Benediction is a powerful of the life of Siegfried Sassoon.

The turbulent life of WWI poet Siegfried Sassoon (Jack Lowden). The writer and soldier was a complex man who survived the horrors of fighting in the First World War and was decorated for his bravery but who became a vocal critic of the government’s continuation of the war when he returned from service. His poetry was inspired by his experiences on the Western Front, and he became one of the leading war poets of the era. Adored by members of the aristocracy as well as stars of London’s literary and stage world, he embarked on affairs with several men as he attempted to come to terms with his homosexuality. At the same time, broken by the horror of war, he made his life’s journey a quest for salvation, trying to find it within the conformity of marriage and religion.

Benediction has a lot of strong parts about it, for starters the acting is very well done from everyone involved Jack Lowden as Siegfried Sassoon was quite fantastic, the end of the film is truly powerful and leaves with a very strong note in hand. The direction from Terrance Davies is very raw and quite powerful as well, the best part about the film is the film’s exploration of Sassoon as a poet and him as a person. Which leads to some quite fascinating moments that truly capture the 1920s during World War I, what mostly helps it feels like Davies’s direction feels a bit personal here. Which isn’t a first time occurrence as he sometimes does put some personal type elements in his autobiographical films, whether that be camera angles that really standout and are up close, parts of the writing that instantly connects the viewer to who the film is about in this case Sassoon, or the very raw acting that completely builds some of the strongest moments in his films. The pacing and the running time do slow the film back a bit, however it isn’t nearly enough to stop this film from being beautifully done and told.

Benediction is available on all VOD platforms.

8/10 B+

Medusa has a lot of themes but falls short.

A gang of young women in Brazil try to control everything around them, including other women, by roaming the streets and beating up those they deem too sinful.

There’s definitely a lot going on here thematically with Anita Rocha da Silveira’s Medusa, there’s themes of beauty standards, physical and mental trauma for women and even some Greek mythology or tragedy Included as well. Unfortunately this is the type of movie where those themes aren’t explored all that well, the filming and visuals are at least quite captivating and at times hypnotic as well. There’s some solid acting bits here that give the characters some personality and give them time to shine. The main problem here is the running time it’s 127 minutes long, which you would think would give it more time to explore it’s themes. However it somehow ends up being very surface level at best and drags for the sake of dragging, the writing is nowhere near as strong as the movie thinks it is. It introduces themes, does a little bit with them and then moves on to the next idea. Medusa is definitely not a terrible movie as it is very well made but this is the very definition of style over substance.

Medusa is available on all VOD Platforms.

5/10 C

Charlotte is decent but could have been more.

An account of German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon living in the south of France between 1941 and 1943.

Charlotte definitely has the right ingredients to b a really strong movie, there’s just many parts about it that hold it back from doing so. The voice acting is quite great particularly Keira Knightly who really tries the best she can with the script she’s given, the story itself is interesting and tells the true story of German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon during World War II. The film itself is quite dark particularly the ending which is very sad and is very effective, there’s footage at the end of a small interview of Salomon’s parents it’s incredibly touching and quite powerful as well. The problems with the movie are the script being way too weak and the animation, the animation isn’t something I would call terrible. But it really doesn’t capture the life of Charlotte Salomon and what she was going through very well, the script lacked powerful moments which is something a film like this needs. There’s the ending yes but a lot of the movie’s script was very undercooked and was very rushed as well. Charlotte isn’t a bad movie just one that could have went a lot deeper than it did.

Charlotte is available on all VOD Platforms.

6/10 C+

Nope is a perfect blend of several genres in a large spectacle.

Two siblings who run a California horse ranch discover something wonderful and sinister in the skies above, while the owner of an adjacent theme park tries to profit from the mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon.

Jordan Peele continues to show how he can take the horror genre in several different directions, Nope is Peele’s third film having Get Out and Us under your belt is truly fantastic but how on earth do you top all of that? By creating something that may seem straightforward at first but is quite expensive and massive when you get into it. For starters the cast here are brilliant, Daniel Kaluuya is once again fantastic here and is a absolute powerhouse of an actor as usual, the exact same can be said for Keke Palmer. I believe I have said this before in one review but it needs to be said again, whatever role Palmer is in she always ends up delivering a fascinating performance and here is no different, in fact I would go far as to say this is her best performance yet. Steven Yeun is also quite great here even if he isn’t really a major character here, there’s a lot of moments with his character Ricky that are truly some of the best moments in the film and really expand his character. Lastly there’s Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott who are also really great as well, both play really fun characters and are actually quite hilarious as well. Nope is Peele’s biggest film yet it’s a massive film that explores quite a lot from the setting that the film takes place a horse ranch near a theme park in a desert, the atmosphere is masterfully done. It constantly has the viewer looking around for clues as to what’s going to happen, in fact while the movie does of course have a huge script there’s a lot of moments where the filming tells the story. A ton of quiet moments really put the film in the viewer’s mind to digest it all, the score is incredibly booming especially during the final act that really shows just how powerful the score is. Peele also does a fantastic job of combining several different genres and other directors as well as films like Jaws. Such genres include horror, sci-fi, western and thriller it’s not easy combining so many different genres but Peele and everyone involved do it effortlessly. The sci-fi elements are far different than what is usually done with the genre it’s impressive, as far as director styles or director inspirations there’s a huge mix of Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, M.Night Shyamalan, Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter. Spielberg mainly comes from the third act being a huge spectacle and the creature of the film sharing lots of similarities to Jaws. Hitchcock and Carpenter come in with the suspense of the film (some could argue the score is partly Spielberg and Carpenter), Shyamalan comes in with some of the characters and a few of the shots, finally there’s Kubrick who is definitely the cinematography (beautifully done here). But what makes this even better is Peele took each of those genres and directing styles I just mentioned and made every single one of them his own, that is something that is so hard to do. Overall Nope is truly a fantastic film that really reminds me on why I love film so much, it’s such a well done film that will keep you on the edge of your seat! See this film!!

Nope is available in theaters.

10/10 A+

Orders From Above a powerful interrogation of Adolf Eichmann.

Architect of the Final Solution, Adolf Eichmann, is finally captured and brought to Israel to stand trail for his crimes. Without enough evidence to prosecute him, Police Captain Avner Less is tasked with extracting a confession from the mastermind of the Holocaust.

Orders From Above is a very straightforward film that immediately gets to the point, the whole film is 15 years after World War II Israeli police officer Avnet Less interrogates Adolf Eichmann who was the person who came up with the Holocaust. The film is shot entirely in black and white which adds to the atmosphere to the film, it’s a very raw piece that explains Eichmann’s crimes. As Eichmann constantly denies that he was the mastermind behind the Holocaust, Less keeps pushing him and even showing videos of what he’s done. Richard Cotter who plays Avnet Less and Peter J Donnelly who plays Adolf Eichmann are both fantastic, they give powerful performances and the interrogation conversations are masterfully performed, when Eichmann is shown videos of his crimes (which are actual real videos and photos of Holocaust victims so be warned if you plan on watching this film it does get a bit disturbing), Donnelly truly knocks it out of the park with his performance. The writing is truly powerful with tons of striking moments that grab the viewer’s attention, overall Orders From Above is raw, powerful and disturbing. I highly recommend checking this one out!

Orders From Above is available on all VOD Platforms.

9/10 A

Sundance Review: Call Jane is a very decent telling of an incredible true story but could have been more.

A married woman with an unwanted pregnancy lives in a time in America where she can’t get a legal abortion and works with a group of suburban women to find help.

Call Jane definitely tells a true story that’s very important when it comes to abortion rights, there’s a lot good things about this movie even if it all does not come together as good as it could have been. For starters Kate Mara, Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver all give really strong performances that absolutely make this movie, they are fully invested into their roles and truly deliver, the incredible true story that’s being told here however I wish was told a lot better than just decently told. The movie doesn’t go quite deep enough despite the movie being 2 hours and 1 minute, it feels like it’s building up to something huge but then just gets sidetracked. There’s also the 16mm camera style that I’m not entirely sure worked here, I get what they were going for but I really don’t think it fit here. There’s moments where I thought it worked well, but a lot of it just feels like they did it because they could. Call Jane is definitely not a bad film, if anything it’s a very decent movie that tells an incredible true story decently enough, but it really could have been so much more.

Call Jane currently has no release date

6/10 C+

Munich: The Edge Of War has great performances but lacks depth.

Set in the fall of 1938, Hitler prepares to invade Czechoslovakia, and the government of Neville Chamberlain desperately seeks a peaceful solution. A British civil servant and a German diplomat, former classmates, travel to Munich to discuss peace.

Munich: The Edge Of War tells the true story of Hitler preparing to invade Czechoslovakia and the government of Neville Chamberlain wanting seek a peaceful solution fine enough. The main issue is the constant switch in tone, for some reason the movie decides to add humor into it which given the subject matter is most definitely not a good idea to do. The performances are all pretty well acted George MacKay, Jeremy Irons and Jannis Niewöhner being the standouts and the production of the film is actually quite impressive. The writing unfortunately is just not strong enough, there’s moments where it feels very weak and is begging to be rewritten and then there’s times where it’s actually very solid. Munich: The Edge Of War also could have shaved off at least 10 minutes as well, overall it’s not terrible history buffs will definitely get something out of this. But then again you could also look up the information on Wikipedia.

Munich: The Edge Of War is available on Netflix!

5/10 C

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is a beautiful biopic filled with cats!

Louis Wain was many things during his incredible life: artist, inventor, entrepreneur and caretaker. After adopting a stray kitten, he went on to paint the extraordinary images of cats that made him world famous.

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is another example of showing how Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the best actors working today, he does such a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of Louis Wain in so many different ways. For starters Cumberbatch does a great job of matching Wain’s mannerisms, it’s quite impressive to see and I’m really glad Cumberbatch was chosen for the role. The acting all around is quite fantastic, Claire Foy does a very solid job (even if she isn’t in most of the film), the filming combined with the score is quite beautiful. There’s certain scenes where the film itself does feel like a painting with a lot of bright colors that pop out really nicely, the film itself is also really wholesome at times and you just can’t help but smile. There’s also a lot of heartbreaking moments that I actually did cry during, which is to be expected when making a film about Louis Wain. The truth is Louis Wain did not have the best life like some other artists did and the film does a fantastic job of showing that perfectly. The cats are also present and yes are as cute as you would expect, it is very interesting to see how a simple drawings or paintings could turn into someone’s career and make a ton of people feel a tremendous amount of joy inside. Overall The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is a beautiful film that I highly recommend!

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain is available on Amazon Prime Video!

9/10 A

Kristen Stewart becomes Princess Diana in “Spencer” a dreamlike and nightmarish mesmerizing piece!

The marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the queen’s estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game, but this year, things will be profoundly different.

Spencer might seem like a biographical film on the surface but when you watch the film it truly is a one of a kind experience, Kristen Stewart has evolved so much as an actress, she’s certainly come a long way since Twilight and has always been one of my favorite actresses. Her portrayal of Princess Diana is her best performances and is quite honestly one of the best performances I’ve seen in a film and that’s no exaggeration. She captures every single detail about Princess Diana especially the looks and mannerisms, which add much more power to her role. The writing is absolutely flawless, it goes beyond being a biographical film. The writing becomes hypnotic to the ears, with a dreamlike to state to it while also feeling incredibly raw. Speaking of which you can not convince me that Spencer isn’t part horror, one of the major points of Spencer was to show how Isolated Diana felt from the royal family. Spencer does this in a very nightmarish but fascinating way that gets pretty psychological. The filming combined with the location also feels like a dream mixed with a nightmare, there’s this sense of loneliness you get from Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Princess Diana. You really understand why she felt isolated and why she wanted out of the royal family, Pablo Larraín’s direction is absolutely fantastic. He brings much fascinating elements to the film such as dreams, sense of loneliness, nightmares and rawness that hits you like a truck. Spencer is a powerful film that’s effective from beginning to end, Kristen Stewart truly deserves Best Actress at the Oscars because this is the type of role you just don’t see anymore. Make sure to watch Spencer because this is truly something special!

Spencer is currently in theaters!

10/10 A+

The Last Duel is masterfully crafted with some of the best build up in recent memory!

Jean de Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Jacques Le Gris is a squire whose intelligence and eloquence makes him one of the most admired nobles in court. When Le Gris viciously assaults Carrouges’ wife, she steps forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy. The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands.

The Last Duel is easily Ridley Scott’s best film in a very long time, for starters the performances all around are some of the best of the year. The standout being Jodie Comer (who absolutely deserves a nomination) she completely stole the show as Marguerite de Carrouges, giving such a raw and incredible performance that really captures the film. Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck all do quite incredible as well, they bring so much power into the film which ends up giving fantastic results. The Last Duel’s main film element is build up, it’s told in three different perspectives all of which get more and more suspenseful, interesting and stronger as they stack on each other. The writing also adds to the film giving it a huge gut punch type feel, especially given what happens (there are a few rape scenes I’m saying this for everyone who isn’t comfortable with them, just giving you a heads up), The Last Duel also ends up being a brutal film writing wise and The Duel itself, as well as some action scenes thrown in certain sections of the film which are very well filmed. The filming is absolutely beautiful, it compliments the setting very well and is just overall a very beautiful looking film. Then there’s The Duel itself which while it isn’t very long the build up is what gives it so much strength, suspense and worth the build up. It’s truly one of those films that knows how to properly build up to a climax and make it all the more worth it. Overall The Last Duel is a masterful piece of work, it’s truly a powerful film that shows just how talented Ridley Scott still is!

The Last Duel is playing in theaters!

10/10 A+