Archive for March, 2021

Movie Mayhem – Nobody

Nobody — 2021; Directed by Ilya Naishuller; Starring Bob Odenkirk, Aleksey Serebryakov, Connie Nielson, Christopher Lloyd, RZA and Michael Ironside

When I first saw the trailer for Nobody, my first thought (as it was for probably many others) was that it was going to be a not-so-subtle mix of John Wick and Taken, with maybe a little bit of Falling Down thrown in for good measure. After all, based on the trailer, the movie was going to be about an ordinary man with extraordinary skills who finally snaps after living a fruitless, mundane life. Last week I reviewed Cosmic Sin, which I deemed too unimaginative to be anything more than a ripoff of a whole lot of different films. Does that mean Nobody was going to fall into that same trap? Fortunately, it doesn’t. Although the summary I wrote above isn’t too far off from the actual plot of the film, there is more going on here than simply retreading what’s come before.

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Movie Mayhem – Cosmic Sin

Cosmic Sin — 2021; Directed by Edward Drake; Starring Frank Grillo, Bruce Willis, Brandon Thomas Lee, Corey Large, C.J. Perry and Perrey Reeves

It has been a bit of a running joke that Bruce Willis has all but checked out. Not from acting, but from caring. Much like Nicolas Cage, Willis works feverishly, starring in multiple films every year that go straight to DVD, on-demand or streaming services. Unlike Cage, who puts every ounce of passion into each project no matter how horrible it ends up being, Willis tends to provide laid-back, tired performances that hint at his only being there for the paycheck.

This tendency for laziness doesn’t stop at actors. It’s also found in filmmakers, directors and of course writers. Just like an actors performance, if the writing is lazy, it can upset you, aggravate you. Not because the film was bad or you wasted a couple of hours on predictable, unimaginative drivel, but because you know there’s more there that could have been done and that there are plenty of people willing to work much harder to create a great product, despite whether or not it ultimately turns out a horrible mess. That’s what I see in Willis’s new film, Cosmic Sin, where it doesn’t seem anyone involved cared much about creating anything but a passable science-fiction facsimile.

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Movie Mayhem – Chaos Walking/Cherry

Chaos Walking — 2021; Directed by Doug Liman; Starring Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen and Demién Bachir
Cherry — 2021; Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo; Starring Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jeff Wahlberg and Jack Reynor

Not many knew of Tom Holland before he arrived on the scene as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Since then, Holland has become a household name, yet he hasn’t seen a whole lot of screen time outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and some voice-work in high-profile movies like Spies In Disguise and Onward. In every such case, Holland has built a reputation for playing nervous, geeky-tech kids who are more anxious about asking out the pretty girl in school than confronting the evil that wrecks havoc in his life. Chaos Walking and Cherry, two films that premiered over the last couple of weeks, give Holland a chance to break from that stereotype and prove that he has the chops to live outside of the fun-loving, nerdy persona.

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Movie Mayhem – Boogie

Boogie — 2021; Directed by Eddie Huang; Starring Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige, Pop Smoke, Pamelyn Chee, Perry Yung, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Mike Moh

When you think of sports movies, whether baseball, football, basketball, hockey or even golf, there is one word they all have in common — inspirational. Sports films deal in inspiration like a stockbroker deals in cash. A player learning a valuable lesson, a coach going through a mid-life crisis, or a team of misfits overcoming their insecurities to win the big game against the “better” athletes, it doesn’t matter; sports films make it their purpose to give those who are essentially broken a chance to prove themselves and become a winner. Unfortunately, the new sports drama Boogie plays into none of that, essentially stripping its story of anything inspirational and washing the whole thing in the sour nectar of gloom.

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Movie Mayhem – Blithe Spirit

Blithe Spirit — 2021; Directed by Edward Hall; Starring Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann and Judi Dench

As a writer, I gravitate toward films about writers. Part of the reason is because most of them deal with how writers deal with the challenges of writer’s block and how they overcome it. Whether it’s a comedy like Throw Momma From the Train, or existential meta-fiction like Adaptation, the heroes journey for these characters is finding their muse and getting out of their own way in order to write that next great novel. It’s in all writers who struggle to find words to fill those terrifying blank pages and away from the mountain of procrastination we tend to build around us in order to avoid it all together. Blithe Spirit is the second film to come out this month that dives into the turmoil of the writer as he (or she) discovers their muse in an unorthodox way.

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