In no particular order (other than the most recent on top, which I guess now that you mention it, is a particular order), and for no particular reason (other than we watch a lot of movies and have lots of opinions, which by most measures constitutes a particular reason… gee, really should have thought this intro through) here’s a running list of what we’re watching and what we had to say about it.
When I see the love for this movie amongst actual, professional movie critics, I immediately fear the masses have become a little too enamored with Jason Mamoa, who apparently has also never seen a script he’ll turn down, especially when the character description reads, “kinda like Jason Mamoa.” At best this is standard-issue “outnumbered and outgunned every-man fighting for his family against a horde of evil bad guys” fare that is entirely watchable when you want to give your brain a rest, but reveals itself as absurd, and even goofy if you make the mistake of thinking about what you’re watching at any point. The awful dialog pales to the ridiculousness of some of the huge plot gaps and gaffs that signal lazy writing, if not an outright acknowledgement that the story itself didn’t matter here. So unless watching Mamoa warms your cockles, I’d say skip this one.
Take Me (2017)
I can see not everyone coming away liking this indie film. If you fire it up anticipating riveting suspense, you’re going to be disappointed. Same holds true if you’re expecting a nonstop, rip-roaring comedy. Instead, what we have here are crafted bits of both, embedded in a brilliantly absurd premise and wonderfully offbeat story. The constant back-and-forth between the main characters drives this movie, and the performances of both actors are spot on. In all, the mix of comical bumbling and interpersonal/psychological tension, delivered without the pretense of asking the audience to think too hard about any of it, worked for me. So while this isn’t at the same level as the Duplass Brothers’ terrific 2012 film Safety Not Guaranteed, this is still a fun one.
A Perfect Plan (2020)
An imperfect movie in many regards, but just creative and energetic enough to make it a worthwhile watch in my opinion. Just be sure to keep your expectations going into it somewhat commensurate with the (certainly low) budget. At the core is an interesting story premise of four established thieves waking up captive in a fortified warehouse and being forced to plan and practice a diamond heist in order to stay alive. The writers take some story shortcuts that keep it from being as compelling as it could have been, and to me, were too eager to get to the backend/resolution of their tale, when the initial set-up and various unknowns are where the meat of the intrigue and interest truly reside. Still, there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged and/or guessing, and they deserve credit for that.
Hell on the Border (2019)
This movie begs the question of whether it is possible to enjoy a movie that also makes you angry? There’s actually a great true story at the root of this movie, that unfortunately gets second class treatment. It opens with a terrific quote about the disturbing lack of movies about black cowboys before telling the story of the first black Deputy US Marshal in the old west. But despite a compelling premise, you can’t help be struck by the fact that what should have been an A-list movie with an A-list cast ended up with a B-to-D-list cast and direction and cinematography befitting a TV movie,. And don’t get me started on a modern soundtrack that totally misses the mark by attempting to play to the audience rather than frame the film. Even so. it’s an enjoyable watch, even if you’re spending much of the movie thinking “what might/should have been!”.
Get Duked! (2020)
Someday I’ll admit defeat and see if there’s a subtitle option when preparing to watch a Scottish movie, because it typical fashion, I was only able to interpret about 75-80% of what the lead characters had to say. Fortunately, this “idiotic misadventure” tale (and I’m borrowing that phrase from a critic, because it’s just too spot on) isn’t heavily driven or dependent on dialog… or depth of character… or for that matter, story. What it does have going for it are a lot of tried and true British comedy aesthetics and elements in a fresh, up-to-date wrapper. In all, it’s a little erratic and rough around the edges, but that doesn’t keep it from being moderately entertaining and endearing, and a suitable watch for when you’re in a mood for some silliness with minimal emotional or intellectual investment.
The quick description on Amazon calls this Irish flick a “taut thriller about a demolition worker seeking revenge after he sees the man responsible for a traumatic childhood incident.” That’s all true, but doesn’t really come close to preparing you for just how unsettling this film is to watch. Turns out the worker is a demolished human being who continues to fracture and crumble throughout, the result of being sexually abused by a priest as a boy. And while there is a thriller component, it takes a backseat to the drama of watching a damaged soul’s continued destruction. So prepare yourself for a whole lot of heavy and a heap of intense. That said, Orlando Bloom’s performance is nothing short of amazing, and the film itself, undeniably powerful.