REVIEW: Toscana (2022)

Anders Matthesen and Cristiana Dell’Anna in Mehdi Avaz’s TOSCANA – Photo: Netflix.

Directed by Mehdi Avaz — Screenplay/Story by Mehdi Avaz & Nikolaj Scherfig.

Thus far, Netflix has tried, and tried again, to make the kind of Danish hit series that would rival foreign language series hits like Germany’s Dark. They haven’t succeeded yet, as most of their series just come and go without making much noise. Shows like The Rain, Equinox, Chosen, or Elves weren’t really it, even though some of them had their moments. The Chestnut Man is, in my mind, still the best Danish straight-to-Netflix series that has come out.

However, when it is released on Netflix internationally on June 2nd, the revival of the Danish political fiction series and international hit Borgen — with its fourth season subtitled Power & Glory — could still amass a large following outside of Denmark (the season actually completed its run on Danish television a little while back, and I may write about it in the future). Toscana, however, is the first Danish Netflix Original Film, which is of course a big deal for the streamer and for the film’s director. Unfortunately, it is a film that I can’t recommend because there really is nothing fresh about it.

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REVIEW: Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)

Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn learns a lot about alternate universes, sausage fingers, the IRS, and the value of googly eyes in the Daniels’ EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE. – Photo: A24.

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man) — Screenplay by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

It is exceedingly rare to find new original and genuinely inventive films made in the American film industry that also find an audience and make a lot of money at the box office. In that regard, already on paper, writer-director-duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — often referred to as the Daniels — have made a special surprise hit and something to be treasured. But it isn’t just special on paper. Everything Everywhere All At Once is an inspired and unique original film that captures Hollywood’s latest obsession at the right time and is a truly exceptional transportive and moving cinematic experience.

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REVIEW: Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Doctor Strange encounters dark magic and alternate universes in Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Directed by Sam Raimi – Screenplay by Michael Waldron.

Let’s be honest here. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), arguably the most popular film series of our current time, is really more a series than a selection of films. Martin Scorsese has referred to superhero films like those as theme park rides (which I still contend isn’t as dismissive as it has been received by the internet), and, with its cliffhangers, easter eggs, references, and overarching character arcs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for these films to stand on their own. Some of these Marvel movies, for better or worse, don’t even try to stand on their own (like Avengers: Age of Ultron). Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is one of those films.

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REVIEW: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

Nicolas Cage plays an exaggerated version of himself in Tom Gormican’s THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT – Photo: Lionsgate.

Directed by Tom Gormican – Screenplay by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten.

Nicolas Cage is incredible. He’s a legend. This film’s opening states as much. It is true, though. The Academy Award winner may have done a lot of cheaper straight-to-video B-films over the course of more than the last decade, but the star with a cult following has remained a wildly entertaining thespian through it all, and he hasn’t lost a step, like Michael Sarnoski’s Pig, from last year, proved. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent may not ultimately earn Cage as many critical accolades as the aforementioned Sarnoski film did, but it is a great comedic tribute to Cage, as well as a reminder to audiences all around the world that he’s still here, he never went anywhere, and he’s as entertaining as ever.

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REVIEW: Choose Or Die (2022)

Iola Evans and Asa Butterfield in Toby Meakins’ CHOOSE OR DIE – Photo: Netflix.

Directed by Toby Meakins – Screenplay by Simon Allen.

This is the kind of film that, not too long ago, would’ve been the kind of horror picture that could be released in theaters and earned quite a bit of money, like Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare, which this film reminded me of at times. Who knows, maybe it could’ve even done that right now in a post-lockdown America. We will never know because instead of being released theatrically this nostalgic tech-focused horror film was released without much fanfare on Netflix on April 15th. If you like those kinds of gimmicky horror films, then this might be the kind of film that you’d like to put on. But, with that having been said, I cannot recommend this fairly disposable horror feature, in spite of its relatively short 84-minute runtime.

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REVIEW: The Northman (2022)

Alexander Skarsgård has transformed himself to play the role that I think he was born to play in THE NORTHMAN – Photo: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch) – Screenplay by Robert Eggers & Sjón.

Inspired by Icelandic sagas and Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum legend of Prince Amleth of Jutland (the latter of which was supposedly the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet), The Northman is a $90 million budgeted epic viking revenge film from Robert Eggers, the director of the relatively low-budgeted indie ‘art house-esque’ horror films The Witch and The Lighthouse. It is a dirty, violent, blood-soaked, and brilliantly-made film, and it is easily Robert Eggers’ most accessible film, even though it definitely isn’t your average big-budgeted action film.

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REVIEW: Speak No Evil (2022)

Christian Tafdrup’s SPEAK NO EVIL is much more than just an unsettling culture clash – PHOTO: Nordisk Film.

Directed by Christian Tafdrup – Screenplay by Christian Tafdrup & Mads Tafdrup.

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, critics and festivalgoers alike were introduced to one of Denmark’s latest filmmaking provocateurs, Christian Tafdrup. The actor-turned-director got his career as a filmmaker started with his first two feature-length efforts Forældre (int. title: Parents) and En Frygtelig Kvinde (int. title: A Terrible Woman), the latter of which starred Amanda Collin (who you may have seen in HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves) and was a relative hit that provoked some audience-members. Speak No Evil — Tafdrup’s latest feature film — was received fairly well at the festival, and is, reportedly, one of the best films that actor Robert Pattinson has seen in many years. I won’t go that far, but I will say that I think this very unsettling Danish thriller is Tafdrup’s best film yet.

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REVIEW: CODA (2021)

Emilia Jones as ‘Ruby Rossi’ in Sian Heder’s CODA – Photo: Apple TV+.

Directed by Sian Heder – Screenplay by Sian Heder.

Whenever a film wins the Academy Awards’ Best Picture the spotlights start to assemble on top of it. People wish to poke holes in the film, call it overrated, and, in general, it suddenly has to live up to loftier expectations than it had to back when it was just a popular film. Moonlight was able to handle those spotlights, and it is still one of the previous decade’s great Best Picture winners (even though I preferred La La Land). Green Book, on the other hand, not so much.

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Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Early 2022: ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye,’ ‘The Afterparty,’ and More

Christopher Miller’s The Afterparty is available on APPLE TV+ right now. – Photo: Apple TV+.

In this edition of my recurring movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at one of the start of the year’s best shows, and I also give you my thoughts on a (currently) Oscar-nominated film. So, get comfortable, and get ready to read my thoughts on things like Apple TV+’s latest gem and the film that very well could earn Jessica Chastain her first Academy Award tonight.

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REVIEW: Nightmare Alley (2021)

Guillermo Del Toro’s NIGHTMARE ALLEY – PHOTO: Kerry Hayes / 20th Century Studios.

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro – Screenplay by Guillermo Del Toro & Kim Morgan.

Based on the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name (which was first adapted by Edmund Goulding in 1947), Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley follows a mysterious drifter named Stan Carlisle, who is hired by a carnival and soon becomes fascinated by the mentalist techniques that his co-workers have made a living off. When he leaves the carnival to thrive off the techniques that he has acquired, he became infatuated by the power of his act and the money that they lead him to. It won’t be long until he decides to fool the wrong person.

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