Movie Review Weekly Roundup: May 16 – May 22, 2021

Ace in the Hole (1951) directed by Billy Wilder, starring Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, and Robert Arthur. starring

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.

The Marksman (2021)

DIRECTOR: Robert Lorenz.
WRITERS: Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz, Robert Lorenz.
GENRES: Action, Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 48min.
LANGUAGE: English, Spanish.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 16, 2021.

This is just another humdrum lone wolf movie featuring Liam Neeson. We are now at a point in time when Liam Neeson is making the same types of films repeatedly for the sake of a paycheck. I am reminded of the similarity when Clint Eastwood appeared in several lone wolf western movies during the 70s, followed by the Dirty Harry movies shortly thereafter. Do you remember the time when Liam Neeson appeared in movies worth nominating for an acting award? Schindler’s List (1993) gave him an Oscar nomination, and Kinsey (2004) gave him a Golden Globes nomination. It has been sixteen years since he appeared in a movie that was worth nominating. From a broad perspective, I cannot complain too much. He is still cranking out movies left and right. Good for him, I guess. The quality of the movies and acting material is not what it used to be.

The Little Things (2021)

DIRECTOR: John Lee Hancock.
WRITERS: John Lee Hancock.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Crime, Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 2h 8min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 16, 2021.

The story seems to be so anti-climactic. It starts as a routine police procedural story. When the cops track down a guy they believe murdered several people, it does not feel like their discovery paid off. The story revolves around a veteran cop with a broken past and a young cop too naïve to know any better. And the bad guy they are chasing after has an off-kilter personality that is weird and strange. I liked the mood and tone of the movie. But the ending is just mediocre. It does not have anything redeemable or memorable to say. It would be like a hypothetically bad version of Se7en (1995) with the climactic third act that does not have the mystery box filled with gruesome contents buried out in the middle of nowhere. The characters in this movie go out to the middle of nowhere to discover the needed evidence to put the bad guy in jail, but the scene ends with an emotional bait and switch for the viewer. They are left with unsatisfactory results.

Every Breath You Take (2021)

DIRECTOR: Vaughn Stein.
WRITERS: David Murray.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Mystery, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 45min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 16, 2021.

I am disappointed the entire music soundtrack is not filled with cover to cover songs from The Police. After all, the original and renamed title of the movie is lyrics from one of the band’s more popular songs. Also, why are there so many of Casey Affleck’s movies starting to blur together as one giant mesh of gloomy stories? His characters and movies of recent years are starting to become eerily similar to one another. Does he not want to stray too far away from the beaten path of the same old acting roles? The plot and story of this movie are a bit dreary. I have seen its plot points numerous times in other movies and television shows before. It does not even impress me with the first viewing. And I doubt I will even spend any of my time later on with a second viewing.

Ace in the Hole (1951)

DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder.
WRITERS: Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, Walter Newman.
GENRES: Drama, Film Noir.
LENGTH: 1h 51min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: May 17, 2021.

The character of Chuck Tatum can be described as a self-centered egomaniac with an insatiable interest in stepping on top of almost everyone else while climbing his way to the top. He utilizes the phrase “human interest” to describe the product he is trying to sell in the newspapers. In reality, he does not have any genuine interest in humanity. Kirk Douglas knows how to play bad characters like Tatum very well. The entire story revolves around the exploitative nature of selfish interests. Here I am, watching this movie seventy years after it was originally released. I have observed that human nature and group behavior, as demonstrated in this movie, still resonates with eerie similarities to this day.

Above Suspicion (2019)

DIRECTOR: Phillip Noyce.
WRITERS: Chris Gerolmo (script), Joe Sharkey (book).
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Biography, Crime.
LENGTH: 1h 44min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 22, 2021.

I like Emilia Clarke and all. But it seems weird to me watching her portray a trashy redneck from Kentucky. And then throw in Johnny Knoxville as her ex-husband of a roommate. Because sure, why not? The drama is there and readily available in the story. But the execution misses the mark. I struggled with developing an interest in the characters and their story. Maybe it could have been an improvement if they re-worked the movie to exclude the voice-over narration. Listening to the main character narrating the exposition of the plot points and character motivation deluded my movie-watching experience.

King Kong Escapes (1967)

DIRECTOR: Ishirô Honda.
WRITERS: Takeshi Kimura, Edgar Wallace.
GENRES: Adventure, Family, Science Fiction.
LENGTH: 1h 36min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: Internet Archive or Amazon [Blu-ray, Region B/2].
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: May 22, 2021.

This movie is wonderfully cheesy in the best way it possibly can be. The entire story is a battle between the cinematic folklore of American and Japanese Kaiju. It is not the last time both countries join forces to have their longstanding monsters battle each other on the big screen. Ahem, Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), for a more recent example. I liked this movie because it is campy and super cheesy. I did not appreciate the decision to change the design of King Kong away from stop-motion animation. For decades he was created in American movies with stop-motion animation. In this movie, they utilized the Japanese technique for kaiju movies with an actor wearing a giant suit. It just did not feel right for the character. His physical mannerisms are completely different when one visual format is used versus the other style. Viewing Note: I watched the Svengoolie broadcast of the movie on MeTV.

The Mauritanian (2021)

DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald.
WRITERS: Michael Bronner, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Thriller.
LENGTH: 2h 9min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: May 22, 2021.

Whenever Jodie Foster returns from her semi-retirement in acting, I know I could be in for a special treat. The last movie she appeared in was three years ago for Hotel Artemis (2018). I liked that movie. The Mauritanian is interesting and intriguing. It leans more toward being a legal drama than a contemporary war story. I am a bit worn out from all the shoot-em-up action movies based upon real-life wars. Those are an adrenaline rush of action and everything but tend to blend into one giant mesh of non-stop explosions. Bottom line, I liked this movie and would consider watching it a second or third time at some point later on.

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