M. N. Miller’s 2019 Year In Film: Part 4
159. Little Woods
Nia DaCosta fails to capture the spirit of Butch & Sundance or the chilling white-knuckle tension to be a poor (wo)man’s Frozen River. The real problem with Little Woods is it never takes a firm stance on anything timely or even relevant to today’s issues.
158. Charlie’s Angels
There is absolutely nothing new or fresh about this buddy-action picture encased in pink shrink wrap for your viewing pleasure.
157. The King
Timothée Chalamet is serviceable here in a large production, but the result is a bloody bore.
A one-man show for the dynamic Luis Gerardo Mendez, in an intense, gritty, and stirring case study that packs an emotional punch. The issue though is the big swing Terrazas takes is fairly telegraphed, making for an overall dry experience that has little pay off.
155. Black and Blue
October needs to be renamed the month of the homage. After a promising start and a strong Harris in the lead, it gives way to a generic against time thriller. Black and Blue‘s low maintenance Training Day won’t fully commit to its message of community and be the change.
This is a violent, predictable, underwhelming, and even plodding two-star ride.
153. The Day Shall Come
Morris’s satirical look at the absurdest situation takes a while to find its way and more of the jokes misfire that hit their targets. The issue here is the characters on Davis’s side aren’t as sharply written as the critical eye it takes with Kendrick’s.
152. Summer Night
Tepid and flat. Watch early 20-somethings going out for one Summer Night with little conflict, no real edge, and everyone supports each other. That choice is interesting, but it never rises above its thin narrative and cardboard cutout characters, despite its likable cast.
151. 21 Bridges
A film that is nothing but an exercise in modern trope-a-dope. Besides a very good performance by Chadwick Boseman, who does what he can to make his role interesting, this genre picture’s standard by-the-numbers plot does little to stand out amongst the crowd.
150. Between Two Ferns: The Movie
Was I just Galifianakis-ed? After watching Between Two Ferns: The Movie, the clear objective seems to be a test balloon for an Office-like Netflix series; it’s nothing more than an overblown SNL sketch, even at a sparse 82-minutes, that’s stretched beyond its limits.
Clark Johnson’s film is not without its charms, but for a man who directed HBO’s Boycott and the pilot of The Wire, it’s remarkably tired. Juanita swings at too many genres without being good at one.
148. The Aftermath
If you take away The Aftermath’s post-war reconstruction of Germany’s setting, what you have is a lonely housewife having an affair with a pool boy, and a forsaken couple in desperate need of a premium cable subscription.
147. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot
A film that is remarkably comfortable in its own skin and the most honest title since Snakes On a Plane. A B-Movie gift that’s kind of entertaining until a malnourished actor shows up in what looks like a naked Diddy Kong costume.
146. Triple Frontier
A generic, by-the-numbers heist thriller camouflaged with a false social consciousness that is more of a poor man’s Tears of the Sun than, say, Sicario.
Breakthrough is well-made, has some competent performances, and in general is a step in the right direction for the genre. However, the script is sexist and bordering on misogynistic. Sadly, this film brought out my inner feminist.
144. Pet Sematary
How the original film became an iconic title is puzzling. The filmmakers, though, keep enough suspense going through interesting visual choices and committed performances. However, the plot is poorly executed, and the script is filled with cheesy dialogue.
143. Don’t Let Go
I desperately wanted to recommend Don’t Let Go with Oyelowo in the lead. It’s a surprisingly moving musical score and its Frequency-like plot. Sadly, this genre time-warp thriller has an obvious villain, and the whodunit plot has two gaping plot holes caused by puzzling character actions.
Close strives to be a hard-boiled, but the result is softer than expected. Despite the end result, Noomi Rapace has a commanding screen presence.
141. The Wolf’s Call
No one is going to confuse The Wolf’s Call for Das Boot, but by Netflix standards, it can be an entertaining thriller, even if its script is ludicrous.
140. Alita: Battle Angel
It’s the same argument we’ve had since the birth of FX-driven films: Why not put more time in the script if you are going to invest so much money on special effects? More concerned with the technology and counting its chickens before they hatch.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.