film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Top Ten Movie Picks of 2021

1. Tina * * * * Stars

-Tina is an exhilarating foray into a singer that screams like a boss and zigzags like an energizer bunny on pure stimulation.

2. Girl in the Basement * * * 1/2 Stars

-Girl in the Basement is like 2015's Room bucked up about ten notches. And if you're easily upset and/or wholly traumatized, you might wanna stay clear of "Basement's" tormented, 88-minute running time.

3. The Guilty * * * 1/2 Stars

-"Guilty" is one of this year's best. A lot of people contribute but it's a bruising character study for actor Jake Gyllenhaal, a one-man show if you will. As 911 operator Joe Baylor, Gyllenhaal lets us feel his nerve endings with every close-up by director Antoine Fuqua. Abraded tour de force, well that's an understatement. 

4. Crisis * * * 1/2 Stars

-Crisis is like a re-update of stuff akin to Traffic and 2005's Crash. And although it has a more direct-to-video feel than those two films, its tight editing, inching revelations, and dejected outcomes still demand your attention as a viewer.

5. Bitchin': The Sound and Fury of Rick James * * * 1/2 Stars

-Bitchin': The Sound and Fury of Rick James provides the audience with genuine, off the cuff interviews and grainy nostalgic archive footage. At 111 minutes, you get a chronological snapshot of James from his birth in Buffalo, NY till his ultimate demise via LA's Toluca Hills apartments.

6. The Birthday Cake * * * 1/2 Stars

-The Birthday Cake is the type of violent crime drama that gets under your skin and seeps into your bloodstream. For a little over an hour and a half, I had my "cake" and ate it too. 

7. Ghostbusters: Afterlife * * * 1/2 Stars

-"Afterlife" is a re-bunked sequel done with perspicacity. Gone is the thought of that unnecessary mishap that Melissa McCarthy gave us in 2016. Gone is the staunch overuse of slime a la 1989's Ghostbusters II. Added is a sense of nostalgia and a smack of fuzzy recollection.

8. The Card Counter * * * 1/2 Stars

-Accompanied by Robert Levon Been's anesthetized musical score and cinematography that puts the racked extravagance of a casino right in your backyard, The Card Counter gives Paul Schrader the gumption to provide more layers than your average wagered vehicle. You just knew the "odds" would be good. 

9. The Power of the Dog * * * Stars

-"Dog" is a pure, intimidatingly slighted Western piece. And its breadth and width need to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

10. Dune * * * Stars

-2021's Dune is pretty uncompromising. I mean why wouldn't it be. This 155-minute flick is very epic in scope. It's sometimes Kubrick-an and almost every wide-angle frame is like a portrait. 

Honorable Mention: Land, 13 Minutes, Voyagers, King Richard, The Marksman, American Dream

And the worst...

1. Habit * Star

-Habit is like a Gen X movie made with millennial-s (if that makes any sense). It's also over-stylized, over-directed, bible-thumped, full of itself, and pretty kitschy. It's as if rookie director Janell Shirtcliff dares you to hate it. Yeah I'm not joking here.

2. An Organized Killer * Star

-I never "want" to see 2021's An Organized Killer ever again. I'm dead serious. It's like a bad episode of The O.C. It's wine and cheese la-di-da. It's a potboiler gone to "pot". It's trashy soap opera incarnate. I hated it.

3. Survive the Game * 1/2 Stars

-"Game" has virtually no plot or no plot that is fully spelled out (look ma). And yup, co-star Bruce Willis is back in the saddle again, barely moving, collecting his million dollar paycheck, and begrudgingly getting out his lines (was there an earpiece involved? Maybe). 

4. Old * 1/2 Stars

-With Old, Shyamalan forgets his craft as he comes off like a dude that never helmed a flick before. The camerawork is the main culprit as M. Night shoots with sloppy angles and well, unnecessary whips and pans. 

5. Cosmic Sin * 1/2 Stars

-Cosmic Sin is poorly lit in a soft bulb sort of way. It also has action scenes that are choppily edited, actresses you feel sorry for (I'm talking about you Perrey Reeves), and a script that contains enough sci-fi mumbo jumbo to denounce any normal ritual. 

List compiled by Jesse Burleson

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