Hustlers (2019) – The Hustle Is Deep

Released: 10th October
Seen: 11th October

You’d think that there’d be a lot more films about exotic dancers. After all, it’s a job that can contain the three things that people love more than anything. Sex, drugs, and dancing to remixes of Britney Spears songs. Still, it feels like there aren’t that many major hit films about exotic dancers. There’s the infamous Showgirls, maybe some people remember the 1996 film Striptease and there are, of course, the two recent Magic Mike movies (the second one is better, I will not be accepting arguments on this), I know of Zombie Strippers and Full Monty but that’s about all I could name off the top of my head. There are others but not many that are giant mainstream hits and certainly none that would really get any kind of buzz as being more than just a fun movie to enjoy on a night out with friends… well, then Hustlers came along and said “Fine, I guess we’ll have to give you everything you ever wanted” and just ran away with every bit of my heart.

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Joker (2019) – I Started A Joke

Released: 3rd October
Seen: 3rd October

There’s an old Looney Tunes episode called Show Biz Bugs where Daffy and Bugs are going head to head on a stage doing various acts and Daffy finally has enough and pulls out “The act I’ve been saving for a special occasion”. The act consists of Daffy wearing a devils outfit and walking on stage and drinking a bottle of nitro-glycerine, then a goodly amount of gunpowder and some uranium-238. He then shakes it all up inside him, throws a lit match down his throat and explodes. The crowd goes wild and Bugs yells “Daffy, that’s terrific. They want more!” and Daffy’s ghost says “I know, but I can only do it once”. That’s kind of how I feel about this movie, it’s a fantastic trick to pull off but they can only do it once.

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Serial Mom (1994) – Mommy Dearest

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 Mom

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Murder Mystery (2019) – Whodumbit?

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.

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The House That Jack Built (2019) – Get Me A Wrecking Ball

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.

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Shaft (2019) – Daft

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.

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See You Yesterday (2019) – Timely

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.

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) – God Damn That’s A Long Title!

Released: 3rd May
Seen: 4th May

Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile Info.png

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.

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Polar (2019) – Sub-Zero-Par

Released: 25th January
Seen: 22nd February

Polar Info.png

 

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

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If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) – Let Them Talk

Released: 7th February
Seen: 18th February

If Beale Street Could Talk Info

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.

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