We live in a time where crime re-enactment shows are back and bigger than ever. With hit TV series like American Crime Story, films like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile or even hit podcasts like Serial, we can’t get enough of stories about murderers and the crimes they committed. This obsession has been around for years but it really hit the big time in the 90s when the O.J. Simpson murder trial became must-see-TV and effectively took the True Crime genre into the stratosphere. Of course, whenever there’s a genre this popular it will inevitably get a few people parodying it. We’ve all seen a thousand various parodies of Making a Murderer, Netflix ended up just making an official parody of their own hit series with American Vandal. It’s an easy genre to make fun of but there was one movie that beat them all to the punch, possibly one of the earliest to parody this genre right before its big O.J. related explosion… the cult comedy Serial MomContinue reading “Serial Mom (1994) – Mommy Dearest”
Released: 14th June
Seen: 25th August
The murder mystery genre has been kind of slow lately, the last major film in the genre being the Murder on the Orient Express way back in 2017. It’s always been a pretty fascinating genre, a large scale whodunit where someone is murdered and we follow the investigation into who the killer is. Often these movies would maybe take place in one location with everyone staying put so they could figure out who the killer was without having it spread. It’s also a genre that’s ripe for parody, as films like Murder by Death or Clue have proven how the genre can be taken to create some genuinely great comedy… and then there’s Murder Mystery, the store brand version of a comedy-mystery movie with all the ingredients and none of the flavour.Continue reading “Murder Mystery (2019) – Whodumbit?”
Released: 7th March
Seen: 14th August
I do not think there is a more controversial director working today than Lars Von Trier. His films have an extraordinary ability to divide an audience in 10 minutes. You either love his work or hate it and there is no real room for anything between those. He is one of the few true auteur filmmakers who also helped invent an entire movement in cinema known as Dogme 95, which I highly recommend looking up because it is kind of insane and will go a long way into explaining why Von Trier’s films are the way that they are. Now I’ve always been iffy on Lars, enough that I have just kind of avoided his work. I saw Antichrist years ago, a film that I consider one of the great comedies of all time (provided you watch it directly after you watch Irreversible) and I’ve seen clips of Melancholia but I have had no real desire to watch any more of Lars’ movies… and then I decided to be a reviewer and he put out a film that I would need to watch and talk about, so I’m not exactly in a great mood right now but mostly I just need a nap.Continue reading “The House That Jack Built (2019) – Get Me A Wrecking Ball”
Released: 28th June
Seen: 10th August
In 1971 the world learned the answer to the immortal question “Who’s the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks?” and turns out, that answer would be an icon of blaxploitation cinema and one of the most badass characters to ever appear on film. John Shaft started as a detective novel before his original trilogy of movies (Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score and Shaft in America) and even ended up with a TV series in the early 70’s before the character was retired until the character was revived in 2000 for a brand new Shaft movie that did fairly well but didn’t get any sequels… until now. Now it has a sequel that did poorly at the box office, was distributed internationally on Netflix and is currently the most critically panned movie in the entire franchise. Does it deserve that kind of treatment? Is the film really bad enough to deserve to be relegated to the trash heap of cinema history? Kind of, but only because it’s kind of bland.Continue reading “Shaft (2019) – Daft”
Released: 17th May
Seen: 8th August
The concept of Time Travel in cinema is one of the most fun and irritating plot concepts we’ve ever come up with. Fun because it allows us to explore history and do variants of “Person from today is stuck in the past” stories that present a fish out of water narrative. Irritating because, every single time it happens, people try to logic the hell out of the time travel and explain why it wouldn’t work that way as though time travel was an actual thing and not a storytelling device meant to act as the most threadbare framework for an actual story. This was evidenced earlier this year with Endgame where people ignored the larger story about acknowledging the past of an entire universe of characters and showing the drastic change and growth of everyone involved and instead said “Actually it makes no sense that they all travelled like that, time travel doesn’t work that way” in a whiny high pitched voice, not unlike Urkel with his testicles in a vice. In case it isn’t obvious, I do not care if the Time Travel element doesn’t make sense because it never has to. It is a variation on the MAGIC SCIENCE that was used in Happy Death Day 2U and nothing more. Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s talk about one of the newest entries into the Time Travel genre and the first Netflix film since Someone Great that actually got a reaction out of me.Continue reading “See You Yesterday (2019) – Timely”
Released: 3rd May
Seen: 4th May
Even though we don’t like to admit it, on some level our society has always had a fascination with serial killers. There’s a reason why we have so many crime re-enactment shows, why there are magazines sold that talk about brutal crimes, movie monsters are inspired by some of the most evil people to have roamed this earth. One of the most infamous men to have ever disgraced the earth with his existence was Theodore Robert Bundy AKA Ted Bundy, a vile murderer who brutalised over 30 women, performing acts so disgusting to all of them that it’s impossible to believe he was ever even remotely close to human. The story of his evil is so horrifically fascinating that it’s been the source of over half a dozen movies and documentaries, a recent Netflix series that became controversial almost instantly as it seemed to fail to actually offer any actual insight beyond what we already knew. Now we have a bright, glossy, star-studded film that tries to cram every strange and disturbing detail of the demonic bastard’s crimes into 108 minutes that was directed by the same man who created the aforementioned Netflix series… and god damn do I mean it when I say they just crammed it in there.
Released: 25th January
Seen: 22nd February
On the 1st of February in 1982, the television sketch comedy series Not the Nine O’clock News aired an episode that contained a song called “Nice Video, Shame about the Song”. The song was a satire of the recently created MTV and in particular the music videos that had begun littering it with insanely strange yet interesting imagery that accompanied substandard songs. This was the era when all you needed to make it in the music industry was a confusing “artistic” music video that ran through every new tool that was made available at the time. The Not the Nine O’clock News team satirized this by making the most garishly elaborate video they possibly could, complete with images of comical satanic rituals and Elizabethan dress-up, all set to a song that was intentionally designed to be confusingly bad. It’s one of the most gloriously pointed critiques of the music video genre and the phrase “Nice video, shame about the song” became a bit of a personal shorthand for films that worry so much about looking cool that they don’t bother thinking about things like plot, character or dialogue. Films like Avatar or Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are films that I would put into this category… and now, we can throw Polar into that very specific group of films
Released: 7th February
Seen: 18th February
In America today, one of the major issues is the way people are shuttled through the prison system, specifically people of colour. Thanks to a large amount of systemic racism that poisoned the prison system, African Americans now make up over a third of the prison population while only making up roughly a tenth of the American population. For me to go further into the details of what this means would be a pointless aside, though if you want the full context you’re going to need for this film then I suggest watching the amazing (and should’ve been Academy Award winning) documentary 13th on Netflix. The story of the prison system and what it has done to black American’s is the backdrop for If Beale Street Could Talk and while you might not need that bit of knowledge, it will make the film a richer experience.
Released: 24th January
Seen: 2nd February
In 2014, the New York Times printed an article titled “The Sinaloa Cartels 90-year-old Drug Mule” about a man named Leo Sharp who spent around a decade as one of the biggest drug runners for El Chapo. Dubbed Tata (The Grandfather), Leo would drive around the country in an old truck with hundreds of pounds of cocaine in the back. He’d go undetected due to his age, his clean record and by how fragile he could appear. The article itself is a fascinating read, exploring just how a senior citizen could go from being a veteran to transporting potentially thousands of kilos of cocaine. It’s a tale that seems tailor-made to be a movie and I guess Clint Eastwood thought that too because now we get a film about the 90-year-old drug mule and honestly, it’s not that bad.
Released: 26th December
Seen: 27th December
In all of literature, one of the most beloved and adapted characters is that of Sherlock Holmes. The story of a genius detective who goes around solving crimes, defeating Moriarty and working with his friend Dr Watson is the stuff of legends that everyone has had a crack at. He’s been in action oriented films, weekly episodic TV shows, miniseries, he was a gnome at one point, an animated rat another time, a doctor for a very long period of time and even a Japanese puppet. Sherlock Holmes has been everything and in every kind of movie… and now, he can add “Awful unfunny comedy” to the long list of film projects he’s been associated with.