This has been a tough year for movies, where streaming services threatened cinemas more than before and major film productions came to a halt. May 2021 bring about better luck for us and the film industry both.
Before we return to the theatres next year, here’s looking back at the strange year we had, as defined by the films I personally loved. These exclude ones that almost made it, namely: Black Box, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Eurovision Song Contest for the gift of Ja Ja Ding Dong alone.
10. The Invisible Man (dir. Leigh Whannell)
Abandoning the bandages get-up for a high-tech suit affixed with micro-lenses, the new incarnation of Invisible Man has certainly gotten a visual upgrade. More than green screen magic is the story that brings out more grounded invisible monsters within toxic relationships.
Escaping the pitfall of taking on remakes, Leigh Whannell has his own story to tell. Who knew that his movie would be the last cinematic experience that I would have had for the next 6 months, but I couldn’t have chosen a better film to mark a temporary break from my favourite place on this planet. (review)
Continue reading Favourite Movies of 2020
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.
Continue reading Movie Review: Project Power (2020)
The Last Days of American Crime (dir. Olivier Megaton, 2020) – As a final response to rampant crime in the country, the US government plans to broadcast a signal that makes unlawful acts impossible to commit.
Set in the near future, the US government plans to implement the American Peace Initiative nationwide. The fancily named API is essentially a neural blocker, which will send a signal to the brain of any citizen attempting to commit a crime.
Picture A Clockwork Orange, but scrap any intent for social commentary. In fact, scrap logic, wit and plot till there is nothing left but the bare bones of the sci-fi concept. Now, the stage is set. Enter the villains.
Out to game the system is Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), the unstable son of a crime lord. He has in mind America’s final heist before API comes into play – for the sole sake of proving his worth to his father. Career criminal Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez) jumps in to help despite the absence of a real plan, not before falling in love with Cash’s fiancé Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster).
Continue reading Movie Review: The Last Days of American Crime (2020)
Leave No Trace (dir. Debra Granik, 2018) – A war veteran and his teenage daughter have been living off the grid for years until a mistake costs them their idyllic lives.
Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) barely speak a word as they go about their day – gathering wood, playing chess, and reading. The quietude of their lives feels like a vignette of the past, away from the city bustle that we are used to.
There is no electricity, hot water or digital screens. Neither is there the pressure of the daily grind to upkeep these conveniences. Their only compromise on modernity comes in a propane gas stove and their routine trip to the grocery store.
This choice to reside within an urban park is not a political statement or borne out of poverty. In fact, it almost seems ideal. Who wouldn’t want to escape from the weight of society’s endless demands? But this rejection of conformity comes from a far more difficult place.
Continue reading Movie Review: Leave No Trace (2018)
Lost Girls (dir. Liz Garbus, 2020) – When her daughter goes missing, Mari Gilbert launches her own investigation that in turn brings attention to a string of unsolved murders.
In 2010, 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert vanished after meeting a client off Craigslist. She was last seen knocking on doors along Oak Beach for help, as though in fear for her life. Her body was later found in a marsh. At least 10 other bodies were discovered in the vicinity, four of whom were also identified as sex workers.
Lost Girls brings her harrowing story to screen, but it is far from a play-by-play procedural. Without exploiting the tragedy, Liz Garbus presents a more complex study on the unresolved murders, shining a light on the avoidable failures of a callous society.
Continue reading Movie Review: Lost Girls (2020)
Extraction (dir. Sam Hargrave, 2020) – Tyler Rake embarks on a mission to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned crime lord.
Meet black market mercenary Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth). The Australian has been sent to India to rescue a drug lord’s son Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), whom a rival linchpin has kidnapped for ransom.
It is supposed to be a simple extraction. The hero charges all guns blazing into the streets, forms an emotional bond with Ovi, and likely saves the day. But Tyler is not the only man in business. Unable to afford the ransom or the mercenary fees, Ovi’s father has also sent his own henchman Saju Rav (Randeep Hooda) to do the job himself.
The plot beckons questions. Why would Ovi readily follow a stranger with a murderous rage, instead of his own father’s partner? Why couldn’t Saju have done the job himself in the first place? How did a South Asian feud manage to implicate a mercenary from down under?
Continue reading Movie Review: Extraction (2020)