Movie Review Weekly Roundup: January 10-16, 2021

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.

Taxi Hunter (1993)

Director: Herman Yau.
Writers: Wing-Kin Lau, Kai-Chung Mak.
MPAA Rating: Unrated – Viewer Discretion is advised.
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller.
Length: 1h 29min.
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin.
Where To Rent: Alamo On Demand.
★★★☆☆ | Watched: January 10, 2021.

This movie is like Falling Down or Death Wish. Only it takes place in Hong Kong instead of America. The story proclaims taxi drivers are universally rude and obnoxious. And it also states that a Hongkonger on a revenge kick is still a super nice guy to other nice people. The undercover copy is a goofball who loves wearing American attire and act like a juvenile without a care in the world. Clearly, he is the comedic relief for the movie. His adult daughter acts more responsibly than he does. I honestly enjoyed the movie. Do not get me wrong. Grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy watching it!

The World of Kanako (2014)

DIRECTOR: Tetsuya Nakashima.
WRITERS: Tetsuya Nakashima, Miako Tadano, Nobuhiro Monma (screenplay); Akio Fukamachi (book).
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer Discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Mystery, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 58min.
LANGUAGE: Japanese.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 10, 2021.

When you are an alcoholic with anger management issues, the last thing you might want to discover is your estranged daughter is a drug addict who kept her wild lifestyle hidden from you. The movie is pretty heavy with its visual style, as the cool opening credits would be one specific example. I honestly enjoyed the movie more than I expected, even if it is pretty intense at times.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

DIRECTOR: Jim Cummings.
WRITERS: Jim Cummings.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Comedy, Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 23min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Alamo On Demand.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 11, 2021.

I had fun watching this movie. The story is about an alcoholic on a path of self-destruction more than it is about a werewolf. Some of the death scenes are pretty graphic, so watcher beware. Jim Cummings wears three hats for this movie: director, writer, and lead actor. He did a good job considering all the hats he wore during its production.

Relic (2020)

DIRECTOR: Natalie Erika James.
WRITERS: Natalie Erika James, Christian White.
MPAA RATING: R – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 29min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 15, 2021.

The monstrous figure haunting a grandmother’s house is a symbolic representation of her progressing dementia. It is a thinly disguised analogy. But it works. It reminds me of how much The Babadook (2014) is a metaphor for the mother’s grief. What is with the Australian horror movies using supernatural symbolism to represent a woman’s emotional, physical, or mental condition? I did enjoy the story of Relic and the interaction between the characters. I viewed it as a story about a family’s emotional struggle with an aging relative more than being another supernatural horror story. It is a sad situation having to see anyone mentally digress due to the repercussions of dementia and other similar health conditions. You would like to help them get better, but it feels like the available options are severely limited.

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020)

DIRECTOR: Thomas Robert Lee.
WRITERS: Thomas Robert Lee.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
LENGTH: 1h 33min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★★★☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2021.

I love the eerie design of the movie’s atmosphere. The photography and music are a mood in itself. You could perceive this movie to be about a coming of age story, which you would be right. The center point of the story is a young woman who discovers she a witch by birth. She was born of an immaculate conception from a mother who practices witchcraft. She must be the spawn of the devil! I was intrigued by the movie for its mood and tone. It occurs in the 1970s but gives off the vibe of an earlier time. It feels like the 19th-century setting with a subtle hint of 17th-century religious overtone. I enjoyed the movie, even though it is a dark and twisted tale.

Black Water: Abyss (2020)

DIRECTOR: Andrew Traucki.
WRITERS: John Ridley, Sarah Smith.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Action, Drama, Horror.
LENGTH: 1h 38min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: JustWatch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2021.

First of all, I was unaware this movie is a sequel until after I rented it. But I would not be surprised if the first one is just as formulaic in plot and story as this one. From a broad perspective, I would summarize this movie as “Aussies in Caverns with Crocs”. It reminds me of another sequel film called 47 Meters Down Uncaged, which I would describe as “Yanks Splunking in Caverns with Sharks”. Monster movies like these are designable with reusable plot points and character tropes. The only changeable elements would be the story’s location and the names and gender of the characters. This movie is okay. But it heads down the highly treaded road covered with the tracks of predecessors.

The Call (2020)

DIRECTOR: Timothy Woodward, Jr.
WRITERS: Patrick Stibbs.
MPAA RATING: Unrated – Viewer discretion is advised.
GENRES: Horror, Thriller.
LENGTH: 1h 37min.
LANGUAGE: English.
WHERE TO RENT: Just Watch or Prime Video.
★★☆☆☆ | WATCHED: January 16, 2021.

Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell are the highlights of the entire movie. But their screen time is inadequately too short. The story is mediocre at best. I really love Lin Shaye’s performance in the early scenes of the movie. The four teenage characters are the typical fictional tropes for a horror movie. Their flashback sequences initiated by the minute-long phone call felt like recycled material from previous stories. For example, the tough guy comes from a troubled childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father. The comedic, sidekick friend is guilt-ridden from a traumatic childhood loss. It goes on, so on and so forth. The movie is fine for a decent popcorn flick. But I am not going to be placing it on any top ten favorite lists anytime soon.

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Warner Bros. Pictures Greenlights Three Films For Its 2023 Worldwide Theatrical Slate

Three new films have been approved for production by Warner Bros. Pictures, including a Mad Max prequel, a classic Looney Tunes adaptation, and a musical twist on a Steven Spielberg classic.

Warner Bros. Pictures announced the release dates for three upcoming theatrical titles: Furiosa, Coyote vs. Acme, and The Color Purple musical feature. Each film is scheduled to hit theaters worldwide in 2023. The announcement was made by Toby Emmerich, Chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Up first in the lineup will be writer, director, and producer George Miller’s Furiosa. It is a prequel to his hit Mad Max: Fury Road that introduced the wildly popular character. Set for June 23, 2023, it will star Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role, alongside Chris Hemsworth and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Miller penned the script and produces alongside his longtime partner, Oscar-nominated producer Doug Mitchell.

Warner Animation Group (WAG) delivers the live-action and animated hybrid Coyote vs. Acme, which will be released in theaters on July 21, 2023. Directed by Dave Green, it will feature the age-old rivalry between the Roadrunner nemesis and his preferred mail-order supplier. The screenplay is written by James Gunn, Jeremy Slater, Jon Silberman & Josh Silberman, and Samy Burch. It is based on the Wile E. Coyote character and fictitious Acme corporation from the Looney Tunes, the Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, and the fictional New Yorker magazine article entitled “Coyote v. Acme,” written by Ian Frazier. Chris DeFaria and James Gunn will produce, the latter under his Two Monkeys, A Goat and Another, Dead, Monkey production banner.

The Color Purple musical feature comes to theaters around the globe on December 20, 2023. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, the film will be directed by Blitz Bazawule. It will be produced by Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Films), Steven Spielberg (Amblin Entertainment), Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones. The executive producers are Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Mara Jacobs, Carla Gardini, Kristie Macosko Krieger, and Adam Fell. The script is written by Marcus Gardley, and the score includes the music and lyrics from the stage musical by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The new film and Gardley’s script are based on Alice Walker’s book, the 1985 Warner Bros. Pictures film, and the Broadway stage musical.

MasterClass Announces Issa Rae to Teach Creating Outside the Lines

The American actress shares inspiring lessons on finding your own unique story and paving your own path.

MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, today announced that Issa Rae will teach a class on creating outside the lines. Through a series of empowering lessons, the Emmy® Award-nominated star and creator of HBO’s Insecure uses her signature do-it-yourself ethos, humor, and voice to offer members the motivation and tools they’ll need on their creative journey, from developing their own voice to taking ideas to the next level. Rae’s class is now available exclusively on MasterClass, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 100+ instructors with an annual membership.

“Issa is one of the most celebrated creators in recent history because of her authenticity and unflinching boldness when it comes to storytelling,” said David Rogier, founder, and CEO of MasterClass. “Her MasterClass at its core is about inspiring action and not being discouraged by roadblocks; our members will walk away feeling motivated and ready to act on the ideas and stories that have been brewing within them.”

In her MasterClass, Rae will empower members to stop waiting for the right opportunity to land at their feet and instead share their stories by collaborating, using available resources, and finding the right platforms. Breaking down scenes from her series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Insecure, Rae will teach members how to develop a pilot, build multidimensional characters and dialogue, and work with and through feedback. She will also share practical advice and exercises to help members shape their creative process, establish good writing habits, and get started on their writing journey. With engaging, candid storytelling, Rae shares anecdotes of personal failures and past disappointments to help inspire and push members to pursue turning their vision into a reality.

“A lot of people enter the industry thinking their ideas have to be perfect and fit into a specific kind of box, but that’s never been part of my process,” Rae said. “In my MasterClass, I want to tell you everything that I’ve gone through, every mistake that I’ve made, and everything that I’ve learned so far so that you can do better than I did. If you have a desire to create, this class is for you.”

Rae jump-started her career in 2011 with the award-winning web series and accompanying New York Times bestselling book of the same name, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Originally launched on YouTube, the series quickly generated critical and commercial acclaim. It won a Shorty Award for Best Web Series in 2012. The series laid the foundation of success for Rae to write and produce her own award recognized HBO series, Insecure. Working as co-creator with award-winning host and producer Larry Wilmore, Rae set out to make a series that examined “the complexities of ‘Blackness’ and the reality that you can’t escape being Black.”

With its unique humor and authenticity, the show has been celebrated for the relatable and often-overlooked portrayals of the Black experience. Rae has opened a range of new doors in the acting space, making her film debut in the acclaimed drama The Hate U Give and later Netflix’s romantic comedy Lovebirds. Recently she appeared in HBO’s political-satire drama Coastal Elites. Outside of her screen credits, Rae has been honored for her influence and impact as a Black creator. In 2018, she was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world.

Launched in 2015, MasterClass is the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best. With an annual membership, subscribers get unlimited access to over a hundred instructors and classes across a wide range of subjects, including Arts & Entertainment, Business, Design & Style, Sports & Gaming, Writing, and more. Step into Anna Wintour’s office, Ron Finley’s garden, and Neil Gaiman’s writing retreat. Get inspired by RuPaul, perfect your pitch with Shonda Rhimes, and discover your inner negotiator with Chris Voss. Each class features about 20 video lessons, at an average of 10 minutes per lesson. You can learn on your own terms—in bite-size pieces or in a single binge. Cinematic visuals and close-up, hands-on demonstrations make you feel like you’re one-on-one with the instructors, while the downloadable instructor guides help reinforce your learning. Stream thousands of lessons anywhere, anytime, on mobile devices, tablet, desktop, Apple TV®, Android™ TV, Amazon Fire TV®, and Roku® players and devices.