JUMBO (2020)

Written & Directed By: Zoe Wittock 
Cinematography: Thomas Buelens
Editor: Thomas Fernandez 

Cast: Noemie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck, Tracy Dossou

Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction.


This film will remind some audiences in the know of Titane. As they have particular storylines that are similar but are in Totally different ways.

The French film, TITANE is dark and about more than necessarily meets the eye. Where it has things to say about many subjects. This film Is sweeter and has no pregnancies though it is a fairy tale based On reality and tries to keep matters at hand. 

This film has a sweetness but doesn’t ignore its own implausibility. As it even has the character question her sanity. Though her own faith shows through. We in The audience begin to question as we see erratic behavior and every time there is something fantastical involving others we never see it as random there is a logical reason for it all. 

The film doesn’t shy away from sex but it doesn’t make it feel tawdry it feels erotic but more out of innocence. 

Even those close to her who doubt her and her sanity. We are left to wonder if they are doing it for their own self-interest and out of jealousy. 

As the main character feels like a typical one you would find in a quirky romantic French film. She looks and dresses like a shy teenager even though she is a young woman in her 20’s.

The movie starts off innocent and as it goes along it gets more serious and into more issues and questions that are surprisingly asked. That is usually left out in films with scenarios such as these. 

Noemie Merlant really shines in this film. She stays believable and strong even though her character can be weak at times and doesn’t speak up for herself. She seems to run away rather than confront. Though she gains our sympathy and soon finds ourselves rooting for her. As we watch from the beginning her character is a tomboy but wears such shapeless clothes we wonder if she is in arrested development. through it all even in various sex scenes. She still seems like an innocent more than anything.

Emmanuelle Bercot as her mother is also strong. As a hard-driven woman. She has had her heart broken quite a few times and wants to believe in love but finds herself defined by the company she keeps usually male. She wants the best for her daughter but that seems in the daughter more or less getting into a relationship and finding a man. As she tries to act more like her sister than her mother. She is tough to a certain degree but has a soft spot for her daughter that she rarely shows.

This is a film that might not always make sense but it does have a charm that is constantly on display and tries to always stay in reality. Even with its more fantastical elements.

Grade: B

UNDINE (2020)

Written & Directed By: Christian Petzold
Cinematography: Hans Fromm 
Editor: Bettina Bohler

Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz, Anne Ratte-Polle, Gloria Andres De Oliveira 

Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.


Writer/Director Christian Pertzold, Always seems to bring nostalgia and powerful epic love stories into the modern age. 

The film feels like a short story compared to his other films that felt like full novels even if the same length. This just doesn’t feel as strong or as Rich. Making it feel somewhat lightweight, not as daring or demanding. Which can be forgiven. As not every movie needs to be a fraught tragedy. 

As this like most of his films is expressive, vivid, and powerful. Usually unforgettable with a romance that you might aspire to have and dream of despite their tragedy. To love is to gamble and lose big at times. Even when getting what you want it hurts to a certain degree and you lose or have to sacrifice a bit to be affected in the end.

Amazed by what you went through and proud of it. As an expression of passion in all ways. Your own epic story that is universal. Only you can truly understand. As you have your own point of view and are telling this particular tale as a memoir. That is what went through my brain while watching this film.

This film feels like a more modern fairy tale, but the emotions are deep. As it is detailed and textured as one without the lore though. The tragedy is that the tale feels like it ends too soon. Never knowing what you have until over and the characters obsessing over it. Raising it to a level of legend.

Think about how you feel when you break up with someone and feel you will never get over them. Then you meet someone new and realize how bad the other relationship really was. As you never reached the same happiness or highs as is the new one

This film Feels too short. Yet it doesn’t disappoint as it has the same strength and emotions affecting two lives immeasurably but seems to have the substance of a shorter story. That here gets by more on emotions. A brief romance that packs a full love story rather than one that takes place over a longer time period. 

That has an intensity where you wonder if given more time together. Would it have flamed out? Had more stories to tell that reinforced and made this love story as rich as Uncle Scrooge’s vault from DUCKTALES or with time made to realize it was a footnote and more a blueprint for future relationships to revolve around and know what you want and how you want to feel.

It Seems after romantic epics such as PHOENIX and COLD WAR. That Writer-Director Christian Petzold has set his sights on a smaller story that while not having as much of an expanse. its depths are just as strong

Grade: B

FIRST LOVE (2019)

Directed By: Takashi Miike
Written By: Masa Nakamura 
Cinematography: Nobuyasu Kita
Editor: Akira Kamiya 

Cast: Masataka Kubota, Sakurako Konishi, Shota Sometani, Jun Murakami, Masayuki Deai, Cheng-Kuo Yen 

Leo is a young boxer, successful but unable to show emotion. He has a fight scheduled and is sure that he will win. Instead, his opponent knocks him out. This triggers a chain of unpleasant events involving drugs, corrupt cops, the Yakuza, a female assassin – and Monica, an escort that he must rescue. It’s one hell of a night for Leo.


The film is brutal in its Violence at times but what else would you expect from director Takashi Miike. Though it similarly stays silly and fun. It also keeps an emotional connection. 

This is a film that will feel immediately familiar but tries to be different in the details. As this isn’t lovers on the run but two characters with nothing to lose on the run. Who seem to fall for one another while on the run and trying to survive. 

Throughout the film, you will be able to identify what inspired the movie, characters, and scenes.

The male is More motivated and driven as the only reason he goes out of his way for her. Is that he believes he is dying. 

For the female character, the boxer is The first instance or ideal of the perfect person who did something above and beyond then for them and not fully realizing or taking time to see who the person truly is. 

Some people experience this. When they experience it fully with knowing a person. All around can be rewarding rather than just connecting for a moment.

Though strangely the couple is the least interesting part of the characters. As they are pawns In a larger story but needed to advance the story. Is more of a crime Story involving two different mobs who end up in a war over a stolen shipment set up by a dirty cop and inserting 

Each monster fang either tries to double-cross or is out for vengeance. Though each of them, also seems to have its ridiculous quirks.

The film offers some well-contained action sequences and constantly involves misunderstandings and double-crosses that leave you wondering who is out for who half the time. 

The problem here is that as the tale goes on it builds momentum and smartly to a degree doesn’t keep building and putting out its Scenes slightly distanced. So it gives characters time to breathe before the next crazy scene instead of overloading and best one after another.

The drug deal subplot and mobsters do remind the viewer of the movie TRUE ROMANCE. But other than the simpler coincidences this tale goes its own way. As this film has a bit more humor.

Though the main characters are interesting in their reasoning and characters. Including one a drug addict who is beloved, she is haunted by her father who is always in his underwear. It’s the supporting characters who

Are more interesting and keeps the film interesting and on its toes.

Grade: B

PUMPKIN (2002)

Directed by: Anthony Abrams & Adam Larson Broder
Written By: Adam Larson Broder 
Cinematography: Tim Shurstedt
Editor: Richard Halsey & Sloane Klevin 

Cast: Christina Ricci, Hank Harris, Brenda Blethyn, Dominique Swain, Marisa Coughlan, Sam Ball, Harry Lennix, Nina Foch, Caroline Aaron, Melissa McCarthy, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Michael Bacall, Erin Bartlett, Amy Adams, Michelle Kruseic, Shaun Weiss 

Perky, perfect Carolyn and her Alpha Omega Pi sisters plan to win Sorority of the Year by impressing the Greek Council with a killer charity: coaching mentally challenged athletes for the regional Challenged Games. When Carolyn’s assigned to coach Pumpkin she’s terrified at first, but soon sees in him something she’s never seen before: gentle humanity and honest clarity that touches her soul. To the horror of her friends and Pumpkin’s overprotective mother, Carolyn falls in love, becoming an outcast in the process. As Carolyn’s “perfect life” falls apart, Pumpkin teaches her that perfect isn’t always perfect after all.


This film tries to be subversive in that it tries to satirize 1950s forbidden romance melodramas. While also trying to be one with a few modern sensibilities. As well as more humor that tends to be cynical at times.

Where it seems like the whole world will be shattered because of this romance between a sorority college girl and a mentally challenged man she meets while trying to do charity work.

That at times can be seen as in bad taste, but ultimately remains sweet. 

Most of the characters here come across as stereotypes at first until the film allows them to show more depth. At first, it seems fairly typical but then becomes more subversive.

Though there is sex it is delivered in a more subdued manner, Except for one scene.

The film plays more like a teenage melodrama. Though too mature for them. So it might appeal to college-aged audiences. It is also a film full of bright colors 

The film seems to try to be naughty and a little controversial to gain more interest. Almost like a stunt, but as it goes along proves itself to be a little more conventional.

Though it does show a nice transition for the characters. From living their lives in a kind of young dreamworld and then being awakened to the harsh truth of reality and the world outside of college.

The soundtrack is very catchy and achieves a life of its own. As I was obsessed with it and one particular song immediately after watching the film. It ended up being the thing I remember most about the film:

The reason I discovered it was the cast. Especially Star Christina Ricci. As this was a time when she seemed to be the independent film girl. After BUFFALO’ 66 and THE OPPOSITE OF SEX. Though this doesn’t rise to the same level as those films. Here she gives an earnest performance. As most of the film is built around her character.

This feels like a film that is missing writer/director John Waters’ touch as he might have made it a little more sharp and grotesque to a degree. Though the filmmakers here seem to win for his territory with a little more modesty and sweetness, that can be bitter, with touches of bad taste. Lacking the camp needed. As a throwback to simple times and exposing the ridiculous class traditions with humor 

GRADE: C

KIMI (2022)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: David Koepp
Cinematography: Peter Andrews
Editor: Mary Ann Bernard 

Cast: Zoe Kravitz, Byron Bowers, Devin Ratray, Robin Givens, Rita Wilson, Derek Delgaudio, Erika Christensen, Charlie Halford, Jacob Vargas, David Wain, Andy Daly 

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Seattle, an agoraphobic tech worker discovers evidence of a violent crime while reviewing a data stream, and is met with resistance and bureaucracy when she tries reporting it to her company. To get involved, she realizes she must face her greatest fear by venturing out of her apartment and into the city streets, which are filled with protestors after the city council passes a law restricting the movements of the homeless population.


For a Steven Soderbergh film, especially a thriller he doesn’t really really execute as much visual panache as usual.

The film is a fine thriller that feels a little bland and straightforward at times. Even as it is partially inspired by films such as BLOW OUT, BLOW UP and even the conversation, that seems to only count in characters and story. As the visual style is direct and more clinical.

It feels like a modern-day Brian De Palma-inspired film only without the visual dynamics but the conspiracy thriller elements still in there. 

Zoe Kravitz is what really shines throughout. As she is finally given a lead role in which to flourish and show her talents after so many supporting roles in other films. She even has an interesting walk/run that fits her character and seems cute. It is also a little funny. 

The look they give her sets her apart and makes the viewer especially focus on her as the backgrounds are usually dull color-wise and she is so colorful that your eyes immediately focus on her. Her beauty also helps shine Through.

The film’s first half makes you believe this will be more of a contained thriller and is a little slow but that is to set up the characters and the story. When it comes to the second half we venture outside more and the plot comes more to the forefront but isn’t as layers as in the first half 

Luckily in the first half though we are more contained. The film expands the space of her apartment so that it feels luxurious.

In the end, the film is fairly predictable but will keep your interest. Don’t know if it was always meant to be so small scale or if it was more due to covid but it makes it work for it.

Grade: C+

I CARE A LOT (2020)

Written & Directed By: J. Blakeson 
Cinematography: Doug Emmett 
Editor: Mark Eckersley 

Cast: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, Dianne Wiest, Alicia Witt, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan 

A crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.


This can easily be a polarizing film. On the one hand you have a savvy businesswoman who makes her career conning people out of their livelihood. So no one was ever going to find her likable or an adequate anti-hero.

Though we have seen films before where we have male protagonists who do the same thing and are more remembered and celebrated by audiences. Even if they are more disposable and waste the money on frivolous luxuries and vices.

What is more upsetting for an audience here is that not only is the protagonist doing this female. Where usually films treat female characters like her as damaged or coming around at the last minute or femme Fatales who get a comeuppance. More or less she keeps striving no matter the challenge or difficulty and ultimately what she traps comes back to her in worse ways. The same is never made of the antiheroes who are male in other films; they get a snack down but never so severe.

Though truth be told those movies are usually more based on specific people and cases. Here this is a made-up story of a very real cool. Games that are happening more and more. Only for intents and purposes here do we get a face with this type of crime. As well as more of a story.

What also might be upsetting is that in real-life cases there are faces and representatives of the victims. Usually late in the films when they are winding down. For us to realize the destruction and evils of the character even if not planned what the end results of their con games are for some. Here they are picking on the already defenseless the elderly. Which is the equivalent of kicking or torturing an animal on screen these days. Instantly turning the audience against your protagonist. Especially if they were being attacked by them.

So this film already gives you an unlikeable protagonist but also the film is filled with unlikeable characters. Even when you might start to feel for some of them. They show their true colors and you go right back to hating them.

I applaud throwing the audience off but when there is no one to root for. As the characters seem to compete for who is the worst and trying to make excuses for their behavior. It’s not really enjoyable even for a dark comedy.

The film is trying to tackle a subject and knows the best way to inform the audience is from an insider. As the film might be cynical but doesn’t offer false notes. As everyone is flawed and there is no heart of gold that comes through. This film presents a more scrubbed clean dog eat dog world. That is all about survival above all else.

It’s not necessarily an enjoyable film but like the characters it tries to make you as comfortable as you can be while watching these events unfold and tries to add some humor to the proceedings 

Rosamund Pike is excellent in the starring role. Even though it seems every few years she plays this type of role. A character who at first seems like a pushover but then reveals herself to be a shark. So it’s refreshing to see her play such strong female characters every so often. Making you wonder why she isn’t offered more roles. It might be as in these roles she comes off as threatening usually to male protagonists. Some might feel uncomfortable casting her in easier or less challenging roles?

Though at least the film is thought-provoking and wouldn’t expect anything else from writer Director J. Blakeson, Especially after his film THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED 

The film is upsetting for anyone looking for good to conquer evil. It is a dark and cynical comedy with heavy overtones. Though it isn’t bad or disappointing, just unlikeable.

Grade: B-

THE COLUMNIST (2019)

Directed By: Ivo Van Aart 
Written By: Daan Windhorst
Cinematography: Martijn Cousijn 
Editor: Irme Reutelingsperger & Yamal Stitiou 

Cast: Katja Herbers, Achraf Koutet, Genio De Groot, Rein Hoffman, Claire Porro, Bram Van Der Kelen, Medina Schuurman, Harry Van Ritjthourn 

A columnist must continuously deal with threats and negative comments on her social media pages. One day, she has had enough and decides to hunt down her trolls.


The film wastes no time in getting right to the point and its actions. The film ends up going down like candy-sweet and quickly with very few complaints. 

The film comes off very dry and seems to have no real sensations at all throughout the film. Especially when it comes to presentation.

Feels very lightweight for such a dark comedy. Almost like a TV movie level. Only with plenty of language and violence.

It might have been stronger if at any point she really has faced a true challenge or more of one in her killings or the immediate aftermath. 

The only other being she seems to face is the older gentleman who at first seems like he could be the easiest.

As she became too common too fast and with very little investigation into these Crimes. So there feels like an absence of any real depth. Especially when the film offers opportunities for it to be more interesting. Like having the daughter act impulsively when thinking her mother’s boyfriend is the killer or having her kill him when believing him to be the killer. Then found out she was wrong when the kills keep happening and then finding out it was her mother or ending the film with the daughter’s Mistake.

In the middle of the movie is the only town where the police really have any questions and she gives them motive and a bit of evidence to build a case if they bothered to really investigate her. 

The killings soon become an obsession. So much so that it takes over her regular responsibilities. Truly shows her character’s transformation. The more she kills the more it relieves her mind as it clears her head and gets more writing done. In essence, becoming more successful.

As it seems she is all for freedom of speech until it is used against her then she becomes the ultimate censor. At first, she is bullied into being a killer. 

Though without controversy there is less of an audience. The end is a little outlandish as it seems meant to be a message. As the film does have one in a worst-case scenario version. That could be reworked but makes itself loud and clear. 

At first, it seems Like it will be open-ended but proceeds especially as there are plenty of witnesses though goes for shock and sensationalism with a warning. 

Her speech might help her and the film to realize what she says about herself goes to the victims also. 

Just her boyfriend who dresses freaky to get attention as fashion is the more normal put-together individual. Whereas she comes off as the more so-called normal one is the crazed killer.

In the end, the film feels disposable and hassle-free.

Grade: C+

28 DAYS (2000)

Directed By: Betty Thomas 
Written By: Susannah Grant 
Cinematography: Declan Quinn
Editor: Peter Teschner 

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Elizabeth Perkins, Viggo Mortensen, Dominic West, Margo Martindale, Diane Ladd, Reni Santoni, Alan Tudyk, Azura Skye, Steve Buscemi, Michael O’Malley, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Susan Krebs 

A big-city newspaper columnist is forced to enter a drug and alcohol rehab center after ruining her sister’s wedding and crashing a stolen limousine.


This movie is charming in its own way.  As it is primarily a comedy but it gets deeply dramatic and doesn’t always provide a happy ending. 

This movie marked a difference In Sandra Bullock’s career. Where she seemed more interested in trying to stretch past her girl next door image and have more edge to her but also kind of realized her limitations. So she was trying to have a middle ground here. 

The film is too light to really be too hard-hitting, but gets to the emotional landscapes that it needs to and hits those aspects hard.

It’s a relief to watch a film where there is a hint of romance but treats it more for what it is a connection that can easily be read as a distraction from your true problems. 

While Sandra bullock is engaging it’s the side characters that really pepper the film

And make it spicy. They are also more the heart and dramatic pulls of the movie. Luckily though Sandra bullock is clearly the star. She lets the supporting characters breathe enough for us to care about them. Even if some stay one-dimensional.

Even though in hindsight the plotline with Azura Skye’s character would have been more recognizable and maybe a more informed outcome. Though she is one of the more heartbreaking. Elements of the film And definitely memorable characters. 

Though Viggo Mortensen comes into this film Like a true movie star and makes his presence felt he still feels more like a minor element to the film As a whole. Whose most dramatic and Piercing scene is a throwaway one at a gas stop. Though throughout the oozes charisma.

Though when the film hits her dramatic past. It does feel right and strong. Yet luckily never quite overdramatic. 

When I first saw the film I wasn’t prepared as it seemed to ride the middle as far as genres and quality. Watching it again recently though it might not have a typical happy ending film Makes you feel comfortable. As the film is infinitely rewatchable.

The only problem with the film Might be that In trying to be so many different things instead of going in-depth it kind of flirts and gives a bit, little too passable when it comes to everything. 

We are just given enough to feel or be informed about characters, situations, and the road to recovery. While feeling a bit spiritual but not the hokey hippie kind.

In the end, it shows the power and charisma of Actress Sandra Bullock that lasts to this day. As she is one of the last true stars of the big screen. Where audiences follow her no matter what genre of film she stars in and is still usually a hit of some kind. Yet she never comes across as the stereotype of a star. 

Grade: B-

RITUALS (1977)

Directed By: Peter Carter 
Written By: Ian Sutherland 
Cinematography: Rene Verzier 
Editor: George Appleby

Cast: Hal Holbrook, Lawrence Dane, Robin Gammell, Ken James, Gary Reineke, Michael Zevon, Jack Crelay, Murray Westgate 

Five doctors go on vacation deep in the Canadian wilderness. After all but one pair of the party’s shoes disappear, the remaining shoe camper decides to hike out and go look for help. Soon after he leaves, however, his four companions realize that something is very wrong when someone leaves a decapitated deer head just outside their camp. Even though they still don’t have their shoes, they decide to follow their friend’s trail out of the woods, but their path is blocked by someone who doesn’t want to see them leave the forest alive.


The film works as we spend most of the time with the characters and their reactions to various circumstances that at first seem random. As they start out as minor then grow as their desperation does also.

Already weary of each other though they are lifelong friends and siblings. Stuck in the Terrain in the middle of nowhere. The tensions are already high between them. So that when problems arise. They slowly turn on one another.

The film raises the intensity between them and their reactions in the first half of the movie before getting more to the horror/thriller elements of the second half 

The characters fit into certain types including a gay character whose sexuality is revealed not blatantly, but nonchalantly.

As the film goes along the characters’ true selves are revealed under duress. Exposing How some will truly act or react under pressure.

This is one of the first few leading man roles I have seen Hal Holbrook in and he goes above and beyond in the role. Showing a true star in the midst. In a role that feels lived in.

The film adds in the horror elements when it remembers. Only to help add to all the commotion Going on. Though there is a countdown of sorts, eventually there is going to be an attack at a certain point.

The film wisely never Amps up the action. It stays reserved. Never revealing its hand or giving hints too early. As most is revealed along with the characters. So that the audience never quite knows exactly what to expect in advance.

The film offers beautiful landscapes of nature that for all Their beauty have its own fair share of mystery.

At heart, this is a survival movie. Where a group of doctors going on a fishing trip seems to become the hunted. Out of the many places, it could have gone happy it stays somewhat simple and riveting. 

It’s filmed unglamorous so that it feels as stark and ugly as the land sometimes becomes. Mostly shot in close up so you see all the blood, sweat, and tears not to mention dirt, grime, imperfections, and injuries. 

This film came out of nowhere. As it goes along breaking down the genre while setting it up also. Until its own shocking final reveal.

Grade: B

TURISTAS (2006)

Directed By: John Stockwell
Written By: Michael Arlen Ross
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Lucy Ramos, Andrea Leal, Diego Santiago, Agles Steib 

A group of young backpackers’ vacation turns sour when a bus accident leaves them marooned in a remote Brazilian rural area that holds an ominous secret.


This film is basically HOSTEL in Brazil. Even though the violence is brutal here it still doesn’t feel as bad, dark, or disgusting as HOSTEL does if only because this feels more like a big studio copy of it. As it seems more aimed at a worst-case scenario film, where privileged white young Americans are the victims. 

As this film has bigger names or at least more recognizable names and faces. It offers up just as much nudity also. As the film has a libidinous sexual vibe that disappears as soon as the carnage starts. It still feels a bit explosive but from a big studio 

Whereas in HOSTEL, the company is more sophisticated, it seems day by night and messy. Essentially this film is a traveler’s worst nightmare come to life. One of those urban legends you always hear about. Being seduced and then waking up and your body parts missing. As it begins everything seems magical, beautiful, and fun, and then it’s Like the characters wake up to a bad hangover and it is all a nightmare. 

For all this paradise’s Natural wonders there is a price to be paid. Whereas most of the characters/victims are caucasian tourists. Who you do feel sorry for, but also come off as annoying ugly Americans and foreigners at times. So while they don’t deserve what they get you do feel they should have some comeuppance. At least they aren’t treated like saints even though the stars Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde come off as the nicest and most decent.

This was Duhmel’s first starring role based on his shoulders. Though in the advertising he is really downplayed. 

The villain being caucasian also helps show that he is racist and also that he treats all the dark-skinned people who work for him horribly and like slaves. Even as he tries to make them feel like they are in a partnership.

Even though generally as is life the islanders are being taken advantage of by the tourists and the evil surgeon. But that is their way of making a living also is to entertain them to a degree. Which is the true horror. 

The film is entertaining but instantly forgettable. The island paradise and cast are nice to look at but that is about it as the rest of the film is fairly predictable. 

The only general shock to be had is how violent it gets for a mass audience studio film. Though at least It’s not gratuitous though it does feel liek it is trying hard to have an edge 

Grade: C