The Mauritanian

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The Mauritanian is a legal political thriller that for the most part was engaging, especially with Tahar Rahim playing a tortured prisoner very well!!!

Real Rating: 4 Case Files

What I Like:

-The film is all about Tahar Rahim’s portrayal of Mohamedou Ould Salahi, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years as an alleged terrorist, he showed some true emotion of being tortured, missing his family, and not losing hope of getting out of prison, he was pretty good at showing that, especially the scene where he is testifying was a powerful moment
-Usually legal political thrillers can fall flat at times especially with legal jargon that can be hard to follow, but in this film, I thought it flowed very well, explains the legal terms very well, and kept it engaging, kudos to the writing and direction for this film
-The other acting was good enough with Jodie Foster playing Mohamedou’s defense attorney, and seeing her going through the trials and tribulations of being his lawyer, and Benedict Cumberbatch playing the prosecuting attorney, Cumberbatch’s Southern accent was pretty good, and his character development was good

The So So:

-It reminded me a lot of the film The Hurricane where the premise is practically the same, though they are both true stories which I can forgive it for the similarities

What I Didn’t Like:

-The transitions from the flashbacks to the film’s present can be a little confusing
-The first two thirds of the film was good, but it led to a rushed third act where everything goes down fairly quickly without too much time to process

Overall:

As I said before, a lot of legal political films can be slow but this movie, it was not the case. It did a great job of keeping us engaged to the story, not confuse us with all the legal terminology, and some good acting and character development. It may seem a little familiar with the premise of the story, but the way it was executed made it something that I really care about practically from beginning to end. In the end, makes you think about the US’s handling of terrorists, and it could infuriate you, or maybe not be surprised at all. Regardless, the fact that you sympathize with an alleged terrorist shows how good the writing and development is!!!

Real Rating: 4 Case Files

Nomadland

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Nomadland is an interesting story, if only it captivates for most of the film, not some of it!!!

Real Rating: 3 Road Trips

What I Like:

-The style and tone by director Chloe Zhao is very unique, it does bring some strong cinematography, especially when showing the landscapes of the Midwest and Western part of the country, I definitely give credit for showing a good story which is not easy to do
-Frances McDormand playing Fern, a woman who decided to adopt a Nomad lifestyle after losing everything, is interesting to watch, seeing her gravitate more to the culture and lifestyle is pretty engaging to learn what the nomad life is all about

The So So:

-There are a lot of decent moments in this film seeing what Fern goes through as she gets used to her new lifestyle, I just wish the character development was less showy and more substance for me to get a full understanding of what she is going through, with that said, some of the showy parts can be very powerful, especially in the second half of the film

What I Didn’t Like:

-This film was way to slow for my liking, I get the points and reasons for it, but even though it had some great scenes, it takes a while for me to get into it with its slow pacing, maybe some people like that style, but it wasn’t for me, it can have me lose my attention at times, especially watching it on Hulu

Overall:

This is a slow burn story of a character going into a lifestyle and slowly getting use to it, and actually really liking it. Frances McDormand does her best with her emotions and brief dialogue she has. As for director Chloe Zhao, this is her style of filming of more showing, and less dialogue. At least with the showing parts, you get some nice cool cinematography. With all that said, the whole slow burn and showiness really doesn’t captivate me as it should. It is not my style of movie watching. Especially watching it at home where my attention span is more fragile. Regardless, it is an interesting watch with a decent story about a lifestyle that people actually do. Makes you think if you want to dip your toes in it as well!!!

Real Rating: 3 Road Trips

Music

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Music can be seen as a work of art, but as a film, the story is very thin, and that is with the controversy aside!!!

Real Rating: 3 Musical Dreams

What I Like:

-I can see the intention of director Sia in making this, her thoughts as a musical artist really flourishes in this with every musical performances, I liked it how she portrays the thoughts of the character Music into those musical performances was a nice artful touch, and some of the songs I actually enjoyed as well
-The acting was good for what it is, mainly with Kate Hudson as Zu, showing her true emotions as a struggling character who is dealing with many problems, and Leslie Odom Jr., as Ebo, being the help and voice of reason to Zu, their performances made this film genuine enough for us to care

The So So:

-The controversy with Maddie Ziegler performance as Music, a teenager with autism, to me was a little overblown, I worked with children with autism, and for the most part, it did bring out a strong look on how people with strong autism can be, and how you can help them enjoy life, I don’t believe Ziegler’s performance was out of line, maybe some of the ways of handling her can raise an eyebrow, but it is all about learning and dealing, and for that I can see it as a positive outlook, so I would suggest before you all judge is to do your research on this disability before you all “cancel” this film, and I also ask what is the difference between this portrayal, and Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal in Rain Man?

What I Didn’t Like:

-The story is very thin, there were a lot of subplots that I didn’t quite understand, let alone resolved, it did remind me of the film Rain Man with musical performances, but with less of a story, if it wasn’t for the cool musical performances, this would’ve been an underwhelming film

Overall:

Controversy aside, I do appreciate the artwork and the musical performances in this. Sia as a director really brought out the art in music, and portrayed something we can all like and possibly relate. The acting does keep the very thin story together enough for us to care about these characters. I do give it credit for what it is, and if you go in with an open mind, it can be entertaining!!!

Real Rating: 3 Musical Dreams

Judas and The Black Messiah (Sidenote: Pieces of a Woman)

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Judas and the Black Messiah is all about Daniel Kaluuya’s portrayal of Fred Hampton, it is also a fascinating watch how this story went down!!!

Real Rating: 4 Revolutionary

What I Like:

-Daniel Kaluuya’s acting keeps getting better and better with every movie he has done since Get Out, I thought his portrayal of Black Panther Party’s (BPP) Chairman, Fred Hampton was spot on and great, everytime he gives a speech, it is captivating and invigorating, during the movie, I may not always agree with what he says, but his passion in his acting for this character is a spectacle to see
-Let’s not forget about Lakeith Stanfield’s portrayal as the FBI informant, Bill O’Neal, I thought his story is fascinating, maybe you will be angry at his character at the end, or maybe you will have sympathy for him at the end, as for me, I choose the latter
-Director Shaka King did a great job in creating this story, there were a lot of scenes that were either thrilling or intense, even in some basic conversations, it looked very tense, it has you wondering what will happen next, the shootouts were also very thrilling

The So So:

-There were points in the story where it can be slow at times, but then it speeds up to another great scene, it can an uneven roller coaster of emotions, so be prepared for that

What I Didn’t Like:

-The controversy of the BPP will always be talked about in history, and I believe one of the main goals for it is to show the BPP in the positive light help the community and joining forces with other organizations, and yes they do show it, but not enough for me to learn more about what the BPP is all about, instead it was heavy handed on how law enforcement conspired to abolished their party as if Spike Lee wrote the script, it is what it is, but I wish to see more of what they did to the community more to put things in a better perspective

Overall:

This film is fascinating to watch. Whatever your opinions are about the Black Panther Party, you will most likely be fascinated as well. Become fascinated with the acting of Daniel Kaluuya’s acting as Fred Hampton and his possible Oscar win (calling it). Become fascinated by the story which kind of reminds me of one of my favorite films of all time, The Departed. Overall to me, this is a fascinating film, and with the controversial history aside, you can watch how this story unfolds and make your opinions afterwards. A spectacle that can be powerful, especially with what is happening today!!!

Real Rating: 4 Revolutionaries

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(Sidenote: Pieces of a Woman – Director Kornel Mundruczo definitely took a piece out of Alfonso Cuaron’s style of filmmaking, and added to this picture. That one long unedited scene of actress Vanessa Kirby during labor is a marvel to watch. Speaking of Kirby, she did a fine job of acting as a person recovering from a tragedy can be awful to go through. After the childbirth scene, the film was up and down with the tone, and the story, but it wasn’t a huge bore to watch at the very least!!!
Real Rating: 3.5 Childbirths)

Malcolm and Marie

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Malcolm and Marie had great performance by their leads, but the story just didn’t quite make sense on its purpose!!!

Real Rating: 3.5 Mac N Cheese

What I Like:

-What makes this film watchable is the performances by John David Washington and Zendaya, their deliveries of their lines and monologues were tremendous, some grade A acting that’s for sure, they really made a couple in an epic fight really authentic, and I can appreciate that

The So So:

-Let me just say this, I get the that the liberties a director takes is for tasteful art, but I don’t get why it is filmed in black and white, I felt that a film which the setting was at night and everything just seemed dark, I felt that this film would’ve been better in color, I’m waiting for an explanation from the director to understand why

What I Didn’t Like:

-The story really didn’t have a purpose, all it really shows is a couple in an argument on a topic which comes over and over again, and they make up, only to bring it back again, it felt like a soap opera for me, and maybe that is the point, but if that is the case, it is not for me, it’s like the true purpose is to see two couples fight, and that’s that

Overall:

If you love strong acting performances by the two leads, then watch this movie. If you love something with more of a story, you may be disappointed. If you want both, your mind may go crazy in where it will go. As for me, I do enjoy some fine acting, but with no effective story, it is ok to decent at best. At least with it being on Netflix, may be worth the gander at the very least!!!

Real Rating: 3.5 Mac N Cheese

The White Tiger

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The White Tiger, despite the slow points, is an interesting rag to riches story that really shows the cultural divide in India!!!

Real Rating: 4 Drivers

What I Like:

-I really enjoyed the story by showing how the cultural divide between the rich and the poor is in the country of India, it is so drastic, and the treatment the rich give to the poor can be infuriating to watch
-I also enjoyed the development of the character of Balram, played by Adarsh Gourav, I liked seeing his determination in being somebody, and everything he has to go through in being a servant to a wealthy family, Gourav’s acting was very superb in bringing that character to life
-I also enjoyed the soundtrack, very (can’t believe I’m saying this) retro 2000’s music which really added a nice touch
-The cinematography, especially when showing the city of Delhi, was really fun to watch as well

The So So:

-Even though there were some powerful moments working as a servant for the wealthy family, but felt that moment in his life really dragged out too long, I was already saying to move on from that part and get to the good part where he becomes successful

What I Didn’t Like:

-While watching this, I really wanted to see how he becomes a successful business owner, and bring it home on what makes this story inspiring, however, that part was all rushed and kind of unsatisfying, I wanted to see more of that part of the story, instead of dragging along his time as a servant

Overall:

I really did enjoy the film. Best movie out of India since Slumdog Millionaire. It can be inspiring with the rags to riches story, and seeing the character of Balram going through his trials and tribulations in getting there from living in the slums with a traditional family, to being a servant for the wealthy, to finally achieving success in the end. Yes I felt some parts dragged and some parts they should’ve added more focus, but overall it was a pretty entertaining film that can infuriate you, and maybe inspire you!!!

Real Rating: 4 Drivers

The Little Things

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The Little Things was a slow burn to nothingness, all this intrigue and fine acting performances was wasted at the end!!!

Real Rating: 3 Trunk Spaces

What I Like:

-This film had top notch actors in Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as detectives, and Jared Leto playing a very creepy guy, at least their performances did not disappoint

The So So:

-Since it is a neo noir crime thriller, I expected to be a slow burn, which I’m not a big fan of, it had slow pacing with interesting points along the way as the detectives are trying to figure it out, the detective work is always intriguing for me

What I Didn’t Like:

-Without spoiling it, all this fine performances and slow burn intrigue led up to a very unsatisfying and underwhelming end that seemed all wasted, that is very disappointing

Overall:

It is a shame that these fine acting performances were all wasted in this film. Let alone, the patience I give to this slow burning neo noir type of film that ended up all for nothing. It does seem like a waste of time. However, like Denzel Washington’s character, I did focus on the little things that did go right. For that, I can appreciate for what it is!!!

Real Rating: 3 Trunk Spaces

The Dig (Sidenote: Ammonite)

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The Dig started off intriguing, but after the climax of the story it was just straight up dull!!!

Real Rating: 2.5 Shovels

What I Like:

-The performances by Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, and Lily James were fine, it kept the story going

The So So:

-At first I was intrigued with the story about archeologists and excavations, and how things can get haywire, but after they hit the climax of the story and go with all the political stuff, it just all falls flat from there

What I Didn’t Like:

-As I said before, once they got into the political aspects of the film, especially British politics which I can never understand, it just got boring, and really didn’t care about it anymore, maybe if they focused more on the excavation it would actually be more enlightening

Overall:

Put simply, the first part was decent to good, the second part was draggingly dull. Maybe focused on more excavation than politics, it would have been a film I would actually care about. At least you have some fine actors at the helm to make it somewhat interesting!!!

Real Rating: 2.5 Shovels

New Trailer and Poster released for Ammonite • Blazing Minds

(Sidenote: Ammonite – You do have two great actresses in Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, but why it took the last twenty minutes of the film to really care about their relationship. The way the story was told on how they met and how their relationship started developing was really dull and awkward. I actually cared more about them looking at rocks than their relationship. The last twenty minutes is interesting to say the least, but getting there was a trudging journey!!!
Real Rating: 2.5 Fossils)

Outside the Wire

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Outside the Wire is a run by the numbers film that leads to predictability, but it does have cool action and fight scenes t the very least!!!

Real Rating: 3 Gumps

What I Like:

-The action and fight scenes are really fun to watch, it is almost like watching a Jason Bourne movie
-Anthony Mackie’s acting is really good in this film, he is intense an witty at the same time, and he was enjoyable to watch

The So So:

-The other actor, Damson Idris, was ok in his acting, he had good moments, but I give credit to the writing, but I felt his execution was subpar, and didn’t seem genuine enough

What I Didn’t Like:

-The story was very run by the numbers that makes it way, way too predictable, thanks to the trailer, I practically predicted where the story will go before the film even starts, let alone, it reminded me a lot of the film Training Day with its character development which lead me to know what is going to happen

Overall:

It is a typical film running a typical formula. With me, that watches a lot of movies, makes it way too predictable to me. At the very least, you have fun action, cool fighting, and a fine performance by Anthony Mackie. It is a film that belongs to Netflix, and if you have nothing to lose on a day, might as well watch it!!!

Real Rating: 3 Gumps

Locked Down (Sidenote: The Midnight Sky)

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Locked Down didn’t really live up where it wanted it to be, but at least the two lead actors gave it their all!!!

Real Rating: 3 Edgar Allan Poes

What I Like:

-The two main leads with the beautiful Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor as a married couple down on the dumps trying to move on but can’t because they are on lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, they both really gave their all in their acting with a lot of mixed emotions and at times, insanity, as they still have to deal with each other, it is interesting to watch in that regard

The So So:

-A lot of the conversations took place on Zoom with all the issues that can happen in that type of conversations, it can be annoying, but it is fun to see other type of cameos in that regard from Mindy Kaling, to Ben Stiller, to even Sir Ben Kingsley, so that was fun

What I Didn’t Like:

-It did shift through to different themes from a Marriage Story type of ordeal to a heist type of film which really shouldn’t really belong together and at times, made it drag, it would’ve been better if they concentrated on type of theme, because the heist part was pretty underwhelming

Overall:

This film needed to pick on one theme, a marital drama or a heist film, because putting both of them together really didn’t flow well. It actually made it bland and underwhelming. Let alone that most conversations were through Zoom, it just made it not easy to watch. I do give credit to the acting of both Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, they made the film interesting with the marital drama. If only they concentrated more on that, maybe it would’ve been better. Instead you get something so uneven like a street full of potholes!!!

Real Rating: 3 Edgar Allan Poes

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(Sidenote: The Midnight Sky – What do you get a movie that is acted and directed by George Clooney where have the movie is just him and a mute girl? A movie that starts off really boring. Seeing a depressed George Clooney in the middle of the Arctic with barely any music just made flatter than what the flat earthers believe in. At least in the scenes with the space crew flying around in space made it more interesting. With all that said, you can’t win on just great cinematography alone!!!
Real Rating: 2.5 Satellite Dishes)