The Courier (2021) – It Absolutely Delivers

Released: 1st April
Seen: 25th August

The Courier Info

In a recent review of the movie Six Minutes To Midnight I pointed out that there were so many war films, particularly about the two big ones that the whole world took part in, that we had hit a point where it was hard to imagine someone doing something new with the genre. It’s grown stale, there is no real new story to tell and to back me up on this we have The Courier, a film that feels like it should bore me with its familiarity… but surprise, this one is actually good enough to work despite its recognizable tone.

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Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) – Thank God!

Released: 11th March
Seen: 9th July

Judas and the Black Messiah Info

Earlier this year we had the Oscars… and they were something of a shitshow. The lowest viewed ceremony in history, filled with baffling nominations that no one really understood (how the hell was Mank the most nominated film?) and an ending that was so cynically planned that it could only end in spectacular failure.

Like with every year I made a prediction post and this year I named two films that I had missed due to lack of availability. One of them was Judas and the Black Messiah, a biopic about the Black Panther party leader Fred Hampton. It would end up taking home best supporting actor and Best Song… my question is why it didn’t take home more because it’s absolutely brilliant.

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America: The Motion Picture (2021) – America, F**k Meh?

Released: 4th July
Seen: 5th July

You know, I probably should’ve watched this one on the 4th of July. Would’ve been more appropriate to watch a film supposedly celebrating America to watch on the 4th of July, even if I did release the review days later. Well, little behind the scenes trivia for you, I did try to watch it on the 4th of July but at the halfway mark I fell asleep so I figured I should probably watch it again when I was more awake.

Well, I have now done that and it turns out the problem wasn’t that I was too tired, but that America: The Motion Picture is just kind of boring.

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The Trial Of The Chicago 7 (2020) – Order In The Court!

Released: 16th October
Seen: 13th December

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Info

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Say, for the sake of argument, that you’re part of a group of protestors who disagrees with actions that’re taken by the president and decide the best way to do it is to get a large group of people to march and demand that someone listen to their grievances. Now, while this is a right of the people it is often denied by those in charge who would instead choose to ignore them… or, as a random example, send a large amount of police to instigate a riot, throw tear gas at peaceful protestors and beat innocent bystanders with clubs and shields only to then turn around and blame the very protestors who have been attacked.

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Dark Waters (2020) – Drink It Up

Released: 5th March
Seen: 30th August

Dark Waters Info

In 2005, chemical company DuPont was fined $16.5 million by the EPA for, essentially, poisoning the water supply of a town with Perfluorooctanoic Acid, a chemical used to create teflon. They were forced to pay this, along with several other settlements with people who they poisoned, thanks to a civil suit filed by Robert Bilott way back in 1999. The full scope of the poisoning and what it did to the people affected by it wouldn’t be known for years and the entire story is one of negligence and capitalism run rampant in a story we’ve heard time and time again, told in the film Dark Waters with a passion that cannot be denied.

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Greyhound (2020) – Explosively… fine

Released: 10th July
Seen: 7th August

Greyhound Info

It’s somewhat of a cliché to refer to movies about the war (any war really) as “Dad movies”, but it’s one that feels weirdly appropriate no matter what kind of dad you have. There’s something about the genre that just paints the image of a dad on a couch ignoring everything while watching some good old boys bomb some nameless bad guys who have accents and maybe a weird 4 legged spider on a flag. Greyhound is definitely playing to that kind of dad, but a dad who also has things to do and needs to get his movie watching done in under 80 minutes if it’s at all possible.

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The Current War (2020) – Shockingly OK

Released: 19th March
Seen: 6th July

The last time I got to see a film in a cinema was the 21st of March when I went to see Onward. Even back then I kind of knew that I wouldn’t be walking into a cinema for a while but no way could I have known it would be a little over 3 months. In that time we’ve watched as film after film has been pushed back to be released either in the latter half of this year or sometime in 2021, if not just sent straight to digital streaming where they probably should’ve gone in the first place (Hello Artemis Fowl) and I was left to wonder just what would be the first film I saw when the cinemas would reopen. Well, they finally opened my local up again and to the shock of no one, the pickings are slim so I decided to dive into a big theme of this year in cinema… “Hey, what’re the Avengers cast doing to follow up Endgame?”. Well, technically this film was made BEFORE Endgame but still, I figured seeing Dr Strange, Spiderman, Beast and Zod running around in period outfits and arguing about electricity would be a fairly good time and I almost got what I expected, so that’s nice.

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Midway (2020) – Midway Of The Road

Released: 30th January
Seen: 14th February

So… the guy who directed Independence Day and that really bad American remake of Godzilla wants us to take him seriously. Roland Emmerich, a director who only has 2 films that got above average reviews from critics, would really like it if you could look at his film Midway and say “Why, Roland, you are an artist who is right up there with all the other great war filmmakers”. I would love to say that, I genuinely would. I would love to have a fun subversive twist by ending this slightly sarcastic paragraph with the shocking reveal that this film is actually great… but I’m not a liar and “it’s average” is not enough, especially when the average Roland Emmerich film is so awful.

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The Last Witness (2018) – Badgering The Witness

Released: 29th May (2018)
Seen: 21st November (Lift Off Film Festival)

Sometimes you can tell everything about a movie just by a basic description of its genre and the descriptive term “Your average”. For example, if I said to you that The Prowler was your average 80s Slasher then you would have a good idea of what to expect from that movie. You automatically picture certain visual style, acting choices and even setting and as long as the movie hits those notes it’s fine. It might not be great but it’s fine. Well, The Last Witness is your average post-WW2 movie set in Britain. It delivers what you expect, but that’s about it.

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Judy (2019) – Over The Rainbow

Released: 10th October
Seen: 8th November

It’s probably fair to say that one of the most tragic figures in Hollywood history is Judy Garland. Performing since she was 2 years old, Judy went through the wringer despite having the kind of talent that should’ve made life easy for her. With her gifted comedic chops and a voice that no one else could even come close to, Judy had the kind of pure star quality that defied description… she was also turned into a drug addict by a mother who gave her uppers to perform and downers to go to sleep before she was ten. The head of the studio she did most of her early work at (Louis B Mayer, may he rot in hell) would have her living on chicken soup and regularly insulting her looks, calling her “my little hunchback” and putting her on amphetamine pills to help her lose weight (which was sadly common at the time). Go through any biography of Judy and you see the story of a woman who had more talent than anyone else that was repeatedly dragged down by a system that was willing to put her health at serious risk to squeeze every dollar out before discarding her. Her story is also one of resilience, of a woman who kept being knocked down and then got up again because you were never going to keep her down. Her last big moment was a British concert called Talk of the Town, the last thing she did before her early death in 1969. This biopic focuses on that brief period right at the end and that focus helps it, and it’s lead actress, considerably.

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