This week, Tiny and I reflect on this year’s Oscar ceremony, which we were both pleased with. We then discuss several topics in an Extended Potpourri segment. Topics include: The Witcher, Gretel and Hansel, Terminator: Dark Fate, Downhill, Fantasy Island, and Mike Birbiglia’s The New One, and Zombieland: Double Tap.
Premise: A teenage girl’s secret love letters are exposed and wreak havoc on her love life.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is Netflix’s charming teen romance film based on the first of Jenny Han’s trilogy of novels. In adapting the story to film, screenwriter Sofia Alvarez and director Susan Johnson pack the ethos of classic John Hughes films into a modern teen world. They do so in an earnest and unironic way that feels refreshing in an age of cynicism and satire. Guided by a pair of very charismatic young stars, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a romantic teen drama you won’t soon forget.
Premise: In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a competition offers her a chance to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime.
Troop Zero is a well-meaning and sugary sweet story of accepting and celebrating who you are and finding that special community of people who will embrace your quirks and support you. Its focus is on Christmas Flint (McKenna Grace), who has recently lost her mother and finds comfort in looking to the stars. Her leadership in forming a troop so she can get her voice on NASA’s Golden Record is the film’s strongest asset. However, the rest of the troop members’ journeys don’t quite connect to hers, much to the detriment of the overall story.
Premise: The enigmatic Mr. Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.
Blumhouse’s reimagining of 70s & 80s television show Fantasy Island is at best a passable cheese fest depicting beautiful people in peril. At its worst (and sadly, most frequent), it’s the dull presentation of an uninspired thriller that’s more concerned with revealing its mystery than creating compelling characters.
Premise: After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help it defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on it.
Sonic the Hedgehog has finally raced its way into theaters after a highly publicized face lift in the visual effects department. Despite the publicity, however, Sonic is mostly dead on arrival. Aside from a few scant comedy beats and a delightfully over the top performance from Jim Carrey, Sonic the Hedgehog feels like a slapped together adaptation of a video game franchise for which no one seemed to be clamoring.
Premise: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord..
You would certainly be validated for being a little skeptical of Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), especially after the unmitigated disaster that was 2016’s Suicide Squad. Heck, you’d even be validated based on DC Comics’ track record in trying to establish their own Marvel-esque connected universe. The studio stumbled out of the gate up until and including 2017’s Justice League, but has had some winners recently with Wonder Woman and Aquaman. But once DC leaned away from forcing the issue of a shared universe and focused on the characters within that universe, they found a way to make compelling films again. Rest assured though, Birds of Prey may contain some hidden Easter Eggs for diehard DC fans – which I missed entirely – but there were far from any overt references to other characters (besides the Joker, of course) or set-ups to future films. Continue reading →
Premise: A look at iconic pop artist Taylor Swift during a transformational time in her life as she embraces her role as a singer/songwriter and harnesses the full power of her voice.
Celebrities: they’re just like us! They eat spicy burritos! They wear denim overalls! They spill their steaks when there’s turbulence on their private jets! It’s hard to go into Miss Americana if you’re not slurping up the Taylor Swift Kool-Aid (like myself) without at least some level of cynicism. It’s not that I dislike Swift or her music – I thoroughly enjoy both the song and music video for “You Need to Calm Down” – I’ve just always been very clearly outside her target demographic (plus I’ve fallen way out of touch with contemporary music in general, but that’s a discussion for another essay). Continue reading →
Premise: On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.
Maybe it’s reductive – cliché, even – to say that there’s nothing quite like your first love. Maybe, for some, it’s not your first that you remember most, but someone who opens your eyes and shows what true human connection can be. These are only some of the themes explored in Céline Sciamma’s latest film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Heartbreaking but hopeful, complex but familiar, Portrait tells the story of a doomed romance between two young women in the 18th century – one a painter (Noémie Merlant) and the other her muse (Adéle Haenel), the daughter of a wealthy family who is betrothed to a man she’s never met. Continue reading →
Premise: Two young British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.
There’s no denying that 1917 is a technical marvel. There’s also no denying that nearly every individual element of the film is impressive, from the score to the cinematography to the production design. Unfortunately, the elements that are left by the wayside are the ones it needs to be a complete experience that its audience can fully invest in, like memorable characters or an original story. Continue reading →
Everything about this movie feels phoned in. Sinbad is fun but it really feels like large swathes of the script is just "have Sinbad improv exasperation" instead of trying anything interesting. Every narrative beat is painfully obvious, even for a kid-friendly Disney movie.
Freaks owes a big debt to Firestarter but it's at least more original outside of its homage than Stranger Things was/is (and I like Stranger Things a lot).Very wise to deliver the world building through the perspective of Chloe. Good storytelling and impressive effects work.
Very cool low budget atmosphere piece. It's all tone and mood and it's done to good effect. Set design, cinematography, locations, makeup and costuming all work together to make some really striking visuals.
Thorough documentary that shares the African American perspective on the horror genre and charts the involvement of African Americans in the genre itself. Excellent panel for the talking heads. The documentary covers its subject from a place of love and handles it with the necessary care and importance.Enjoyed it.
Blown away by Jim Cummings' performance. The nuances to the character and the raw grief and emotional crisis of the story is so well-realized that I'm nearly at a loss for words. This is a movie that lives in a state of chaotic empathy and brings you into its world in such an immersive way that it's almost overwhelming.Spectacular movie.