Cinebites #23

Welcome to my mini movie review series. I watch a lot of movies and I thought it’d be fun to share a few thoughts on some of the things I’ve watched.

These are all SPOILER FREE reviews so you can enjoy these films at your leisure.

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

A fun, fast kids movie about a family dealing with changes, communication issues, and of course the end of the world due to rampant evil technology this film is certainly a nice injection of something a little bit different into the kids movie landscape. The thing is that I know people for whom this movie hits 100% home but for me I found it a jumble of ideas that didn’t actually come together. I laughed very seldomly and often because of the wrong reasons and found the rah-rah messages a little lackluster.

Final Verdict: I keep telling myself I’m not going to watch kids movies anymore because I just do not find them fulfilling but I always get sucked back in. I think I enjoyed this more much more than Soul or Raya or Frozen 2 because it at least is doing something new but I would never watch it again. The movie felt like experiencing the world through lens which were unfocused. Themes exist in this movie but never come together, the gags happen every 10 seconds but if you don’t find the funny the first time the fifth and sixth hit of them won’t be good either. The movie leans heavily into “internet culture” that I’m not sure will age well but probably appeals really well to young children. It’s successful in that it will probably be liked by kids and fondly remembered but as an adult I found my attention drifting away from what I saw as not much more than a loud, shiny, noisy thing.

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

There is no doubt that if ever there were a moment to really dig into Fred Hampton’s life and death it’s probably now. This film does a fantastic job at so many things and has exceptionally wonderful performances but I just…never really got into. Maybe that’s on me, I came into this film expecting quite a lot but in the end its a biopic that gets the job done with just a little more flourish than average.

Final Verdict: I assume my problems with the film are all very petty and it is a very good film that I think most people will like but I just think they probably should have picked a different angle to come at the script. I also think the film is oddly undercutting its message by casting its actors as nearly 10 year senior to the real life counterparts. Stanfield and Kaluuya do amazing jobs but part of the tragedy was the manipulation of such young men. Otherwise it’s done super well but my hyper familiarity with this event did not do me any favors and it was hard to pull away from that to contextualize the film outside of my knowledge.

Shiva Baby (2020)

I laughed! I cried! I cringed! I ended up watching this movie twice and I just love it to bits it’s fun and funny and witty and painful. I haven’t been to a shiva in nearly a decade and its likely that most of the people never have been or never will be but there is something universal in that space left behind after someone has died when everyone gathers for the first time since the last time something happened and the fallout of having to update everyone and air the dirty laundry is palpable.

Final Verdict: Cringe humor is the dominant humor these days so its nice when a movie isn’t all cringe. Instead the movie is a slowly rolling snowball of both jokes and horror where discomfort and sincerity battle on screen the entire movie. At 72 minutes you’d be silly to pass this up perfect blend of satire with a biting script and a tension inducing score that will make you feel like your life isn’t far off of a tragi-comedy either.

Extra Ordinary (2019)

I was talking with someone about Last Man on Earth, the TV show starring Will Forte and they recommended me this movie and I am still not sure why. This film is somehow both adorable and lovely and also at times one of the dumbest movies I have seen all year. The things that shine in this film are its pitch perfect main character: a shy driving instructor who can contact the dead but won’t do so because of trauma until a widow who is bothered by the ghost of wife contacts her and hi jinx ensue. Also Will Forte is here, doing an evil. I think the best description of this film would be cheeky and at its best it lives up to being a charming piece of supernatural rom-com but at its worst its a cartoonish, nearly buffoonish insensitive boor and it rides that lines a lot in the third act especially so it left a sour taste in my mouth.

Final Verdict: I think I would recommend this film as it has more hits than misses but the third act is both a drag and too much at the same time. This film feels like a warm up or a test run for another bigger, better, slightly more coherent film. However if you have some popcorn and its raining outside there are worse things that you can spend time on. I actually did really enjoy the film overall and I laughed quite a lot. The acting, direction, and editing are all extremely solid but your mileage may vary on enjoyment depending on how silly you want the film to get.

The Kid Detective (2020)

Child detective “prodigy” grows up to not actually turn out to be special at all. You too think you know where this story is going. In fact there’s quite a lot of stories to be mined out all those Twitter threads about children who were told how special and smart they were growing up to be neurotic, medicated, addicted, miserable adults. That’s not what this film is about. Well, that’s not all this film is about. At first I thought this was an absurd parody film but eventually when I figured out what the film was actually doing (instead of trying to be more clever than it) I ended up really loving it.

Final Verdict: The movie loves to twist and twist on your expectations but not because it wants to be clever but because it wants you to feel what having the floor ripped from under you feels like. In the end this movie is not a noir movie, it’s not the Harriet the Spy now with booze I thought it might have turned out to be, and its not really a meditation on how middle class white men feel special but it also is. The movie is a little over-long and indulges itself too much in the middle but all is forgiven for the entire third act of the movie which makes it worth the entire trip.

That’s all for this time! See you soon (hopefully) with 5 more films!

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