Monthly Archives: December 2020

Movie Review: The Lie (2020)

Premise: A father and daughter are on their way to dance camp when they spot the girl’s best friend on the side of the road. When they stop to offer the friend a ride, their good intentions soon result in terrible consequences.

Welcome to the Blumhouse. Based on a 2015 German film, Canadian thriller The Lie begins with Kayla (Joey King) killing her best friend Britney en route to a ballet retreat. Kayla’s father Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) decides to help cover up the crime and soon thereafter Kayla’s mother (and Jay’s ex-wife) Rebecca (Mireille Enos) is brought into the fold. Together the estranged family must protect Kayla from the authorities and Britney’s father (Cas Anvar), whose mounting frustration with the lack of answers as to the whereabouts of Britney becomes more and more threatening.
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Ben’s Column: Wolfwalkers (2020) – Review

Wolfwalkers (2020)

Premise: A young apprentice hunter and her father journey to Ireland to help wipe out the last wolf pack. But everything changes when she befriends a free-spirited girl from a mysterious tribe rumored to transform into wolves by night.

It’s been 6 years in the US since the latest film from Japanese master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, which means that the animation world (and yours truly) has been sorely lacking an animated film with enough style and heart to break through the candy-coated onslaught of Disney and Pixar films.

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Ben’s Column: Let Them All Talk (2020) – Review

Let Them All Talk (2020)

Premise: A famous author goes on a cruise trip with her friends and nephew in an effort to find fun and happiness while she comes to terms with her troubled past.

The title of director Stephen Soderbergh’s latest film feels less like a thematic summation and more like a way to describe Soderbergh’s method of approaching his subject matter. Filmed almost entirely aboard a cruise ship as it makes its way from New York to Southampton, the script reportedly consisted of minimal outlines from scene to scene, and the actors were left to improvise the rest. Soderbergh, who has made a habit lately of experimenting behind the scenes by filming entire movies on iPhones, may have finally found a gimmick that meshes successfully with his sensibilities. Of course, a film with no script can only be buoyed by the performances of its cast, and Let Them All Talk is brimming with talented actors.

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Movie Review: The Midnight Sky (2020)

Premise: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Midnight Sky, tells of a world evacuated and a dying man keeping the light on to notify the last remnants of humanity. Unfortunately, what could have been a thought-provoking exploration of regret and isolation ultimately turns into a piecemeal rehash of genre and wilderness survival elements that were done much better in the films from which Clooney draws inspiration. He forsakes exposition in favor of needless ambiguity that leads to a payoff lacking the emotional resonance the film desperately needs. What’s left is a hollow and joyless expedition into the last days of Earth that’s devoid of any real intrigue.
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Ben’s Column: Sound of Metal (2020) – Review

Sound of Metal (2020)

Premise: A heavy-metal drummer’s life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.

I had an optometrist appointment several years ago, in which I was told by the end of it that my vision in my right eye was slightly worse than my left. Naturally, the diagnosis wasn’t ideal, but, considering my work as a photographer, the development left me even more worried. As most photographers do, I primarily use my right eye to look through the viewfinder while using my camera. How could I continue on as a photographer if I couldn’t see the pictures I wanted to take?

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The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 331 – Ebert’s Great Movies Part 5 – JFK (1991) & Mulholland Drive (2001) – Elliot Page, Warner Bros Movies on HBOMax

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OV331 – Ebert’s Great Movies Part 5 – JFK (1991) & Mulholland Drive (2001) – Elliot Page, Warner Bros Movies on HBOMax

In this episode, Ben and I continue our journey through Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list with reviews of Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) and David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001). We also discuss the recent Elliot Page news and the surprising news regarding Warner Bros and HBOMax.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive recording: 102 – OV B-Roll – “Mister Sir” – Marathons, Movies We’d Screen in Theaters, Tepid Tenet Expectations, Private Screenings – Dec 3, 2020

Runtime: 2:19:48

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Movie Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Premise: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable “Mother of the Blues”. Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play.

Adapted from August Wilson’s play of the same name, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has the energy of watching a stage production that’s morphed effortlessly onto film. This isn’t an easy accomplishment by any stretch and the fact that it’s pulled off so brilliantly here is a testament to George C Wolfe’s direction and overall vision for the film. The way the camera swings through sharp and incisive dialogue spoken between multiple characters in a green room gives the film a fluidity that can only be matched by seeing a stage performance. The camera commandeers the drama and makes it feel like the film itself is a ride through the interpersonal spats and ambitions of the characters without letting up. In terms of pacing, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is spectacular.
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