What We're Watching: June 25, 2021

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Brock: "Got to introduce the children to one of my all-time favorites, The Sting (1973). Such a fun movie from top to bottom, and happy to say both kids were following it the whole time, and were quite surprised with the last few reveals. Now looking forward to introducing them to other fun con men and/or heist movies. If you yourself haven't seen it in a long while, or since you were a kid, The Sting is always, and absolutely, worth the revisit."
Stuart: "With a diverse roster of independent visions including Uncut Gems, Moonlight, and Ex Machina, A24 has become the coolest film distributors in the business, and this week they release two new warped visions I'm anxious to sample. On Hulu, Broad City comedienne Ilana Glazer suspects fertility doctor Pierce Brosnan is up to some unethical Rosemary's Baby kinda evil in the paranoid False Positive. Meanwhile new theatrical release Zola chronicles a debaucherous Florida road trip that's spun from the tweet storm of a real-life stripper."

Arnie: "When Marjorie was out of town I had a double-feature of strong women: Winter’s Bone (2010) and Promising Young Woman (2020). Winter’s Bone has been on my to-watch list for 11 years and I finally got to it. Seeing Jennifer Lawrence’s break-out role is incredible. It’s hard to believe the girl best known as Bill Engvall’s sitcom daughter had such strength and dramatic chops. However, the script gives Lawrence one note to play and she plays it again and again, until the third act when she plays it in a minor key. The film was rich with atmosphere but the plot was a letdown. I give it a weak recommend. Promising Young Woman had a very promising trailer. It shows a woman (Carey Mulligan)  going undercover to confront would-be date rapists. The ominous version of Britney Spears’ 'Toxic' and police dogs presumably searching for bodies made me think this might be a sardonic I Spit on your Grave. After all, Mulligan says 'It’s a day of reckoning. For everyone.' Instead the film is a mostly neutered cautionary tale. Instead of rooting for Mulligan getting revenge, I end up pitying her character (and not for the reasons you would think). The cast of 'oh yeah, I know that person!' actors seem game but the movie itself is not, and I saw the third act 'twist' coming a mile away. Very weak recommend."

Jakob: "When it comes to musical preferences, I’m black metal adjacent. I’m intrigued by the genre more than I find myself listening to it for enjoyment (and definitely not for relaxation). So the imagery of a woman wearing the face paint associated with the extreme music for Icelandic Málmhaus or Metalhead (2013) caught my attention. What unfolds is a deeply emotional film about grief as a 12-year-old sister, after her older brother’s untimely passing, takes interest in the heavy metal music he loved. The moving portrayal of a family frozen by their inability to talk about loss culminates in a haunting, cathartic black metal requiem that almost brought me to tears."

Jason: “I have a thing for old-time radio heroes, so I remember being psyched for 2011’s The Green Hornet. Seth Rogen is a spoiled heir who dons the costume with the aid of his father’s mechanic, Kato (Jay Chou), and together they battle crime kingpin Christoph Waltz. I come back to this movie every couple of years for the chemistry between the leads, Waltz's insecure-but-still-intimidating villain, and the chance to see Green Hornet on screen. The movie has flaws, notably its own self-indulgence (which contributes to the two-hour runtime) and the straight up insulting way that it treats Cameron Diaz, who plays secretary Lenore Case. My hope is we’ll review it someday so Hornet can get a proper autopsy.” 

Heath: "From the Vine (2019) is an inconsequential but likeable enough drama which features a rare leading role for the great Joe Pantoliano. Playing a lawyer who has a crisis of conscience and decides to flee to the dilapidated Italian vineyard he grew up in, it's nice seeing Joey Pants play a nice, normal guy and not a gangster, killer or some other lowlife for once. Some quirky, surreal touches (such as living church statues and talking vines) gives this some distinction, but despite likeable performances and beautiful cinematography, it's nothing you haven't seen before."

Santiago: "Like last week's To the WonderThis is Where I Leave You (2014) also got middling to negative reviews. And I also kinda love it. It features one of the most stacked ensembles I've seen in a while and no one phones it in. The script is mostly funny (except a few occasional groaners), the characters are likeable and the actors have lots of chemistry, you really buy everyone's relationship to each other. The film isn't perfect though, the story is very predictable, I wasn't really fond of Timothy Oliphant's subplot and Ben Schwartz felt out of place among the cast, although his role was very secondary. Overall, these complaints don't change the fact that This is Where I Leave Youis a funny, loveable, feel-good movie."

Adam: "This week I'm excited to catch the latest animated DC movie in Batman: The Long Halloween: Part One (2021). The comic the movie is based on is a classic, and one of my all time favorites. Jensen Ackles seems to be branching out now he no longer has his Supernatural schedule, and its interesting to see Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, and  Naya Rivera in one of her last roles as Selina Kyle. The recent run of DC animation has been a mixed bag, so here's hoping for a return to form!"