A new week for my 2021 movie season watching and three new films caught my attention this weekend - Finding Ohana, The Little Things, And Nomadland.
But first, a reminder of what my grading system for movies works like
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film I’ve Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Graded Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
With all that out of the way, lets get to the review already...
- The Plot: The film follows two Brooklyn siblings whose summer in a rural Oahu town takes an exciting turn when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an adventure, leading them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage.
- My Review: Unfortunately this adventure film is anything but fun, its stylistic limitations in low production costs affects it enough to come off much more boring than any adventure film should ever be - and because of this the film feels long and dragged out as well. The characters are okay enough I guess, with commendable acting, but it can’t save the story being weak, the pacing being off (especially in the first half), and some real bad dialogue. There are a few good stylistic choices they made, but unfortunately like I said the limited production costs kept them from using them at a more consistent frequency which is unfortunate. Finally, the film has a heavy emphasis on Hawaiian culture which is alright by itself but unfortunately it does the trope that I’ve seen in too many films that hit on a culture (mine included) in shoving it so much down your throat with strange moments in which characters randomly translate themselves as if their teaching me something about Hawaii rather than being characters in a film. In the end this is another Netflix kids’ flick that you put on in the background to keep them busy, but it won’t make much of an impact on their movie watching life as a whole. C- for FINDING OHANA.
- The Plot: Deke, a burnt-out Kern County, CA deputy sheriff teams with Baxter, a crack LASD detective, to nab a serial killer. Deke’s nose for the “little things” proves eerily accurate, but his willingness to circumvent the rules embroils Baxter in a soul-shattering dilemma. Meanwhile, Deke must wrestle with a dark secret from his past.
- My Review: I liked this a lot more than other critics seemed to, who for their part have been labeling this the first big disappointment of 2021. However it is definitely not anything outstanding either. The film seems to be in a battle with itself in trying to be a pretty clear cut crime procedural, a rip-off of SEVEN, and trying to be some kind of character study. It hurts itself in doing that, making the film have various tones that work at times and just flat out fail at other times. The movie’s acting is commendable in my mind, but the rest of the technical aspects in the film making are just too cut and dry to make this stand out there either. The ending is clever to a point, but makes you feel like you haven’t gotten a better pay-off either. This came of like something you can just rent for a Friday Movie Night in at home, but with HBO Max having it available for the next month, I’d say just watch it there over a theatrical trip. C+ for THE LITTLE THINGS.
- The Plot: A woman in her sixties embarks on a journey through the Western United States after losing everything in the Great Recession, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
- My Review: The one thing that makes this film work the most is how real it comes off as. Its very hard to get a movie to feel like you’re watching real events happen in front of you and whether it be because of Chloe Zhao’s great direction, great performances from Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, or even from some real life Nomads, this movie feels like you’re almost watching a documentary play right in front of you. Our main protagonist in particular feels very relatable to me as someone who’s had a rough run of being in and out of work myself. If there were nitpicks I had for this film that keep it just from that A+ grade, its that its re-watchability is a bit hampered because of how heavy and slow moving the film can feel at times, and I’m not too crazy about the way they resolve a particular subplot with one character here. That said this is undoubtedly one of the best films I’ve seen this year and a heavy favorite to make my Best of 2021 list at the end of the year. It flirts with the A+ but ultimately I give NOMADLAND a solid A-.