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Friday, January 29, 2021

[6.25/10] Our Friend (2021)

Our Friend (2021)

Quick Review: Not half as graphic or devastating as Teague's powerful essay about his dying wife, on which "Our Friend" is based on, if still gut- wrenching, the film skips the most terrifying details and centers more on the dynamics between the family and their bestie before and after the fatal diagnosis in nonlinear style of narrative, which evokes very mixed emotions throughout, but the lead trio work well together in order to depict this tragic real-life story in an affecting, plausible way.

[5.00/10] Tarung Sarung (2020)

Tarung Sarung (2020)

Quick Review: Part teen romance, part martial arts flick a'la Karate Kid, part cultural drama about religion, traditions, and natural heritage, this one has a typical run-of-the-mill plot about a spoiled wealthy guy seeking atonement for his misbehavior, and it is as cheesy as it sounds, not to say it takes an hour for any action to kick in, and though the training scenes are fun, the actual 'Sarong' fighting is unspectacular, with Yayan Ruhian being the best bit about this Indonesian mish-mash.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

[7.50/10] Deliver Us from Evil (2020)

Deliver Us from Evil (2020)

Quick Review: The child trafficking theme has enough unsettling depth to compensate for the trite premise, plus, the revenge subplot fits in well with the main story, emphasizing the contrast between the likable hero and the ruthless villain, both played brilliantly, but this violent thriller also impresses with a slick photography and edgy camera work that benefit from the Jap and Thai settings, and some frantic fist combats, cut-throat knife fighting, bombastic explosions, and intense car chases.

[4.75/10] The Closet (2020)

The Closet (2020)

Quick Review: "Insidious" meets "Conjuring" with a 'nasty child' twist, not only this Korean supernatural horror heavily borrows ideas from the films above, but it also contains pretty much every 'haunted house' trope - from property with dark past and vengeful spirits to paranormal inspector and visions of the beyond, and the end result is a trite 'ghost story' with fine acting and looks, but zero frights, minus the 'boo' ones, and some wannabe be ghastly, but actually cheesy imagery.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

[6.25/10] One Night in Miami... (2020)

One Night in Miami (2020)

Quick Review: There's an original and interesting idea behind it, due to a clever script that gathers black legends in a fictional meeting full of substantial dialogues on racial and religious subjects, the cast is fairly convincing and fully dedicated, and the sleek cinematography, fine retro vibe and warm colors add aesthetic value to it too, but King's decision to put four people in a hotel room and make them talk, argue, and fight for over 90 min gets a bit tiresome and exhausting after a while.

[6.25/10] Don't Tell a Soul (2021)

Don't Tell a Soul (2021)

Quick Review: The illogical actions of the two brothers with contrasting personalities, both finely-portrayed by Grazer and Whitehead, make the whole 'captive' situation implausible, bordering on absurd, but this bleak heist-gone-wrong thriller goes in an unexpected direction, as a result of series of surprising twists and turns which help it maintain the suspense throughout its brief runtime, though it is Wilson's intimidating, often eerie performance that effectively delivers some memorable chills.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

[7.50/10] The White Tiger (2021)

Quick Review: A vivid depiction of India's cultural chaos and distinctive beauty, deftly utilized as a backdrop of one ambitious and crafty young man's colorful and engaging rags-to-riches journey, elevated by lively narrative, sharp editing, and skillful camerawork, "TWT" transforms from light and joyful to grim and obscure in a darkly comic fashion, much like the shifty nature of its obedient and loyal-turned-impure main hero, who Gourav portrays near flawlessly with heart, vigor and passion.

[6.00/10] Ballsy Girl a.k.a. Forte (2020)

Ballsy Girl (2020)

Quick Review: A bit awkward and not necessarily funny, yet charming, often moving, and at times inspiring, this is a fish-out-of-water dramedy about an unattractive 'tomboy' girl trying to discover and express her feminine side through pole dancing, and though it's a seemingly shallow premise, the film luckily manages to convey its 'stay true to who you are' message earnestly, mostly thanks to Bedia's frank lead turn as Nour, who challenges herself to cope with her confusing identity crisis.

Monday, January 25, 2021

[7.00/10] Herself (2020)

Herself (2020)

Quick Review: Delicate, sweet and moving, but above all inspiring, this Irish drama benefits from  McCann's heartfelt turn as the selfless, loving and diligent single mom struggling to provide for her kids, if determined to build a house, "Herself" is a much about home abuse, trauma, PTSD recovery, moving forward, and not giving up, as it's about help, support and humanity, which turns it into an emotional roller coaster of a family story told that peaks in a dramatic, yet truly uplifting last act.

[5.50/10] Hunted (2020)

Hunted (2020)

Quick Review: A modern, twisted, if cruel take on "Red Riding Hood", this EU horror deserves credit for its daring approach, but sadly it's the sub-par execution of this clever idea that ruins it, along with the inexpert acting, despite Worthalter's strive to portray the psychotic 'snuff' sadist convincingly, and though "Haunted" delivers some tense moments and violent scenes of sheer brutality, it goes crazily over-the-top during the third act, becoming unintentionally funny and pretty absurd.

Friday, January 22, 2021

[6.50/10] News of the World (2020)

News of the World (2020)

Quick Review: A beautifully-filmed XIX century western, taking place in North Texas, "News of the World" is long, quiet, and far from eventful, as it is a simple road trip story about a town-to-town traveling news reader, stumbling upon a little girl raised by Kiowas, but the movie remains fairly engaging throughout, thanks to Tom Hanks charismatic, low-key turn, the genuine bond the main characters develop as the plot unfolds, as well as some poignant moments during the emotional third act.

[6.25/10] The Ultimate Playlist of Noise (2021)

The Ultimate Playlist of Noise (2021)

Quick Review: Sweet and sincere, if corny and lacking depth, this one plays it as a 'road trip' friendship- turned-semi-romance dramedy, but underneath that, it is an emotional tear-jerker loss, grief, sickness and support, told from a positive point of view, and led by two likable leads, though the story works best not in its cutest or most dramatic bits, but when it makes you appreciate the audio we take for granted sounds, voices, noises and music.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

[4.75/10] Fatale (2020)

Fatale (2020)

Quick Review: Swank is miscast, but does it her best as the psychotic detective, even if her character is underwritten, as is Ealy's, though he doesn't seem to care, but that's not even the worst part about "Fatale" a stylishly-shot, yet horribly generic and highly predictable stalker affair with cheap thrills and little to zero suspense that wastes the talent of its cast, due to a weak script that's too contrived to make its far-fetched story a tiny bit plausible, or at least to work in a 'fun' manner.

[6.50/10] Anything for Jackson (2020)

Anything for Jackson (2020)

Quick Review: A disturbing, eerie, and effective blend of captive thriller and occult horror with supernatural elements and some gore, not only "Anything for Jackson" generates a spooky tone and delivers some big chills, but it deftly takes a diabolical turn you will never see coming, and though its last act isn't as horrifying as expected, it's still a nightmarish story about death and resurrection, which 'messes' with the beyond in a darkly amusing fashion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

[6.75/10] Synchronic (2020)

Synchronic (2020)

Quick Review: The 'time travel pill' concept feels fresh, but the film also works as a tense paramedic thriller with a buddy story at its center, due to the chemistry between the leads, and a balanced script with enough dramatic twists to keep you on your toes, which makes "Synchronic" on one hand a psychedelic experience with clever ideas and snazzy effects, wrapped in a trippy mystery, and on the other -- a touching story about family, friendship, humanity, morality and sheer selflessness.

[6.00/10] Rent-A-Pal (2020)

Rent-A-Pal (2020)

Quick Review: For a slow-burner, it should have had a more shocking climax, and it drags too much here and there, but "Rent-A-Pal" is still a refreshing entry into the  genre with grim tone and proper '90s feel and look, led by the unsettling turn from Wheaton as the oppressed, deeply desperate Andy looking for love, but ending up with an uncanny digital friendship instead, and his portrayal of deep loneliness leading to sheer insanity is as sad as it is disturbing, and even scary at times.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

[6.50/10] Minari (2020)

Minari (2020)

Quick Review: An intimate look at immigrant S.Korean family pursuing the 'American dream' in the 80s, set against the lush backdrop of rural Arkansas -- one that depicts their struggles in a genuine manner and with great depth -- "Minari" is a very simple and uneventful, but well-told story of family bonds and human's connection to nature, with the most moving bit being the younger-older relation between David and Soonje, who Yuh-Jung Youn makes the most distinguished character.

[5.75/10] Kajillionaire (2020)

Kajillionaire (2020)

Quick Review: Every bit as quirky and eccentric as its title suggests, if in a kinda forced and artificial way, this one plays it as an urban heist dramedy about a hippie family of 3 who go for every penny, which puts them in tons of cringey situations, but in its core, it's about the cold relationship shared by the parents and their moody weirdo daughter, who builds an oddly endearing bond with a surprising character involved later on in the film that turns out to be the best bit about it.

Monday, January 18, 2021

[6.00/10] Outside the Wire (2021)

Outside the Wire (2021)

Quick Review: Pretty dragged out, hence overlong, far from clever, and stealing ideas from other sci-fi and action films, yet flaunting some slick droid effects, suitably dingy imagery and effectively-staged gunfires and high-octane combats, "Outside the Wire" disappoints with a trite super- soldier concept and derivative 'man vs machine' war scenario with a few easy-to-predict twists along the way, but it's still a showdown of Mackie's charisma and his ability to carry a movie, if a middling one.

[6.25/10] Dating Amber (2020)

Dating Amber (2020)

Quick Review: Crude, if adorable and funny, yet poignant, but above all delightfully Irish, this is not your typical teen rom-com, nor a corny dramedy -- revolving around two gay teenagers who act like a couple to avoid bullying and dealing with identity crisis and the struggles of coming out, as well as those being a misfit -- "Dating Amber" ends up a true crowd-pleaser, thanks to the chemistry between the lovely leads and the truly sweet friendship their likable characters share.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

[5.50/10] Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

Quick Review: A campy blend of war movie and creature feature, this small-scale action horror with wacky concept relies on Moretz's ability to carry it, being 90% focused on her alone, and though she does a great job, and makes out the best of the narrow setting her fierce character is placed in, the end result is a brisk and occasionally thrilling, if uneven and senseless romp, whose sappy twist midway somewhat takes away from all the 'monster fun'.

Friday, January 15, 2021

[4.75/10] Locked Down (2021)

Locked Down (2021)

Quick Review: Shot and set amid the current pandemic, it centers on a broke-up couple stuck in a house during lockdown, giving an intimate look at their messy relationship as a sample of the bigger picture in this situation, involving lies, confessions, sex, drinking, fighting, work and lots of talking, and showing Hathaways' tendency to overact, but this stagey chemistry-free rom-drama is simply a long set up for a heist sub-story in the third act, which turns out to be the only fun bit about it.

[6.50/10] Spontaneous (2020)

Spontaneous (2020)

Quick Review: An inventive mix of a passionate high school romance, cute coming-of-age story and dark, but wildly funny horror comedy with an explosive twist and tons of blood, "Spontaneous" is utterly delightful in its absurdity, blowing up bodies like balloons when you least expect, and splashing the screen with gore, but it's the love story of the feisty Mara and the sweet Dylan along with their tender chemistry that drives the film, with Langford giving one f**kin' blast of a central performance.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

[7.25/10] Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Pieces of a Woman (2020)

Quick Review: From the intense, nearly half an hour long home birth prologue sequence, filled with pain and anxiety, to the heartfelt finale, this is a deeply intimate story of loss and broken bonds that explores the contrary ways of coping with grief by juxtaposing the uneasy Sean played with true edge by LaBeouf and the seemingly numb, if quietly sorrowful Martha, who Kirby portrays brilliantly through her nuanced and affecting turn, which the film exploits to work as a character study too.

[6.50/10] Life in a Year (2020)

Life in a Year (2020)

Quick Review: Yet another teen love story with huge dramatic twist, but one that's quirky, adventurous, spirited, wild at heart, and genuinely romantic, indeed, "Life in a Year" is an emotional roller coaster of a film with focus on true love and devotion as priority in life, regardless of the devastating circumstances, which is entirely driven by the explosive and beyond credible chemistry between Jaden Smith and Cara Delevingne, the latter of which delivers her very best performance so far.