REVIEW: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

Trial of the Chicago 7 Film Poster
Release Poster – Netflix

Written and Directed by Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) — Distributed by Netflix.

Back in July 2020, news broke that Netflix had acquired the distribution rights to this Aaron Sorkin legal drama following negotiations with Paramount Pictures. The global COVID-19 pandemic had made it difficult for Paramount to live up to the promise of a wide theatrical release this year especially since it was, reportedly, important for the filmmakers to have their film released to the public prior to the 2020 United States Presidential Election in November. Netflix provided them with a feasible and acceptable way out. The Trial of the Chicago 7 has now been released globally on the popular streaming service, thus giving Americans a chance to watch this drama before casting their vote. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)”

REVIEW: Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020 – Documentary)

Dick Johnson Documentary Poster
Release Poster – Netflix

Directed by Kirsten Johnson — Distributed by Netflix.

A couple of years ago, I saw Martin Scorsese’s documentary short film Italianamerican, which is basically a very personal documentary wherein the filmmaker films his parents, has them tell their life stories, and even reveal their best recipes. Since I first saw Italianamerican, I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the best way to celebrate your parents in the documentary format. This made me very interested in Kirsten Johnson’s documentary about her father, Dick Johnson is Dead, but when I sat down to watch her documentary, I was slightly trepidatious about what film I was about to watch. The title is obviously ominous, but the poster looks more like a comedy than anything else. I eventually came to realize that Kirsten Johnson’s documentary was the total package. Dick Johnson Is Dead is one of the best documentaries of the year. Continue reading “REVIEW: Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020 – Documentary)”

REVIEW: Hubie Halloween (2020)

Hubie Halloween Poster
Release Poster – Netflix

Directed by Steven Brill (The Do-Over; Sandy Wexler) — Screenplay by Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler.

When Adam Sandler was campaigning during the last awards-season for his performance in the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems, he made a threat to the Academy and the film community as a whole. Sandler remarked that if he were to not get an Oscar nomination, then he would purposefully make a movie that was ‘so bad’ to make us all pay. Well, here we are. Sandler was not nominated for his phenomenal performance in Uncut Gems. Steven Brill’s Hubie Halloween, which was, of course, filmed prior to the Oscar ceremony in question, is Sandler’s first film since he missed out on a deserved Oscar-nomination. And, frankly, this film is not the worst straight-to-Netflix film that Sandler has made for the streaming service. In fact, if he keeps on churning out straight-to-Netflix films such as this one, even though it’s certainly not good, then I’ll take it, in return for an Oscar-worthy Sandler-performance every other year.

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REVIEW: Druk (2020)

Danish Theatrical Release Poster – Nordisk Film

International Title: Another Round.

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt) — Screenplay by Thomas Vinterberg & Tobias Lindholm.

With Thomas Vinterberg’s Druk, or Another Round as it will be known around the world, two of the Danish film industry’s most highly regarded individuals — Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen — have re-teamed to tackle mid-life crises. Mads Mikkelsen is the Cannes Film Festival Award-winning actor who has played Hannibal Lecter, a James Bond-villain, a Marvel Cinematic Universe-villain, and a pivotal supporting character in the Star Wars spin-off film Rogue One. But, as Danish audiences know well, Mads Mikkelsen is not just a great supporting actor and villain, he is also one of his generation’s finest actors, and he constantly turns out extraordinary performances. Mikkelsen’s remarkable talent has arguably made him, to quote A. O. Scott, the face of Danish cinema. Continue reading “REVIEW: Druk (2020)”

REVIEW: The Devil All The Time (2020)

Film Poster
Release Poster — Netflix

Directed by Antonio Campos (Christine) — Screenplay by Antonio & Paul Campos.

In a year such as 2020, where a global pandemic has changed our lifestyle drastically and paralyzed the entertainment industry, major new releases from streaming services such as Netflix end up meaning quite a lot. The release of The Devil All the Time is one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time, as it is an adaptation of a popular novel by a relatively seasoned filmmaker and since it features an absolutely incredible and star-studded ensemble cast. It is a dark, bleak, and depressing film that will likely divide audiences, but I have to say that it had my complete interest for the entire run-time. It isn’t necessarily a film that will be remembered years from now, but it is a dark and gripping slow-paced drama about violence, religion, and America. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Devil All The Time (2020)”

REVIEW: #Alive (2020)

South Korean Theatrical Release Poster – Lotte Entertainment

The following is a review of #Alive — Directed by Cho Il-hyung.

Some say that by now the zombie movie genre has been done to death. But, in recent years, I’ve enjoyed watching South Korean films attempt to reanimate it. With Train to Busan and its sequel Peninsula, Yeon Sang-ho revitalized the horror subgenre and gained a worldwide audience. With #Alive, Cho Il-hyung may benefit from the recent interest in South Korean zombie films, as it has recently been given a worldwide platform on Netflix. I’m happy to report that Cho’s film fits right in with the Train to Busan-films as it is a South Korean zombie film that is very easy to recommend to fans of the horror subgenre.

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REVIEW: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of I’m Thinking of Ending Things — Directed by Charlie Kaufman.

Charlie Kaufman is perhaps an acquired taste. I know for sure that there are people who struggle to get on the same wavelength as the writer-director, and I also know that this film, in particular, is difficult for some people to vibe with, understand, or even sit through. The Oscar-winning screenwriter turned to directing in 2008 and, though he is somewhat of a critical darling, his films have since struggled to find financial success. Kaufman’s latest film, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is an ambiguous and patience-testing unconventional psychological thriller, and it will likely lead to both mixed reactions and — since it is a Netflix film — incomplete viewings. But if you know what to expect with Kaufman, and if you stick with the film, you will be treated to a fascinating and uneasy Rohrshach test in the form of a 134-minute-long straight-to-Netflix feature film.

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REVIEW: Boys State (2020 – Documentary)

Release Poster – A24 / Apple TV+

The following is a review of Boys State — Directed by Jesse Moss & Amanda McBaine.

Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s Boys State is a documentary about an American leadership and citizenship summer program that teaches young Americans about how politics, government, and campaigning works. Although the documentary focuses on a ‘Boys State,’ there are apparently identical summer programs for young women. The documentary focuses on the 2018 Texas Boys State and the gubernatorial campaigns of the competing Texas Boys State parties the Nationalists and the Federalists, during which it becomes clear that young Americans have learned a lot about politics from the difficult and contentious state of American politics. Continue reading “REVIEW: Boys State (2020 – Documentary)”

Double Feature: Jack O’Connell – Special Features #72

A couple of weekends ago, I noticed that two films that had been on my watchlist for a very long time had been released on HBO Nordic. What these two films had in common was their lead actor. Both films featured British actor Jack O’Connell prominently. O’Connell is a BAFTA Award-winning young actor who I had previously only seen in the British horror flick Eden Lake, so I didn’t know a lot about him. Therefore I spent the weekend checking out both films to familiarize myself with one of Britain’s finest actors of his generation. Continue reading “Double Feature: Jack O’Connell – Special Features #72”

REVIEW: Tenet (2020)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Tenet — Directed by Christopher Nolan.

In December of 2019, I sat down in an IMAX theater to watch the ninth episode of the so-called Skywalker-saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Accompanying the latest Disney space opera was an early preview of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film Tenet. The lengthy, overwhelming, and jaw-dropping clip was riveting and showed a lot of promise. As a Star Wars fan, it hurts to admit that that clip was so good, in fact, that the Disney-film it preceded struggled to live up to it. In fact, during the last eight months, I’ve thought a lot about that preview, while I have yet to revisit The Rise of Skywalker. Christopher Nolan’s ambitious spy flick has, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, been proclaimed to be the potential savior of the theatrical experience, which has, understandably, struggled immensely this summer. Continue reading “REVIEW: Tenet (2020)”