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Category: Matt Hurt’s Columns

Heartland Film Festival 0

HIFF2020: 76 Days (2020)

What 76 Days achieves through its fly on the wall documenting is to put human faces on the superheroic actions of healthcare workers. It does so with dignity and grace as we watch medical staff in a Wuhan hospital try to stem the flood of horror at their doorstep and the emotional toll it takes on them.

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HIFF2020: Song Without a Name (2019)

Set among the turbulence of armed conflict in late 1980s Peru, the film is harrowing in the way it compartmentalizes its drama into the character of Georgina and establishes the horrific journey she has ahead of her. Lonely journalist Pedro also has his own painful arc to contend with as he works to uncover what happened to Georgina’s child. The two characters’ arc intertwine and land a little differently, but the message and tragedy of Song Without a Name plays on.

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HIFF2020: All for My Mother (2019)

All for My Mother, Małgorzata Imielska’s debut feature out of Poland, is largely comprised of hardships and trauma that befall the lead character Olka. Through her experience in a reformatory with other troubled teens who wish her harm, to a temporary stay with a couple who aren’t as warm and welcoming as they seem, Olka has one simple goal in mind: to reunite with her mother. That’s all she consciously desires, yet it’s not what she truly needs or yearns for beneath the surface. What Olka truly craves is acceptance and a sense of belonging. She is desperate for the stability of family and the journey she finds herself on makes for a heartbreaking and emotional ride. It’s a ride that includes frequent stops as the path she follows becomes more bleak and dour the further she goes.

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HIFF2020: In Case of Emergency (2020)

The power of In Case of Emergency is in the way it documents its subjects in the relative normal era before COVID and then shows us the toll of the global pandemic on their resolve. It acts as a reminder that heroes are constantly working on the frontline of society’s harshest realities and that they deserve to be recognized even when we aren’t facing unprecedented times.

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

Sorkin holds a mirror to our country’s continuing fight for social justice while keeping his camera focused on the historical struggle he’s depicting. Chicago 7 has a lot to say and is a confident entry in Sorkin’s still young directorial career. However, while it is a marked improvement over his directorial debut Molly’s Game, Sorkin seems to still be finding his footing behind the camera.

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: Rodan (1956)

Ishiro Honda’s Rodan certainly lacks some of the character and subtext from some of his other Kaiju films. But that’s not to say it is a bad film by any means. The rise of the pterodactyl-esque creatures and giant insects to wreak havoc on the citizens of Japan make for an engaging monster movie with some surprising (or not so surprising, given Honda’s pedigree) imagery. With each act of Rodan offering nearly its own movie premise, this creature feature is one that offers plenty of action, if nothing else.

Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films 0

Movie Review: Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) – Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films 5

Mothra vs. Godzilla is a shockingly great entry in the Godzilla franchise and terrific showcase of both of its title monsters. It creates empathy for the monsters in surprising ways while keeping its human antagonists as mere cyphers for the moral lessons it hopes to impart. The film comes together with fantastic action and a wonderfully poignant message of hope in its final scene. Mothra vs. Godzilla is easily the best film in the franchise since Godzilla (1954).

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: Enola Holmes (2020)

A solid introduction to a character with a lot of promise, Enola Holmes is a fun mystery adventure. The film is filled with plenty of shots of beautiful English countryside that are complemented by a propulsive and fun score by Daniel Pemberton. While the plot gets a little too tangled at some points, it wraps up nicely and holds promise for future Enola Holmes adventures.

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: Mothra (1961)

Unlike her betrothed kaiju’s debut in 1954’s Godzilla, Mothra doesn’t offer much in the way of social commentary. There are offhand references to atomic bomb testing and radiation. But it’s all but cast aside in favor of island natives chanting Mothra into life to rescue captured one-foot tall fairies. It’s an hour’s worth of setup for the reveal of a monster that, frankly, doesn’t have as engaging a reason for the destruction she lays out.

Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films 0

Movie Review: King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) – Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films 4

The US version of King Kong vs Godzilla is certainly a less piecemeal repurposing of its Japanese original than Godzilla, King of the Monsters was to 1954’s Godzilla. Instead, the film plays into the spectator sport aspect of this monumental confrontation. Bringing Godzilla into color film and taking Kong to Japan to do battle with him, King Kong vs Godzilla, while over the top in its silliness at times, provides a worthy payoff to the hour (and then some) of set up and contrivances to get these two monsters to duke it out.

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: Love, Guaranteed (2020)

Love, Guaranteed doesn’t feel as tepid as you might expect from its formulaic approach. The film has a fair amount of charm that makes for a sweet and inoffensive way to spend 90 minutes headlined by two pleasant actors with plenty of chemistry. To that end, Love, Guaranteed serves a distinct purpose and sometimes that’s all we need in the art we consume.

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Through its unique narrative effect, I’m Thinking of Ending Things creates an abstract tapestry of human relationships that runs the gamut from the darkest corners of romantic encounters to the most idealistic and fantastical movielike romances. The result is a relentless descent into multiple facets of human relationships that proves to be gripping from the word go and does not let up.

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Movie Review: Son of Kong (1933)

Son of Kong’s light-hearted tone, while enjoyable, does little to elevate the weak script. Little Kong’s action sequences do get the job done fairly well. Ultimately though, the lack of substance to the storyline of this sequel is its downfall. You’ll find little to latch onto and even with a short runtime (an hour and ten minutes), the lack of a clear plot drags the movie to a crawl. There are more complete monster movies available. Son of Kong leaves little to admire.

Matt Hurt's Columns 0

Movie Review: Tesla (2020)

Tesla doesn’t seem to know what kind of biopic it wants to be. On one hand, it attempts the recent trend of having a character break the 4th wall to infuse cheap modern humor into an otherwise stuffy narrative. And on the other hand, well, it’s a stuffy narrative about the trials of tribulations of Nikola Tesla. Unfortunately, the film is a dud on both of those fronts. It leaves its audience with a dull, lifeless recounting of Tesla’s life that doesn’t seem too concerned about or focused on much of its subject. Meanwhile, the humor feels forced and falls flat every time.