What I appreciate about director Sam Mendes’ war drama 1917 is that it has all the urgency, suspense and sense of brutality you’d expect from a World War 1 film without glorifying war itself. The focus of 1917 is not on a particular battle or military campaign but on the harrowing mission of two British soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake and Schofield, to deliver a message through enemy territory to save a battalion of 1600 men, including Blake’s older brother, from being massacred. I didn’t mind at all that the story is straightforward, light on dialogue and has only two lead characters. Where 1917 shines is in its immersive direction, hauntingly beautiful cinematography and earned emotional moments.
Netflix’s The Witcher starring Henry Cavill arrives at an opportune time when many viewers are looking for a new medieval fantasy series to get into. At eight episodes, The Witcher’s first season is a bingeable mix of monster hunting action, sorcery and lust aimed at an adult audience. Henry Cavill is a great fit as the titular gruff-voiced, anti-hero Geralt of Rivia and Anya Chalotra is very good as the anguished mage Yennefer. Rounding out the main cast is the talented young actress Freya Allan as Princess Cirilla (or Ciri) whose mysterious destiny is closely linked to Geralt and Yennefer.
An early funny moment in Parasite which encapsulates Ki-taek and his family is when the pest control exterminator comes to their poor neighborhood, he leaves the windows open in their half-basement apartment for the “free fumigation”. Not knowing much about the story beforehand, I mistakenly thought that Parasite would be a horror film like Director Boon Joon Ho’s previous hit The Host. Instead, Parasite is harder to categorize. I would say it’s a comedy thriller with a dark edge to it. The black comedy is used to put the spotlight on social issues in a way which viewers can easily see the faults of the system and people. Ki-taek’s family are opportunistic and cunning but not unsympathetic as they worm their way into the Park family’s lavish home.
The first thing that stands out about Uncut Gems is Adam Sandler’s genuinely solid performance in a non-typical role. Sandler plays as Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler who weaves a tangled web of high stakes risk and frantic desperation when scrambling to pay off a gambling debt. Sandler brings a sense of amusement and authenticity to heightened moments in Uncut Gems. The tightly written script is very good at capturing how Ratner’s business, family and personal life collide and unravel before his eyes. Despite his poor decision making, the well-rounded character driven story and performance makes you want to see Ranter succeed.
In a way, my hazy memory of 2017’s supernatural horror film It helped me to appreciate the themes in Chapter 2. Character names started to pop up in my head before they were spoken. And a brief flashback brought back to mind some of the past events along with the emotions tied to them. As referenced in It Chapter 2, our memory works to hold onto things that are meaningful to us like significant childhood moments. In other instances, traumatic memories are suppressed until a picture, object, sound or even a smell, triggers it bringing back all the old feelings that were once buried. Repressing memories is a mechanism to help people cope and avoid confronting a stressful or painful incidence. It Chapter 2 takes us back to Derry, Maine where the “Losers’ Club” have to confront what they thought they’ve left behind. Read the rest of this entry
Joker might just prove me wrong and that’s a good thing. I was skeptical of a Joker movie at first for a few reasons. But after the final trailer and some early positive reviews, I’m actually very curious about it and hope to watch it when it comes out.
Set for release in October, Joker stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, a clown for hire who’s taking care of his mother (Frances Conroy). Joker is a film about the transformation of a downtrodden nobody into the violence prone titular character. It’s less a comic book villain story and more of a psychological thriller centered on a disturbed, misunderstood individual.
It’s often said that Stranger Things is a highly bingeable show. I totally agree. I watched multiple episodes of Season 1 and Season 2 at a time. For Season 3 I limited myself to only one episode per night and sometimes a few days break in between. I don’t know for sure if pacing myself changes the enjoyment level. It definitely wasn’t a bad thing to stretch out a great season over a few weeks. There’s also something to be said about allowing an episode to sink in and build up the anticipation for the next chapter like traditional TV viewing.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a summer blockbuster that makes sense as a sequel and epilogue to Avengers: Endgame. Far From Home’s affable, good-nature isn’t exactly the Spider-man story that I find most compelling. It will take a 3rd or 4th installment in the franchise to build up and earn darker moments with emotional resonance. However, Far From Home’s light tone is perfectly in line with a teen-aged Peter Parker and what was previously established in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Putting aside what I personally want from a Spider-Man movie, Far From Home delivers a decent teen-comedy with ample comic-book action. Playing it relatively safe, director Jon Watts avoids the mistakes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and moves the franchise a step in the right direction.
After finding a huge audience with The Walking Dead, AMC wanted more horror based shows in their line up. AMC’s The Terror Season 1 is a great start to hopefully a successful horror anthology series. The Terror’s primary approach is crafting unique horror stories centered on real-life historic events that are shrouded in mystery. Because of the solid writing and steady pace, the tension is sustained throughout the 10 episode season. Further, the cast is fantastic, including recognizable actors from HBO’s Game of Thrones, Rome and Chernobyl.