Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

There’s certainly no shortage of movies featuring a time loop or “temporal anomaly.” There’s Groundhog Day, of course, as well as 12 Dates of Christmas, Before I Fall, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, to name but a few. So it’s really no wonder that I felt a certain sense of déjà vu watching The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.

Review: Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah is one of those movies you should watch, even if you don’t really want to. It’s another stark reminder of how the FBI operated under a racist and reactionary J. Edgar Hoover during the 1960s, and a stark reminder of why it’s never a good idea to 100% trust government spin. File those FOIAs! Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out, Queen & Slim), the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was gunned down by law enforcement during an overnight raid in 1969, after a fateful betrayal by FBI informant Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You). The movie is filled with excellent performances – even if the material itself is far from entertaining

Review: Son of the South

“Not choosing sides is a choice,” Rosa Parks (Sharonne Lanier) tells white college boy Bob Zellner (Lucas Till) when he talks to the civil rights icon a few years after she infamously refused to give up her seat on the bus. It’s the early 1960s in southern Alabama and Zellner is on the verge of a transformation from good ol’ boy grandson of a Klansman, to civil rights activist. Son of the South is based on Zellner’s autobiography, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek,” which recounts his brave choice to defy his family and white southern norms in order to fight against social injustice and align himself with the likes of John Lewis and the Freedom Riders.

Cinema Clash Podcast: The Little Things, Supernova, Palmer, Apollo11 Quarantine

I recently reviewed Supernova, which is an understated film elevated by its two stars, Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth. I also watched a few other movies out this week including The Little Things, which sadly could not be elevated by the presence of a trio of Oscar-winning actors (Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto). And then there was Palmer, an Apple TV+ original movie that was satisfying to watch even if totally formulaic, thanks to the sweet dynamic between Justin Timberlake and his young co-star Ryder Allen. Find out more about these films, as well as what my co-host Charlie Juhl had to say about The Dig on Netflix and the foreign film Dear Comrades!, and my quick watch of a short documentary with leftover footage from Apollo 11… on this edition of The Cinema Clash podcast!

Review: Supernova

No, this isn’t another space movie, though the title may give you that impression. It’s a placid roadtrip movie, featuring a middle-aged gay couple riding through England’s Lake District in a camper van, pondering life’s joys and sorrows in the shadow of a terminal dementia diagnosis. If it were anyone other than Stanley Tucci (Big Night, The Hunger Games) and Colin Firth (A Single Man, The King’s Speech) in the lead roles, it might not resonate all that much. But the two actors – and longtime friends – share an easy chemistry that is quietly compelling to watch, under the direction of Harry MacQueen.

Review: Our Friend

Read this first. It’s the Esquire article on which Our Friend is based. The writer is Matthew Teague, a journalist who wrote an essay about the slow and painful death of his vibrant wife Nicole from ovarian cancer at the age of 36. Only the article wasn’t just about him and his wife; it was about their best friend Dane, a guy who put his own life on hold to help Nicole, Matthew and their two young girls get through their darkest days. It’s a story that is heartbreaking and uplifting all at once and will have you thinking about who your friends are, the types of sacrifices they might make in similar situations, and the type of friend you strive to be. This went way beyond a little cooking, babysitting or GoFundMe type stuff. Dane was all in, as a friend and caregiver extraordinaire. And when Nicole eventually succumbed to cancer, Matt was able to take a step back and see just how critical Dane was to his own survival.

Review: The Marksman

What can I say? It’s Liam Neeson – with a straw hat, a rifle, and a faithful dog. There’s nothing particularly unique or original about The Marksman, but Neeson gives the type of performance that’s made him watchable in even the lamest of movies like Honest Thief in October or Made In Italy in August. The Marksman is certainly better than those, but not as good as the moving marital drama Ordinary Love released in barely pre-pandemic times (February 2020). The guy is nothing if not prolific at the ageless action-thriller-romantic hero age of 68. In The Marksman, Neeson plays Jim Hanson, a hardened rancher (with an all-American name and distinctly Irish accent) who works an isolated stretch of borderland in Arizona. He’s a widower drowning in debt, and he doesn’t have much use for anyone or anything outside his ranch, a bottle, and his four-legged companion Jackson. But he’s also an ex-Marine – so he’s got honor. The kind of honor that propels him to make good on a promise to take 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Jacob Perez) to the safety of family in Chicago, even though the border patrol and a group of ruthless killers from a Mexican drug cartel are hot on their trail.

Quickie Review: Stars Fell on Alabama

It could’ve been worse. I could have paid to see Stars Fell on Alabama in a theater. Instead, I was able to float mindlessly through this romantic dramedy as if it were just some leftover entry in the Hallmark/Lifetime/Netflix Christmas movie rotation. Except there is no holiday. Just a high school reunion – and a junior varsity version of the much, much, much better romantic drama Sweet Home Alabama. Please don’t get them confused.

Review: Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is the first movie released mid-pandemic for which I was sorely tempted to mask up and venture into a theater. Really glad I didn’t. Lasso of truth: WW84 is okay, but falls far short of its predecessor and is, most definitely, not worth risking your life for. It’s simply too long and meandering in plot to fully satisfy all but those desperately hungry for a superhero movie. I thought I was. Now I’m not so sure! I didn’t dislike WW84; but I was disappointed.

Girl Power – in front of and behind the camera – can only take you so far. Pieces of the story are good. They just don’t hang together all that well. The movie is too heavy on the messaging (Don’t lie. Greed is bad. Most people want to be good. Be careful what you wish for. Truth is all there is.) and too light on the superheroics. I’m all for Diana Prince living a double life, but aren’t we here mostly to see Wonder Woman doing her thing? Wonder Woman 1984 needed more Wonder Woman!

Review: Promising Young Woman

I finally have a solid front-runner for my ‘best of’ list for film and lead actress for 2020. It’s Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan (Wildlife, Mudbound, An Education). The movie defies the boundaries of any particular genre. It’s got dark comedy, drama, crime, vengeance, timely relevance, a great soundtrack, and a twist. Oh, what a twist.