REVIEW: You People (2023)

L-R: David Duchovny, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jonah Hill, Lauren London, Eddie Murphy, and Nia Long in YOU PEOPLE — PHOTO: NETFLIX / Parrish Lewis.

Directed by Kenya Barris — Screenplay by Kenya Barris and Jonah Hill.

In SAVE THE DATES, Netflix’s 2023 preview of select significant upcoming films to be released by the streamer this year, the first date and film that Netflix wants us to mark down is January 27th’s release of Kenya Barris’ You People starring Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and co-writer Jonah Hill. Released on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, You People from Kenya Barris (the co-writer of both 2021’s disappointing Coming to America-sequel and the dull modern remake of Cheaper By the Dozen from 2022) follows Ezra Cohen (played by Jonah Hill), a hip and modern podcaster of Jewish heritage, as he decides takes it upon himself to gain the acceptance of his girlfriend’s family before he asks her to marry him. His girlfriend, Amira (played by Lauren London), is a young Black costume designer who grew up in a Muslim household, and her father, Akbar (played by Eddie Murphy) is staunchly against her taking a white husband. While both Ezra and Amira struggle with each other’s families, the situation goes out of control when the families meet each other.

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REVIEW: The Last of Us – “Infected”

Bella Ramsey as ‘Ellie’ and Anna Torv as ‘Tess’ in HBO’s THE LAST OF US — PHOTO. HBO / Liane Hentscher.

The following is a recap and review of the second episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.

In the second episode of the first season of the HBO adaptation of the masterful video game franchise known as The Last of Us — titled Infected — Joel (played by Pedro Pascal) begrudgingly agrees to escort Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey), alongside his longtime smuggling partner, Tess (played by Anna Torv), to the Old State House in Boston. On their way there, Ellie sees what longtime infection can turn someone into. Infected was directed by Neil Druckmann (television directorial debut) and written by Craig Mazin.

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REVIEW: Dog Gone (2023)

Johnny Berchtold’s ‘Fielding Marshall’ with ‘Gonker’ in DOG GONE — PHOTO: Netflix / Bob Mahoney.

Directed by Stephen Herek — Screenplay by Nick Santora.

Inspired by a book by Pauls Toutonghi and the true story that it was based on, Stephen Herek’s Dog Gone follows a father (John Marshall, played by Rob Lowe) and a son (Fielding Marshall, played by Johnny Berchtold) as they search desperately on the Appalachian Trail for the son’s missing dog named Gonker. It is a race against time, as Gonker has been diagnosed with Addison’s disease, which requires him to have a life-saving shot every month. As the family (including the mother, Ginny Marshall, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley) tries to reach out to others for help, they are surprised to find out exactly how many people can relate to their situation and are desperate to help.

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REVIEW: RRR (2022)

N. T. Rama Rao, Jr. and Ram Charan showing off their dancing skills in RRR — PHOTO: DVV Entertainment /

Directed by S. S. Rajamouli — Screenplay by S. S. Rajamouli — Story by V. Vijayendra Prasad.

Excuse me as I begin my review with a bit of a story. For months, I’ve wanted to watch the widely successful RRR, the Indian epic that has taken Hollywood and the world by storm, but I have also been deeply frustrated by the fact that it isn’t really in theaters and it isn’t on streaming services. Or was it? You see, for a while now I’ve noted that Netflix allowed me to put the film on my watchlist but not actually watch it. JustWatch, the primary online streaming guide I use to track the arrival of new releases, even insisted that it was on Netflix in Denmark. I didn’t know what to believe. Well, this frustration went on for quite some time. That is, until last week, when I read a Danish review of the film, which specified that to watch the film in Denmark, you simply needed to change your language to English on Netflix. Et voilà. It actually was on the Danish Netflix this whole time, but for some reason, it was locked away behind simple language settings. Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk about the hottest movie of 2022, which I’m so glad that I finally saw, S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR

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REVIEW: De Forbandede År 2 (2022)

Jesper Christensen and Bodil Jørgensen in DE FORBANDEDE ÅR 2 — PHOTO: Scanbox Entertainment Danmark.

Directed by Anders Refn — Screenplay by Anders Refn and Flemming Quist Møller.

When I wrote up and released my brief thoughts on part one of Anders Refn’s De Forbandede År (int. title: Into the Darkness), a film about a family of Danes during the German occupation of Denmark, I was rather underwhelmed. World War II films tend to find an audience over here, and, as a bit of a history buff, I wanted this hugely ambitious project to land with more than just a thud. “Hopefully, its sequel will be better,” I wrote, though I must admit that I wasn’t optimistic. 

The first film was powerful in moments because of how it highlighted a family in conflict because of the occupation. Some decided to become resistance fighters and rebel, while others decided to cooperate with the occupiers in an attempt to keep food on the table and keep some sense of normalcy, I suppose. I noted that the historical drama about the first half of the German occupation of Denmark held my interest and was interesting and ambitious, but, ultimately, it was a disappointment, and it felt both incomplete and rushed. Anders Refn is still at the helm for the second part of the Skov story, and, frankly, the end result is mostly the same. Jesper Christensen is the highlight, but the film is messy and overlong. 

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REVIEW: The Last of Us – “When You’re Lost In The Darkness”

Nico Parker’s Sarah and Pedro Pascal’s Joel on outbreak day in THE LAST OF US — PHOTO: HBO / Shane Harvey.

The following is a recap and review of the first episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. Expect story spoilers.

The Last of Us is my favorite video game ever made. I hold it in the highest regard as one of my favorite stories. The game, and its sequel too, is a heart-wrenching, fully absorbing masterpiece that does a lot with the zombie genre. Now HBO has decided to have it adapted into a television series. The show is created by one of the game’s creative directors, Neil Druckmann, as well as the creator of HBO’s incredible Chernobyl series, Craig Mazin, and it features a stellar cast from top to bottom with actors such as Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian), Anna Torv (Fringe), Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones), and others. 

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REVIEW: Argentina, 1985 (2022)

Ricardo Darín and Peter Lanzani star in Argentina, 1985 — PHOTO: Amazon Prime Video.

Directed by Santiago Mitre — Screenplay by Santiago Mitre and Mariano Llinás.

Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985 is a historical courtroom drama about the true story of the Trial of the Juntas, which sought to bring to justice the ringleaders of the military junta that committed murder, kidnappings, and torture under Argentina’s right-wing dictatorship in the late-1970s and early-1980s. The film primarily follows Julio César Strassera (played by Ricardo Darín), the chief prosecutor, as he, along with a team of inexperienced lawyers, gathered evidence and testimonies that could possibly convince the court.

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REVIEW: The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker (2023 – Documentary)

Still image from the Netflix documentary, originally from a KMPH News interview.

Directed by Colette Camden.

Every once in a while, my sister will approach me and say: “smash, smash, smash!” or “no matter what you’ve done, you deserve respect, even if you make mistakes. […] You’re worthwhile.” That last quote goes on and on and on. I should explain. My sister doesn’t follow me around to deliver sitcom-like catchphrases or acknowledgments. Rather, she often quotes the ‘songified’ clips from the YouTube channel Schmoyoho. Back in 2013, Schmoyoho released the songified clip “smash. Smash. SMASH!” which featured a viral eyewitness account video of a hitchhiker who describes how he used a hatchet to hit someone, who had picked him up, in the head, when said person endangered a woman’s life. Now, almost exactly ten years later, Netflix has released a documentary about the hitchhiker who became an online sensation. 

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REVIEW: The Pale Blue Eye (2022)

Christian Bale in THE PALE BLUE EYE — PHOTO: NETFLIX.

Directed by Scott Cooper (Hostiles) — Screenplay by Scott Cooper.

Netflix’s first major film release of 2023 is Scott Cooper’s (very late entry into the 2022 movie year) The Pale Blue Eye. The film, which is based on a historical fiction novel of the same name from author Louis Bayard, features an incredibly well-known author, Edgar Allan Poe, as a character that is integral to the narrative, and it should go without saying that the film does not come close to becoming even a little bit as notable as the author the creatives have built a fictional mystery around. That would be a tough ask, to be honest. Still, though, this is a pretty decent crime thriller, even if it won’t end up on many best of 2022 lists. 

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REVIEW: Stoker (2013)

Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker — PHOTO: Fox Searchlight.

Directed by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy; Joint Security Area) — Screenplay by Wentworth Miller.

A handful of years before he directed all episodes of the excellent and underseen adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl led by Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgaard, Park Chan-wook made his first film in English with the Hitchcockian thriller Stoker, based on a screenplay from Prison Break-actor Wentworth Miller (under a pen name). 

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