Jojo Rabbit, a comedy / drama about a young boy in Hitler’s army who finds out that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home is a movie I found more and more impressive as it played.
Director and co-writer Taika Waititi really did a great job of bringing humour to one of history’s darkest times. Jojo Rabbit is as funny and smart as others have been saying. I appreciate the way it reminds us of just how easily a young mind can be shaped; while also showing us that young minds are smart enough to figure things out for themselves, given the right circumstances.
I watched Waititi’s movie mainly because of the very intriguing and clever premise, the comedy categorisation, the fact that everyone told me to and the brilliant cast. A talent list that includes Scarlett Johansson, Waititi himself and Sam Rockwell, to name just a few.
Besides the cleverness and notable performances, the colours and beautiful imagery will stay with me when I think of Jojo Rabbit. As will the super cute and talented young actors, Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates. There’s also the way Jojo Rabbit reminds me of another brilliant World War 2 drama / comedy. Namely Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful (1997).
Watch Jojo Rabbit because it’s good – and see exactly why Waititi deserved the win for 2020’s Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.
Starring Sonequa Martin-Green, Romany Malco and La La Anthony, I was initially drawn to Holiday Rushfor the festive theme, the decorations (which were OK) and hopefully a good story of someone making their way back after a setback.
Story-wise, I like the general outline of the way popular radio DJ Rush Williams (Malco) managed to bounce back after suffering a career disappointment. And I’m not mad at how, like almost every Christmas themed movie with a focus on family, love and togetherness, Holiday Rush had its own version of a ‘Christmas miracle.’ Meaning that everything came together in the end, just in time for December 25th.
My issue is with the execution. Director Leslie Small’s story relied quite a bit on the usual cliches to build the story and move things along, sometimes in a way that unfortunately felt rushed and contrived in places. Acting-wise, Malco and Martin-Green didn’t do badly. The story edit just didn’t help anyone overall.
At a push, the brief musical performance towards the end is likely my favourite thing about Holiday Rush.
If you’re super curious, Netflix is where it’s at.
In comedy / drama Brittany Runs A Marathon, Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a New Yorker who doesn’t have her life together; a reality she’s forced to face after her rejected request for an Adderall subscription leads to the wake up call she’d been needing.
Also starring Michaela Watkins, Lil Rel Howery and Alice Lee; director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s film is well acted and does a good, believable job of capturing the ups and downs of one woman’s personal journey of transformation. A transformation that was necessary in order for her to finally take charge of her life and go after the things she wants.
There are indeed some humorous moments in Colaizzo’s movie. However, those don’t stand out for me quite as much as the parts that proved difficult to watch. Especially when Brittany was hurting, disappointed and particularly how those negative feelings affected the people closest to her.
Overall, for me, the best thing about Brittany Runs A Marathon, besides its general believability is getting to see someone achieve what they, at the start may have perceived as impossible. I’m also not mad that it had me reflecting on the gift of great friends. May we all recognise and appreciate them when they show themselves.
Lastly, for the shortest of moments as the movie played, the idea of running a marathon seemed like a good one. That was until I remembered how much I like my blister-less feet and intact toenails.
I definitely enjoyed the new Stephen Fry narrated Netflix documentary Dancing With The Birds. Though mainly for the stunning images of the beautiful birds of paradise. I couldn’t help but appreciate the moments the film made me realise just how much humans and birds actually have in common, especially when trying to attract a mate.
The only downside of Dancing With The Birds for me is how the whole experience felt oddly unfinished. Perhaps because I’m used to a more thorough telling of an animal / bird / nature story – as per the works of Sir David Attenborough. Whereas Dancing With The Birds focuses purely on the mating rituals / dance routines of some of planet Earth’s most stunning birds of paradise.
Don’t get me wrong, the dance rituals are definitely something to see. So much so that they had me thinking that I really could probably do with sharpening my own dance skills. Probably.
Watch Dancing With The Birds for the truly stunning images and for the similarities between us and those with feathers, wings and the gift of flight.
Amusement and being moved emotionally; these were my hopes for Greg Kinnear’s directorial debut Phil. A drama / comedy about a depressed dentist who’s in the midst of a mid life crisis when his happiest patient suddenly commits suicide. After learning of this tragic news, Phil dedicates himself – in a far from reasonable way to finding out why his favourite patient ended things.
Also starring Bradley Whitford, Taylor Schilling and Emily Mortimer, the phrase ‘this is surprisingly good’ is unfortunately not where my mind went as Kinnear’s movie played. Instead, my mind was busy saying ‘Phil… Phil… Phil, Phil, Phil’.
The reason for all the Phils is this, there’s a certain simplicity to Kinnear’s script and general execution that meant pretty early on in the movie, I was barely engaged. Even though I didn’t hate Bradley Whitford’s performance, liked Jay Duplass’s character and I believed Kinnear’s Phil to be truly miserable, what I didn’t believe is several of the decisions made by certain people in the story. And perhaps even more crucially, I didn’t believe that anyone should have been convinced of Phil as a native of Greece. The fact that several key characters appeared to be convinced is a truth that only made the whole experience of Phil feel even more ludicrous.
I’m clearly not going to recommend watching this one, except of course, if you really, definitely, absolutely, life depends on it must must.
Starring Allison Williams, Logan Browning and Steven Weber, The Perfectionis a ‘darker than you expect’ drama / horror / thriller. Directed by Richard Shepard, the story follows a musical prodigy who sets upon a sinister path that begins with her seeking out the current star pupil of her former school.
I kind of already knew based on the trailer that Shepard’s movie wouldn’t be the most comfortable of viewings. I just didn’t know that within ten minutes into the film, a thought that crossed my mind would be ‘Am I ready for this darkness?’
The darkness that made me uneasy wasn’t anything to do with physical violence, though there is some of that here. It was about the negative energy / vibe that seemed so easy for the audience to see, yet the person the ill-intent was aimed toward appeared completely oblivious.
As far from comfortable as this movie made me feel for a number of reasons, I also found it quite engaging – even though something about its execution felt a tad rough around the edges. Another way to say it would be… ‘The Perfection is not like Green Book (2018)’. By this I mean, in The Perfection, every single scene didn’t flow perfectly without me having to pause and question any of the story, dialogue or general happenings. Additionally, the acting was OK but I did not get completely lost in the world of the story.
I say give Shepard’s movie a chance because it’s not quite what you think it’s going to be. You’ll definitely go on a ride that won’t be the most comfortable but everything kind of pays off in the most unexpected way.
There are also one or two – perhaps more moments of stunning imagery. My favourite of which is at the top of this very post.
Always Be My Maybe, a comedy about childhood sweethearts who reconnect after they fell out fifteen years ago is quite funny and features a handful of moving but not too overly sentimental scenes.
As was the case with the trailer, Keanu Reeves entering the frame is one of the best moments for me because, well, it’s Keanu Reeves – but also because his character is funny and the music that plays as he enters the room could not have been more perfect.
The entire cast led by Ali Wong and Randall Park all perform well and the second most memorable moment for me is the lovely speech delivered at the red carpet event near the end.
There are just two things in director Nahnatchka Khan’s film that had me wanting. Firstly, with the exception of the great music that plays when we first meet Reeve’s character, I found a noticeable absence of music in most scenes when compared to other comedy / romance movies. It’s a thing I wished I didn’t notice because it would probably mean I was too busy being fully engrossed in everything happening on screen with the characters. Secondly, this is just my preference when it comes to comedy / romances but, I missed the rhythm, attitude / atmosphere and music that I often enjoy in a J.Lo movie of the same genre.
Even with all the above said, give Always Be My Maybe a chance because Reeves is fun and you may just like it more than you expect.
Olivia Wilde’s directorial debutBooksmart is a comedy set in high school, and one that focuses on two A students who spent so much time working hard that they forgot to party. Now that it’s the last night before graduation, they set about making up for precious lost time.
Starring Kaitlyn Devers, Beanie Feldstein, Jason Sudeikis and Noah Galvin, I think everyone generally performed well and Booksmart is a movie with some parts I really enjoyed. To my surprise though, more so than the comedy focused scenes between Feldstein and Dever, the moments that really commanded my attention were actually the more emotional / dramatic scenes. Scenes like the argument towards the end and the very last scene in the movie.
The funny moments that stood out most include all the ones that featured Sudeikis – even though he’s hardly in it. I especially appreciated the moment the Cardi B. reference happened. There’s also Galvin’s generally great comic timing, delivery and his potentially nightmare inducing rendition of Alanis Morrisette’s classic ‘You Oughtta Know.’
The music, cool shooting and editing style, particularly the way the high school experience is captured is certainly memorable.
As for what I loved less about Booksmart, that would be the unfortunate slight cringe factor that stemmed from some scenes between Feldstein and Dever going on too long or coming across as too high energy and overdone.
I say see it for yourself if you’re curious. It’s certainly highly hyped but there is some cleverness within.