So it’s finally getting towards the most average time of a film critics year, the month before Oscars come out when we have to play catch up on movies that we missed so that we can take part in the cinematic discourse of which films are the best films of this weird, weird year.
The list of musicians that decided to try their hand at directing a film isn’t exactly large, especially in comparison to musicians who’ve acted in a film. People like Rob Zombie and Barbra Streisand proved that you could make big waves in music and be a respected director… then there are people like Madonna and Fred Durst who proved that sometimes you should probably stick to music. So, where does Sia fall in this- second. She’s in the second group, she should just stay in the world of music because if this film is an indication of what she’ll offer to cinema, I’d rather she stuck to music.
Sometimes I wonder exactly what devil Pixar made a deal with in order to produce its films, because it’s getting to the point where their output is just consistently great. Even their worst film (The Good Dinosaur, I will not be taking arguments at this time) is better than what a lot of their competitors make and when they hit something out of the park it turns into one of the best films of all time. This year they already made one great film with Onward, which got shafted due to the pandemic, and were meant to release Soul in June. That pandemic made them pull Soul and then they had to rethink its release… enter Disney+, which now houses the best Pixar film of the year in Soul.
In this, the year of perpetual pain and suffering, one of the moments that shocked the world was the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman. Probably best known for his work as the Black Panther, Chadwick had an amazing career playing legends from Jackie Robinson to Thurgood Marshall to James Brown and it seemed like he was destined to take over the world as an actor before we lost him far too young. When this happens to an actor in their prime, it’s always curious to know what the last film released featuring that actor and how would such a film reflect upon their legacy… in Chadwick Boseman’s case? Don’t be surprised in a few months when we hear his name read among a list of Oscar nominees.
Drag has been given something of a resurgence lately thanks to the phenomenon of RuPaul’s Drag Race. While Drag has always been around, recently it’s exploded in the mainstream with the hit reality series. Now, not only do we have Drag Race, there’s the horror equivalent in Dragula, a campy queen version on YouTube in Camp Wanakiki and probably a half dozen others for various kinds of queens.
From TV shows like AJ and the Queen (which should’ve had more than one season and I will die mad upon that hill) to movies like Cherry Pop or the Hurricane Bianca series, we’ve seen a huge uptick in entertainment focussed around drag queens. Well, Stage Mother is another one of those, it doesn’t exactly do anything new but I can’t think of a better way to introduce the topic than to point out that this movie probably wouldn’t exist without that explosion in drag.
So, we’re approaching the final quarter of the year. The home stretch. The time when the fat lady starts warming up so she can hit the high note. The point when everyone should have started working on the “Good Fucking Riddance 2020” banners that we will all be hanging up because this year has been, to quote Jake Tapper, a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck. This has definitely been reflected in what has been available at the cinema.
The year was 1989, Ted ‘Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winters) were visited by a time traveler named Rufus (The late great George Carlin) who was tasked with helping them pass a history test, a most excellent adventure that made up the plot of a film that had the truly strange title Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
It almost instantly became a beloved cult film, it’s popularity leading to a sequel 2 years after and a short lived cartoon series. Sadly, for the last 30 years or so Bill & Ted haven’t been able to have many adventures, mostly because Ted keeps running off into The Matrix or stopping buses from going under certain speed limits or seeking vengeance for his dog. Well, now that the world’s slowed down a little I guess we can have one more adventure with everyone’s favourite slackers.
So yesterday I talked about the movie Magic Camp and compared it to the cinematic classic Sister Act 2, except Magic Camp was crap. The idea of a team of underdogs learning some kind of art in order to win a competition is nothing new but when done right it can be a lot of fun. If Magic Camp is an example of taking this story setup and handling it badly, then Work It is a great example of taking that setup and actually making something fun out of it.
The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the greatest and strangest things that we, as a society, have ever put together. A competition show like no other, it’s where Abba became world famous and it’s regularly known for having the weirdest and wildest acts to ever be put on the stage. It’s one of those things that’s so perfectly weird that it seems like it should be almost impossible to parody, making jokes about Eurovision is a little bit like putting a hat on a hat but Will Ferrell certainly tried and what he ended up with was… interesting.
About 2 years ago I talked about a film called God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in the Darkness, a biblical sermon disguised as a film made by people who don’t know how films work. In that review, I made the point that a film is going to need more than just religion to work for me. Sure, religion can be an element, but if the entire thing is basically a sermon then I’m not going to be kind to it no matter what the religion is. Enter I Still Believe, a biopic (of sorts) about a contemporary Christian musician named Jeremy Camp and how he met his first wife while making his rise to fame. In theory, this film does what I’m talking about. Faith is a huge factor in the story but there is a story outside of the faith. In theory, I’m OK with this. In practice, it’s a hard pass from me.