Land – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film where profound sadness and haunting beauty intersects on the mountains of rural Wyoming.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of the film.

Land. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Land Review

There is a genre of cinema that is sometimes derogatory referred to as a vanity project. This when a star gets enough clout to be able to direct their first film and then casts themselves in the lead role. These are usually overly dramatic works hoping to buy into that Oscar love. However, every now and again, you get a film that cuts through that noise and shows a real talent both behind and in front of the camera. With Land, we get just such a film and a phenomenal directorial debut from Robin Wright.  

So to set the scene, we open in Chicago with Edee (Robin Wright) in a therapy session, trying to talk about why she is alone with her pain and why she refuses to share it with anyone. She is there out of her sister Emma (Kim Dickens) insistence, who is scared that her sister might self-harm. Edee instead decides to sell everything she owns, rents a car and drives all the way to rural Quincy, Wyoming. Here she buys a cabin off the beaten track that was already off another beaten path to be alone from everyone. But living with no running water, electricity, or phone has more challenges than first encounters, especially when winter starts.

Continue reading

The United States vs. Billie Holiday – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film with one of the best individual performances I have seen in a long time, bolstered by an amazing supporting cast but ultimately held back by some odd stylistic choices.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene.

Warning – Depicts scenes of abuse.

Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday Review

Billie Holiday has one of those voices that you can instantly pick out. It has this uncanny ability to be soft and harsh all at once. When writing this review, I wondered when the first time was I had heard a recording of her performing? And it could have been off one of my grandfather’s records as he always had Jazz and Big Band playing. Or at the very least, it was on one of the radio stations in Fallout. But knowing about her voice, I realised before watching this film that I did not know much about her life at all. Well, today, I help fix that with a movie that charts some of the struggles she faced.

So to set the scene, we open with an older Billie (Andra Day) as she and her manager Miss Freddy (Miss Lawrence), sits down with interviewer Reginald Lord Devine (Leslie Jordan) to chart her life and explore why the government is so opposed to her. Well, we flashback in time to 1947, as a young soldier Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes) makes his way to a jazz club in New York City where Billie is about to perform a complete set, including the one song no one but the audience wants her to sing Strange Fruit. Someone who especially wants her to stop the song is Agent Harry J. Anslinger (Garrett Hedlund) from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

Continue reading

Love and Monsters – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it never quite gets to the heights it aims for, it is still a delightful ride with some stunning effects.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this film.

Love and Monsters. Image Credit: Netflix..

Love and Monsters Review

There are times when people can be stringent around how films can be categorised. Then films can come along and blow those strict delineations apart. You see it in movies like Zombieland or Warm Bodies, and we see it again today in the film we are about to look at.   

So to set the scene, in the near future, there was an asteroid Agatha 6-1-6 hurtling towards Earth. The governments grouped together to shoot it out of the sky, which they did. Unfortunately, the chemicals they used in all those rockets fell back down to Earth. They contaminated and mutated all the cold-blooded animals, from ants to crocodiles and everything in-between. While the militaries and the giant mutants wiped each other out, 95% of the world’s population died, leaving only those who were able to find security in bunkers. One of the survivors was Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) from Fairfield, California. He made it to safety, but he has a habit of freezing in front of the monsters, not a good long-term survival trait. After an incursion into their bunker, Joel makes up his mind to go out into the world make the trek 90 odd miles to where his old girlfriend Amiee (Jessica Henwick) now lives. Ninety miles of infested territory that is trying to kill everything.

Continue reading

Voyagers – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it is clearly treading across old ground, I still found the narrative and the cast to be compelling throughout.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene.

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Voyagers. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Voyagers Review

When you are talking about scenarios that immediately capture your attention, humans escaping Earth to try and colonise another planet to make sure humanity survives is one of those that immediately catches my attention. When it is done well, you are drawn into this world of desperation and struggles of leaving behind what you love for the unknown, but you lose the humanity for spectacle when it is done poorly. Today we look at a film that kind of swings between these poles in parts, but never the less left an impact on me.

So to set the scene, in 2063, the climate on Earth is steadily worsening as the planet warms, leading to the genuine suggestion that humanity might not survive as a species. However, in this moment of darkness, scientists find what they believe to be a habitable planet. The only problem is that it will take over 80 years to reach it with the current technology. This means that those who leave on the trip will likely not be alive when it arrives, and indeed it will probably be their grandchildren, the third generation, that will survive. Given the danger and pressure to get a scouting ship out as soon as possible, they decide to grow a purpose crew that has never seen the big open world so they won’t miss it during the long ride. However, that means they are just children, so Richard Alling (Colin Farrell), their teacher decides to join them on the one way trip into the dark to help prepare them for those moments when it all goes wrong.     

Continue reading

Nobody – Movie Review

TL;DR – An incredible violent romp through the suburbs after the Russian mob picked the wrong man to come after.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene.

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

Nobody. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Nobody Review

When John Wick first blasted onto the scene, it was this dramatic shift in how action movies could be presented. Instead of a disjointed mess, there was flow. Instead of shying away from the realities, you saw it all up close and personal. Many films have tried to copy that style with mixed success, but today we look at a movie that nails it, and all it took was the same writer and producer to make it happen.

So to set the scene, the film opens with Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), a man who goes through the same dull routine each week (which makes it surprising that he can’t remember to put out the rubbish). There is a growing distance between him and his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) that is exacerbated when the house is robbed, and Hutch lets his son Blake (Gage Munroe) get punched rather than take someone out with a golf club. But while the world sees Hutch as mild-mannered, or more clearly a wimp, he is actually a former CIA wet work expert known as an Auditor, which local Russian Mafia boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov) discovers the hard way when he comes after Hutch and his family.

Continue reading

Godzilla vs. Kong – Movie Review

TL;DR – A bombastic visual spectacle that explodes on the screen and never lets up.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene.

Disclosure – I was invited to a Press Screening of this film.

Godzilla vs. Kong. Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures.

Godzilla vs. Kong Review

There have been several attempts to create Cinematic Universes across modern cinema, but most of them have fallen flat. However, one of the few rays of light in this space has been the visual delight that has been the MonsterVerse. It has been bombast on the big screen, as giant monsters battle each other for supremacy as we watch on. Today, we look at the next film in that franchise that pits our two heroes from the previous movies against each other.     

So to set the scene, it has been several years since Godzilla became the alpha at the end of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. In that time, Godzilla has kept the other titans in their home areas, much to the joy of the humans living in the world. However, one day, Godzilla surges out of the water near Pensacola, Florida. The titan makes a beeline for the Apex factory tearing apart everything in its way. In the factory, a whistleblower Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), is trying to find what Apex is up to because they are up to something shady. Meanwhile, on Skull Island, King Kong is taking his daily walk when he comes across a little girl, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), in the forest. However, as they bond, Kong feels a threat coming and sharpens a tree javelin, ready to take it down.

Continue reading

Zach Snyder’s Justice League (The Snyder Cut) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A better film than the original, but some of the old flaws are still there, and with some new ones to boot.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

End Credit Scene – There is no end credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge subscription that viewed this series.

Zach Snyder’s Justice League Review

When the first Justice League came out, there were whispers of its difficult production but no hints about what went on behind the scenes. Looking back on my review of the first film, I don’t think I was as harsh with the film’s final cut as many other people were. However, that may have just been the feeling of inevitability as to where the DC Expanded Universe was heading. Since then, rumours of the Snyder Cut have permeated popular culture, creating a less than ideal back and forth between the different sides. Well, today, we get to see that original vision of the director come to pass, with the official cut being released on home media.

Continue reading

WandaVision: Previously On – TV Review

TL;DR – This week walks us through the past as it ratchets up the emotion

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a Mid-Credit Scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this episode.

WandaVision: Previously On. Image Credit: Disney+.

WandaVision Review

Last week I came into the episode with so much lift only to feel pretty meh about most of the episode right up until the last five minutes when it took it its delightful but yet menacing turn with “It Was Agatha All Along”, which coincidentally has been stuck in my head all week long. With that being said, it means I went into this week’s and also penultimate episode with a little bit more hesitation than I had all season up until that point.

So to set the scene, throughout last week’s episode Breaking the Fourth Wall, we got hints that something was about to come to ahead. Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olsen) magic was misfiring, Vision (Paul Bettany) was getting his life told to him by Darcy (Kat Dennings), Monica (Teyonah Parris) made it back inside The Hex gaining powers in the process, and Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) took the twins and did something with them while revealing that she is actually Agatha. This week, we start by jumping back in time to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1693, where we get to see a very different witch trial take place? Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some MAJOR [SPOILERS] ahead.

Continue reading

Judas and the Black Messiah – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a film that continues to show that Daniel Kaluuya is one of his generations best actors      

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Judas and the Black Messiah. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Judas and the Black Messiah Review

There are moments when a film is perfectly timed with what the world is going through, and after the 2020 Black Lives Matter protest movement, it was the perfect time to take a look back in time at the Black Panther movement. This film delves into a difficult time and explores the intersection of revolution and government control in America.

So to set the scene, we open in the FBI’s halls as its Director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen), who is railing against a Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) of Chicago who has the power and charisma to unite many of the different anti-government movements across the country. FBI agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) is looking for a way to get a mole into the local Black Panther organisation that Hampton leads when William “Bill” O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) falls into his lap after being caught impersonating a federal officer, and now they have their Judas.    

Continue reading

In The Land Of Lost Angels – Movie Review

TL;DR – An intimate exploration of a crime as it unwinds across the days.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

In The Land Of Lost Angels. Image Credit: The Filmbridge.

In The Land Of Lost Angels Review

In my exploration of cinema outside of my traditional Anglosphere, today I have another first. I think my previous investigation of Mongolian Cinema began and ended with watching The Hu on YouTube. Today, I take the first steps to fix that by looking at this brooding work of cinema.

So to set the scene, we open in the dark of a Los Angeles night. Ankhaa (Tumursukh Erdenemunkh) is on the phone back home telling everyone not to worry because his new job pays well, but clearly, this is not quite the truth. Along with his friend Orgil (Iveel Mashbat), they go through the motions of setting something up, including purchasing a gun, much to Orgil’s surprise. You are not sure where this is going, right up until they grab Scott (Mike Cali) from his car and slap a ransom note to the window.  

Continue reading