Gold – Movie Review

TL;DR – Brutal, uncomfortable, and completely compelling.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan subscription that viewed this film

Gold. Image Credit: Stan.

Gold Review

When you are creating a film that wonders into the Survival genre, there are two very different ways you can engage your audience. The first is through shock, a sudden event or trauma like a bear attack. Or you can slowly pull everything away from people like a tide coming in or an approaching winter you are not ready for. Today we look at a film that explores the latter, but instead of the chill of winter, we get the brutal, unrelenting heat of the desert Sun.   

So to set the scene, some time, someplace, not far from now, a man is sitting in a train carriage boosting a ride in cargo. Man One (Zac Efron) has the clothes on his back and not much else as he walks out into the desert heat at Greenview Outpost. He is heading to the compound in the restricted Eastern Territories and gets a lift with Man Two (Anthony Hayes) through the inhospitable landscape. Man One goes off to take a leak after the car blows its radiator, which is when he spots something shiny in the desert, a gold nugget.

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Finch – Movie Review

TL;DR – An emotional journal to find safety in a world that has fallen into disaster.     

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this film.

Finch. Image Credit: AppleTV+.

Finch Review

One genre I have always found interesting is that of the lone survivor. Why they were left alone could be from them being forgotten, marooned, left behind, well, anything. Fighting against the elements and even time to survive. Indeed, Tom Hanks is famous for playing a similar situation in Cast Away, so you knew it had to be an exciting premise to get him back into this realm.

So to set the scene, in the not-so-distant future, a solar flare wiped away Earth’s ozone layer exposing the globe to a massive surge of radiation and also setting off a global EMP. This baked the planet, killing nearly all the plants, animals, and of course, humans. One of the last people alive is Finch (Tom Hanks), who has survived in St Louis in the basement of the robotics company he worked at. He has one mission, to finish building Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) an android, so there would be someone to look after Goodyear/Dog (Seamus) after he was gone. Things were going well until a supercell arrived. It will last for over 40 days, 40 days too long. So they all have to make a trip across the country to safety.  

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The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’s Carnage Through Italy Mapped

TL;DR – We map the carnage The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard takes across Italy

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard). Image Credit: Roadshow Films.

Map-It Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard –

When I sit down to watch a film, I don’t always think, “How can I map this?” However, there are some films that, in the first few moments, I get a gut feeling that I am going to need to take notes because we are going on a wild ride. One such film that had this effect was the recent Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

This film starts in Capri and then goes on a reign of carnage across the Italian Peninsular. It is also one of the easier maps to make because the movie was (usually) quite clear as to where all the action is taking place. There is only one spot on the map Trieste, where I have had to guess because they filmed it, but they don’t say that in the film. Please enjoy the map below, but one quick warning shows the whole movie, so there will be some [SPOILERS] below.    

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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.

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The Little Things – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A film where the lack of consistency and drive leave you wondering what went wrong.   

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

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

The Little Things. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Little Things Review

There are times when you see a cast list and a concept, and you have a level of excitement because all of these factors should lead to a solid film. However, this is not always the case as there can be a myriad of reasons what a film does not stick the landing. Well, today we look at just such a movie filled with Oscar-winning actors that all seem to be in different films.

So to set the scene, we open with a young lady driving home down a dark street in an isolated stretch of the Southern Californian countryside. Then a car approaches from behind and forces her off the road near a diner. As she bangs on the closed doors for someone to hear her, the assailant opens the boot of his car to retrieve a bat and duct tape. The next day we come to Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington), a Kern County Deputy Sheriff, and someone clearly too old to be in such a low position. He is tasked to drive back to his old posting in Los Angeles to pick up some evidence for a court case. When there, he is roped back into his old homicide department by the new guy LASD Det. Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) because there is a murderer on the loose.

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Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie – Movie Review

TL;DR – An improvement on this style of story, but an odd juxtaposition holds it back.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie. Image Credit: Netflix.

Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Movie Review

 

One way that Netflix has tried to differentiate itself in an increasingly bifurcated market has been the implementation of ‘choose your own adventure’ films. These echo back to an old style of storytelling, but while the nostalgia has been interesting, none of them has been able to nail the technique so far. However, if anyone has a shot at it, it would be Bear Grylls for the entertainment factor alone.

So to set the scene, we open in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, where we find Bear Grylls (Bear Grylls) running from a lion only to reach his car to find it locked. We then jump back earlier in the day to find Bear inspecting a fence to see that something had broken through and that the fence that should be electric is not working. You have to fix, the power, find a baboon, and stop a lion all before a storm comes in.

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First Blush – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film looking at people trying to find other people to plug that hole in their lives   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

First Blush. Image Credit: Gravitas Ventures.

First Blush Review

There has been a lot of reframing of traditional relationships in the post-modern era. However, when cinema has started to explore this realm, it rarely explores this world’s realities. Today we have a film that gives it a solid try if nothing else.

So to set the scene, Nena (Rachel Alig) and Drew (Ryan Caraway) are a mostly happy married couple living in Los Angeles. While everything is good, it does feel like they are sleepwalking through their lives until one day Drew plans a surprise birthday party for Nena with her annoying friend Carrie (Jordee Kopanski). The party is a bit rubbish, but while they are there, Carrie runs into Olivia (Kate Beecroft), and soon their worlds come crashing together.      

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Awards – Tension That Kept You On the Edge Of Your Seat In 2020!

Well we have looked at Emotion, and then swung wildly across the spectrum to Fun, and now we are completing that trifecta with looking at Tension. Tension is one of the most challenging facets of filmmaking to pull off because it requires the script, direction, acting, and editing to all work in tandem to evoke the perfect pace. If just one part of that group misses then an essential part of the film falls apart.

In 2020 we continued to see some excellent use of tension used to build mystery, or to be the harbinger of the coming dread, or even the ticking clock of inevitability.   

So without further ado, these are the moments of tension that kept us on the edge of our seats in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question.

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Awards – The Costumes of 2020 That Made Us Say ‘Hot Damn’

You can use many techniques to help build your world, ground your setting, or give dimensions to your characters. You can use music, you can create elaborate sets, but one of the best ways is the costumes you make.

People instantly judge a character within moments on the screen, and the outfits are an essential part of that first impression. More than this, you can also use costumes as a way for storytelling, what do they say about this world, what do they say about how a character is progressing. 

Costumes can build worlds, tell us details we can only see, but also they can make us say ‘hot damn’ look at that beading on that dress, that must have taken hours to do. So without further ado, these are the costumes that made us say ‘hot damn’ in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, please click on the banners to be taken to the full review.     

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Awards – Explosions, Guns, and Punches, Oh My. The Best Action of 2020

A good Action sequence is something that is truly amazing to watch, as it can be as expansive as explosions crashing across the screen, or more intimate, like a duel between two people. This gives the best action scenes such a range and in 2020 we were given some truly amazing spectacles.

For me, the best action scenes are those that excel in every element, whether that be live actions, special effects, digital effects, or animation and bring every facet to shine. It is also the category that looks at some of the department’s people don’t often fully understand like stunt coordination or the 2nd unit.

So without further ado, these are the moments of action that awed us in 2020. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners to see the reviews of each film.

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