Movie Review Weekly Roundup: January 31 – February 6, 2021

Black and white photograph featuring a reel of 35mm film stock.

The following is part of a weekly compilation of movie reviews from The Buzz Track staff. These movies were watched in the previous week, and the reviews were originally posted on Letterboxd.


Black Bear (2020)

DIRECTOR: Lawrence Michael Levine.
WRITERS: Lawrence Michael Levine.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Comedy, Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 44min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 31, 2021.

Aubrey Plaza has jumped right into the world of independent movie making in her post “Parks and Rec” career. Black Bear marks her third indie movie as a producer. Of course, she also stars in a leading role for each one of them. I absolutely enjoyed watching this movie as well as Ingrid Goes West. As an actor, she is willing to go on an emotional rollercoaster to get the character performance done right in both films. I cannot accurately imagine what it would be like to go from the crazy ups and downs of the acting work and then flipping a switch over to the business side as the movie’s producer in between takes. Anyway, I really enjoyed watching Black Bear. I recommend going into your viewing of the movie knowing as little about the story as possible.


Season of the Witch (1972)

DIRECTOR: George A. Romero.
WRITERS: George A. Romero.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror.
LENGTH: 1h 30min.
ALTERNATE TITLE: Hungry Wives
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 1, 2021.

I would not say this movie is one of my favorite George A. Romero films. It leans way too much toward being a drama story with elements of horror mixed into it. The premise of the plot revolves around a woman stuck in a loveless marriage. She starts to practice witchcraft to get a bit of a thrill out of life and help stop the nightmares she experiences almost every night. Who knew practicing the dark arts could be such a life-changer? I apologize if I clearly missed the point of the movie. It feels like I did miss something important because it just didn’t click with me. Beware, there are a couple of run times for this movie. An original cut runs over two hours long, and an edited version runs around ninety minutes in length. I had watched the shorter version, but I am not sure if the abbreviation is entirely beneficial. It is straight to the point and simplistic, which is nice. Is anything important edited out of the narrative for the sake of concise storytelling? Probably not. But forty minutes are removed between the two versions. So what was cut? Anyway, the movie is okay. Not great, but also not bad.


Come Play (2020)

DIRECTOR: Jacob Chase.
WRITERS: Jacob Chase.
MPAA RATING: PG-13
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 36min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 2, 2021.

I am not sure who is the target scare audience for this movie. The kids or the parents? From the child’s point of view, this movie is another boogeyman story. But from the parent’s perspective, it is about watching your child succumb to the enticement of modern technology. Way back when it was television, but now it is the use of mobile devices and computers. This movie is about an autistic boy who uses a mobile device to communicate with other people. He also uses the device to stay entertained when alone without any friends for accompaniment. His mom doesn’t mind his reliance on technology because it helps her communicate with her son. Ideally, she would like to hear him be more vocal in communication instead of using a mobile device as a translator. Other movies are better replacements for this one as a story about the boogeyman. It is an okay movie. I have seen worse, and I have seen better ones as well. Maybe Britta just out Britta’d herself in this movie.


The Lodge (2019)

DIRECTOR: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz.
WRITERS: Sergio Casci, Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 48min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Hulu.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 2, 2021.

So, this movie is definitely not comparable to The Shining. But I still found it to be a horror movie worth watching. Riley Keough puts in a strong effort with her acting performance in this movie. Her character is suffering from an undefined mental health condition, which is clearly prevalent with the appearance of prescription medication and erratically symptomatic behavior. Using a character’s mental health condition as a central plot point to induce fear and terror in others can carry harmful repercussions into the real lives of those suffering from a mental health condition. Why does she have to be the villain of the story? A villain who provokes negative emotional responses such as fear, disdain, and anger from those around her. A viewer or a group of viewers might equate and reinforce one person’s condition with an expectation of uncomfortable and negative responses from other people who interact with that individual. If I were to set all that aside while watching this movie, I would say how much I enjoyed its steady pacing and mood.


Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)

DIRECTOR: John Patrick Shanley.
WRITERS: John Patrick Shanley.
MPAA RATING: PG-13
GENRES: Drama, Romance.
LENGTH: 1h 42min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 2, 2021.

As a romantic drama, it does veer from the rubber-stamped plot of other hopeless romantic films. The main characters do spend more time apart than they do together in this movie. That is different from the norm where the romantic couple usually spends a lot of time together and builds their relationship. I think what I actually enjoyed the most about the movie is their quirky personalities. Maybe I am just partial to the movie’s untraditional style and its peculiar characters.


Let Him Go (2020)

DIRECTOR: Thomas Bezucha.
WRITERS: Thomas Bezucha (screenplay), Larry Watson (book).
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Crime, Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 53min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 3, 2021.

I enjoy watching Kevin Costner movies, even the bad ones too. Let Him Go reunites Costner with Diane Lane for their third movie together. By now, it shows they have on-screen chemistry with each other. The premise for the movie’s plot is direct. It is simple but straightforward. It is about two grandparents who will do what they can to protect their family members from harm. A couple of parts in the movie did not have the dramatic weight I was hoping to see. For example, the dinner scene where the pair meet Blanche Weboy for the first time has so much potential to be intimidating and nerve-wracking. However, it gets halfway to where I was expecting it to go emotionally. But it does not quite cross the finish line to my satisfaction. After that dinner scene, the tension does build up. And it pays off well in the end.


Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

DIRECTOR: Roseanne Liang.
WRITERS: Max Landis, Roseanne Liang.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Horror, War.
LENGTH: 1h 23min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 3, 2021.

The movie seems like it is trying to be too many different things at one time. Is it about female empowerment and gender politics? Motherhood? Wartime action hero? Or a superhero science fiction story with mutant bats? I have a feeling I must have missed the central message the movie is hoping to convey. It seems to be a bit convoluted with a blending of several different fictional and thematic elements mixed into one story. I was not sure if I should enjoy the movie as a simple genre flick. Or should it be viewed as a parable with a social message that should spark a moment of thought and introspection?


Dreamland (2020)

DIRECTOR: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte.
WRITERS: Nicolaas Zwart.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 38min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 4, 2021.

The story of Dreamland feels like a retelling of Bonnie and Clyde. But with Bonnie serving as the alpha of their relationship. Allison Wells is a bank robber wanted by the local authorities with a large bounty placed on her head. Eugene Evans is a young man living on a Texas farm during a length drought. It is the time of the great Dust Bowl. Farmers were poor and could not maintain a valuable living. Eugene hears of Allison’s criminal ways and is immediately enthralled. He grew up reading detective stories from dime-store publications. She is an adrenaline rush of excitement for his small-town lifestyle. The movie really does not take any hold of interest for me. The production holds up well, but the story feels all too familiar. Is it a rehash of the Bonnie and Clyde dynamic set against the background of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath? That is what this movie feels like to me.


Grand Isle (2019)

DIRECTOR: Stephen S. Campanelli.
WRITERS: Iver William Jallah, Rich Ronat.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Action, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 37min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 4, 2021.

I was not expecting to watch a “comedy” movie featuring Nicolas Cage as the villain. Grand Isle is so hilariously bad, it’s almost too good. The interactions between Walter and his wife Fancy had me laughing out loud in almost every scene together. The movie is not award-winning material, by no means. But it is definitely a great time for a laugh or two.


The Owners (2020)

DIRECTOR: Julius Berg.
WRITERS: Mathieu Gompel, Julius Berg, and Geoff Cox.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 32min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 4, 2021.

Never underestimate a woman’s intuition in a “fight or flight” situation. The Owners is in the style of horror movies that I usually enjoy watching. It is not all about the jump scares. Instead, it focuses on the tense and scary situations that feel very real. And the viewer, such as myself, genuinely roots for the survival of the main characters. The movie attempts to have a surprise ending, which is not completely surprising. Just unexpecting, really. I would definitely want to watch this movie once or twice more down the line.


Superman: Red Son (2020)

DIRECTOR: Sam Liu.
WRITERS: J.M. DeMatteis (screenplay); Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, and Kilian Plunkett (book).
MPAA RATING: PG-13
GENRES: Animation, Action, Sci-Fi.
LENGTH: 1h 24min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 4, 2021.

Oh my gosh! What if Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were all Russian superheroes during the Cold War? And then Lex Luthor was also the President of the United States. Just, what if? The story is okay in a mediocre fashion. Superman still tries to be the good Boy Scout, but now he is fighting against American capitalism because it’s absurdly evil. Batman is still angry and bitter towards everyone. And then Wonder Woman is fiercely adamant that all males serve no beneficial purpose because they are all vile misogynists with the sole purpose to destroy humanity at any cost. The Green Lantern Corps is the only superhero team on the American side. I like the animation style of the movie, which could be the only positive aspect I enjoyed.


Clemency (2019)

DIRECTOR: Chinonye Chukwu.
WRITERS: Chinonye Chukwu.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama.
LENGTH: 1h 52min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Hulu.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: February 5, 2021.

The acting performances in this movie are absolutely terrific! Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge did an outstanding job with their characters. A good sign they nailed the performance is when the filmmakers gladly sit on the long take of an actor’s performance without cutting around it in the editor’s room. Now I am interested in seeing more films from Chinonye Chukwu in the years to come.


Jonathan (2018)

DIRECTOR: Bill Oliver.
WRITERS: Gregory Davis, Peter Nickowitz, Bill Oliver.
MPAA RATING: TV-MA – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Sci-Fi.
LENGTH: 1h 35min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: February 6, 2021.

The premise of the movie quickly runs out of steam before the end of the first act. The story should have been a short movie, twenty-five to thirty minutes maximum. Instead, it runs about 95 minutes long. The main character has multiple personalities. Each one is aware of the other’s existence. They even communicate frequently through means of a video diary. Honestly, I was bored with the story rather quickly. The setup is intriguing, but the movie’s execution could not hold my interest for too long.


The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2018)

DIRECTOR: Robert D. Krzykowski.
WRITERS: Robert D. Krzykowski.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi.
LENGTH: 1h 38min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 6, 2021.

Hey, sasquatch just puked all over the voice of the Coors Light commercials! This flick is a full-fledged B-movie, and it embraces that status with a firm hug. I truly enjoyed watching it for being so bad yet unanticipatedly good. I would advise any viewer to go in with low expectations. Just appreciate the movie for what it is. Do not expect any award-winning material, but anticipate a nice, slow buzz of passing some time on a weekend afternoon.


I Think We’re Alone Now (2018)

DIRECTOR: Reed Morano.
WRITERS: Mike Makowsky.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
LENGTH: 1h 39min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★☆☆ | WATCHED: February 6, 2021.

A Pisces Rising wants to be left alone during the apocalypse. He would like to pass the time maintaining order and structure in his neighborhood. Clean up the neighbor’s houses to reduce any potential chaos from invaders. Reorganize the entire catalog at the local library to suit his desire for organization. Most of all, to be left alone without unnecessary interruption from the whims of a young woman who loves rock music, cute little puppy dogs, and unnecessary questions. I loved this movie because I could relate to the main character. Just leave the poor guy alone.


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