Too bad Freaky couldn’t have called itself “Freaky Friday the 13th”, since that’s basically the concept behind the movie. Freaky is a mashup of slasher movies (Friday the 13th, Halloween) and body swapping movies (Freaky Friday, Big). The combination of those two genres proves to be an original and rewarding one, producing scares, gross-out moments, tender moments and plenty of laughs. Highly recommended.
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Promising Young Woman is an in-your-face story of a woman taking revenge on men who take advantage of women. Carey Mulligan stars as Cassandra, a woman whose motives become clear as the movie progresses. Her performance is unlike anything she’s done before, and easily elevates her to the upper-tier of actresses working today. If you’re a woman, I’d think there’s plenty in the movie you can relate to. If you’re a self proclaimed “nice guy”, the movie is a splash of ice water to the face. Highly recommended.
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This limited series focuses on the mysterious disappearance and death of Elisa Lam while staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This story could have served as a fascinating single episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Unfortunately, what we get is four overly padded episodes that eventually confirm what I suspected all along. Worse still, significant time was devoted to talking head commentary that is irrelevant to the case, especially the commentary made by several self-described “YouTubers”, “web sleuths” and “journalists”. The commentary they made online at the time was entirely baseless speculation on what happened to Ms. Lam. The decision to include them along with the interviews of the actual detectives and forensic specialists involved in the case was a decision that turned what could have been a serious examination into the case into laugh-inducing material. Not recommended.
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Many great movies are based on a question. Sound of Metal asks two: would you be able to adapt to a major life-altering change to your body? Also, if you could get back what you lost, would you do it? The movie is the story of a heavy metal drummer who suddenly loses his hearing. He is given the opportunity to learn how to function as a deaf person, but he can’t let go of his former life. Riz Ahmed is excellent as Ruben, the drummer who is forced to learn how to live his life completely differently than before, but cannot let go of his former life. Highly recommended!
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While watching Minari, I couldn’t help but think: is farming the saddest profession? With so many variables out of your control, a happy and successful farmer would seem to be the exception to the rule. Farming requires you to deal with the weather, pricing futures, insects, water (or the lack thereof), the physical toll, bank loans, and so on, any of which could leave you teetering on the brink of insolvency. Being a farmer requires incredible fortitude, physical as well as mental. You have to fully acquiesce to whatever fate may bring you, good or bad. Minari fits squarely into the “tough life of the farmer” category of movies, and acquits itself well as a drama. Definitely recommended.
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The Trial of the Chicago 7 (or TTC7) presents itself as an historical reenactment, and it is that to a certain degree. Set during the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago in 1968, the movie is actually an Aaron Sorkin greatest hits package, with a bit of Oliver Stone visual razzle-dazzle thrown in to emphasize both the anarchy of the riots and the absurdity of the trial afterwards. Fans of Sorkin’s trademark rat-a-tat dialog will not be disappointed, but few of the performances stand out from the superficial treatments of their characters. Unfortunately, the directorial missteps outweigh the few good choices made, and the movie comes off more as a one-sided diatribe than an objective examination of the events presented. That the movie has a topical connection to present-day events some fifty years later does not give it a pass for its flippant regards towards history. Recommended for Sacha Baron-Cohen’s performance only.
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Pieces of a Woman asks a question we never want to answer: how would I handle the death of a child? The movie provides answers to that question through the perspectives of the mother, the father and the mother-in-law. The acting in the movie is exceptional, and the childbirth scene is a riveting scene to behold. After the initial tragedy, the movie becomes a character study in grief, and is effective because the performances are so honest. Recommended.
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