Doctor Sleep (2019)

On paper, making a movie out of Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining probably sounded like an excellent idea.  Both the original novel and the sequel were best-sellers.  The movie (released in 1980) remains one of the most iconic adaptations of his books, alongside Carrie, The Dead Zone, Salem’s Lot, Cujo, Christine.  King has long been on record as hating Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of his novel, to the point where he approved a mini-series adaptation that was broadcast in 1997.  While much more faithful to the novel, most people still tend to point to Kubrick’s version as the definitive version.

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Enola Holmes (Netflix)

I admit that I am not an avid follower of Sherlock Holmes.  While I have seen From Hell and both of the Robert Downey Jr. movies, I’ve only watched a few episodes of PBS’s Sherlock.  I have not watched any episodes of Elementary.  Even with my limited exposure to the character, I understand him well enough to be able to follow along with the plot of Enola Holmes.

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Gemini Man (2019)

Will Smith is one of the most likeable actors I know.  He’s confident, but not cocky.  

Assured, but not full of himself.  Funny, but not comical.  Serious, but not intense.  When he flashes his sly grin, you feel like he just filled you in on a crazy secret.  As an action star, he’s a natural, going all the way back to Independence Day in 1996.  Who can forget him punching an alien invader in the face and then taunting by saying, “Welcome to Earth!”  In a way, his career is similar to that of Tom Cruise.  Smith doesn’t approach his roles with Cruise’s jittery energy or maniacal sense of desperation, but like Cruise, he clearly is having fun.

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Les Misérables (2019)

A man reaps what he sows.

Watching Les Misérables is like watching a prophecy filmed a year ago about the social unrest in America today.  The only difference is that the movie is located in France.  The film’s no-frills direction, realistic acting and white-knuckle pacing made me feel like I was watching a documentary.  The film won the 2019 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, and was nominated for Best International Feature for the 2019 Academy Awards.

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Fighting with My Family (2019)

Florence Pugh had what many actors would consider to be a career year in 2019.  She starred in Midsommar and Little Women, earning an Oscar nomination for the latter.  Her first movie out in 2019 was actually Fighting with My Family, and if I had seen that movie before the other two, I still would have been convinced she was a star in the making.  Together, the three films  showcase not just how nimbly she adapts to different genres (horror, period piece and comedy), but how convincingly she acted in each of them.  If it weren’t for COVID, I’m sure we would all be talking about her role in Black Widow, but we’ll have to wait until November (at the earliest).

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The Hunt (2020)

“The most controversial movie of the year!”

The “controversy” surrounding this movie was manufactured by the president himself, who dissed the movie in an angry tweet.  I doubt he watched this movie himself, and instead relied on his handlers to confirm how awfully it treats his beloved red-staters.  Those evil Hollywood liberal elites!  Damn them!  Damn them all to hell!

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Mulan (2020)

Bravery – Truth – Loyalty – Devotion to Family

When I initially heard that Disney was doing a live-action version of Mulan, I thought I wouldn’t bother to see it.  I hadn’t seen the original cartoon, released back in 1998.  Back then, my wife and I had been married six months, so I believe she and I mostly saw films targeted for adults back then.  While I was familiar with the plot of the animated film (a young girl with exceptional fighting prowess and no interest in marital affairs takes her aging father’s place in the Imperial Army), I never sought out watching it.  I’ve never had more than a passing interest in kung-fu movies, or movies based in the ancient orient that involved a lot of swords clanging and people flying around.

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