Best/Worst Movies of 2021

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Irishman12
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Sat Jan 09, 2021 8:56 pm

PIECES OF A WOMAN

Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf star as Martha and Sean, a couple on the verge on having their first child. Vanessa insisted on having a home birth and before long, something goes terribly wrong and the baby is lost. Both attempting to move on, they handle the grief in their own ways and as such, drift further apart. Sean self-destructs while self-medicating, while Martha not only has to deal with the lose of her child, but her overbearing mother (played by Ellen Burstyn), who wants revenge against the midwife as she's made to be the scapegoat for the lose of the child. I really wanted to like the movie after viewing the trailer, but other than wonderful performances by both Kirby and Burstyn (I could see one or both get Academy nominations), the film seemed rather dull and sluggish at times, with the exception of the one shot birth scene in the beginning. 5.5/10
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Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:30 pm

THE MARKSMAN

Liam Neeson stars as Jim, a former marine, who's Arizona home is on the US-Mexico border. One day while out, Jim comes up two illegal immigrants (a mother and son) running across the border from the cartel. A shootout ensues when Jim refuses to hand over the duo to the cartel and in the process the mother is killed. Before succumbing to her wounds, the mother entrusts Jim to drive her son to family in Chicago. Jim agrees and the rest of the film is a cat-and-mouse game between Jim & the boy, and the cartel. The film deals with themes of family, the loss of a loved one, and strong character. Neeson gives a little more passion in his performance from his previous HONEST THIEF, which he mailed in. And even though his rugged, Irish accent sticks out like a sore thumb as a rancher living along the border, he always commands every scene that he's in with power. 5/10
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Fri Jan 29, 2021 7:07 pm

THE LITTLE THINGS

With 3 Academy Award Winning actors, THE LITTLE THINGS follows former Los Angeles detective Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) and new department hotshot Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) on the trail of accused serial killer Albert Sparma (Jared Leto). Obviously the cast and trailer hook you into this film and it's Leto who shines the brightest. The villains always has the most fun and here Leto enjoys playing in that sandbox. Teasing the police, attempting to outsmart them, all the while not being completely stable and the audience is left wondering if this man is a mad genius or just a few cards short of a full deck? Denzel is smooth as ever as a tired, rugged, now county sheriff, after being run off his LA detective job 5 years prior. Malek is the only one who seems hollow and robotic, not displaying a lot of emotion except for a few outbursts here and there. There is not a lot of violence in the film as the victims are all shown after their murder, which was an interesting choice. They dumb it down for the audience, but at the same time, you're left wondering as much as Deacon and Baxter if Sparma is really their man (even up until the final credits). A decent film that wasn't as great as I was hoping for but worth the watch (especially if you have HBO Max). 6/10
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Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:15 pm

SAINT MAUD

Morfydd Clark plays Maud, a recently converted Christian, who serves as a hospice nurse to Amanda, played by Jennifer Ehle. During their brief time together, Maud exceedingly cares for and even tries to save Amanda's soul with her new found Christianity. However, when she is removed as Amanda's caretaker, she believes she is called by God to save Amanda's soul before she passes. Based on the trailer, this seemed to be a sleepy horror film that I was willing to take a flyer on, but the film is so much more. It's rather short by today's standards (84 minutes long) so it gets right to the point but the final act really pays off for the viewer. An outstanding performance by Clark and I look very forward to seeing this again. This has cult status written all over it. Do not sleep on this film! 7/10
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Fri Feb 12, 2021 7:51 pm

LAND

LAND is a story about Edee, played by Robin Wright, a recent widower who lost her husband and son in a tragic and violent manner. Edee is left shattered, experiencing survivor's guilt, and at times, contemplates reuniting with her family. She moves out to the mountains of Wyoming, isolated away from her past, the world, but more importantly, her grief. Out of her element, starving, and freezing to death, Miguel (played wonderfully smooth by Demian Bichir) saves her life. They strike up a friendship and Edee before long, with his guidance, begins to conquer the mountain and the elements, rather than succumbing to them. This film deals primarily with grief, isolation, but also serves as a PSA to the fragility of life. To live each moment, and to keep pushing forward, rather than getting swallowed up by our problems. A great reminder, but the film is average at best with nothing standing out as memorable honestly. 5.5/10
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Fri Feb 12, 2021 10:36 pm

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

Daniel Kaluuya & LaKeith Stanfield are 2 of the finest actors working in Hollywood today and they continue to pad their already impressive resumes. JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH tells the story of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), the chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party. Stanfield plays Bill O'Neal, a petty car thief who gets busted by the police and for the promise of his freedom, infiltrates the Black Panther's and becomes an informant for the FBI. I hate the term "this film is timely" but in this situation it's actually true. The events depicted during the 1960's practically mirror the events of today. Kaluuya is fiery as the activist Hampton, who wants to bring war against the police, the US government, and fight inequality with every ounce of his being. Stanfield plays the role of the swindler, who goes along enough just to save his tail and satisfy his keepers. Wonderful performances by both but I must also note that Martin Sheen's makeup for the role of J. Edgar Hoover, was unnecessarily over-the-top. 6.5/10
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Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:45 pm

NOMADLAND

NOMADLAND stars Frances McDormand as Fern, a widower nearing retirement who can't make ends meet by taking early social security. She lived in Empire, Nevada with her husband until 2011, where the film begins, until his death and the closing of the plant. Fern works odd end and seasonal jobs while traveling to support herself. She lives in her van and travels around the country from Nevada, to Arizona, to South Dakota, and California. At first, with this being so close to the market collapse of 2008, the viewer may believe this is a film dealing with classism in America and the capitalistic exploitation of its workers; however, that notion is quickly dispelled as we follow Fern and her friends from community to community. It's actually a very touching tale about these communities that society has forgotten about. It's very much a commune where individuals band together like family members, are welcomed and invited, and help each other survive. It also explores the hurdles some of these individuals must overcome in order to do the most mundane of tasks, like getting a flat tire fixed and other inconveniences that we take for granted but is a real struggle for them. McDormand brings a lot of life to Fern and while her performance does stand out, it isn't her best work and even if she's nominated for an Oscar, I'd be surprised if she won for this performance. Other than that, there's nothing much else here. 5/10
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Sun Feb 28, 2021 7:13 pm

TOM & JERRY

The live action debut for the duo who have been around for decades. The film follows Tom & Jerry who are up to their old antics in one of New York's oldest and most prestigious hotels, the Royal Gate. The film is supposed to be an origin story, but doesn't really seem like one as the back-and-forth between the characters picks up right from the start, leading the audience to believe these two are already familiar with each other. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Kayla, a part-time worker at the hotel, who's made it her mission to rid the hotel of Jerry by employing Tom. I like Moretz as an actress, and while this is a safe film for her, she's so much better than this. She's better as the bad ass, with a chip on her shoulder kinda girl. I appreciate her attempt to expand her range, but not in a PG Tom & Jerry movie. Most of the film she tugs at her uniform that becomes quite distracting as the film progresses. Michael Pena also co-stars as Terence, her immediate supervisor at the hotel who's against her hiring from the beginning. Again, Pena's better than this too and as the runtime continues, it's almost painful at times seeing both actors subjected to this type of film. If you have young ones, this is a film for them. Anyone who enjoyed the characters from their youth and are over the age of 10, this is a hard pass. 4/10
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Fri Mar 05, 2021 6:09 pm

CHAOS WALKING

Peter Parker and Rey team up for this sci-fi adventure that takes place 236 years into the future on a planet called New World. This planet is made up entirely of men, who can hear and see each others thoughts called Noise. Tom Holland plays Todd, who one mundane day comes up Viola (Daisy Ridley) after her ship crashes on his planet and she's the lone survivor (lone female member of the team as well). Quickly, Viola's life is endangered on the planet and Todd takes it upon himself to display his "toxic masculinity" by constantly telling himself to "be a man," so he agrees to protect her. The film plays to man's primal nature: hunter, protector, violent. Whereas women are seen are caring, thoughtful, and rational. Unfortunately, Holland's oogling over Viola the entire movie wears then rather quickly (having never seen a woman before). The studio and producers I'm sure are banking on the star power of Holland and Ridley to bring audiences in and sadly, it might just work. However, this film is all sizzle and no steak. 4/10
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Fri Mar 05, 2021 8:07 pm

COMING 2 AMERICA

The 33-year-old sequel to the 1988 hit brings most of the original cast back: Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall once again play multiple characters, Shari Headley as Lisa, John Amos as Cleo, and James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer amongst others. However, like most sequels that are made today decades after the original, this one is both unwanted and unneeded. The title is somewhat bizarre as about 90% of the film takes place in Africa as opposed to America. Yes, I'm fully aware it's a sequel but COMING 2 AMERICA was the best they could do? The film follows Akeem, who learns from a local witch doctor that he has an illegitimate son in America and must bring him back to Zamunda to be his heir, since Akeem and Lisa have 3 girls and no male heirs of their own. The first film is a classic and one of my favorite Eddie Murphy movies of all-time. It was original and funny, whereas the sequel attempts to recycle the same jokes and the new ones are far and few in-between that fall flat upon delivery. They also ruined whatever positive image fans had of the character of Lisa as she was a strong and outspoken character in the original. Here, she's wasted and thrown behind the scenes with the exception of one outburst. Finally, there's quite a bit of product placement that is just too cringeworthy during every scene. Once again, another needless sequel that nobody asked for that tarnishes the memory of its predecessor. 5/10
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Thu Mar 18, 2021 4:46 pm

ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE

The version that fans have clamored for so long is finally here and it was good (not great). In all honestly, after the theatrical version of JUSTICE LEAGUE that was released in 2017, this could only be an improvement upon it. More time is devoted to flesh out characters and storylines, which is appreciated for those who are fans of Cyborg, Darkseid, or others. The film is double the runtime of the original version (this coming in at around 4 hours), so set aside some time to view it. Overall, it didn't seem to lag too much and I'm glad Snyder was finally given the permission and tools to release his original vision. Honestly, I hope this is a trend that continues in Hollywood. I'm curious where a Justice League 2 and 3 would have went but in interviews recently, Snyder said the theatrical version is canon and he will not be making more DCEU movies as he's focusing on other projects. A nice sendoff for this great filmmaker. 7/10
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Fri Mar 19, 2021 7:13 pm

THE COURIER

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Greville Wynne, a private citizen and businessman who the British government approaches about being a middle man between England and their mole in Russia during the 1960's and the height of the Cold War. Cumberbatch as usual is a chameleon in his role, playing the part of a businessman who at times, doesn't want to know too much. He plays the role of amateur spy wonderfully, while Merab Ninidze, who plays Oleg Penkovsky and is Wynee's mole in Moscow, works well with Cumberbatch as the more seasoned spy. Overall for a movie about spies during the Cold War, there's very little suspense with the exception of one part in the film about three-quarters of the way in. Cumberbatch also lost quite a bit of weight too for the role during the later part of the film (unexpected but props to the man for going for it). Otherwise, this is nothing more than an average B film, which is sad as it is based on actual events. 5.5/10
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Fri Mar 26, 2021 6:58 pm

NOBODY

Bob Odenkirk, the action star we never knew we wanted. I honestly never thought I would type those words. I love Odenkirk’s previous work, particularly in regards to BREAKING BAD and BETTER CALL SAUL. So I was game when he spread his wings at his attempt at being an action star. The story came together from a personal experience, as he’s had his home broken into previously. The film follows Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell, an auditor at his father-in-laws manufacturing company. In a loveless marriage that seems headed for divorce, robbers break in one evening. Hutch stumbles upon them and asks them to take what they want and leave. They only grab a few bucks, his watch, and (inadvertently) his daughters kitty cat bracelet. Before leaving, his oldest son gets a drop on the burglars but Hutch tells him to let them go. Afterwards, he has to live with the shame of not lifting a finger to protect his family and property. Hearing it from everyone from the police that first respond, to his father and brother-in-laws, his neighbor, and finally, in a passive-aggressive way, his wife. Once his daughter informs him they must have taken her kitty cat bracelet as she’s unable to locate it, Hutch has finally had enough. Similar to Liam Neeson in the TAKEN series, Hutch unleashes he’s very particular set of skills upon the thieves before he finds himself taking on the local Russian mob as well. Having Odenkirk involved, you know it’s going to have a fair amount of levity to it and at times the action was (enjoyably) way over the top (think something along the lines of Jason Statham’s CRANK). Not much of Hutch’s background on how he obtained his skills is given, which I honestly didn’t mind. It still leaves the man a bit of mystery. The film is a fun, B-action movie that if they decided to revisit another time, I’d be on board! 6/10
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Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:39 pm

GODZILLA VS. KONG

The payoff after a rebooted Godzilla, Kong, followed by a sequel to Godzilla played out as the previous installments of this monsterverse: plenty of eye-candy, huge third act finale, and a decent story. As a payoff film it did leave something to be desired story wise, but at least the writers and director kept a nice, tight pace rather than something bloated like a Michael Bay Transformers movie. Millie Bobby Brown continues to grow as an actress before our very eyes. For my money the stand out of the film was Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes, a nerdy/eccentric podcaster, who works for a company whom may be responsible for the epic battle between the two titans. It was very enjoyable to see him display his comedic chops as he's mostly known as a dramatic actor. Overall, worth a watch for the visual effects alone, but still pretty average. 5.5/10
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Fri Apr 02, 2021 6:53 pm

THE MAURITANIAN

Based on true events, THE MAURITANIAN follows Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a man who is accused of aiding Al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks. (For those of you as unfamiliar with Mauritania as I was coming into this film, it's a country in Northwest Africa). The film opens with Slahi attending a wedding, before being kidnapped and taken to Guantanamo Bay where he is held for the next 14 years without being charged with a crime. Jodie Foster and Shailene Woodley play his defense attorney's who sue the U.S. government for them to either charge Slahi with a crime or release him. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the prosecutor in Slahi's case as Stuart Couch, a colonel with a southern drawl who quickly finds out what kind of government he's representing in the post-9/11 world. The film begins suspenseful and fast paced, developing the story and characters rather rapidly. However, by around the mid-point the pacing really slows down and the film seems to drag in some areas as a result of this. Cumberbatch is obviously fighting a cold during the shooting of this film as his southern drawl is noticeably stuffy and nasally in every scene he's in. The biggest star of the film, Foster, is also the one who is the most interesting character out of the cast. She plays Nancy Hollander, a no nonsense lawyer, who detached from her feelings long ago as she's made a career out of these types of cases. Here she works pro bono, and is somewhat villianized by the media and some pockets of citizens who believe Slahi should pay for his alleged role in the attacks and Foster for defending a "terrorist." She gives the most captivating performance, however, Tahar Rahim, who plays Slahi isn't far behind as the accused man. Being that this story takes place over 14 years and two Presidential administrations, I appreciate the fact the film didn't get caught up in a Republican/Democrat problem: this was a U.S. government problem, regardless of who was President at the time. If you're really interested in seeing it, it's worth a shot; otherwise, you're not missing much if you choose to skip it. 5.5/10
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