilarious from start to finish. It takes the time to slow down for a few dramatic moments, but they almost feel forced at times, due to the fact that the movie is usually going for comedy 100% of the time until the third act. I think the fact that this movie tries to be like so many other teen comedies actually hurts it in the long run, since they're little kids, but when I was watching it, I really wasn't thinking about that. Good Boys is a really solid comedy that had me laughing throughout, but it's not without its issues. If you're simply looking for a good laugh, definitely check it out.
I've been thinking about calling A24 one of the best studios making films today, but it really hit me while watching The Last Black Man in San Francisco. This is a studio that very carefully picks their projects and more often than not, finds great material to release. I now believe they are not just one of the best, but the absolute best of the best, especially when looking at the films released by studios throughout this decade alone. This character study is one of the best films you will see this year.
Jimmie (Jimmie Fails), finding it hard to cope with the fact that the house his grandfather built may be taken away from him, leaving him with nothing, takes it upon himself to find a way to hold onto it. That's the core premise of the movie and with a strong friendship between Jimmie and Montgomery as the backbone of the dramatic aspects, this is a film that places its main character front and center. With a well fleshed out character that has me engaged from start to finish, you've already won me over, but there is so much more to love and admire here.
Adam Newport-Berra is at the helm as the film's cinematographer and I truly believe this has set the standard for the year. I would be absolutely shocked if he doesn't receive a nomination for his work in the coming months. On top of that, being director Joe talbot's first feature film to be released, it goes without saying that he is a filmmaker that's here to stay and I am giving an early prediction that, if not this year, there will be an awards season in the coming years that consistently rave about something he has done. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is littered with talent from top to bottom.
This movie would be a technical achievement in independent cinema regardless of the material being shown on-screen, but the fact that these technical aspects are buoyed by a central performance that truly moved me was another level of special. Actor Jimmie Fails plays a character by the exact same name and there may be personal influences that helped his performance here, but a great performance is a great performance nonetheless and he delivers one of the best I've seen all year so far.
In the end, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a film that takes its time in setting up the scenarios at hand, dives deep, and eventually delivers a very touching conclusion that had me totally invested. With superb direction, camerawork that deserves many awards, a score that soothes the mind as you're watching, and a core performance that elevates the already great material, this is a film that surely can't be missed. This is one of the very best movies I've seen all year.