Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: The Kicksled Choir

Written by Alexander Reams

23/100

Rarely a film will frustrate and bore me to the point of verbally begging the film to end, to end this misery of sitting through such a pedantic and heavy handed film. Such is the case with director Torfinn Iversen’s film The Kicksled Choir or Sparkekoret. His direction is flat out boring. Even in moments where there should be tension, emotion, or even distress, everything falls flat, I felt nothing during the film. With this juvenile direction, the actors portraying the father and son (Gabriel), Stig Henrik Hoff and Benoni Brox Krane respectively couldn’t do anything to rectify the film. These actors were clearly given poor direction and had an abysmal script to work with. The only shining light in this film is its use of opera music throughout, and unfortunately this is not near enough to make up for the heavy handed and half baked script, the poor acting, and the absolute lack of talented direction.

The Kicksled Choir Trailer

The Kicksled Choir played at the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival. Distribution TBA.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Oscar Reflection | Best Picture & Best Director from the 84th Academy Awards

Written by Alexander Reams

The Artist: 42/100

There are some serious holes in my Best Picture and Best Director filmographies and I was given the idea to go through and watch them. I have seen most of the post 2010 Best Picture winners but I even have holes there. The latest film in my Best Picture/ Best Director journey in order from newest to oldest is Michel Hazanavicius’s 2011 film The Artist. This film took home both awards at the 84th Academy Awards. 

When looking back on The Artist, seeing it as a best picture winner seems obvious. It’s a movie about the movies, and Hollywood loves that. However that does not mean the film itself is good. Unfortunately that is the case here. The Artist is a great showcase in how weird/ experimental movies can still thrive in modern film society. However the film has major plot issues. Any attempt at trying to appeal to the audience’s emotional state fails spectacularly and in hilarious fashion. Jean Dujardin winning Best Actor for his performance is just one of many examples where The Academy fell for the Oscar bait hook, line, and sinker. There is very little substance to his performance, and even in the more somber moments of the film, I could never take what was going on screen seriously.

The Artist, while having great cinematography and costume design, is a failure on every other aspect of filmmaking. As well as very frustrating when looking back on what was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director that year. My picks for Best Director and Best Picture that year would have been Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life for Best Director and continuing with The Tree of Life winning Best Picture.

The Artist Trailer

The Artist is currently streaming on HBO Max, Netflix, Roku Channel, and Tubi.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Ted Lasso: Season 1 Review

Written by Alexander Reams

In honor of Ted Lasso Season 2 premiering today we have a full review of Season 1 in it’s entirety below. Once you’re done reading you can watch Season 2 Episode one here.

Season 1 Overall Rating: 93/100

Episode 1: Pilot

90/100

Our first introduction to titular Ted Lasso is of him dancing with his American football team after taking them from being a garbage pile to state champions. This gets the attention of recently divorced Rebecca Welton who subsequently hires Lasso as the newest coach of her ex-husbands association football club (AFC). When he arrives in London, followed by Coach Beard, his best friend, he is greeted by Nate, who Lasso dubs “Nate the Great”, and meets the owner, Rebecca Welton, and her lackey, Higgins. Ted Lasso is one of the most genuine characters to enter the television medium and after this introduction moment, I immediately wanted him to succeed in every aspect in the show. His rapport with Coach Beard is one of my favorite aspects of the show, and in this episode in particular. During the plane scene their rapport is hilarious but also so heartwarming and was easily my favorite scene of the episode. 

Episode 2: Biscuits

86/100               

Ted Lasso: Hold on, now. If I were to get fired from my job where I’m putting cleats in the trunk of my car… 

Coach Beard: You got the boot from puttin’ boots in the boot. 

Ted Lasso: [laughs] I love that.

One of the perfect examples of why Ted Lasso captures the “fish out of water” trope with such precision with a perfect level of aloofness. The quote above is one of my favorite interactions between Lasso and Brendan Hunt’s “Coach Beard”. This moment not only is a great showcase of their relationship, but also shows Lasso’s unfamiliarity with the territory still, while Beard has already assimilated and soaked up knowledge of their environment, serving as a guide to Lasso in this new terrain. With this moment I felt like I immediately knew everything about Coach Beard, he studies his environment, can keep a calm demeanor and let his coaching partner do the emotions for him, while he focuses on the team on an even deeper level, and has an unwavering loyalty to Lasso. 

Episode 3: Trent Crimm: The Independent

92/100

I think going into this show, we were all in some way Trent Crimm, Ted Lasso’s most vicious critic and one who takes joy in exploiting his lack of knowledge about the sport he has been hired to coach. However this episode not only stands as a turning point for myself, but also for Crimm. During the final major scene of the episode, where Trent and Ted finish their day at a restaurant, the restaurant is owned by the father of the driver who picked him and Coach Beard up from the airport in the first episode. There Lasso and Crimm eat food that is far spicier than either of their palettes are used to, however Lasso will not relent, signifying his loyalty to Richmond AFC, and like he eventually gets used to the spice, he assimilates into the environment of AFC. I love this moment as it appears on the surface to be a very simple moment of showing how polite Lasso is, and how far he will go to be nice and kind to others, but it is so much more, quite like the show itself. 

Episode 4: For the Children

94/100

A night of lights! Drama! Intrigue! Fallout! Egos clash!

All go down in this episode, Richmond AFC just suffered another loss, prompting Roy and Jamie to fight even more, old school vs. new school. It’s the night of the annual gala that Rupert and Rebecca used to host when they were married, but now Rebecca is hosting it by herself, adding more responsibilities to her shoulders. Ted sees this as an opportunity to mend fences between Roy and Jamie. Of all the episodes, this is probably the best written, taking all of the storylines set up in previous episodes and bringing them to this event. I loved the exchanges between Roy and Jamie, the undertones they exude are nothing short of hilarious, and the ending of this episode is one of my favorites in the show. 

Episode 5: Tan Lines

84/100

Ah the old buffer episode, usually towards the middle of the season of a show, especially one with a story going throughout each episode, there is a buffer, or breaker episode to give everyone some breathing room. However this show takes it and turns it on its head, instead giving us a break from the team, and a deeper look into Lasso’s personal life. Showing the troubles that were brewing before have followed him to England. Emotionally this is the first time the show takes a darker turn and a more real tone. I thought this was a brilliant move, turning the comedy into drama, but never losing the comedic beginnings the show started with. Never does comedy subvert the drama and vice versa. Spoilers ahead, there is a moment between Lasso and his wife that broke me. It shows Sudekis’ chops as a dramatic actor as well as some of the underlying nature of Lasso is still true and kind, no matter what is thrown at him. 

Episode 6: Two Aces

98/100

Comedy series often will forget the important moments of the previous episode, but the start of this episode deals directly with the fall out of Episode 5, Tan Lines. I found this to be a very nice touch. Although new issues arise quickly when mysterious injuries and folk tales begin troubling the team. Instead of being deterred, in true Lasso spirit, Ted takes this as an opportunity to bring the team closer together in a heartwarming ceremony in the treatment room. However first he has to deal with issues with Jamie, fully quoting the Allen Iverson “We’re talking about practice” speech, however adding a tone that is full of emotion from issues with his personal life. This moment in the show might be my favorite, one I think about daily. While also welcoming back Jamie to the team after benching him last episode. The way the treatment room ceremony is shot could be viewed as basic, but it lets each actor shine in their role, and made me fall even more in love with Ted Lasso. 

Episode 7: Make Rebecca Great Again

87/100

Reinvention. Not only in the team but in Rebecca. So far she has been mocked, humiliated, and overall berated not only by her ex-husband, but also the press. Now she has some time away from Richmond, followed by her new best friend Keeley Jones, the ex-girlfriend of star Jamie Tartt. To add insult to injury however, this away game that AFC Richmond is playing is against a rival who they have not beaten in 60 years, and it is the weekend of Rebecca and Rupert’s wedding anniversary. Of all the episodes this seemed to be the least important, not in terms of quality, but overall effect on the show. This is the most disconnected from the Richmond environment. However somehow the show does not suffer from this disconnect, instead providing some more much needed breathing room. 

Episode 8: The Diamond Dogs

92/100

How does the saying go “Behind every great man is an even greater woman”? Well in our titular character’s case, behind every great Lasso lies his diamond dogs. After the ending of the previous episode, where Ted hooked up with Rebecca’s friend Flo, he feels weird, given that he just signed divorce papers from his wife, and seeks counsel from Nate, Coach Beard, and Higgins. There is another who also seeks counsel. Despite her budding relationship with Roy, Keeley sleeps with Jamie, and admits it to Roy. Who then proceeds to seek the counsel of the Diamond Dogs. This is one of the more serious episodes of the series which is nice, since we are now back in the Richmond environment, and the tension adds to the overall tone of the intermingled storylines. This does seem to detract from the overall team. Despite this, its another great episode in the series. 

Episode 9: All Apologies

100/100

The penultimate episode to a mindblowing season one is here. Penultimate episodes have a special place in TV history, most recently being Game of Thrones, as well as miniseries such as Sherlock, Mare of Easttown, and Loki. Roy is dealing with the ultimate issue that has been hanging over him throughout the show and the butt of a lot of jokes, his age. He is having to finally come to terms with the fact that he is not the same player he was when he was younger. Rebecca has to pay for her sins from the start, and finally tells Ted everything. However his response is not what she expected, given all the marital issues he has experienced, he understands how she feels, and the position she was in. He responds in the most Lasso way possible, he gives her a hug, which she does not try to break free. This moment can seem small, but is one of the biggest in the show, he broke through almost everyone on the team, sans Jamie Tartt, who left Richmond AFC. Now he has broken through the toughest one yet, Rebecca. This episode provides a much needed catharsis to their relationship and is a truly beautiful moment. The other beautiful moment is at the end of the show, when Roy accepts his age issues, but still shows up to lead the team. In a show full of meaningful moments, these 2 standout. I’m not one to get emotional, but I will admit that a tear or two was shed. 

Episode 10: The Hope That Kills You

100/100

The finale. 

After a season filled with as much drama as comedy, somehow the finale lives up to everything built before. Ted has been through a lot since taking his post as coach of AFC Richmond, however despite his positive influence on them, they are one game away from being relegated. Meaning they would no longer be a premier team. Despite this pressure, Ted continues his positive outlook. Even if the pressure is clearly eating him up, add on a looming divorce, and you’ve got someone who is a pressure cooker with a time bomb. This episode drops most of the comedy that has infused the show and trades it in for tension and drama, and still fits perfectly in the show. The futbol scenes are expertly filmed, using long tracking shots which heighten the suspense. In the end, the team is relegated, however hope is not lost, because that isn’t the Lasso way. With Rebecca now wanting the team to succeed, everyone is on the same side and are now stronger than ever. The only casualty of this being Roy getting injured, and whose fate on the field is unknown. 

Season 2 begins today July 23rd

Ted Lasso Season 1 Trailer

Ted Lasso is currently streaming on AppleTV+

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: Larry and Me

Written by Alexander Reams

92/100

Larry King has and always will be a radio and television legend and a hero of mine. His way of connecting with an audience with his demeanor and tone has always kept me coming back to watching his old interviews, especially the ones with his friend Herb Cohen. I have heard King talk about Herb Cohen countless times and it always is very heartwarming to watch. In director Lisa Melmed’s new documentary Larry and Me. Seeing Herb talk about his lifelong friendship with the iconic TV reporter was a joy, and made for one of the best documentaries of the year so far. Melmed makes this feel like King’s presence is still with us even after the credits roll. My only issue with this film is that this was that it is not a feature length documentary film. I would love to see a full length film on their friendship. I felt the genuine love and care these two had for each other and I think that condensing a 75 year friendship into such a short amount time is practically a crime. That being said I am very happy that this friendship is still being explored despite Larry King’s passing.

Larry and Me Trailer

Larry and Me played at the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival. Distribution TBA.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Son

Written by Alexander Reams

49/100

Horror films have always had the good old reliable tropes that they can rely on. Such as haunted houses, killer on the loose, and one that recently seems to be used more than any other, possessed children. Whether that is demonic, medical, vampirism, or witchcraft. Son, from fairly new director Ivan Kavanagh, relies heavily on the latter trope. The film’s plot, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before. When a young boy contracts a mysterious illness, his mother must decide how far she will go to protect him from terrifying forces in her past. Sounds familiar? Well that’s because it is a rehash of countless horror films, most prestigiously being The Conjuring 1 & 2

A pair of performances in the film shine brightly. Matichak (Halloween) as the mother of the possessed child brings something that has been seen before, but her delivery of the script seeps care and love for her son throughout. This is shown especially in the home invasion scene. Matichak’s facial expressions and body movement as she tries to rescue her son from forces in her home. Hirsch (Speed Racer, Once Upon a Time.. in Hollywood) as the detective chasing them brings a no nonsense aura that fits perfectly in a film filled with worthless dialogue and nonsensical performances. His kindness towards Matichak develops to a romantic interest, but not in the traditional sense, his feelings towards her never get in the way of his job. A trope that is not shown enough with detective characters which does add a layer of freshness. 

The screenplay, also by Kavanagh, is mediocre and filled with vapid lines that truly mean nothing to the story and try to draw your attention from the abysmal performances by everyone except Matichak and Hirsch. The actor playing “David”, Luke David Blumm is another reason why there is such a negative stigma against child actors. He overplays every scene, losing any chance at building stakes and emotional connection. Emotional connections between characters is a two way street, and while Matichak has one with Blumm on screen, he has nothing, no connection, or any resemblance to a relationship with Matichak echoing back. Even with great performances from Andi Matichak and Emile Hirsch, the film stumbles in its pacing, direction, screenplay, and every performance outside the top billed duo.

Son Trailer

Son is currently streaming on Shudder.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

F9: The Fast Saga

Written by Alexander Reams

56/100

The laws of physics have unknowingly or knowingly been the backbone of the human race since the dawn of time. Countless times films have tried to disregard those laws, with some succeeding even without them, and some have crashed and burned spectacularly (looking at you Transformers: Age of Extinction and Transformers: The Last Knight). Ever since its resurgence in pop culture in 2011 with the wildly successful Fast Five, the Fast & Furious franchise has continued to be less and less realistic (I’m sorry but Dwayne Johnson moving a torpedo’s trajectory with his bare hands is amazing, but a stretch at best). This continuation of less grounded films peaked in 2019’s Hobbs & Shaw and now they have gone too far. 

The film is continuing the story of Dominic Toretto and crew, including his wife, Letty Ortiz, Tej Parker, Roman Pierce, sister Mia Toretto, and mysterious hacker Ramsey. The plot of the movie is one that we’ve seen thousands of times, the crew needs to get a “thing” so that the bad guys don’t. That’s it. That is the entire plot. The twist here is that the “bad guy” is Dom’s long lost brother, Jakob Toretto. Yes, they are continuing their streak of doing soap opera tropes but with a budget, and the script certainly feels like one at times. The question that has been asked since the film came out is “Who is at fault?” The answer is clear, the screenwriter, or in this case, screenwriters. This is the first film in the franchise since The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift that Chris Morgan has not written, and he was a driving force behind keeping this series in control of itself and never going too far fetched and keeping the stakes real. This time Justin Lin, Daniel Casey, and Alfredo Botello are the writers of the film and it reads as if they scoured the reddit forums and just threw countless ideas at a wall and saw what stuck. 

Read Alexander’s Fast and Furious Franchise Retrospective

Justin Lin is not only a writer on the film, he returns after a 8 year hiatus from the franchise. His return not only brought a level of hype back to the franchise that I had not felt since 2013 when James Wan was announced as the director of Furious 7. It also brought a level of expectation of quality that I had associated with Lin’s work in the franchise. He is responsible for two of my favorite entries of the franchise Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. Unfortunately I felt that we did not get the maturing and exciting Justin Lin that did Star Trek: Beyond here, it seemed like we got Fast & Furious (2009) Justin Lin, which as you might know, is the only entry that does not work for me on any level. While his quieter moments do not work, he undeniably has a great eye for shooting action set pieces. Particularly a car chase with Dame Helen Mirren and Vin Diesel through the streets of London and an early jungle chase in Montequinto with the crew. His pacing throughout these scenes is masterfully done and is never too frenetic or too quick to jump cut.

Han’s death in The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift was a shocking and heartbreaking moment in the franchise, even more so after seeing him in entries 4-6. His character was my personal favorite and his constant snacking became one of my first thoughts whenever Fast & Furious comes into conversation. When it was revealed that he would be back for F9 my excitement went through the roof. However my excitement was reduced when I began to think about how he would be brought back. I should have tempered my expectations far further than I had. I won’t delve into spoilers but, the explanation given is one of the biggest half baked explanations of the entire franchise. Bringing Han back also took away any sense of stakes and consequences, now anyone can be brought back, no matter dead, disintegrated, melted, etc. 

F9 is a muddled mess, from the story, to performances, Charlize Theron is acting like she is in a completely different film and constantly made me feel like I was watching a Razzie Awards clipshow of horrendous lines. While I do not believe this film to be anywhere near the greatness of entries 5-7 or Hobbs & Shaw there is enjoyment to be found throughout. If you go into the film thinking of it not as an action film, but as a comedy, you might find much more enjoyment. Let us all hope that the 2 part finale will be far superior, Chris Morgan, please, I beg of you, please return to the franchise. 

F9: The Fast Saga Trailer

F9: The Fast Saga is currently playing in wide theatrical release.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: Graceland

Written by Alexander Reams

60/100

Never before has a rock legend been used as a metaphor for gender identity until now. This is the driving force in Bonnie Kathleen Ryan’s Graceland. Led by a familiar face in Anna Camp(Pitch Perfect & True Blood) as a traditional, uptight southern mom who has to come to terms with her daughter coming out as transgender. This story of parents having to accept their children coming out as part of the LGBTQIA+ community has been told countless times, especially in the last 10 years. What sets this film apart from all the rest is the use of the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. In spite of all the goodwill that the film opens with, after a character completely changes their thoughts and shatters believability the film turns into an after school special from the 1980s. In light of this massively juvenile mistake, the film cannot drag you back into the film and thus flubs the ending, even with a fantastic performance of Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes.

Graceland Trailer

Graceland is currently playing as part of the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival you can purchase a Shorts Pass to view it here.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Retrospective Feature: Fast & Furious Saga

Written by Alexander Reams

What started out as a glorified Point Break ripoff has snowballed into one of the biggest action franchises of all time and also one of the biggest soap operas in history. A series spanning 20 years, 8 films, 1 spin off, and a countless array of cars destroyed. Before the newest comes out, join me as I briefly discuss each film, note important characters introduced and events in the film. 

Without further ado, let’s jump in.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) 

Dir. Rob Cohen

45/100

In the early 2000s, countless films wanted to be a part of the glory days of the 1990s action films. Then a street racing film full of relatively unknown actors released in the summer of 2001. While The Fast and the Furious is a fun summer movie, its style is far too frenetic and juvenile to warrant repeated viewings. Specifically the race war scene and the race between Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) are fun to watch. There was no plan for sequels when this came out, and despite this the groundwork was being laid for a massive franchise. Besides introducing Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Michelle Rodriguez, the film introduces the budding relationship between Jordana Brewster’s “Mia Torretto” and Brian O’Connor. 

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Dir. John Singleton

42/100

Before I even begin to critique the film as a whole, I cannot ignore the absolute stupidity of the title. There were so many different options to choose from, with the most obvious probably being the best one, The Fast and the Furious 2. Now, at the height of mid-2000s fashion, the newest Fast and Furious came out, and directed by John Singleton?! The same director from Boyz n’ the Hood and Shaft (2000). How could he make such a terrible film? The missing piece is Vin Diesel, the bond he and Walker formed in the first film is broken by the absence of Diesel and takes away a massive pull to watching this series. In the end it makes this one of the least rewatchable films in the franchise.

Groundwork laid: Introduction of Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Ludacris).  

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Dir. Justin Lin

61/100

After the critical and commercial failure of the previous film. Universal brought in fresh blood to direct, Justin Lin, who was coming off the critical success of Better Luck Tomorrow. As well as a brand new cast including Lucas Black, Sung Kang, and 2000’s icon Lil Bow Wow. This is also the first time that the series had shown real stakes in the death of Sung Kang’s “Han Seoul-Oh”. While also introducing another world of racing that had not been shown on film before. The style Lin brought to the film was similar to what had previously been done before, however it had more finesse of a better director which made the film far superior than the previous entries. The only connection to the previous films that appeared in this film was Vin Diesel in a cameo role at the end. 

Groundwork & Timeline Information: Introduction of Han Seoul-Oh and Sean Boswell (Lucas Black). Also providing the catalyst for Furious 7 to start off from. 

Fast & Furious (2009)

Dir. Justin Lin 

35/100

Unfortunately the fun from the previous film would run out here. Widely regarded to be the worst of the franchise and deservedly so. There is not much I can bash about that hasn’t already been said about this film. 

Groundwork & Timeline Information: To account for absences, this is set between 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Also the introduction of Leo and Santos. As well as the crime lord Arturo Braga and Gal Gadot’s Gisele.

Fast Five (2011)

Dir. Justin Lin

76/100

The first time that the franchise was truly celebrated by critics and audiences alike. A true reinvention of the franchise that was full of life and joy. As well as being one of the best heist films of the 21st century. Bringing together everyone that has been introduced in the previous films to form a crew who are all on the point of desperation. Dom, Mia, and Brian are all fugitives after breaking Dom out from prison. However with all of that added stress, Dwayne Johnson joins the cast as Agent Luke Hobbs chasing down the fugitives. Add in wonderfully choreographed action and an amazing finale and you have one of the best action films of the 2010s. 

Groundwork Laid: First time the team works together as a whole, introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s “Luke Hobbs”. Evidence that Letty is alive appears in a post credit scene. 

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Dir. Justin Lin

78/100

After the excitement of the heist in Brazil, the team go their separate ways until Luke Hobbs bring them back in to take down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who has employed an amnesiac Letty to his crew. Yes, the franchise has brought in the very common soap opera trope of “amnesia”. Justin Lin continues his streak of filming the franchise very well, and still keeping the characters and the story first. 

Groundwork Laid: Introduction of the Shaws. 

Furious 7 (2015)

Dir. James Wan 

82/100

For the first time in 9 years, a Fast & Furious movie was not helmed by Justin Lin, but horror breakout star, James Wan. Wan brings a very new style to the franchise and a new way of shooting the film. His way of shooting action makes it more comprehensible for audiences to consume. While continuing the story of the team, it also introduces a new villain, and brother of the previous antagonist, Deckard Shaw, played wonderfully by Jason Statham. As well as shadow figure “Mr. Nobody” played by a gleefully weird Kurt Russell. 

Groundwork & Timeline Information: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift takes place between Furious 7 and Fast & Furious 6. Showing that Tokyo Drift was a spinoff about what Han does after the death of his lover Gisele. It is also revealed that Deckard Shaw killed Han in retribution for what was done to his brother. Also the introduction of the hacker “Ramsey” played by GOT star Nathalie Emmanuel. 

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Dir. F. Gary Gray

68/100

The latest in the main storyline of Fast & Furious sees Dom go rogue for unknown reasons… until they are known. A trope that has been done before, but not to the extreme that happens here. The New York City sequence alone proves that. However this does revert back to putting action and set pieces before story and characters which does take away the stakes of the film and is frustrating to say the least. However it is still a fun watch nonetheless. 

Groundwork Laid: Introduction of “super hacker” Cipher played by a dreads wearing Charlize Theron. Also confirming that Dom had a son with former flame Elena (Elsa Pataky).

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Written by Alexander Reams

63/100

During the summer of 2017, audiences were inundated with a plethora of mindless films (remember Transformers: The Last Knight). Then came along the dog days of summer where it seemed that nothing worth watching was out. Until a film with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson hit theaters and gave a jolt of life to the summer movie season. The reason that the first film hit so well is that audiences were hungry for a good movie, The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a fun buddy/road movie that had better action and better humor than anyone could have predicted.  After nearly 4 years of waiting, this duo is back on screen together joined by Salma Hayek. 

The newest entry in this franchise also bringing in Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman, and Frank Grillo. While all of these actors together make sense and it’s pleasant to see them in a film together working off each other, you really stay for the comedic trio of Jackson, Reynolds, and Hayek. Bringing in Hayek to the main cast creates a whole new dynamic that I didn’t expect out of this franchise. Of course the big question in the film is “Who is Morgan Freeman playing?” and while I will not give anything away, I will say it was well worth the wait to see his role in the film. 

Despite the pleasant banter and character interplay that is built up throughout the film, it stumbles in its scripting and visual effects. The film constantly falls into cliche after cliche to a point where I was thinking the words that were about to be said and sure enough, I was right. The visual effects are half baked and rear their ugly head a lot in the third act. The action scenes, particularly one in a nightclub, are very well choreographed and filmed. The main reason to watch Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is for the 3 stars together on screen transitioning to a new dynamic from the first film. From buddy road movie to family road movie, yes at the heart of the film it is a family movie. If you enjoyed the mindless action and fun of the first film I have no doubt you would enjoy this entry as well.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard Trailer

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard opens theatrically on June 16th.

Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: Last Meal

Written by Alexander Reams

65/100

Throughout cinematic history food has been a metaphor for countless messages. Until viewing Last Meal I had never associated food with the death penalty. Directors Marcus McKenzie and Daniel Principe take a very serious and generally disheartening subject and make it accessible to audiences by using food as a medium to show those who reveled in the attention and coverage from the media. Even with this unique angle, the film simply doles out facts throughout it’s runtime. One meal in particular that stood out was that of Thomas J. Grasso. His final meal request was the iconic “Spaghetti O’s”, instead he got spaghetti. This stuck with him so much that his final words were that “”I did not get my Spaghetti O’s, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this”.  There are no interviews with convicts who are on death row, nor interviews with politicians making these decisions. I found it to be a powerful short film and well worth the time despite my gripes.

Last Meal Screener

Graceland is currently playing as part of the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival you can purchase a Shorts Pass to view it here.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.