Week Of 02.14.2021 Movie Reviews

Reviewing Willy's Wonderland, Judas And The Black Messiah, And Minari

Hope everyone is enjoying their Valentine’s Day today! This week for the newsletter I have three new films to review with the latter two being awards buzz worthy titles - Willy's Wonderland, Judas And The Black Messiah, And Minari.

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
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd

With all that out of the way, lets get to the reviews already...

- The Plot: A quiet loner finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. But this wonderland has a dark secret that the “The Janitor” is about to discover. He soon finds himself trapped inside Willy’s and locked in an epic battle with the possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls. To survive, he must fight his way through each of them.

- The Review: This was a frustrating watch at times. The concept is interesting (and has been mirrored elsewhere) and there’s some stylistic choices in here that work with such a concept. However the movie is riddled with a mediocre script, mediocre dialogue, mediocre production, and (save for maybe our main protagonist) a host of unlikable characters - particularly the teenage kids in this. That all said, the silly aspects of the film make it so that I think this would be a decent Friday movie night rental once the prize lowers, but absolutely not worth a trip to the theatre or a full price buy via on demand.

- The Plot: The story of Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the national Black Panther Party, who was assassinated in 1969 by a Cook County tactical unit on the orders of the FBI and Chicago Police Department.

- The Review: A solidly made film and without a doubt among the best of the year. The acting, directing, stylistic choices, and a hell of a score round out this great historic re-telling. I appreciated how raw this film could be at times, even making you uncomfortable with the very protagonists of the story at times. The absolute standouts of the whole thing are Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as “Judas”. The only dings I’d give the film is that it is a sad and somber film at times - and ultimately that messes with the re-watchbility factor for me. Overall a really solid movie with something to say about a moment in U.S History, civil rights, and much needed criminal justice reform.

- The Plot: It’s the 1980s, and David, a seven-year-old Korean American boy, is faced with new surroundings and a different way of life when his father, Jacob, moves their family from the West Coast to rural Arkansas. His mother, Monica, is aghast that they live in a mobile home in the middle of nowhere, and naughty little David and his sister are bored and aimless. When his equally mischievous grandmother arrives from Korea to live with them, her unfamiliar ways arouse David’s curiosity. Meanwhile, Jacob, hell-bent on creating a farm on untapped soil, throws their finances, his marriage, and the stability of the family into jeopardy.

- The Review: A wonderful good-feel film with amazing acting, directing, cinematography, and a great score and soundtrack. The movie really hits you “in the feels” and will leave a mark on you. My only ding, as typical with these sort of films, is that the movie’s pacing can affect its re-watchability. But overall this is undoubtedly a strong contender to make my Best of 2021 list.

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