The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) – You Let Me Down

Released: 29th April
Seen: 11th July

The United States vs Billie Holiday

As I mentioned in my Judas and the Black Messiah review there were 2 films that were part of the major categories of this year’s Oscars that I didn’t get a chance to see in time. Judas was possibly the one I had the most chance of seeing, since it appeared in Sydney a month before the ceremony (but that’d involve a train ride into, what is still an epicenter of Covid cases). The one that would prove to be impossible to view in time was The United States vs. Billie Holiday… a film released on Hulu in the US back in February, because nothing says “thing that should be impossible to view legally” like a film put on a streaming platform. Anyway, it finally became available down here so I watched it and… well, I get why the only point of awards contention was the lead performance.

Continue reading “The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) – You Let Me Down”

In The Heights (2021) – The Highest Heights

Released: 24th June
Seen: 14th June (Advance Screening)

In The Heights Info

In recent years, musicals have been… well, bad. Music was offensive to many communities, The Prom was brought down by one truly bad performance and a lack of style while Cats… well, I try not to discuss war crimes on this blog so let’s just not talk about Cats anymore. For a while now it’s felt like we might never have another great musical outside of animation, and even those are slowly dying since musical animated films appear to be happening less and less often. Thank goodness we now have In The Heights to remind everyone just how great a musical can be, I hope this is the start of a glorious resurgence for this little genre.

Continue reading “In The Heights (2021) – The Highest Heights”

Sound of Metal (2020) – The Hills Are Alive

Released: 4th December 2020
Seen: 28th March 2021

Sound of Metal Info

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. 

Continue reading “Sound of Metal (2020) – The Hills Are Alive”

Music (2021) – Tone Deaf

Released: 14th January
Seen: 18th January

Music Info

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.

Continue reading “Music (2021) – Tone Deaf”

Soul (2020) – Soulful

Released: 25th December
Seen: 25th December

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.

Continue reading “Soul (2020) – Soulful”

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) – Her Bottom Is The Tops!

Released: 18th December
Seen: 20th December

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.

Continue reading “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) – Her Bottom Is The Tops!”

Stage Mother (2020) – Life Is A Drag

Released: 23rd October
Seen: 2nd November

Stage Mother Info

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.

Continue reading “Stage Mother (2020) – Life Is A Drag”

The High Note (2020) – A Little Flat, But OK

Released: 24th September
Seen: 30th September

The High Note Info

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. 

Continue reading “The High Note (2020) – A Little Flat, But OK”

Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020) – Excellent *GUITAR RIFF*

Released: 10th September
Seen: 16th September

Bill & Ted Face The Music Info

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.

Continue reading “Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020) – Excellent *GUITAR RIFF*”

Work It (2020) – Dance Magic Dance

Released: 7th August
Seen: 11th August

Work It Info

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.

Continue reading “Work It (2020) – Dance Magic Dance”