2021 Pick the Oscars Competition!
Are you ready for my 21st annual Pick the Oscars competition? All you have to do is pick the winner in the six tricky categories I have chosen. To enter, simply click here. Best of luck!
Mini Review - The Dissident
The Dissident (out Apr 22) is an excellent documentary that looks into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. It includes interviews with his fiancé, fellow journalists, investigating officers and other activists. Delving into the role of the Saudi Arabian regime, this is scary stuff. Grade: A-.
Mini Review - The United States vs. Billie Holiday
The United States vs. Billie Holiday (out Apr 22) portrays its real-life subject as a gifted musician, a powerful civil rights activist, and a troubled human being with questionable taste in men. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics subplot is clunky and the drug/alcohol addiction stuff become repetitive... but the film works when it focuses on Billie Holiday and her activism. Andra Day is wonderful in her first ever film role. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Six Minutes to Midnight
Six Minutes to Midnight (out Apr 22) is a fictional thriller set just prior to the start of World War II. A British spy infiltrates a local school filled with German children and tries to gather intelligence. This isn’t good. It’s trying too hard to give the audience what it thinks it wants. It’s incredibly corny and is filled with farcical chase sequences and villains that belong in a Scooby Doo cartoon. Grade: C.
Mini Review - The Little Love of Mine
This Little Love of Mine (out Apr 22) is a contrived, unrealistic romantic comedy where you know the ending after 15 minutes. A successful female lawyer travels to her childhood home (an idyllic island) where, on behalf of a client, she tries to get an old friend to sign a contract which will make him heir to a billion dollar fortune. The dialogue is terrible. There’s an audience for this type of movie... but sadly, it’s not me. Grade: C-.
Mini Review - Antoinette in the Cévennes
Antoinette in the Cévennes (out Apr 15) is a quirky French romantic comedy about a school teacher who, unpreparedly, goes on a week-long hiking trip in the name of love. Laure Calamy is a likeable lead and the script offers surprising laughs. That said, it takes big leaps in terms of character development in the second half which don’t quite stack up. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Gunda
Gunda (out Apr 15) is a black and white, dialogue-free, music-free, Norwegian-American documentary about pigs, chickens and cows from Russian director Viktor Kossakovsky. Sounds like a box-office smash, right? I like the bizarre idea (remarkable to see the film earn a cinema release) but I’m not convinced there’s more on offer here than a strong National Geographic doco. Grade: B.
Mini Review - Aalto
Aalto (out Apr 15) is an attention-grabbing documentary about acclaimed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. It focuses on his beautiful creations and also the influence of his two wives on his designs. You may not know his name beforehand but you’re likely to remember it after seeing this. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Creation Stories
Creation Stories (out Apr 15) is a biopic about Scottish music manager Alan McGee who helped bring the likes of Oasis, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine to stardom. This is fun. It moves at a cracking pace (there’s a lot to cover) and it provides an unapologetic look at this interesting man. Grade: B+.
Mini Review - Supernova
Supernova (out Apr 15) blends two films we’ve seen recently - The Father and Blackbird. A man experiencing the early stages of dementia (Stanley Tucci) goes on one last road trip with his long-term partner (Colin Firth) to catch up with old friends. I grew to like these characters and their simple, heartfelt conversations. Grade: A-.