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.
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.
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.
Even without the title of this review, I probably don’t have to spew more than a few words into this piece before you, the reader, will know that The Mitchells vs.The Machines is another good animated movie from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I mean, seriously. Anytime Lord and Miller have explored animated movies, they’ve struck gold. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—all three of these are delightful in their own ways and are arguably some of the best animated movies from the past 15 years, so I had little fear their new feature debuting on Netflix tomorrow would disappoint. It didn’t and the results deliver an intelligent, often hilarious, animated movie that is both relevant and telling when it comes to how most people have become more than dependent on technology these days.
If there’s one area that Netflix has shifted a bit of its focus to for original content in recent years, it’s the animation department. While some of their animated shows have been great, none of their animated movies has been knock-out-of-the-park material or memorable (if memory serves right) for this critic. And while I liked Netflix’s Over the Moon, released last year (and is now nominated for Best Animated Film at the upcoming Oscars), I wasn’t over the moon (insert chuckle here) about it. However, Netflix has a gem with Arlo the Alligator Boy, which drops on Netflix tomorrow. This sweet, wonderful 2D animated tale is a must-see for families and animated film lovers alike. Filled with great original songs and a message that should resonate with all, Arlo the Alligator Boy is an animated musical we’ll be talking about for the rest of the year.
It’s hard not to wonder what will happen to any of the kids who star in Stranger Things, Netflix’s most popular original show of all-time, once the series concludes. We already know that Millie Bobby Brown is on her way there, having starred in some higher profile movies since audiences got to know her as Eleven. And while I don’t doubt that she might go on to have a successful film career, I do think Caleb McLaughlin is starting to make a case for how good an actor he could be in the future with Netflix’s Concrete Cowboy. Nowhere is the boy wonder charm we see him as Lucas in Stranger Things. With Concrete Cowboy, comes a mature McLaughlin, who helps steer things in this mostly engaging drama about urban cowboys in Philadelphia. Read more
I’ll be honest: faith-based movies usually fall at the bottom of the totem pole or desire for me to watch. It’s only because these faith-based movies are typically low on production values coupled with very, very bad acting. And I get it: most faith-based movies rely on low budgets to be successful (like most horror movies) these days. But they’re never my cup of tea. However, Netflix has invested seemingly more money in A Week Away than any faith-based movie I can recall in some time. The results? Well, story-wise, it’s predictable with a High School Musical spinoff vibe where religion plays a role. However, some of the musical numbers shown are entertaining and show how talented some of the young cast members are, which bodes well for their futures.
If you had guessed that a grainy black and white film with a scene involving macaroni and cheese would eventually sell for $30 million during the middle of a pandemic, please reach out to me to collect your prize. Conceived and shot during the middle of the pandemic, Malcom & Marie is another drama you can file under “a story that entirely takes place in one setting with no more than two actors that appear on screen.” Approved by multiple organizations that greenlight the shooting of films, the production was scaled back in order to follow COVID-19 protocols. While the production itself may be more fascinating than the film itself when it’s all said and done, Malcolm & Marie is still a drama worth sitting through. Sure, it may not be the awards contender Netflix was hoping it would be, but it’s still a fine film with two great performances from two actors who are currently on hot trails in Hollywood.
Spooky season is officially here. And no, we’re not talking about the upcoming election, which is less than a month away now. It’s October, officially fall, and we have chilly weather. And with all those things coming together, chilling tales about things that go bump in the night also have arrived. While the well for new horror content is a little shallow this year due to the ongoing pandemic, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Mike Flanagan’s follow-up series to The Haunting of Hill House, was able to finish production just before the onset of the pandemic. Read more
Netflix has had numerous hits and misses over the years when it comes to their original content. They can sweep the nation with a show like Stranger Things, and they can misfire with a show such as Fuller House. With Space Force, fans and critics thought we were getting a show similar to The Office. Maybe not filmed the same way, but similar in the sense of following a guy who is under qualified for a position who makes silly, humorous mistakes along the way. It actually isn’t a show like that at all. That doesn’t necessarily make it bad, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Read more
These past few weeks certainly have been challenging, stressful, and, well pick your synonym, for most people around the world. So much uncertainty and despair has left many of us isolated at home instead of being out socially, going to the movies among other things. With movie theaters closed until the curve is flattened on the current pandemic, millions, like myself, are left with streaming as the only way to watch new movies in place of our theatrical experiences at our local multiplexes. Thankfully, Netflix is still rolling out new content on a daily basis, including original movies like Uncorked, which drops today. From director Prentice Penny, this dramadey about wine and family is just what the doctor ordered during these uncertain times.
On this week’s edition of ‘The Best Acting I’ve Ever Seen‘ – let’s talk about Netflix’s THE PUNISHER series, starring Jon Bernthal. Read more
2019 was a good year at the movies. Sure, 2019 brought us a handful of movies that I’ll surely revisit in the near future, but I honestly feel like it was a letdown year. But still, there were some great movies that came out in 2019. We experienced movies that acted like love letters to Hollywood. We experienced movies from a streaming service that turned in arguably more quality movies than any movie studio (their quantity also outweighed everyone else). We experienced movies that made Film Twitter mad. And finally, we experienced more movies that created all sorts of emotions, which continued to help us, the moviegoers, escape reality. These experiences are a part of why we love movies so much, and that is why we should always talk about the best of the best every year. Talk about the ones that deserve the attention. Ones that you may have not heard about that absolutely deserve your time (and money).