A courageous gut-punch. That’s the best way to describe Matthew Heineman’s recently released documentary The First Wave. We have been in the COVID-19 pandemic for over a year and nine months, so traveling back to March 2020 feels like a lifetime ago. Viewers will feel this when watching this documentary, so one can only imagine how it feels for the medical professionals on the frontlines who have been in this from the start. Highlighting the great job done by the medical professionals, The First Wave shows us the raw emotion of the early days in the pandemic that must been seen by everyone in order to understand what these heroes have been going through.
Musicals can always draw people from a particular audience even if they’re not the biggest fans of the genre (myself included). For that to be possible, you need a hook within minutes of the studio logos appearing on screen. And that’s exactly what Tick, Tick…Boom! does with a great opening number from Andrew Garfield to start the movie’s monologue that draws us into this upbeat dream-chasing story. Thanks to an Oscar-worthy performance from Garfield and impressive direction from Lin-Manuel Miranda in his directorial debut, Tick, Tick…Boom! is an engaging musical that pays tribute to Jonathan Larson and the magic of theatre.
From film versions of Shakespeare plays like Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V as well as adaptations of Agatha Christie novels Murder On The Orient Express and the upcoming Death on the Nile, to studio fare like Thor and the live-action Cinderella remake, Kenneth Branagh has dabbled in a plethora of film genres to the point where he has become as prolific a director as he is an actor. This year, he releases a film that’s smaller and more personal to him in Belfast, a film that not only won the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, but also has cemented itself as a prime Oscar contender this awards season despite its flaws thanks to strong performances from its acting ensemble, gorgeous black and white cinematography, and confident direction that tells its story with powerful intimacy and heart.
No hyperboles are in the title for the review of this movie. As someone who is against clickbait, I only speak in truths. When you look at the cast and crew assembled for Eternals, it has the makings to be the best Marvel Studios project since Avengers: Endgame. Seriously, go to IMDB and look at everyone in this movie and tell me I’m wrong. Instead of an epic rivaling the latest Avengers movie that could make a statement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Eternals is repetitive, filled to the brim with dull moments and exposition, and is almost void of joy. Brace yourselves for the most disappointing movie the MCU has ever offered.
Giallos are far from the most accessible horror subgenre; a lot of them are often sold as straightforward horror films but end up being slow-burn mysteries with little gore and suspense until the third act, while the journeys within them are populated with several jarring mood changes and shifts in tone. Leave it to the genius of writer-director Edgar Wright and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns to make the genre accessible for general American audiences with Last Night In Soho, a mesmerizing, engrossing and eerie mystery-horror film that wears its Italian giallo influences on its sleeve, takes viewers back in time to 1960s London with a massive, energetic soundtrack, and is as wondrous as it is unnerving thanks to creative visuals.
In the ongoing push for more creators from diverse backgrounds in the film industry, one of the most prominent filmmakers in the world of animation has been Mexican writer-director Jorge R. Gutierrez, who first made waves on Nickelodeon with his cartoon series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera and feature film The Book of Life. Gutierrez continues to be a voice to pay attention to with Maya And The Three, a new Netflix animated miniseries that tells a marvelous, fantastical tale for families of all races and ages to find enthralling thanks to gorgeous animation and stellar performances from its voice cast, as well as Gutierrez’s energetic writing and direction.
Ever since his feature film directing debut in 1977, Ridley Scott has been a master of crafting the epic movie no matter the genre, from the Crusades-set Kingdom of Heaven and the Oscar-winning Gladiator set in ancient Rome to the sci-fi dystopia Blade Runner and several films in the Alien franchise. He succeeds once again in the epic genre with his latest film, The Last Duel, which tells a grand and timely yet intimate and secular tale based on actual events with an innovative story structure that’s not without its flaws, but they’re more than made up for by strong performances from its cast, authentic set and costume design, an ominous tone and thrilling action sequences.
When it comes to the stories that make the biggest headlines, we assume the big news outlets are reporting most of the information accurately. Thankfully, however, documentaries play a big role in developing the entire story from start to finish, making the stories we thought we knew even more captivating, jaw-dropping, or unheard of. National Geographic’s The Rescue is another story we thought we knew, but the entire story is even more unbelievable thanks to the remarkable work, findings, and research by filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who also made the 2018 Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo.
Every year, more than a handful of nonfiction movies present topics on current-day issues. Most stick the landing, at the very least. But whether the stick with audiences much longer than just a few hours after their viewing, is a whole other story. This year’s movie that presents a current-day issue (or crisis) that we as a whole country face in such a powerful way is Mass. While there are no easy routes or clear resolutions by the end of its story, Mass presents its issues with force, veracity, and sincerity that are hard to ignore.
Filmmaker Mike Flanagan has blazed a trail unmatched by most other filmmakers since 2016. From Hush to Doctor Sleep and the two Haunting series, Flanagan has become a household name in the horror genre. But with the release of Midnight Mass this weekend, the 43-year-old has now cemented himself as one of the absolute best filmmakers in the entire industry right now. No one can question that statement after viewing all seven episodes of Midnight Mass, which is a methodically captivating horror story and arguably Flanagan’s best work to date. Anyone ready to be converted to the House of Flanagan and his mastery of character studies, exploration of themes, and expertly crafted horror settings should join him in his service that is Midnight Mass.
The lyrics, beats, dance routines, and messages put together in musicals have created some of the most memorable movies in cinematic history. However, musicals don’t work if more than one of these components fail to hit a high note. And in the case of Dear Evan Hansen, almost everything, aside from some of the music, just flat out doesn’t work or even make a case for having made this Broadway-hit into a movie. When you mix together the cast led by a poorly miscast titular character, complex messaging and offbeat pacing, it makes for just an oddly-made movie that’s more head-scratching than inspiring.
CM Punk hailed the arrivals of Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole as being more important than the debut of The Outsiders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash when they jumped ship from WWF to WCW in the 90’s, resulting in the infamous Monday Night Wars. AEW All Out 2021 felt like the biggest legitimate threat to the WWE empire since those times, featuring some spectacular matches, including an all-timer inside a steel cage from The Young Bucks and The Lucha Brothers.
One of the most promising things when it comes to film right now is the idea of “spiritual sequels” to successful horror movies from decades ago. This first started with 2018’s Halloween, which turned out to be a Grade-A sequel to the 1978 classic. Last month, it was announced that Universal Pictures was making a spiritual sequel to the mega-hit 1973 horror film The Exorcist that will star Leslie Odom Jr; this too can be great given the right script and direction. Right now, Universal is the only studio to go down this path of reintroducing horror icons years and years later. I love the concept of bringing these franchises to the present with the mythology intact because there’s so much you can do. And now, we are presented with another spiritual sequel in the form of a Jordan Peele-produced (and co-written) sequel to 1992’s Candyman. Unfortunately, however, this Candyman is anything but thrilling or buzzworthy.
The partnership between film distributor LionsGate and production company Millennium Media has been shaky as far as their output in the action movie genre is concerned; for every box office success like The Hitman’s Bodyguard and The Expendables franchise, there’s an underwhelming disappointment like the 2019 Hellboy reboot and Angel Has Fallen. Thankfully, their latest collaboration, The Protégé, is on the former side of the spectrum thanks to strong direction from Martin Campbell, entertaining action sequences, and solid performances from Michael Keaton and Maggie Q. Read more