Film reviews by Vince Leo, author of the review site Qwipster.net, covering the latest blockbusters, independent films, foreign cinema, and VOD.
Promising Young Woman (2020) | Emerald Fennell
Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) lives with her parents in Ohio while working in a dead-end job at thirty years old, a barista in a small coffee shop. Her parents have been encouraging her to get on with her life in ways that aren't even subtle. Their latest birthday gift: a suitcase.
Cassie spends her evenings at the local watering holes to the point where she's in an obvious stupor. Inevitably, someone will offer to do the right thing and give her a ride home. However, temptation gets the better of them and they'll tell the cab driver to take her to their home instead. There, they reveal themselves as not so good and she'll reveal herself to be not so drunk, shaming them for essentially trying to rape a woman who is too intoxicated to truly give consent.
At work, Cassie has a run-in with Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham), a former colleague from medical school now working as a pediatrician. Here we pick up clues learning about how she was once on a fast-track to becoming a doctor, but she dropped out for mysterious reasons involving her best friend Nina Fisher, the victim of a sexual assault that never got justice - until Cassie made it her mission to stop predators in their tracks. Ryan seems different, cracking through Cassie's tough exterior, offering a bright future. However, when she learns that the person most responsible for Nina's rape is nearby and about to get married, she has to decide which path she should go down, the path of promise or the path of vengeance on everyone who done them wrong, including the seemingly indifferent school educators and lawyers who downplayed the allegations.
Emerald Fennell writes and directs.
The Little Things (2021) | John Lee Hancock
Set in 1990, Joe 'Deke' Deacon (Denzel Washington) is a burnt-out deputy from Kern County, CA, who left working the spotlight of high-profile cases five years ago for quieter pastures, sacrificing the spotlight and his family in the process. Rami Malek is Jim Baxter, a hotshot homicide detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on top of the case to catch a serial killer brutally slaughtering young women. Deke has a knack for visualizing crime scenes and cracking cases by observing 'the little things' - the seemingly unimportant clues that lead a serial killer to be caught. However, his reputation of following his own guidelines rather than the law has earned him a reputation, especially as events of his past have haunted him to ruin.
Deke travels to LA to deliver evidence for a case from Bakersfield but finds himself drawn into doing additional legwork off the clock because of the similarities between the current murders and one he had been working on back when he was last in Los Angeles that precipitated his exile. The arrogant Baxter initially dismisses Deacon as a loose cannon distraction, but eventually finds there's a method to his madness that could be an asset to cracking the case. Their clues eventually lead to appliance deliverer Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), though they aren't quite sure if he did the deeds or if he's merely drawn close to the case because he is a fanatic for serial-killer crimes and intrigued at being thought of as a suspect. However, the demons that plague Deke seem to be infecting Baxter as he too begins to obsess about the case. John Lee Hancock writes and directs.
The Hunt (2020) | Craig Zobel
The Hunt is a violent satire in which liberals kidnap and hunt down "deplorables", aka Trump supporters. These deplorables wake up in an undisclosed rural area gagged online bloggers and internet trolls claimed to expose online as "Manorgate," but are left with keys, tools, and weapons to potentially defend themselves and get free. The private jet-flying, caviar-consuming liberal elites hunting them down like giving them a sporting chance, though the odds are heavily stacked against them. However, one of the captives is able to give the hunters a run for their money. Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Wayne Duvall, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee appear in this film written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, directed by Craig Zobel.
Soul (2020) | Pete Docter & Kemp Powers
Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, a middle-aged music teacher at a New York public middle school, frustrated by his lack of success toward becoming a professional jazz club musician. He's offered full-time status with the school when another door of opportunity opens. A former student mentions that a legendary jazz saxophonist named Dorothea Williams is auditioning for a new pianist in her jazz ensemble. Nailing the audition, Joe is exuberant, failing to notice an open manhole before falling into it. He next finds himself disassociated with his body in an afterlife existence, a soul waiting for its final destination (dubbed "The Great Beyond").
With dreams unfulfilled, Joe desperately wants his life back, escaping his fate by posing as a mentor for new souls in a pre-life training area called "The Great Before." Joe's assignment is to direct a soul called 22 to find her spark that will keep her happy and productive before assuming her role in the living world. However, 22 is a special case, spending eons avoiding the process under other mentors (even Mother Teresa lost her cool with her). When Terry, the accountant for souls, notices one is missing, she pursues Joe after he escapes back to Earth to regain his life.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
The prolonged armed raid of the shopping mal reveals a jewelry store used as a front to fence valuable but stolen ancient artifacts brought to the Smithsonian for Diana (Gal Gadot) and her team to identify. That's where we meet the newly hired Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a mousy gem specialist with self-esteem issues, particularly around the self-confident and beautiful Diana Prince. In particular, one stands out, a phallic piece identified as the Dreamstone, a crystal of myth once believed throughout ancient history to grant wishes. Cavalierly, Barbara makes her wish to be like Diana, though not knowing that also means like Wonder Woman as a by-product. Diana makes her wish for Steve Trevor to be back in her life to continue the life they never got to spend together.
Overnight, Barbara's confidence begins to grow, and the men take note of her beauty while she begins to grow in strength and agility. At the same time, Diana is approached by a mysterious strange claiming to be Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). He doesn't look like him, but after a few words that only Steve might know, she sees the character with Chris Pine's face and voice henceforth. (This aspect will require audiences not to think too hard about an innocent man whose body will be used nonconsensually indefinitely for Diana to romance, while also having no family or friends in his life to notice he's completely changed).
Villainy soon enters the scene when Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), a TV infomercial conman who has headed the financially failing oil company called Black Gold Cooperative, enters the scene. Lord discovers they have the Dreamstone, and he's desperate enough to give it a try, using his charm on Barbara to get his hands on the piece and make his wish - which is to have the stone's powers. The physical stone disintegrates, and now Max has the power to grant anyone a wish - a power he uses in exchanges for the wealth, power, and fame of others who deal with him directly.
However, what the wish makers don't know is that there is a catch. Gaining the thing they desire most means losing the thing of most value they already possess. In Barbara's case, it is her kindness. In Max's case, it is a good father. And in Diana's case, it is the superpowers she needs to save the world.
Patty Jenkins directs.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) | Dean Parisot
The story involves the Bill (Alex Winter) & Ted (Keanu Reeves), now married with one child each, suffering a mid-life crisis, realizing that they never united humankind through their music as foretold. In fact, contrary to the end montage of Bogus Journey depicting their success, Face the Music shows the duo jaded after a career where they are more laughing-stock than the most popular band on Earth. The pressure to fulfill their destiny finds their marriage on the rocks, seeking couples therapy, but one where both couples are involved simultaneously; the duo's inability to separate their codependency is one of the issues. Someone from the future tells them they need to write the song within the next 77 minutes to achieve global peace and harmony, or the universe will come apart in a cataclysmic event called the Unraveling. Their plan: use the phone booth time machine to travel forward in time to steal the song from their future selves. Dean Parisot directs this third entry in the Bill & Ted series.
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All kinds of movies reviewed, and cleanly! Everything from Blockbusters to foreign films.