I Care a Lot – This latest star vehicle for Rosamund Pike is a thriller from the mind of J Blakeson, who previously directed the 2009 thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Blakeson’s film is a film littered with loathsome and unlikable characters, including Pike, who plays Marla, a con woman who makes her shady living by getting guardianship over elders, and then exploiting them by selling their hones and their assets while they are locked away in old people’s homes.
The film has some funny moments, and from it’s bonkers premise alone, you can tell that this has elements of a Coen brothers black comedy, in the same vein of something like Burn After Reading. However, the main problem is that it is never as consistently (or effectively) funny as something like Burn After Reading. Also, it is never as actually thrilling as something like Gone Girl, where Pike made her star-turning role.
It’s also a film filled to the brim with unlikable characters, which sometimes (under the right director) can be very interesting, however, with this film, it proves very tiresome. It’s possibly because the protagonist never goes under much pressure or extenuating circumstances to get what she wants – it all happens very easily for her. In particular, there is one moment that makes her look almost superhuman, and her nastiness never feels properly earned. There are a lot of great scenes in this film, but it just doesn’t equal out to a satisfying whole. Pike is admittedly great in the leading role, and the supporting turns by Dianne Weist, Peter Dinklage and Chris Messina were also pretty good. However, I guess I just wanted more out of this movie. (6/10) (Available on Amazon Prime Video)
Moxie: This latest Netflix movie is the latest film from Amy Poehler, who previously directed Wine Country, also broadcast on Netflix. This new film is a teen coming-of-age comedy, starring a variety of newcomers, including Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena and Nico Hiraga, among many others. It centres on a young teenage girl, Vivian (Robinson), who attempts to shake up her sexist and toxic school environment by publishing a feminist magazine. Soon enough, a feminist club is created, and the entire school is royally shook up.
Now, Wine Country may have been absolutely hilarious, but a lot of that was down to the hilarious performers, and less down to the directing or writing – in fact, Poehler’s direction was quite mediocre. You’ll be thrilled to hear that the Poehler has now upped her game, as Moxie is a really charming and adorable movie, with Poehler proving a steady hand at the helm. The film is filled with good, solid messages that manages to not feel preachy or annoying, and sharp and realistic details about the school environment. It a solid and charming coming-of-age tale that I’m sure pretty much everyone would like and enjoy. (Rating: 8/10) (Available on Netflix).
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things: Amazon Prime’s newest original is charming little time loop comedy, that is really entertaining. The plot centres on Mark (Kyle Allen), a teenage boy who has become trapped in an infinite time loop. Originally believing that he was the only one in this loop, he soon discovers that another teenager, Margaret (Kathryn Newton) is also trapped in the same time loop. While embarking on a quest to find all the “tiny perfect things” in the world, the two begin to fall in love.
As you can tell, the premise has echoes of Groundhog Day and even more to the brilliant soon-to-released comedy, Palm Springs. This doesn’t quite live up to those movies, but it’s still a really charming sci-fi comedy. The whole “tiny perfect things” element to the plot is a bit pretentious and unnecessary, but other than that, this really works on the strength on it’s charming performances, witty script and surprise factor. It definitely gone under the radar recently, but it’s worth checking out. (Rating: 8/10) (Available on Amazon Prime Video)
Willy’s Wonderland: Ever since Mandy in 2018, Nicolas Cage has made a name for himself by giving overzealous, frenzied performances in a really fun, campy almost B-movies (other examples include Mom and Dad and Color Out of Space). And Willy’s Wonderland is no exception, a movie in which mainly centres on Cage going to war against a bunch of animated animatronic puppets while trapped in an abandoned restaurant.
There is a little more to the plot than that (including a bunch of teenagers (including Emily Tosta) who help Cage in his quest), but overall, the fun simplicity of the film is what really makes it. It’s really fun, funny (both intentionally and unintentionally), silly, and at times quite creepy (never really scary, but creepy). In particular, the animatronic puppets work really well, being actually properly chilling.
I sometimes wish there was a little more to the film – the film hints at Cage having more to him than meets the eye, but ultimately we never really discover much about Cage’s backstory, and that could of been really fun to discover. It was originally based off a short film, and it is an successful example of updating a short film to feature-length, however, I still wish there was a little more to it. (Rating: 7/10) (Available from most major streaming services, including Google Play and Amazon)
To All The Boys: Always and Forever: The third instalment to the To All the Boys… franchise, this sequel centres on Lara Jean (Emily Condor) making her way off to college. Originally planning to go school near her boyfriend, Peter (Noah Centineo), both Lara and Peter’s future is left up in the air when Lara begins to be tempted to go to school very far away.
The great thing about this sequel is that it does away with the contrived love triangle storyline of the second film, and instead, focuses on the more universal themes of growing up, going off to college and how this impacts those close to you. It all feels very emotionally real, and relatable, and stays true to these fun characters.
The film does lack the surprise factor of the original (the franchise does feel like it’s worn out it’s welcome), and there are much better, more polished teen coming-of-age movies on this list (especially Moxie and Map of Tiny Little Things), but this movie is still pretty cute and worth a look. (Rating: 6/10) (Available on Netflix)
Other new movies:
The Owners – A nasty and cruel little horror movie that never really lives up to it’s interesting potential (Rating: 4/10)
Framing Britney Spears – A really heart-breaking and insightful documentary about the life of Britney Spears (Rating: 8/10)
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – A extremely silly and larger than life comedy that bombs and makes you laugh in equal measure. A complete load of nonsense that you should definitely check out. (Rating: 7/10)
The United States vs. Billie Holiday – Audra Day (in her Golden Globe-winning role) shines in an otherwise safe, overlong and unfocused biopic. (Rating: 6.5/10)