Tag: 4 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?]

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

sing
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.

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.

sing
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.

Totally Under Control

Alex Gibney is a big name in the documentary community. He has been doing this for quite a few years and seems to love the pursuit, as both a director and a producer. He directed such documentaries like Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief, and Citizen K.

And now he is back with a surprise documentary, Totally Under Control. Seriously. It is a huge surprise. The trailer dropped in early October and announced it would be out that same month. It is going straight to VOD and will be available for everyone on Hulu starting October 20th. It is an incredible quick turnaround, no one knew it was coming out.

Well, the people interviewed knew, and the people behind the camera knew, but that was about it. So why the secrecy?

Well, the topic is dealing with the Coronavirus threat, and its impact on the United Sates, and dealing with how the current administration completely fucked over a whole lot of Americans.

fauci
One of these men wants to save and protect you. The other does not.
So who do we talk to in this documentary? Oh you know, people who were parts of the pandemic response team, both before the pandemic stuff started, and after. People who helped predict models and were in data analysis groups as information started coming out. We also have a person who was a part of a volunteer task force, officially run by the White House, that had a lot of light to shine on the process. Heck, we even got a guy who was the only major face mask producer in the USA who warned about this scenario as well.

They also go out of the way to show how safe the interviews are, in case you are curious about that.

This film has a big time frame to focus on, but honestly, most of it is from December 2019 to March of 2020. The early parts of the pandemic and the US response from it. We do get some information about the 1918 pandemic, and the past big health scares during the Obama administration and what they did to make things be better in the future.

And. It. Is. So. Detailed. I would have swore this would have gone basically from just February to August or so, but it ends so much sooner to that. I am already expecting a sequel.

Obviously this one was put out now to make sure voters are aware of some of the actions their government took this year, and honestly, this feels like a documentary everyone should take. If you have access to Hulu, take a couple hours to give a gander next week. It is important, it is detailed, and it is perhaps more eye opening than you expect.

4 out of 4.

Palm Springs

When Palm Springs hit Hulu, I will admit, I hadn’t heard of it. I knew nothing going into it either, outside of a few key members of the cast.

I’d like to say that the cast was enough to get me to watch it, but that isn’t true. I literally only watched it because I heard good tidings from others about the story and the acting behind it.

This looked like a very skippable movie. Some sort of Rom Com? Let’s just say that I think going in totally blind is definitely a worthwhile endeavor for this one. I do describe what the movie is about and why it is unique in the plot description below, so feel free to ignore that if you’d rather just run in. This is a good time to just check my rating and decide on those merits alone!

grief
Trust? In swim trunks like these? 

Nyles (Andy Samberg) is at a wedding in Palm Springs, California. His life is aloof, he seems weird, he is wearing non fancy clothes to the wedding His girlfriend (Meredith Hagner) is freaking out about his strange behavior, but he doesn’t care. Nyles has his eyes on on Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor. And before he can seal the deal, he gets shot with an arrow by Roy (J.K. Simmons) and that is pretty damn annoying.

After the arrow incident, Nyles crawls towards a mysterious glowing cave with Sarah following, despite his best attempt to get her to leave, and then the next morning, Nyles wakes up to relive the day over again. But this time, so does Sarah.

You see, Nyles has been living this time loop of this wedding he barely cares about for a very, very, long time. Every death, every sleep, no matter what, he goes back to waking up the same bed with his same girlfriend. But now, Sarah is stuck in the loop with him (and so is Roy, which is why he is pissed at Nyles). Well, now at least there are two of them to try and figure out how to get out. Two people who can make the day feel less meaningless. And maybe they can figure out a way out eventually.

Also starring Jena Friedman, Jacqueline Obradors, Dale Dickey, Tongayi Chirisa, June Squibb, Chris Pang, Tyler Hoechlin, Camila Mendes, and Peter Gallagher.

geysey
It took them 400 days of shooting to get the beer spray lined up so perfectly. 

So given the genre and type of film it is, why is this one worth the 4 out of 4?

Well, despite it being a famous type of a movie with a really famous and cherished example of the plot line in movie history, it isn’t that overdone yet. I bet you can’t think of more than five examples of that plot line being used (although there are more than five, but not too much more). People just feel it had peaked early. Well, by having two characters go through this plot, it allows a lot more room for growth and potential, because we have more people who are in on the secret.

It is a brilliant idea, and one that I am surprised (as far as I know) not been done before. It lets us get to know our leads as co-stars and not just one person surrounded by the supporting actors. Samberg is his usual self, but maybe a bit more darker with his tone, because he has been at this for awhile and has practically given up. Milioti was a delight, and watching her journey at the beginning all the way through the end, as a strong independent person, to get things fixed, was great. And it featured a cameo from a professor at Rice University who I know, so that was cool too.

Palm Springs is a unique concept on an old plot, and a refreshing take on it all. Add in two fantastic leads and a great moment from Simmons, this is a top tier film for 2020 (given how awkward this year is) and one that should be experienced.

4 out of 4.

Words on Bathroom Walls

Oh my goodness, some more theaters are opening up and things are getting “national releases” at this point, depending on where you are in the country.

Words on Bathroom Walls was scheduled to come out in late July, but never really moved when the rest of the exoduses began to happen, and then just creeped back barely a month, to find a time it can come out and be appreciated at a social distance.

So this review was written quite awhile ago, is what I am getting at.

Words on Bathroom Walls is a book from the last decade, about high schoolers dealing with issues. That isn’t specific. I think I have noticed a bigger trend lately on high school literature is that they might be able someone who has a maybe misunderstood illness, to give these protagonists a better shake on how their lives run and understanding. Sure, these things have been done before, but they were often not well researched, or went extremely basic with the issues, becoming offensive on their own.

That is one of the main things I will look for with this movie. Does it explain things beyond the stereotype? Does it feel fair? Does it educate and still tell a good story? Has the research been done?

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And of course, most importantly, will there be a prom?

Adam (Charlie Plummer) is a senior in high school, and he has now had a real big old panic attack. It happened in Chemistry. It causes a friend of his to get hurt. He started hearing and seeing things that were not there, it was very frightening, and all of his classmates were witness to his meltdown.

You see, it turns out that Adam has schizophrenia, and it all sort of just hit him at once. He can see and hear three main different people in his life. There is Rebecca (AnnaSophia Robb), a free spirited girl, there is Joaquin (Devon Bostick), a horny friend from a 90’s film, and there is a bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian), an intimidating person who is just trying to protect him. And there is a fourth darker voice that he can hear occasionally, and is especially dreadful.

But this isn’t the only thing going on in Adama’s life. He is a senior in high school, and would still like to graduate on time. So he has to start at a new private school. His mom (Molly Parker) was raising him on his own for a long time, so Adam became a good cook to help their family unit out, and eventually she got a new spouse to help out (Walton Goggins), but Adam doesn’t like or trust him.

Adam’s biggest worries are trying to ignore these voices, to appear normal to his new friends and classmates, and survive until graduation. Then he can go to culinary school and be happy. He also has to deal with experimental medication that can clear the voices but might effect him in different ways. And he also has to deal with Maya (Taylor Russell), the smartest girl in school who has taken an interest in him and him to her.

Eventually Adam will realize everyone has baggage, and his just might be harder to cope with.

Also starring Andy Garcia, as a priest,

graduate
oh, I also need my teenage fiction to include a graduation ceremony.

Okay, a movie dealing with schizophrenia, at the high school level, with a cast of characters that include different/voices in a characters head (and appearing around him from his mind) to offer advice throughout it. My immediate thought is, oh no, this is going to be wacky, and they will be a constant source of shenanigans or voices, and this feels stereotypical schizophrenia.

But! They are not throughout the film. Because he is taking trial drugs to help deal with the voices, so they do in fact leave for large chunks and it still can tell a compelling story about living with schizophrenia by making it also a film about dealing with the need to use a drug to better function (and the side effects those drugs can bring). I feel like the schizophrenia was handled with a large amount of respect. When I researched if the author researched enough for their book, I found no complaints by any schizophrenia organizations. So if it is schizophrenia approved, I have to assume it got things right and avoided potential offense, great job team.

Watching this movie actually made me want to read the book, and I still plan on it if I can find a local copy (I do not want to use Amazon to buy it). The book is written from the point of view of Adam telling about his life and stories to a therapist, and so you take the role as the therapist in the book. They do acknowledge that in the movie, and have a few therapist scenes where Adam is talking to the camera instead, to get that same feel, but I am sure it is not as strong as the book, because we get to actually see events.

I thought Plummer was a really good lead for this film and Russell was a great co-lead, with her own problems to deal with, and their relationship felt like it grew at a realistic pace, with realistic pitfalls.

Another shout out goes to Parker, for being a great mom dealing with all of this, and also Goggins, playing an extremely normal role based on what he has done in the past. That of a step-father trying to be supportive of his step-son and doing the right thing, without being able to get really close.

Honestly, this movie packed a lot of punches in the right spots for me emotionally. It told a good story, about schizophrenia, without also only being about schizophrenia. It was relatable for other reasons, and hit me emotionally. I don’t think my high rating is just because of the lack of good films this summer, I hope not, but I definitely fully recommend people giving this movie a chance. Maybe not in theaters, depending on your safety concerns, but whenever it is available at home.

4 out of 4.

Hamilton

I am not throwing away this review, but I am going to keep it short and sweet.

Bless Lin-Manuel Miranda, who decided in 2016 they needed to shoot their musical with the original cast. They could have held on to this for over a decade and waited and waited. They said it would come out October, 2021! And then? Then pandemic.

And now it is out much, much, much earlier. On Disney+ so most people don’t have to pay much at all to see it, versus the theaters (Which it should still go to when it is safe, I would buy that ticket).

Thank you for spending three days getting this filmed, including the off-Broadway day for all of the cast and crew, putting in extra shows to make this thing out there.


It’s Alexander Hamilton, singing on the screen for you.

Wait for it! The entire original cast and crew is in this picture!

Anthony Ramos, Chris Jackson, Daveed Diggs, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Jonathan Groff, Leslie Odom Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Sydney James Harcourt.

And its the Hamilton musical, damn it! This is my plot outline. It is about Alexander Hamilton and some more people. There.


The room where this whole thing happened was actually in a theater in Broadway!
A phenomenon greater than most other phenomenon, I can die happy now that this is available. I never could see it on stage, and I likely wouldn’t now anytime remotely soon thanks to pandemics. This is a blessing and we should cherish it.

This counts as a movie for the year? I’ll take it. Now I have given two 4 out of 4s so far this year.

What are you waiting for, what do you stall for? It’s available now, go see it.

One last time, this musical is love.


My wife said I needed some more review aspects to this, fine. I cried five times despite hearing this musical so many times, some of my cries were new, some where at the same time I cried during just the music.

A few songs were enhanced thanks to the visuals. Like Satisfied, and seeing King George in more scenes. The use of moving stage was used wonderfully. The ending is so much better (of an already awesome song) with the dancers and background.

I will note that Odom Jr.’s Burr uses a much more lispy voice in this recording versus the original cast recording. I assume that was done in the main show way before it, maybe it is easier to sing with that voice in the long term, maybe it is to make him seem a bit more sneaky, but it is noticeable and completely acceptable.

4 out of 4.

One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead is a Japanese independent film from the last year or years, it is hard to say. It has had a weird road to distribution.

Made with mostly unknown actors and for a ridiculously cheap budget, it made back over 1,000 times its investment, which is a pretty goddamn unheard of percent for movies. I know it was hitting festivals and getting a lot of good buzz, and then at one point it was…put on Amazon!

But, it wasn’t supposed to be put on Amazon. Someone had an older unfinished copy, and just put it on Amazon prime for free. Did you know you can just do that? It is apparently really easy. And one it was on Amazon, many people rushed out to see it, and tell other’s to see it because it was a critical darling. The same day, news came out that the people who own it didn’t upload it, it was unfinished copy, and to please not watch it while it was worked out.

Well shit. That kind of screwed over a lot of things.

Anyways, at this point it is on amazon again, but for money, and the right version. So you can watch it and feel confident someone involved is getting money for it.

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Like this guy who is holding the camera!

One man had a vision. Director Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) had the idea for a zombie film, an idea that would be so scary and amazing. But his shitty actors were not giving him enough emotion.

We are talking take, after take, after take, and it just is not good enough for the director.

So while he went to go cool down, and the actors relaxed and got to know each other, normal stuff between takes. But something odd happened. Some sounds from the outside. Some…limbs from outside. Oh shit, real zombies! in the middle of their zombie film!

Now the director can get some real emotions out of his cast.

Also starring Yuzuki Akiyama, Harumi Shuhama, Kazuaki Nagaya, Hiroshi Ichihara, and Mao.

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Those zombies aren’t going to double kill themselves!
One Cut of The Dead is a unique film, there is no one who can deny that. In fact, it is so unique, it is also equally hard to even talk about it because it is a film that should be discovered, not spoiled.

And yes, the idea of spoiling can be kicked around enough, but trust us, the critics, me, when we say, just gotta go in some times to see the journey.

I couldn’t believe what the film managed to do and convey. It is extremely impressive, given the lack of budget or names involved, even from a Foreign film perspective. It required a lot of work. It required planning. And it required people who were creative as fuck. People who really had a vision and executed it perfectly.

One Cut of the Dead is a comedy more than a horror, and it will be hard to find something more unique than it before or after for awhile. Not even an American remake will likely be as unique. [As of writing, no plans for American remake, but sorry for jinxing it should it change in the future].

It is definitely an experience, and I watched it directly after Train to Busan! A very different foreign zombie film that is top notch in very differeny ways. And yet, this one still was able to stand out on its own.

4 out of 4.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

 

Oh what is this? A new theatrical release but on VOD? This is the first? 

Sure, Trolls World Tour (which comes out on April 10) is a much bigger movie that was meant to come out in theaters and is instead going straight to video for families. And there have been a lot of recent movies that were in theaters for a short time having VOD releases way early to make up for the money lost.

But Never Rarely Sometimes Always hadn’t made it to theaters yet and it was supposed to, and is now getting released digitally instead. So it is the first to really do this. 

And that is brave of them, even if they are a much smaller project. Especially a project with a theme like this one that would have maybe sparked protests anyways, and we don’t want protesters to protest, because then they’d be in groups. Even if they have dumb opinions. 

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Me judging people with dumb opinions. 

Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) is just a girl, living in a world, that isn’t the nicest to teenage girls. She has a job as a grocery clerk, where she and her cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder) are definitely getting harassed by a boss.

Autumn is mad a lot of the times. Her parents (Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten) don’t seem to give her a lot of attention due to their plentiful amount of kids, and her dad is a full on ass towards her. She has emotions, is getting bullied, and doesn’t know why she is so angry.

And then she finds out she is pregnant. About ten weeks. But she lives in Pennsylvania, in a small community, and the only place that was free for her to use was an organization that would never let abortions happen, complete with all the lie filled propaganda. And a parent would have to be involved.

So Autumn does what any girl would do. Sets an appointment in New York City, steals money from her dipshit bosses, and along with her cousin, go to get the deed done quickly and quietly, with hopefully no problems along the way. (There will be problems along the way).

Also starring Théodore Pellerin.

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Just two teenage girls on a fun filled middle of week NYC trip to get an abortion. I’m surprised this jolly movie wasn’t made decades ago. 

 

I had this thought when I first saw the movie, I swear. It isn’t hyperbolic because of the closing of theaters. But this is my favorite movie of the year. So far.

And yes, the last few weeks have had movies pushed out, some of which already pushed to next year. There is going to be a big lull in films for the rest of the year, so I have no clue what this sort of landscape will bring for cinema. This might remain my favorite movie of the year, the only one that I have given this rating to so far.

Now, this movie is not funny. It is a realistic take on the subject, it is serious, and some not great things happen. The scene where the title comes from definitely wrecked me emotionally. And that is why my intro wasn’t spent making fun of it like I originally planned.

I love that this film comes out the year after the terrible, propaganda induced Unplanned movie (sponsored by Ted Cruz). That one made my worst of the year list (spoilers). It took everything from the anti-abortion list playbook and tried to make it seem like a true story in incredibly deceptive ways. 

This film is quiet. It is just a story. And yes, an abortion happens. Does that make it pro abortion? Maybe. What it really does is highlight how shitty these various state by state laws are that make it incredibly hard for people to get out of a tough situation. And that isn’t cool.

4 out of 4.