REVIEW: Palm Springs (2020)

Andy Samberg as Nyles (left) and Cristin Milioti as Sarah (right) in Palm Springs. — Photo: Hulu.

Directed by Max Barbakow — Screenplay by Andy Siara.

I am a sucker for time loop movies, and, like most people, I have been a huge fan of these films since I saw Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day as a kid and fell in love with the concept and the film. Although I had seen him in the original Ghostbusters film prior to my first viewing of Groundhog Day, his quintessential time loop classic from 1993 was actually the film that made me a true fan of Bill Murray.

Similarly, Edge of Tomorrow, another fantastic time loop film, boosted Emily Blunt’s career, and, though it may be too early to tell, the Happy Death Day-film series ought to do the same thing for Jessica Rothe. Every time loop film released after 1993 stands on the shoulders of Groundhog Day, and, even though Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day are great films in the subgenre, there are many films that fail to build off of that formula in a satisfying way. Fortunately, Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs is a refreshing and timely (more on this later in the review) time loop film.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Palm Springs (2020)”

REVIEW: Emma. (2020)

Mia Goth as Harriet Smith (left) and Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse (right) in Autumn de Wilde’s ‘Emma.’ — Photo: Focus Features.

Directed by Autumn de Wilde — Screenplay by Eleanor Catton.

Autumn de Wilde’s feature film directorial debut, Emma., is a romantic-dramedy period piece based on the 1815 Jane Austin novel of the same name, which has been adapted numerous times. Autumn de Wilde’s film takes place in the early 19th Century and it follows its privileged titular character, Emma Woodhouse (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), as she interferes with her friend’s love life. Her friend, the sweet but impressionable Harriet Smith (played by Mia Goth), is attracted to a Mr. Robert Martin (played by Connor Swindells). But, instead, Emma thinks that Harriet should pursue a romantic relationship with the local vicar, Mr. Elton (played by Josh O’Connor), even though it’s clear to everyone except for Emma and Harriet that he is actually attracted to the title character. Continue reading “REVIEW: Emma. (2020)”

REVIEW: Shorta (2020)

“Shorta,” Still Image — Photo: Tine Harden / Jacob Møller / Scanbox.

Directed by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid — Screenplay by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid.

Shorta (which is apparently an Arabic word for ‘police’) is a Danish action-thriller about the so-called blue wall of silence, i.e. a tendency for police officers to withhold information and not report on their colleagues’ misconduct. The film follows two police officers — Jens (played by Simon Sears) and Mike (played by Jacob Lohmann) — who are on patrol. In the film, law enforcement has been asked not to go into the fictionalized ghetto ‘Svalegården’ since the last significant encounter between police officers and the inhabitants of Svalegården led to officers kneeling on the back of the neck of a young man, Talib Ben Hassi, who is, at the beginning of the film, in a coma. Continue reading “REVIEW: Shorta (2020)”

Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Jan. ’21: ‘Cobra Kai’ and ‘Uncle Frank’

Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, and Peter Macdissi in ‘Uncle Frank,’ — Photo: Brownie Harris/Amazon Studios

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at Alan Ball’s latest film, Uncle Frank, starring Paul Bettany and Sophia Lillis, and I talk about how I’ve binge-watched the delightful YouTube/Netflix Original Series, Cobra Kai. Continue reading “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Jan. ’21: ‘Cobra Kai’ and ‘Uncle Frank’”

REVIEW: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020 – TV Series)

Photo: Eike Schroter / Netflix.

Series Created by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House; Doctor Sleep) — Available on Netflix.

I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Flanagan for a couple of years now. He is a horror-focused filmmaker, who hasn’t yet made a huge misstep. Instead, he has actually made some of the previous decade’s very best horror films. Gerald’s Game was one of the best and biggest film surprises of 2017, and his sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, was phenomenal. On Netflix, he has also been given the chance to create, direct, and shepherd the outstanding horror series The Haunting of Hill House, which was such a runaway success that it became an anthology series. The Haunting of Bly Manor is the next chapter of that great horror anthology series, and, even though it is not as good or memorable as Hill House, Bly Manor is another great entry in Flanagan’s increasingly impressive horror oeuvre. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020 – TV Series)”

REVIEW: The New Mutants (2020)

New Mutants Still Image
‘The New Mutants,’ Still Image — Photo: Claire Folger / 20th Century Studios.

Directed by Josh Boone — Screenplay by Josh Boone & Knate Lee.

For a while there, it seemed like Josh Boone’s The New Mutants would never see the light of day. They wrapped principal photography in September 2017 and originally planned for an April 2018 theatrical release, but, right when Disney executives were working overtime to acquire Fox, the film was delayed over and over again. The film which had been developed by 20th Century Fox was ultimately released by Disney’s 20th Century Studios in the middle of a global pandemic. It felt like the film was quietly being swept under the rug, which may not be far from the truth as the film was the final film from the Fox-era of X-Men. Originally, I was very interested in the film after having seen the early marketing material, which made The New Mutants seem like a true horror film. Now that I have finally seen the film, I can say that the early trailers were more memorable than the film, which is messy and poorly paced. But I will say that it definitely isn’t the complete and utter trainwreck that the constant release delays may have led you to believe. It’s not good, but it certainly isn’t the worst Fox-developed X-Men film. Continue reading “REVIEW: The New Mutants (2020)”

REVIEW: Mulan (2020)

Liu Yifei as the title character in ‘Mulan (2020),’ available on Disney+. — Photo: Disney / Disney+.

Directed by Niki Caro — Screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin.

Niki Caro’s Mulan is an adaptation of the late 1990s Disney animated film of the same name, which itself was based on the story of the folk heroine Hua Mulan. Caro’s film tells the story of a Chinese woman, Mulan (played by Liu Yifei), who disguised herself as a man and enlisted herself in the Imperial Army to protect her frail and injured father, Zhou (played by Tzi Ma), even though she knew it would bring dishonor to her family. In the film, while fighting alongside other brave soldiers, she must do all that she can to save China from an invading army that is fighting alongside a witch (played by Gong Li). Continue reading “REVIEW: Mulan (2020)”

REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Seasons One and Two (2019/2020)

The Mandalorian Still Image
‘The Mandalorian,’ Still Image — Photo: Disney / Disney Plus / Lucasfilm.

Had it not been for the fact that I think there is a notable jump in quality from the first to the second season of the Disney+ Original series, it would’ve been really difficult for me to separate the two first seasons of the first-ever Star Wars live-action series. You see, while, for Americans, there was an entire year in between the two seasons, Disney+ didn’t arrive in Denmark until September of 2020, and Disney made the decision to release the first season week-by-week. They did this so that when it ended, the second season would be ready to begin, but they also did it in an attempt to keep people on the streaming service for as long as possible. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Mandalorian – Seasons One and Two (2019/2020)”

REVIEW: Soul (2020)

Soul Still Image
‘Soul,’ Still Image — Photo: Disney / Pixar.

Directed by Pete Docter — Screenplay by Pete Docter, Mike Jones, and Kemp Powers.

For years, critics all over the world have praised Pixar for their storytellers’ ability to make animated films that appeal to people of all ages. Often animated films will only reserve a couple of jokes to please parents and other adults, but Pixar tends to go the extra mile and provide us with films that enthrall both children and adults such as Coco, Up, and the Toy Story-films. However, with their latest film, Pete Doctor’s Soul, I think that Pixar has made an animated film that actually appeals more to adults than children. I have even had conversations with friends, who agree that Pixar’s latest great animated film actually feels like a film designed primarily for a grown-up audience. However, even though that could be true, Pete Docter’s Soul is yet another home run from an exceptional animation studio that is as good as it has ever been. Continue reading “REVIEW: Soul (2020)”

Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Dec. ’20: ‘Unhinged,’ ‘The Good Traitor,’ and ‘Equinox’

Vores Mand i Amerika Still Image
‘Vores Mand i Amerika,’ Still Image — Photo: Katalin Vermes / Nimbus Film.

In the first-ever monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at a solid Danish film from 2020, I tell you whether or not you should watch the new Danish television series that was released on Netflix on New Year’s Eve, and I also finally tell you what I think about the Russell Crowe starring vehicle Unhinged. Continue reading “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Dec. ’20: ‘Unhinged,’ ‘The Good Traitor,’ and ‘Equinox’”