Tenet (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2020) – A CIA operative takes on a mission of international espionage, only to find it unfolding beyond real time.
Christopher Nolan loves toying with time. Linear narratives, it appears, do not interest him.
In Memento, his amnesiac character lives out his mystery in both forward and reverse chronology. With Inception, his measurement of years varies with every layer of the dream world. Interstellar has Nolan going deeper, working with theoretical physicist Kip Thorne to firm up the science of his wormholes.
Tenet seems a natural extension of that same obsessive exploration. His new film yet again tinkers with the written rules of time by introducing head-spinning unknowns. With Kip Thorne back by his side, the pair boldly questions, what if we could invert everything around us? What if we could walk through our world as it moves backwards in time?
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7500 (dir. Patrick Vollrath, 2020) – Terrorists hijack a Berlin-Paris flight, where a pilot is forced to make tough decisions to save his crew and passengers.
No long shots, no scenery, no distractions. Nothing but acting and words. It takes one hell of a performance to make single-location films work. Anchoring 7500 is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s in the role of co-pilot Tobias Ellis, with just a locked door separating him from the ruthless hijackers.
He wasn’t alone. Not at first. Before he managed to lock the door behind, one hijacker had stormed his way in with a glass shard in hand. It took Ellis all he had to knock the intruder out, barely escaping with a badly injured arm.
Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) wasn’t quite as lucky. Ellis’ only companion slumps in the front seat with a fatal wound. All that he has left are two unconscious bodies. And his fear is palpable.
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Project Power (dir. Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, 2020) – A new pill on the market lets loose uncontrolled superpowers on the streets, where a dealer, a cop and a veteran attempt to stop its creators.
NOPD officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets the timer on his watch and pops the pill. For the next five minutes, he is bullet proof, a power that vanishes soon as the timer beeps. These are the precise rules that govern Project Power, a film that offers special abilities in well-timed short bursts – to just about anyone on the streets.
The catch? From cyro to pyrokinesis, there is no telling what ability one is going to get. As Machine Gun Kelly’s unfortunate dealer proves, most suffer uncontrolled surges that ultimately prove fatal, driving Frank’s determination to take down the source.
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Chicuarotes (dir. Gael García Bernal, 2019) – In a bid to escape poverty, two youths become involved in increasingly dangerous crimes.
Aboard a public bus, Cagalera (Benny Emmanuel) and Moloteco (Gabriel Carbajal) launch into an unsolicited comedy show, putting forth their best face paint and puns. “We would rather do this than to be criminals or thugs,” the teenagers proclaim.
But when their act fail to make a cent from their indifferent audience, they instantly give up their idea of an honest living. Turning to the alternative they had denounced only seconds ago, they rob the now rapt passengers at gunpoint.
The excellent opening scene in Chicuarotes makes it clear that the pair’s petty crimes are destined to escalate in severity and not wit, out of their desperation to leave the poorer suburbs. There would be no lavish scheme for their attempt to graduate from rags to riches, only the thoughtless ploys and poor decisions of two reckless youths.
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Da 5 Bloods (dir. Spike Lee, 2020) – Four veterans return to Vietnam to recover the remains of their fallen friend and the gold he helped them hide.
Most of us would be hard-pressed to name a single war movie that plays out through the eyes of black soldiers. When present at all, they are often relegated to the roles of minor characters. Yet in reality, they formed more than a quarter of American troops who fought in the Vietnam war, despite being just 11% of the US population.
The disproportionate casting is an issue that goes beyond the lack of minority representation in Hollywood. It is also the erasure of their experiences and perspectives, leaving behind an incomplete and hence inaccurate reflection of history.
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