Yesterday (dir. Danny Boyle, 2019) – Following a road accident, musician Jack Malik wakes up to find himself in an alternate timeline, where the Beatles do not exist.
Leaving the cultural legacy of the Beatles to the sidelines, Yesterday serves up its charming romance with a disappointing side of missed opportunities.
Imagine there’s no Beatles. What would the world be without Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Yellow Submarine? Who, if anyone, would have led the cultural revolution in place of the Fab Four?What of the myriad bands influenced by John, Paul, George, and Ringo to begin playing music in the first place?
Oddly enough, no major changes occur in this alternate timeline of Yesterday. That is at least in the aspect of music, which continues to thrive with the gaping hole in cultural history. The whimsical concept remains uninterested in exploring the musical legacy of the Beatles, operating on arbitrary rules of logic.
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The Dead Don’t Die (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 2019) – Zombies rise in the quiet town of Centerville, pitting its citizens against an unexpected apocalypse.
Auteur Jim Jarmusch lets none of his dark wit obscure what his latest film truly is – a tragic ode to the quiet death of humanity.
Calamity befalls the once peaceful Centerville, where farmer Miller (Steve Buscemi) reports his poultry missing. Soon, police trio Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray), Ronnie Petersen (Adam Driver), and Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) discover two mutilated corpses at the diner, then two open graves at the cemetery.
“This is all gonna end badly,” Petersen mutters in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, convinced that the town’s destruction is but inevitable.
Consider that a big, pessimistic hint at what Jim Jarmusch may just be saying with his latest elegiac work. Indeed, The Dead Don’t Die is far from a cautionary tale. It is an irate, bitter rebuke against the hordes of us, responsible for the mess that is the world today.
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Parasite / Gisaengchung (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2019) – An unemployed family takes interest in the wealthy Parks and goes down a dangerous road of fraud.
Genre-bending masterwork Parasite dives into the intimate lives of two families, forcing an introspective look into the difficult subject of the world’s growing social divide.
Bong Joon-ho is anything but a conventional filmmaker. Undeterred by controversy, his string of masterworks never steer away from sharp critiques on politics and capitalistic greed. The Host, Memories of Murder, and Mother; few have made movies as resonant as his, earning deserving acclaim for their layered reflection on South Korean society.
Recent years saw him reach English-speaking audiences with genetically-engineered pigs ripe for slaughter (Okja), and a brewing revolution aboard an analogous train (Showpiercer). The commentaries on class divisions again hit home for many, especially during this politically trying decade.
Back on home grounds, the South Korean director continues to transcend borders with his latest social satire on economic inequality. More akin to his former all-Korean productions, Parasite roots itself back in harsh reality, homing in on two families of different worlds.
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The Perfection (dir. Richard Shepard, 2019) – Strange events unfold when musical prodigy Lizzie encounters the former star pupil of her school.
A deceptively simple thriller slips in slick blood across genres. Avoid trailers at all costs.
Art demands perfection and thrives on competition. This endless pressure to be the best can manifest dangerous demands. In Whiplash, it coerces hurtful abuse out of two musicians in their strive for the ideal.
Borrowing the same note, The Perfection sees the same ghost haunt cello prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams), whose promising career was cut short upon her mother’s illness. When she meets the new star pupil of her former school Lizzie (Logan Browning), she is driven to violent jealousy… or so we are led to believe.
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Rocketman (dir. Dexter Fletcher, 2019) – Revered musical legend Elton John re-lives his breakout years in a fantastical musical.
Topped with inviting shades of fantasy, Rocketman leads us on an outrageously gratifying wild ride from start to finish.
Estranged families, addictions, and struggles with sexuality. Present are all the usual suspects of rock star adventures in Rocketman. But based on a true fantasy, this is clearly no biopic from the mould. Director Dexter Fletcher chooses his own perfect way to retell Elton John’s highs and lows.
Showered in flamboyance and operatic excess, the film proves befitting for the Pinball Wizard known and beloved for his larger-than-life personality. Big musical numbers never feel too out of town, bringing tinges of hope to the darkest moments.
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Avengers: Endgame (dir. The Russo Brothers, 2019) – With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.
Ten years in the making, Endgame delivers a moving culmination of a brilliantly constructed story.
Review (Warning: Spoilers!)
The very day after watching Avengers: Endgame, I penned down my thoughts and left it sitting in my drafts. I had been hesitant to post it, given how any new review would be rehashing the same few points on the Phase 3 conclusion.
But the franchise deserves every possible tribute for the writers and filmmakers, who have elevated the MCU films above the average superhero fare. Most of all with this 3-hour finale, where the Russo brothers have done it again.
The set pieces are nothing short of epic. Humour and tragedy hang in perfect balance, hitting the right notes for the most part. Above all, every original Avenger found a due end to their arc.
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