Best/Worst Movies of 2021

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Irishman12
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Sat Aug 14, 2021 12:46 pm

DON'T BREATHE 2

Stephen Lang is back as Norman Nordstrom aka The Blind Man to inflict punishment on those who break into his house and wish to take what's his. In this follow-up (although we're unsure how long after the events of the first film this takes place), Norman now has a daughter. After watching the previous film, I can only hope it wasn't in the way he originally intended to with Cindy and Rocky. Once again set in Detroit, the film opens with his daughter Phoenix (wonderfully played by 14-year-old Madelyn Grace) being trained survival skills by her unrelenting and harsh father. Before long however, a truck of criminals soon descends upon the house, looking for Norman and Phoenix. While there are some plot holes and the story isn't as strong as its predecessor, this surprised me as I wasn't too invested in seeing a sequel. However, in some ways it rehashes the original yet also expands upon it. The first film was a psychological thriller where sound was your enemy, which made for a very quiet film. This is the complete opposite: loud, violent, and bloody! It's also hard to be sympathetic to Norman's character after the events of part 1 and even parts of his storyline in this film. The film took a hard left about two-thirds of the way in that continued to raise my eyebrows as it grew but I'll give the crew and studio credit for having the balls to go through with it. Overall, I still prefer the original but this was a worthy sequel (still surprised I'm saying that) and could even be up for a third, given the right story. 6/10
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Sat Aug 14, 2021 1:02 pm

RESPECT

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson is perfectly cast as the late Aretha Franklin. Judging by the previews and Hudson's known musical talent, this seemed like an early Oscar contender for her (and even after watching it, I still believe that to be the case). However, she didn't do enough with the role to win me over and I see her gaining nothing more than a nomination, rather than a win. She plays Aretha wonderfully, always poised, respectful, and humble being able to show her full acting talents towards the later part of the film. However, her performance, and film overall, felt very average. It's bloated with a runtime of 2 hours and 25 minutes and a handful of scenes, particularly early in the film could have been trimmed down to assist with the films pace. Quite a bit of time is devoted to Aretha's youth to open with, which stalls any momentum out of the gate, before the audience is finally introduced to Hudson. She is remarkably surrounded by very strong supporting actors as well, especially when talking about Forest Whitaker, who plays her preacher father and Marlon Wayans who plays her first husband, Ted White. Both men are extremely demanding, controlling, and hard headed, who attempt to keep Aretha under their thumbs throughout the film, until she finally finds her self-worth and respect to stand up to the both of them. I wouldn't be surprised to see either or both of them land nominations as well (and I'd really be pulling for Wayans if that's the case). A film that looked to have more promise but failed in it's delivery. Unless your a fan of Aretha's, you can probably avoid the theaters for this. 5/10
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Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:12 pm

THE PROTEGE

Maggie Q stars as Anna, an assassin who's on a trail of revenge after her mentor (Samuel L. Jackson), is unexpectedly killed. Being this is a Lionsgate release, I'm sure the studio is hoping for this to become another of their franchises but I don't see that happening. For an action film, there's very few action scenes peppered throughout. I'm quite surprised with the cast they were able to assemble with Jackson, Robert Patrick, and Michael Keaton. I'm sure the studio was banking on their star power to bring in audiences but once there, you're duped by an average story that's all over the place, a weak villain who's not Keaton by the way (although that's not what the trailers want you to believe), and no other performances by any of the main players are of any significance. A very disappointing showing from director Martin Campbell, who's previous work alone within the James Bond franchise, proves he's capable of so much more. This is the type of film you take a gamble on while trapped on a long flight with nothing else to do. 5/10
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Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:13 pm

THE NIGHT HOUSE

Rebecca Hall stars as Beth, a recent widow, who's husband Owen committed suicide by shooting himself in the head on a boat in the middle of a lake outside of their home. Self-medicating with various amounts of alcohol, she begins to unearth aspects of her late husbands life she was not previously privy to. An onion of a film that continues to keep you guessing with each layer that's peeled away as the film progresses and does a wonderful job at building the audiences suspense when multiple, unexplained disturbances occur within the house (such as the stereo constantly being turned on in the middle of the night). This leads Beth to believe her house is haunted and that her husband may be trying to make contact with her from beyond the grave. There's a lot to unpack here and this is one of those films where a second viewing is needed to really absorb everything being presented. An interesting story and twist at the end. This probably won't make much noise at the box office and from the previews I was only mildly interested; however, after seeing it, I look forward to getting back on this roller coaster. 6/10
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Sun Aug 22, 2021 6:42 pm

REMINISCENE

In the future, Miami is a city underwater. As such, the future looks bleak, so society now turns to the past in order to cope via nostalgia (a water tank system people use to access and relive memories from their past). One day Mae, a nightclub singer, (Rebecca Ferguson) comes in to find her misplaced keys. Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackson) who oversees the nostalgia operation, quickly falls for the beauty. They soon develop a romance until suddenly Mae disappears without a trace. Head over heels for Mae, Nick frantically searches for her, while unexpectedly, uncovering a plot involving a rich property owner that has dire consequences for everyone involved. I'll give the writers credit for creating a new and enticing idea on paper, and even the initial setup worked; however, once Mae went missing and each memory of Nick's seemed to be another memory within a memory, it was easy to quickly lose interest. By the midway point, you're wondering what happened to Mae and for this story to be over with. A shame as the film had promise. 4/10
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Fri Aug 27, 2021 8:17 pm

CANDYMAN

A sequel to the original, this quasi-reboot stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy, an up-and-coming artist in the Chicago area, who becomes fixated on the Candyman myth. Yahya is passable as the main star, but the film only works when Candyman is lurking and slicing and dicing his victims. Otherwise, this is just another "woke" piece from Jordan Peele, who IMO, hasn't done much since GET OUT. This film had much promise going in to it, but didn't deliver with the finished product. 5/10
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Fri Sep 03, 2021 5:52 pm

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS

Like many of the Marvel audience who went into this film, I didn't know anything about this character outside of what the previews showed. However, upon viewing, consider me a Shang-Chi fan! This was a legitimate, straight up Marvel kung-fu movie the likes of which I'd never thought I'd see. Simu Liu stars as Shaun/Shang-Chi, a Chinese immigrant living an ordinary life in San Francisco, working as a valet with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina), until a gang of ruffians attack him on a bus in an attempt to steal a pendant he's wearing. The gang is successful in their attempt and as such, Shang-Chi travels to Macao in search of the pendant and his sister as she's next on the gang's hit list. Plenty of action throughout (especially early on in the film) and Awkwafina passably plays the bumbling sidekick. However, the film comes to a screeching halt when Michelle Yeoh's character is introduced and more backstory is given. A fantastic third act that I won't spoil for you save for spectacular CGI. A few cameo's throughout, especially one who winds up playing a prominent role upon his introduction. This was a very action packed, funny, and at times, touching film that hit on all the notes and I eagerly anticipate not only a second viewing, but a sequel! 8/10
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Irishman12
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Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:02 pm

WORTH

Based on true events, Michael Keaton stars as Ken Feinberg, an analyst who volunteers for the job nobody wants of attempting to determine how much a life is worth for the families of the victims of 9/11. Keaton is passable as Feinberg, who sticks to his formula's and numbers without getting emotionally involved with the victims (in fact, not until much further on in the film does his attitude change when he begins hearing victims stories firsthand, rather than passing them off to his staff). He and his team are given a deadline of December 24, 2003 to have at least 80% of the 7,000 potential plaintiffs agree to his formula and payment amounts, thus waiving their right to future litigation. The film goes in circles and repeats itself almost ad nauseam between Feinberg's formula and getting the 80% of participants before the deadline. A watchable movie, but nothing memorable upon completion, even with the delicate subject matter discussed and the 20th anniversary of the terrorists attacks approaching. Although I do applaud the film for not being political and sticking to what is relevant: the victims and their families. 5/10
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Fri Sep 10, 2021 5:59 pm

MALIGNANT

James Wan's newest feature tells the story of Madison, a woman who believes she's being haunted by an evil spirit by the name of Gabriel. Madison sees vision's of murders in real-time, desperately attempting to convince the police she's trying to help, rather than committing the crimes herself. However, having so much intimate knowledge of the crimes, she's the cops prime suspect. I'm a fan of both star Annabelle Wallis and director James Wan but this story is too ludicrous to take seriously. The ending is too predictable within the first 20-30 minutes and the film does nothing to hold your interest throughout until you're proven right. Before the midway point, the film is a snoozefest and you're waiting for the credits to roll (in fact, the story becomes somewhat laughable by the third act). No scares in this one but plenty of gore to go around. Wan has proven he can deliver the goods within this genre but this was an extremely bad miss (although I do give him credit for originality). Is that really where we're at in society and fans of the horror genre where we're applauding attempts, rather than the finished product? A hard pass, even for those with HBO Max. 4/10
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Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:55 pm

KATE

KATE finds Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a retiring assassin, who during her final job, is poisoned and has 24 hours left to live. Set in Japan, Winstead begins a brief but very deadly journey of revenge against one of the most powerful Yakuza clans in the land in order to kill the person(s) responsible for her impending death. I'm really enjoying Mary Elizabeth stretching her chops as an action star and hope she continues as she kicks major ass in the film (particularly in her fight sequence in a Japanese restaurant that would make Quentin Tarantino proud). Woody Harrelson plays her mentor, Varrick. Harrelson always demands your attention with his powerful performances but here, he's somewhat wasted and used as filler as the character is very two dimensional, without much to work with. A fun and bloody journey to take a chance on Netflix. 6/10
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Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:07 pm

THE GUILTY

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Joe Baylor, a LAPD officer who's recently been assigned to work as a 911 operator after being investigated for a shooting he was involved in while on duty. His attitude towards his current position is evident early on with callers as he's frequently blunt and even downright rude to people who are in emergency situations, looking for assistance rather than a 911 operator with an attitude. Playing against the backdrop of a California wildfire and resources that are stretched thin, Joe receives a call from Emily, who's been abducted. Trying to save Emily before any harm comes to her, Joe becomes overly invested in this kidnapping, going above and beyond (both legally and illegally) to rescue her. Director Antoine Fuqua and writer Nic Pizzolatto do a wonderful job at creating suspense, always wondering what the next phone call between the two will bring. At around 85 minutes, it doesn't sit around waiting to get revved up but rather gets right to the point. Gyllenhaal does a spectacular job as Joe, going from oftentimes tender to raging mad without much provocation and it's easy to see why he's currently sitting on the sidelines due to his violent temper. Be sure to check out this modern day Hitchcockian film when it drops on Netflix on October 1. 7.5/10
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Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:00 pm

CRY MACHO

CRY MACHO tells the story of Mike Milo, played by Clint Eastwood. A one-time rodeo star who's career was cut short by an accident. He's now far removed from his glory days, working as a horse trainer. The film opens with his boss Howard (Dwight Yoakam) firing him and bringing in a new trainer. Fast forward a year later and Howard needs Mike's help: he asks Mike to go to Mexico to bring his son, Rafo, to the States. At first Mike asks all the right questions such as "why don't you go through the authorities" and whatnot until Howard gives his reasoning before guilting Mike into going as repayment since Howard covered Mike's expenses once his family passed and left him a drunk and emotionally shattered man. For a film about Eastwood trying to find and convince Rafo to come north with him, all while staying off the police's radar, they certainly make a lot of stops along the way. Their car finally breaks down in a small town where a lot of the story is focused and Mike finds a new lease on life when he meets Marta and her 4 granddaughters. Eastwood's continuing to look frail, but what else is to be expected from a 91-year-old? I only bring it up because there's a couple of scenes where he's physical and it doesn't come off particularly well or believable because of it. Although, it is a decent enough story about an aging cowboy finally finding some peace and happiness before leaving this old earth of ours. 5.5/10
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Sat Sep 18, 2021 1:01 pm

THE POWER OF THE DOG

Brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Burbank (Jessie Plemons) are wealthy ranchers in 1925 Montana. The film opens with them bringing cattle into town and settle themselves at an establishment run by a widow by the name of Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Phil and George couldn't be any different from each other. Where Phil is loud, aggressive, and rude, George is quiet, reserved, and well mannered. While dining after their journey into town, Phil continuously offends and bullies the fragile and delicate Peter. This leads George to not only settle the bill upon everyone's departure but also apologize to Rose for his brothers actions. The next day he visits Rose again and he continues to drive into town to see her until they're finally married. This does not go over well with Phil as Rose now moves into the house he shares with his brother George while Phil is sent away to medical school. A slow burn of a film that in some ways could act as a spiritual sequel to THERE WILL BE BLOOD; however, again they deal with cattle as opposed to oil. One of the finest performances I've ever seen from Cumberbatch and I'm fully aware of how bold a statement that is due to his very impressive body of work. This should at least garner him an Oscar nomination. Plemons and Dunst were equally as good and balance out a very strong cast, although for a period of time, Plemons does disappear from the story between acts 2 & 3. I cannot recommend this movie enough! 8/10
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Mon Sep 20, 2021 7:20 pm

THE CARD COUNTER

Let me preface this review by stating to avoid this film, which is a real shame as I am a fan of Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe, Paul Schrader, and Martin Scorsese (who was a producer on this film). But this story was painful to get through all 112 minutes of it. It's a slow, dry film that just drifts from scene-to-scene. At first I gave it some time, allowing itself to establish and then open up with the story but it never does that. It just continues to flow through it's monotonous tone for the duration of the film. Isaac plays William Tell, a former military interrogator trying to extract intelligence from supposed terrorist at a blacklist site. Pictures of him and colleagues torturing inmates are made public and as such, the soldiers pictured take the fall, not any of their superiors, so he's an ex-con as well. While in prison, he learns to count cards and upon his release, uses his newfound skill to his advantage. Although, he's able to evade the ire of casinos in that his winnings are modest and not high dollar. Tiffany Haddish also stars as La Linda, who sponsors William in tournaments in exchange for a cut of his winnings. The pairing and forced romance between the two is awkward, with none to little chemistry shared between them. Unless you're having difficulty sleeping at night, avoid this snoozefest. 3/10
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Fri Sep 24, 2021 5:19 pm

iwokeinrelief wrote:
Fri Aug 06, 2021 5:27 pm
Going to check out The Green Knight tonight
What did ya think of it? I'm going to see a movie tonight for the first time in forever and don't feel like seeing some Marvel fudge, but I'm worried dis fudge is gonna be really boring based on the reviews.
RupertPupkin wrote:I live by this rule and this rule alone: people are drymounting idiots.
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