Locked Down

Locked Down was one of the first hyped movies from the year, because it is one of the bigger straight to HBO Max things out there. I honestly don’t know if this one was ever intended to go to theaters first, but this one ended up just on the internet streaming world. And it is notable because it was made during quarantine stuff!

And uhhh, sure, a few things have been made that way now. But but but….how many were released already? Exactly. I also don’t know. This one probably isn’t the first at all. Like, remember that movie Host? That came out awhile ago. And I am sure random TV shows and other stuff have had episodes post quarantine released.

Wait, why is Locked Down special again?

no mask
WEAR YOUR FUCKING MASKS!

Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Linda (Anne Hathaway) are a couple of chumps living in London in 2020, sometime around April probably. Lockdowns are happening, only essential workers can leave to go to work, or leaving for essentials, and a whole lot of meetings are in zoom.

The problem is, these two are miserable together. They aren’t really a couple anymore. There were things that happened not soon before lockdowns began, leading them to for sure breakup once convenient to have a new place and all of that, and then…yeah, they are stuck together.

Well life sure does suck. But thanks to a series of lucky and strange breaks, both of their jobs put them in a position where they have to work together and have to ship off a very expensive diamond to some crummy dude. But what if they don’t? What if they just, like, take it and send the replica instead? They could sell the real one and live happily ever after, even apart if necessary, somewhere far away. Hooray lax security.

Also starring Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon, Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, Sam Spruell, Stephen Merchant, Mindy Kaling, and Marek Larwood.

couple

Are they about to kiss at home? Okay, masks can be off.

Okay, quite a few things have been made during pandemic times now. Crews get completely tested, stay in bubbles, other crew member who can’t are masked up on set and social distancing, yadda yadda. But there is something unique in this one already, because it really captures that early April time frame of 2020 with the feel of it.

The world feels mostly empty, we have one of our main characters yelling poems to people on their balcony as a way of providing entertainment. There are masks and confusion of masks. There are zoom conference calls without the annoying jokes about people using zoom wrong (although would have been justified given when this one takes place, but man, those jokes are already played out). It went so well attention wise and then uhhh, I dunno, stopped at the end?

Like, during the heist, which did take place with workers at this giant department store place, and security, and people moving and packing up boxes, no one suddenly was wearing a mask? They had a big procedure of showing people coming in with masks, taking off the mask and then putting back on, but then at some point masks didn’t matter any more and I don’t know why. What the fuck happened to this continuity? Did they film that part before the actual lock downs? If so, the entire plot and reason they could attempt it doens’t make sense.

It really bugs me. And despite that strangeness, I still liked the movie. I like the build up to the heist, which is a huge portion, just not the actual heist, for more reasons than that as well. Just none of it seemed to really make a lot of sense then.

Also to talk about Ejiofor and Hathaway, oh my goodness they are wonderful together. That loath/love vibe is strong with those two, I bet they got into some real method acting before hand. Like, I don’t know what their relationship status is in real life, but I have to assume they actually lived and bugged the shit out of each other for awhile. They probably screwed and had arguments and watched sad movies. Their chemistry is off the charts and I am all for it right now.

Locked Down could have been better, was better than I expected, and I am now trying to headcanon a secret Hathaway/Ejiofor romance throughout the years.

3 out of 4.

Best Films of 2020

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Here are not only the films that made 4 out of 4 on my website from 2020 movies, but also ones that I struggled to see if I could include on the list. Surprisingly, three of these are documentaries (with two documentaries also making the top 15).

The Prom, Feels Good Man, Words on Bathroom Walls, The Fight, and Boys State.

15) The Wolf of Snow Hallow
Why is it on the list? The second film from Jim Cummings, it reflects and carries on many of the themes from his first film, Thunder Road. It is doing it in a different genre this time, but it feels like the same character, experiencing some amount of growth, with still a big set of issues. If you want to experience a long panic attack along with the main character, this film really makes you feel antsy.

Favorite moment? The townspeople interrogations and the many breakdowns.

Any Best Awards? Best film starring the guy who wrote and directed it also of 2020. [Surprisingly not the best “werewolf” movie of 2020?]

15

14)
Over the Moon
Why is it on the list? Despite being a film I thought I would just brush off, it took me away with its passion and heart that it presented in the beginning of the movie. The loss and the longing felt by the lead was so strong, I was captivated the rest of the film. It goes into basic animation territory in the middle, and I don’t love the graphics on the moon too much, but it also nails the emotional payoff of the ending, and the reason for the entire journey.

Favorite moment? The Rocket to the Moon scene and montage.

Any Best Awards? Best film-I-thought-would-be-terrible-but-I-actually-loved-and-cried-during-multiple-times and best film featuring a song about ping pong of 2020.

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13) Collective
Why is it on the list? I love documentaries. I am less likely to say I love foreign movies, but I do like watching foreign movies in theaters. I didn’t get to see this one in theaters. But it still captivated me from beginning to end. A sports magazine did some reports on a tragic event, and this hero journalist for them kept up with it, finding layers of governmental corruption? Holy shit. Is this made up? This is their watergate scandal. Good job Romania. Well, bad job for the corruption, good job for the journalism.

Favorite moment? Every new reveal and escalation as things grew more corrupt.

Any Best Awards? Best foreign film and best foreign documentary film of 2020.

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12) Palm Springs
Why is it on the list? Palm Springs, to me, was a breath of fresh air. It took a couple of months during quarantine for movies to still start to come out slowly on streaming services, and I know that Palm Springs came out in a pretty busy weekend. I expected nothing and would have never known of its existence without others letting me know, and what it did to the genre was very unique and worth the set up to discover. Our leads were wonderful together, and it also hyped up science, so what is not to love?

Favorite moment? The initial reveal with what the hell was going on, the physics montage, and the J.K. Simmons home visit.

Any Best Awards? Best science fiction film of 2020.

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11) Promising Young Woman
Why is it on the list? This is an interesting movie for me, because honestly, I went back and fourth which how much I liked it. Part of me was upset about a few aspects, part of me loved everything. And that is really why it dropped out of the top 10. I love the performance from Carey Mulligan, I love how the story goes against expectations of the plot line and really keeps the viewers guessing. The ending is completely unbelievable as well.

Favorite moment? The daughter abduction.

Any Best Awards? Best film surprise third act of 2020.

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10) Sound of Metal
Why is it on the list? If I didn’t first hear about this film from other critics, I would have assumed not much going into this film, and probably skilled it. I loved Riz Ahmed as the lead, and his journey from sound to lack of sound. The meanings of the title, how they incorporated hearing loss, and the use of sign language make this a film

Favorite moment? The audio tricks and the real deaf actors.

Any Best Awards? Best film featuring sign language and best film featuring metal in 2020.

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9) Minari
Why is it on the list? Minari comes in quiet, and stays relatively quietly throughout the picture, but feels like an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. It is familiar, but it has a unique air to its story. It is well acted, without having to be showy about how well acted it is. It tells a story about hope, success, failures, and relationships and growing up in a specific place, in a specific time. Most of us can probably say we don’t have the same experiences as the main character in this film, and it gives a unique look into a unique story of history.

Favorite moment? The fire and the crop successes/failures.

Any Best Awards? Best film that uses subtitles occasionally, and best film set in Arkansas of 2020.

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8) Spontaneous
Why is it on the list? Spontaneous is certainly not a movie I expected to be on my top list when I started it, nor did I know about it going into it. I saw a single post about its existence, months after its release date and just decided to give it a whirl. And what a whirl it was. I’ve only seen Katherine Langford in other projects, never as the lead, and she absolutely blows this movie up with her performance. And it was nice to see Charlie Plummer as well, in his second movie based on a YA romance novel released this year. Damn, he made me cry in both films as well.

Favorite moment? The entire romance and the dwindling class size.

Any Best Awards? Best YA novel adaptation and best romance of 2020.

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7) One Night in Miami
Why is it on the list? Although about a fictions conversation, the men in equation where all real and presumably pretty accurate towards their thoughts and feelings on various topics discussed in the film. I wouldn’t have ever dreamed about bringing together these four names for a night of conversation and camaraderie, but that is one of the many reasons I am not a playwright or screenwriter. The discussions they had in the film resonate with today, and it becomes a wonderful learning and emotional experience.

Favorite moment? When the power went out at the show.

Any Best Awards? Best first time director and best discourse of 2020.

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6) The Trial of the Chicago 7
Why is it on the list? At this point, it’d probably be really hard for me to not absolutely love an Aaron Sorkin movie. He is directing more so that does add some potential problems, like Molly’s Game wasn’t his best work. But this is some of his best work for sure, carried by the strength of the actors and the dialogue. Like Molly’s Game, some of the problems lie with the director choices, and he should hopefully get better.

Related, and cheating this onto the list, this film pairs really well with Mangrove, also available on streaming, and something you should see as well.

Favorite moment? The mistrial scene and the grammar epiphany scene.

Any Best Awards? Best ensemble cast and best Aaron Sorkin of 2020.

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5) Wolfwalkers
Why is it on the list? First of all, have you seen their previous work? The Breadwinner and Song of the Sea? Both amazing, with wonderful animation. This one takes the cake and is their best work. From the cinematography to the story it is so full of wonder and magic. The main characters are both strong and unique in their own rights, but lets go back to the ANIMATION oh my goodness, gorgeous. Like stained glass windows some times. Fuck, Wolfwalkers blows out all of the animated competition this year, by far.

Favorite moment? The split scene cinematography and the art style in general.

Any Best Awards? Best animated film, best foreign film (Irish), and best fantasy film of 2020.

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4) Totally Under Control
Why is it on the list? This one is pretty easy to talk about and explain. Hey look, a documentary about the 2020 pandemic, and the lack of leadership from the American government. It has first hand accounts from people involved in teams that were supposed to work and repeatedly got hindered for reasons. This only deals with a few months of the response too, and can’t wait (unfortunately) for the sequels that give us the informed part two and or three of these chucklefucks in charge who have no regard for human life.

Favorite moment? The dirt on the white house planning team volunteers who were told to stop the virus.

Any Best Awards? Best political documentary (there were quite a few this year…) and best documentary of 2020.

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3) Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Why is it on the list? Strong strong strong. This film is led by Viola Davis who transformed herself to play the lead, and Chadwick Boseman, who shined brightly as the smooth talking upstart looking to advance his own career. Based on an August Wilson play, quite obviously, the many cast members work together to tell a quick story but one with passion and justice in mind. I don’t know who will be nominated for best actor, but if Boseman is, I have a good chance of supporting it, despite his unfortunate early passing.

Favorite moment? The stutter success and fail and the conclusion.

Any Best Awards? Best play to film, best non-live musical performance, and best dialogue of 2020!

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2) Hamilton
Why is it on the list? This is definitely a film I didn’t expect to be on this list early in 2020, because damn it, this was supposed to come out in 2021. But thanks to other delays, they decided to release this one really early, and, It. Is. Perfection. I saw this the most out of movies released last year, and I’d watch it again in almost any moment (assuming I had the time for it). Something that can always pick me up, and the result of years of hard work, it deserves everything and more.

Favorite moment? One Last Time, The Ending, and Farmer Refuted (so much better visually).

Any Best Awards? Best soundtrack, best musical, best taping of a live show (sorry David Byrne), and best Lafayette of 2020.

2

1) Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Why is it on the list? For sure, this one was a hard choice, and yet, an easy choice. I saw this movie in February of 2020 and it absolutely blew me away. It was my number one pick halfway through the year, and it maintained that status despite a good onslaught (eventually) of other films. It did that by telling a realistic and heartfelt story, a powerful story about a struggle many women have or attempt to go through.

The crying questionnaire scene hit me SO HARD and the whole thing wrapped together and made so much more sense. And it did it without having to directly tell you what happened prior to the film, but the pieces are there.

And sure, if anything, this serves as a good antithesis to my 2019 worst film of the year.

Favorite moment? The questionnaire scene where the title comes from.

Any Best Awards? Best drama of 2020, best realistic fiction of 2020, best woman power film of 2020, and best film of 2020.

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Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site!

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

The Marksman

For my (checks notes) second film of 2021, I was given a movie called The Marksman. I guess it would be about a guy who is good at shooting, or fond of shooting, or one who shoots occasionally?

Oh shit, it is a Liam Neeson action movie! That definitely has a bad track record from me. Ever since the first Taken, it has been either bad or ignored from my website. I can’t handle the cuts, the bad staging, any of that. I can have Liam Neeson as a serious star, I just can’t even have him as a serious action star, not anymore.

And honestly, I knew nothing going into this movie, so it didn’t surprise me that it was a January release.

little gun
Give a boy a gun, and he’ll gun for a day. Teach a boy to gun, and he will gun at least for a day.

Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson), former US Marine and current old dude, is living in Arizona near the Mexico border. He has been mostly working at a Ranch of his own the last few years with his wife. But when she got sick, the ranch didn’t do as well, the bills piled up, and then he eventually lost the light of his life. Now those foreclosing son-of-a-guns are going to take his house, and then what? Probably nothing great!

He is a pretty dark place in his life, unable to get extra work either, when he happens upon Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) and her son, Miguel (Jacob Perez) literally right after they crawl through a hole in the border fence. He wants to call it in, because Rosa was hurt, but after doing so, a few cartel members start firing on him, and now suddenly he is in jeopardy!

Jim is able to get out of there, but not able to save Rosa, and is now left not sure what to do with the kid. They were heading up to Chicago where there is family, and some bad dudes are apparently after him. Can he help the kid, or let the authorities just send him back to Mexico?

Also starring Katheryn Winnick and Juan Pablo Raba.

big gun
This gun is way bigger than the last gun, why did you not teach the boy this gun?

The Marksmen is not a classic, straight up Neeson action movie. No, it has dramatic components, and a plot here. A guy trying to get this kid to Chicago, with some people who want to kill him and take him back, for some reason. Occasionally they get close to stopping them, and then they get really close to stopping him, and then eventually it ends. By the way, the problems resolved at the end of the movie involve the kid, not the crimes committed, or the ranch money problems, but hey, that was just intro movie problems I guess.

Neeson’s acting is pretty average for what he has done lately. He has to play a stern older gentlemen technically way above his head, but also, with a certain set of skills that might help him out. He is kind of a dick for large parts of the movie, and I wouldn’t say that changes much by the end. It is like this movie was made for Clint Eastwood, but he didn’t feel like it.

I’m not sure what the overall message of the film is after seeing it, except that there isn’t one. Life can be difficult and strange some times, but you have to follow your heart? Hard to tell. I just know that if you want to see this movie for action, you will be disappointed. If you want to see it for a great story and acting, you will be disappointed.

However, if you want to see it for a quick shout out to Sierra Vista, Arizona (A city I lived in once before), you might get some glee out of it.

1 out of 4.

Bloody Hell

Bloody Hell, mate. That is what British people some times say to their mates right? Bloody hell!

It is just a random exclamation like, “What the fuck?”, “Hot damn!”, or “Weasel balls!”

Maybe Australians say it too, I just know for Americans it is not the way we swear or exclaim.

Will this film take place in Great Britain or Australia? Or will it be a hellish landscape of blood. Only time can tell.

topless
Analysis: After one picture I think this is porn.

Is Rex (Ben O’Toole) a hero or a criminal? Depends on who you ask.

Rex was at at a bank, trying to flirt with a worker, take her out on a date, when some dudes in masks showed up to rob the place, with guns. Things were going poorly, things were dangerous, so Rex took it on his own to just deal with the robbers himself. This surprisingly led him in jail for the way it all went down.

Years later, he is pissed off with the system, but he served his time and he is free to do what he wants. And he wants to leave the country. Go somewhere else, like Finland. But seemingly unrelated, some people capture him and have imprisoned him for…some reason. Damn Finnish people. he now has to use the same tact and guile that got him into prison for saving a bank, to figure himself out of this situation as well.

Also starring Meg Fraser, Caroline Craig, and Matthew Sunderland.

robber
When Dart Maul is robbing banks you know times are tough for Disney.

Bloody Hell has a strange narrative structure and a pretty strange plot. The only thing that really connects the bank scene to the Finland plot involves the thinking of the main character and the level of violence he is able to dish out. But it is not the sort of thing that has to be a big focus for the Finland plot to happen. It does tell the story out of order, so it does keep some suspense in their relation.

And despite the fact that they don’t really matter together, this movie is still really fun.

I enjoyed the main character and his extra personality. Ben O’Toole was really charismatic with this role (eventually, the first bank scene of the movie was a little awkward). He seems like a fun guy, just a bit violent. His conversations with his inner voice is the main part of the film, and it comes across very well. The evil Finnish family isn’t too much special, but there is enough people to serve as fodder for unique kills and violent scenes.

Bloody Hell is not the strongest plot by means, but it keeps the action up for the most part, and doesn’t just feel wasted in its strange premise, like other recent movies that go with this genre. It is a movie that begs for creative death scenes and actually delivers, instead of being a let down like recent films like Ready or Not or The Hunt. Yeah, I will call out both of those films for sure.

3 out of 4.

One Night In Miami

A lot of people like to go to Miami as a place to let go, its a place with the bass and the sunset low.
You know, a place where everyday is like mardi gras, everybody party all day, no work, all play, okay?

Can you feel me? Miami has all ages and races, with real sweet faces.
Every different nation, Spanish, Hatian, Indian, Jamaican.
Black, White, Cuban, and Asian.

But this movie isn’t about regular Miami, that parties all day and all night apparently (When they aren’t dealing with every mob organization on the planet), but specifically just One Night in Miami. A fictionalized night in which, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke gathered to celebrate and to discuss current events, their lives, and their futures.

And it basically is a party too. A party of ideals, friendship, and togetherness.

bar
Ain’t no party like a friendship party, because a friendship party can probably do magic.

February 25, 1964 was definitely a real date in the past, and not some simulation. And on that night Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) defeated Sunny Liston in a boxing match surprising a lot of people, and it was a pretty big deal. Cassius Clay was an up and coming boxer, and not sure what to do in regards to topics like war or even his own faith. He believed he would join the movement to become Muslim, but he also knew that it had to help capitalize the movement, to help spread equality, and black power.

That is where his friend Malcom X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) comes in. And other friends, like singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and NFL player Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

The four gentlemen spend a night talking about religion, their lives, racism in America, what they can do to help, and what they can do to help each other. With alcohol and the stresses in all of their lives, things do become tense, but the honest keeps them real, and the struggle keeps them (mostly) focused.

Also starring Beau Bridges, Christian Magby, Derek Roberts, Joaquina Kalukango, Lance Reddick, Lawrence Gilliard Jr, Michael Imperioli, and Nicolette Robinson.

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I’ve seen enough movies to recognize the Copa.

This is one of those movies that I watched without knowing it was actually based on a play beforehand. And I didn’t realize that fact either while watching it. A lot of movies you can tell were likely plays before a film from watching it. But now that I have found out that fact, it totally makes sense when looking back and reflecting on the film as a whole. For sure, a play, about four famous men talking and getting deep, that makes perfect sense. The play came out in 2013, so relatively modern, but this film version was directed by Regina King, her first time at the director’s helm, and she definitely makes sure this story is brought on screens to life.

Ben-Adir, Goree, Hodge, and Odom Jr. could talk all night and I’d want to listen. Okay, that is technically the point of the movie. Fine, they can talk all week. They have wonderful chemistry together, each bringing so much personality to their characters, making them feel unique and respectful to the real men they are playing. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was Odom Jr. until writing this review (unlike it very obviously being him in something like Harriet), so it is great to really see him grow into these roles and become someone else.

The topics talked about where conversations I never even considered along with some more obvious and important ones as well. It was just so easy to get lost in the story, after the introductions.

One very powerful scene that spoke out to me involved the Sam Cooke character telling a story about a concert gone wrong due to some artist interference, and yes, it involves music, those scenes are my favorite. It was chilling and really crept into the feels.

One Night in Miami is a movie that made me discover not just a play but a modern playwright who has some goddamn great writing chops under him, and I cant wait to see more from him in the future.

4 out of 4.

Max Cloud

Check out my interview with Martin Owen, the director, here!

What would you do if your son was at home, crying all alone on the bedroom floor because he’s hungry? And the the only way to feed him is to escape from a video game you got sucked into playing the part of one of the weaker side characters and really hoping you don’t die?

Alright, only some of that is relevant to Max Cloud. Max Cloud is a space hero. But he is also a video game character. And someone does get sucked into the video game. But don’t worry, no sons will be hungry tonight.

fight
Ah yes, heroes, ready to fight, and to eliminate evil.

Sarah (Isabelle Allen) is just a teenage girl living at home with her dad in the 1980’s. She loves video games and he (Sam Hazeldine) doesn’t love her spending too much time on them. He constantly has to tell her to get off of them to do something else. Sarah would rather play the space game all day, and try to win. She wishes should could play it all day! Enter game based space witch (Jason Maza). And sure enough, Sarah gets whisked away into the game! But she doesn’t get to be Max Cloud (Scott Adkins). She has to play Jake (Elliot James Langridge), the cook, one of the few survivors at the start of the game, with no skill set.

Being placed in a game is cool, but how is she eventually going to get out? The space witch was like an Easter Egg and she has no idea how to activate it. And what if she dies in the game?!

Sarah has some help in the game, with other NPCs, and her best friend (Franz Drameh) in her room to navigate her character closer and closer to the end game. But what happens if they win? Would it just reset?

Too much afoot for Sarah to figure out. Just have to hope that Max Cloud is as good as his box says he is!

Also starring John Hannah, Lashana Lynch, and Tommy Flanagan.

evil
You know you are a bad guy if you sit and laugh in the dark.

Max Cloud isn’t the first movie or book about being sucked into a video game and having to deal with the consequences, and it certainly won’t be the last. It is, however, a film that is incredibly uninspired and doesn’t offer much new into the “getting sucked into games” genre.

It takes place in the UK, and in the late 80’s, so maybe that is supposed to be enough of a reason to differentiate it? Not really. Most of Allen in this movie is just her voice, speaking through the TV to her her friend and dad. The scenes inside the game don’t feel like a game, just like a sci-fi broken ship. It was going for realism for the characters inside the game, but it also never felt really like a game at all, which is what I as a viewer would hope for. Outside of a few jokes or occasional reference, she could have also just been sucked into a campy sci-fi show and there wouldn’t be much difference.

The real world plot is simple, they are hoping to beat the game for her so that maybe she can escape. The plot of the Max Cloud video game is very bad though, and technically, most of the plot in the video game. If it was intentionally bad on purpose, for a campy reason, they should have made it more obvious, but it just drags the whole film down with it since it maintains a slightly serious tone for a comedy film.

I guess one of the biggest problems with the movie is it isn’t clear what it wants to be. It is a “Getting sucked into a game” movie that really would probably rather just be a straight sci-fi movie. It isn’t sure if it would rather be serious or a comedy, so it tries for both, giving the viewer not much of either. It had the potential to do more with its side characters and villains to make them interesting, but everything felt two-dimensional (heh). That could be the goal, if it was going for the bad video game vibe, but that goal can’t be achieved if the main real characters only talk about how awesome the game is. The bad video game plot just becomes bad movie plot, and the whole film suffers from it.

Max Cloud is messy, but not in a good way, and forgettable, in the worst way.

0 out of 4.

Sound of Metal

Screeching, loud, the most awful noises you have often heard, that is likely the Sound of Metal. Oh, this movie means metal music? Fine.

Screeching, loud, the most awful noises you have often heard. Har har har. Okay, I don’t like Metal, but in reality, I just don’t like screamo-metal, it does nothing to me, but it does put me to sleep which is strange given how intense it is.

In this film, the Sound of Metal it turns out will mean more than one thing as well, but I won’t get into that fact. I will say that it definitely feels like a combination of The Sound of Music and The Sound of Silence, which are famous “sound of” things. I think by the end of all of this, Sound of Metal will and should be as famous as those two as well.

drum
The sound of drums go buhbuhbuhbam.

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is a metal man, not a robot, just a guy who plays metal. He is a drummer, he goes into clubs, he plays it loud. He is in a band with his girlfriend (Olivia Cooke) of a few years. They live their life in an RV, traveling the US, playing gigs, getting money, and moving on. They are working on making a big name for themselves, and eventually, it might work.

But one day, Ruben wakes up with ear problems that don’t seem to go away. He can’t hear well. He tries to perform a gig, and it goes like shit, and so he sees a doctor. Apparently his hearing loss is so bad, and getting worse, they suggest he quits rock altogether. He needs to rest his ears before they can properly diagnose it, and stop it from going even lower, before even considering things like cochlear implants.

Another note about Ruben? He is a former addict. Basically all drugs were his drugs, and he has been clean for four years, but this is the type of thing that will cause a man to break, and his normal sponsor can’t do much if he can’t really hear. So he gets set up in this little out of nowhere place, for addicts, who yes, also happen to be deaf. Joe (Paul Raci) takes him in, to start his process into the deaf community, to learn sign language, even though Ruben doesn’t want any aspect of it. He wants the implants. He wants to continue his rock journey with his love (who cannot stay with him for these weeks).

What is a potential rock star to do? Also starring Mathieu Amalric.

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Congrats to the make up team for making Olivia Cooke look extremely homeless.

Sound of Metal is incredible. It gives us a story that isn’t done much, if at all, and really drives into the implications of the events around it. Obviously one person losing their hearing, and trying to cope with it, doesn’t affect a lot of people besides their band mates and friends/family, but there is a lot going on in Ruben’s life and lifestyle that is being uplifted. It is a scary situation for anyone to be in, despite the deaf community being very open and loving community.

In the deaf community, things like cochlear implants have a lot of divisiveness amongst it members, for plenty of fine reasons. This movie doesn’t say one choice is good and the other is bad, because that is clearly up to individuals, but the discussions are still heard and the problems that arise from these decisions are still important.

Ahmed gives a wonderful performance, wearing a lot on his face. We still get to hear him speak, but going through his trauma and potentially career ending injury, either caused by his career or something genetic, can change a lot of people. I also enjoyed Cooke, in the limited screen time she was given, and watching her own transformation. Raci was wonderful, and was a great person to lead the commune given his own real life experiences and deaf traits.

I also have to give it up to the sound editing/mixing teams. They let us go through Ahmed’s journey with him, more or less, and I love that for the most part sign language when used was not given subtitles.

Sound of Metal is hardcore, well acted, and surely one of the better movies of this year.

4 out of 4.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Despite loving the crap out of it, I never ended up reviewing Thunder Road for my website. In fact, I am re-watching it now to get an overall sense for it and how the director/writer/star has evolved.

Let’s back up. Jim Cummings created a movie called Thunder Road, and it was way better than I imagined an indie movie directed, written, and starring the same person could be. Especially if it is someone I hadn’t know at all. Cummings has dealt with a lot of shorts before this film, and has been a producer on various works, and apparently did a movie eight years prior, but this is the first one that likely anyone saw.

It was good, and we wanted more. Apparently the more we get was two years later, with The Wolf of Snow Hollow.


And cops? Is this another cop movie Jim?

John Marshall (Jim Cummings) is a cop. Yes you read that right. A cop. This time in a small resort town somewhere in Northern USA, that does good tourism during the ski season, and is quiet as heck when it ain’t. John is going to be the head Sheriff someday, he has been groomed for it, because his dad (Robert Forster) is the current sheriff, and about to retire. John is a bit more fiery, but he has the heart and spirit to get it done.

And then a woman dies. Not only does she die, but she dies horrifically, with her genitalia ripped out. Oh no. That is graphic. The boyfriend (Jimmy Tatro) reported hearing wolves during that time, and also noted that some local dudes in a bar got feisty towards them, but that is all he knows.

And the town things it was a werewolf. There are people who say they see a two legged wolf running around, and future deaths to more women seem to add more to the mythos. Some in his department believe it, but John does not, and he needs to put an end to this circus quick before the national news jumps on this and makes their town a laughing stock. He also wants to protect his daughter (Chloe East).

With his second in command (Riki Lindhome), John needs to prove that werewolves are not real despite overwhelming evidence, putting his own career and the lives of many on the line in the process.

Also starring Daniel Fenton Anderson, Skyler Bible, Demetrius Daniels, and Kevin Changaris.


Blood is hard to get out of various substances and snow is definitely one of them.

Thunder Road is about a cop having a nervous breakdown on life because he is losing everything he knows and loves: He has lost his mom to death, his wife to divorce, his daughter to divorce, and his job and friends due to his bad ways of dealing with his grief. One breakdown after another.

The Wolf of Snow Hallow is about a cop having a nervous breakdown because of the stresses of the job. He also happens to be a single parent, and close to losing a parent, and lashes out in anger at many things with his rage problems. So there are similarities, but sure, they are different, because the stress of being a cop really didn’t play into Thunder Road, while it clearly did in this movie.

I am weary of someone making roughly the same film over. Jim. Why are you playing a cop again? Do you love cops? Now is not an okay time to love cops. Which they do bring up in this movie too, so it is at least topical in that regard.

But in all honesty, The Wolf of Snow Hollow has a lot going on for it. It gets real stressful, we get long scenes of great dialogue, we get some good montages in this one, especially when it came to a crime happening and the cops investigating the same crime. Jim did grow as a visionary director here and had his movie try new things out.

The story itself is fine, it has twists and turns, but I wouldn’t say it was easy to guess or anything the conclusion towards. Sort of came out of nowhere for me, so I wonder how obvious it was or if I missed anything.

Also if Jim is a cop in the next movie he writes and directs I am going to be pretty sus with him, but still watch the shit out of it.

4 out of 4.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Sorkin Sorkin Sorkin Sorkin Sorkin!

WE HAVEN’T HAD A NEW SORKIN MOVIE SINCE 2017. And that was Molly’s Game, and was a little weird, because it was also directed by him. BUT THE LAST ONE JUST WRITTEN BY HIM WAS IN 2015. That was Steve Jobs, and if you don’t know about Steve Jobs, well, it was my favorite movie of the last decade, so I kind of love it. Hell, The Social Network, also written by him, also made the top ten list, and was a lot of people’s favorite of the decade.

I am a pretty big fan, I guess you can say.

So I have been waiting patiently for The Trial of Chicago 7. And it took a lot out of me to not rush to go see it in theaters, because honestly, I am not ready for that. Thankfully it was destined for Netflix and I was given the opportunity to check it out along with the rest of the world relatively soon after theaters. This one is his second directorial attempt, and I really hope it it takes the best parts of Molly’s Game and goes a bit further.

I am sure I can remain unbiased in my review.


Alright there are five people here. Are they most of the Chicago 7?

In 1968, there was a presidential election. Lyndon B. Johnson had dropped out, so a new person would sit at the head of our government, and for the Republicans it was looking like Richard Nixon. The democrats were likely to elect Hubert Humphrey, a boring choice really, and one who didn’t push enough values. A lot of people had problems with that, so a lot of people decided to go to Chicago during the Democratic National Convention and protest. A lot of groups, a lot of big ones, and small ones, and some shit went down.

Did the protestors star the riots? Did the police? A lot of evidence one way or another. But after Nixon won, his AG was sent to investigate and was charging several individuals with felonies to invite riots across state laws, and they were all being tried at the same time. So what kind of trial is this? Some sort of political trial? Is the right to protest on trial?

On trial we have Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne) and Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp) were there as part of a national organization they made to help end the war in Vietnam. Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) were leaders from the Yippie organization, a youth group who did not like most of the things the US government stood for. There was David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch) was a conscientious objector during World War II and went as a protestor to encourage a lack of riots and peaceful demonstrations. Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was a Black Panther leader and not from the Chicago area, but went there to make a speech and was there for only a little bit of the time.

And those are most of our key players, outside of judges, lawyers, other people on trial, friends, and etc.

Oh them? Here are the actors involved. Frank Langella, Danny Flaherty, Noah Robbins, Michael Keaton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin FitzGerald, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Shenkman, and J.C. MacKenzie.


Here are two more. Let’s assume this is the complete set.

It is important to note I watched this film before writing the review. I mean, that is always true, sorry. I watched this film twice before writing this review. Because I didn’t see it in theaters (as I would have had this review a month ago), I waited until it was on Netflix like the plebian I was. And I will be honest, I liked it the first time, but I never got fully immersed because I kept having to stop it, or go back, due to things going on around me. You know, Netflix problems. So I declared a better time to watch it, so I could watch it again with fewer interruptions, maybe some breaks, but less overall noise around me.

And again, despite liking it the first time, the second time was even better. Normally it’d probably be frowned upon to do a second watch before reviews, because if something is nonsensical on the first watch, I’d want to be able to talk about it. And I will say the choice of a first calm scene in the DA’s office is very odd given the little we know at that point, and it takes maybe too long to pay off, but it still does feel nice by the end.

The film spends a lot of time with exposition of news at the start to get us on the right track, and then does a quick job of introducing the main players, while also taking a real long time to explain the “Chicago 7” vs 8 people on trial part. Which again, when it does in its time, is satisfying and suspenseful.

The acting and writing is clearly the place where this movie would shine the most. I don’t even have to talk about the writing really in a Sorkin movie, but I think he tried to be more subtle in parts when he normally would hammer it along. This is shown a lot in the conversations between Cohen and Redmayne.

Cohen, Abdul-Mateen, and Rylance are the most likely to give oscar nominated performances. Rylance has never been better (on the limited films I have seen). Abdul-Mateen has to give a physical and emotional performance with limited scene time available to him compared to the rest. And Cohen, jeez, it is likely his most normal sounding character role ever and it is just nailed out of the park.

I don’t think Sorkin has mastered the art of directing just yet. But this is a step up from his directing in Molly’s Game. Still some awkward moments and weird decisions here, especially when near the end some of the characters acted like background noise and cartoons during an impactful moment that took away a bit from that impact. Based on what we learned about the judge, he would have been a lot more furious.

The Trial of Chicago 7 is fucking fantastic.

4 out of 4.

Murder Bury Win

Most of you can likely assume by now in my 9th year of reviewing movies that I kind of love movies.

But I have other passions. I create art, I play games (less and less), I do twitch things, and I also play board games. I actually LOVE board games, but getting older, having young kids and a family, makes it harder to spend hours with others doing the board game thing. Really, I am just trying to make it through the awkward younger years for the kids, getting them older so I can just play the games with them. That is the dream goal.

Then retirement, play more games with strangers and shops and all of that. This assumes no pandemics in the future.

So board games are a passion of mine, so I was thrilled to be able to see a movie about board games. I am hoping it takes it to a high, or even medium leve with the topic. Just something more than standard Monopoloy and Sorry bull shit. Come on, Murder Bury Win. Wow me.

car
Okay if this game is like Fuck Marry Kill, I know who I’d pick for all three.

Adam (Erich Lane), Barrett (Henry Alexander Kelly), and Chris (Mikelen Walker) are best friends and work friends, because together they have made and designed their own board game called Murder Bury Win. They are ready to sell it and get rich and famous as game designers. [Yes, we know game designers aren’t really famous and more like “rich”]. They put their game on Gamechanger for funding (like Kickstarter), but after a month they got no where close their goal, except for a few anonymous donors. Fuck. Their dreams are ruined.

Well, the next day, Adam gets a call from a mysterious stranger. He wants to meet up with the creators of the game Murder Bury Win and talk about it, maybe invest, maybe help out. And this dude lives out in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, by himself. The don’t even know his name.

After a terse encounter and some talking, they discover it is actually V.V. Stubbs (Craig Cackowski), one of the most famous board game designers ever. These men made their game after they were inspired by Stubbs’ biggest hit, Murder Wall. Oh great, what luck. He will help them out and maybe even choose to buy it from them, that would be a wonderful start.

And then someone dies, accidentally. Maybe. This leaves the leftover people wondering how to get out of this mess. After the murder, they have to leave no trace and accurately bury, in order to win. Can they win?

Also starring Brian Slaten as a cop.

piano
Everyone knows if you play the murder card you are allowed to murder. That’s the rules! 

Is Murder Bury Win a great game? Eh, not by my looks of it and the vague understanding of the rules. But that is acknowledged in the film as well that it needs work. So it is hard to judge this film on its board game love on that fact, but there are two elements that are really strong. One being the kickstarter-esque quality to the board game community. As far as I know, board games have been some of the most successful categories on Kickstarter, and Kickstarter has led to a huge boom in board game success. They’ve worked well together, so it was a nice element to include.

It also is clear that the writer or director really hates Exploding Kittens, and wanted to talk bad about it a few times, but they changed the title for this film. That is fair, but we still know what they meant, and I agree.

For the film itself, I really enjoyed the performances of Kelly and Walker the most. They felt the most believable, as they seemed like characters who knew the world wasn’t black and white, and had passions and dreams and actual struggles facing their decisions in the film.

The film has a decent amount of good moments, both in terms of conversation and visuals. But almost too many moments that don’t seem to work well either. For example, the cop scene has some good lines and moments, and also moments that don’t make a lot of sense given the situation. The scene went on for a long time, which is great as a purpose to make us uncomfortable, but it allowed these questionable parts to pop up more frequently, so it is hard to really get an overall great feeling out of it.

It has potential overall, just like the board game itself apparently had potential (but as a board game snob, ehhh the game looked like trash to me. Although meeples are always a plus). And it surprised me by going a bit darker than I imagined in some aspects, letting me fully call this a Dark Comedy and not just a comedy with some death in it.

2 out of 4.