Metal Lords (dir. Peter Sollett, 2022) – Two high schoolers attempt to complete their death metal band with a cellist ahead of the upcoming Battle of the Bands.
In 2003, the School of Rock made its name. Guitarist Dewey Finn, while impersonating a substitute teacher, put together a band of talented high school musicians and turned their classical training into rock fuel in weeks. Despite his initial self-serving intention to win the Battle of the Bands, he soon inadvertently brought out the best in them. The coming-of-age masterwork remains celebrated almost 2 decades later today, cementing its place as an all-time best for many.
At first glance, Metal Lords seems to mirror the Richard Linklater film like a spiritual sequel, only for a heavier genre. The competition this time comes down to high school duo Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith), the founders of experimental death metal band Skullfucker. The only trouble? They are missing a bass player, and they aren’t exactly the most popular kids in school.
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The Adam Project (dir. Shawn Levy, 2022) – After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-travelling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his younger self for a mission to save the future.
The predestination paradox posits a scenario where an individual travels back in time to prevent an incident, only to cause the said event, inevitably closing the causality loop. It all makes for some intriguing on-screen storytelling with potential for twists and turns, as several genre films had shown. The Adam Project isn’t that kind of time-travel movie.
The story’s DNA shares more in common with a breezy fun space adventure than a thought-provoking mindbender. That is to say, there isn’t much in the way of narrative depth. Having said that, if the former is what you are in for, a treat is what you will get.
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Photocopier (dir. Wregas Bhanuteja, 2022) – A first-year university student loses her scholarship after her drunk selfie was circulated online, but she has no recollection of the night’s events.
Sur (Shenina Syawalita Cinnamon) cannot recall what went on at the party last night. The only trace of it is her drunk selfie that had been posted online and had cost her a full scholarship. Suspecting something else amiss, Sur seeks help from her childhood friend Amin (Chicco Kurniawan), who works as a photocopier on campus, to access her classmates’ mobile phones and find out what really happened.
The crime mystery gradually unfolds, but the answers are much more complicated than one may expect. Her sleuthing soon uncovers the horrible truth, involving crimes of sexual assault and a series of cover-ups. Yet no one seems to believe her. The credibility of every moment of doubt perturbs the audience, especially as we see how easy it can be to discredit a powerless victim.
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Munich: The Edge of War (dir. Christian Schwochow, 2022) – A British civil servant and a German diplomat, once former classmates at Oxford, find themselves at the centre of a dangerous political mission.
Back in 1938, Europe celebrated the Munich Agreement for its apparent promise to prevent a potential major war. But peace, as history showed, did not last. The pact soon became one of humanity’s most difficult lessons when Hitler reneged on the treaty just six months later. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned in disgrace for his devastating mistake that resulted in the loss of innocent lives in the millions.
Munich: The Edge of War retells this dark chapter of the past, only that the narrative had been rewritten by political thriller novelist Robert Harris. In his version of revisionist history, German diplomat Paul von Hartmann (Jannis Niewöhner) gets hold of a document that reveals Hitler’s true plans and may very well lead Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons) to a different choice.
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With restrictions still in place, my cinema trips have regrettably reduced as I remain reliant on streaming services. Thankfully, there are more than a few gems on the interweb.
Of the limited pool, I whittled the list down to 10 of my personal favourites, excluding the much underrated Encounter, highly misunderstood The Matrix: Resurrections, and unfairly maligned Mortal Kombat reboot. Here are the rest:
10. The Night House (dir. David Bruckner)
You were right. There is nothing. Nothing is after you. You’re safe now. Those were the last words that Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) left behind in his cryptic suicide note to his wife Beth (Rebecca Hall). All of that means nothing to her, at first. But when she finds an inverse floor plan of their home, she becomes certain that the answers lie where she stands.
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Passing (dir. Rebecca Hall, 2021) – The reunion of two high school friends ignites a mutual obsession that threatens their carefully built realities.
Irene (Tessa Thompson) can’t quite place the woman who is staring at her. Then, she makes the connection. Clare (Ruth Negga) is her childhood friend, except that she is also someone else. The light-skinned black woman now passes as white and is married to a wealthy white businessman, who flaunts his bigotry like a badge of honour.
Both black women reacquaint and become increasingly intrigued by one another, as though they each represent the alternate reality that the other could have had. Irene, once content in her skin, begins to question if her pride is worth the epithets thrown at her and her family. Clare, who once saw what she gained by embracing someone else’s identity, starts realising how much she lost by rejecting her own.
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