What We're Watching: April 30, 2021

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Brock: "The night before this year's Oscar telecast finally had a chance to see Minari (2020). While I was getting a little impatient with the slower pace as the second act progressed, I then got hit with the realization of just how engrossed in the story, the characters and in their dynamics I had become; so much so when the climax occurred I had my hands over my agape mouth, startled and feeling so bad for the family. Youn Yuh-jung was the highlight, and deservedly took home the award the following day. Recommend. Meanwhile, the first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Wings (1927), holds up remarkably well. The camerawork with the aerial fighting, the actors actually in the open air cockpits, the wide shots of hundreds of extras, the expressive Clara Bow - all so impressive, especially more so when you realize this was made almost 100 years ago. The love story portion reminded me of Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor, but is done much better here. So glad I finally got around to watching Wings. Recommend." 

Jakob: "Start with Christopher Nolan’s Inception, have it rewritten by introspective Charlie Kaufman with visuals imagined by Michel Gondry, then animate the whole thing and the results would be the trippy anime sci-fi film Paprika (2006). Terrorists steal technology that allows one to enter another’s dream which may result in the complete collapse of reality. There is a real sense of existential dread as characters struggle to realize if they’re living their life or just caught in someone else’s imagination. Most impressive is how much the movie excels at capturing the bizarreness of dreams—so much so I was always a little bummed when the action returned to the real world."

Stuart: "The itch to chuck all the aggravations of the modern world and reinvent oneself in an uncivilized jungle has led many idealists to a bitter end... and that includes Harrison Ford and his Witness director Peter Weir when they first risked adapting The Mosquito Coast in 1986. The film was an intriguing flop, and now Justin Theroux dares to revive the concept as a new Apple Plus miniseries. Trailers imply the restless family man has ulterior motives for going off the grid, and that many bullets will be fired over the next seven episodes. I can't wait.  

Jason: "Michael Bay filmed a pandemic lockdown thriller, Songbird, last year, in which COVID has mutated and cities are totally shut down while infected citizens are hauled away to quarantine 'camps.' The premise would be interesting if we could see the full extent of the chaos, and if we didn't feel as if we were being hit over the head with Bay's fear mongering; that's impossible when you're limited by real-life shutdowns and distancing guidelines."

Adam: "Checking out the new animated DC movie Justice Society: World War II (2021). I enjoyed the output from the animation team in the past, and am hoping for something to continue this good run. I’ve always had a soft spot for DC animation right from Batman: The Animated Series in the 90s, and the latest movie seems to have an interesting premise, with the Flash going back in time to meet heroes of old."

Santiago: "22 Jump Street (2014). Despite my love of the original, I never saw this movie. Sequels to great comedies... rarely pan out well. But I caught it on cable last night, and it might even be better? Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are as funny as ever, and while the plot is the same as the original, the film knows it and makes several hilarious references to it. While the film has a bigger scope and even more cartoonish humor than the first one, Schmidt and Jenko's arc has a degree of emotional honesty (and is very relatable) that grounds the film and lets you connect with the characters, which makes it a stronger comedy and overall film. Oh, and one of the funniest credits sequences I've ever seen and the funniest way to 'kill' a franchise. Strong Recommend."

Heath: "Revisited a comedy that I consider to be one of the unsung gems of the 90s - Short Time (1990). It features a rare leading role for the great Dabney Coleman, and holds up as a rollicking action-comedy with a killer premise. Coleman plays a world-weary cop on the verge of retirement who (thanks to a mix-up at the hospital) mistakenly believes he only has two weeks to live and decides to do all he can to get killed while on duty so that his family will be financially secure after he's gone. The undisputed highlight is an incredible car chase in the middle of the movie that rivals anything in The Blues Brothers. Even if you don't see the movie, this sequence is worth checking out on YoutTube. It's not an easy film to find (I had to buy a UK DVD to watch it) but if you can track it down it's more than worthy of your time."