Army of the Dead

Written by Alexander Reams

85/100

Army of the Dead is the latest film from Zack Snyder, and his second of 2021. The film follows Dave Bautista and a slew of others including Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick (who has not been getting enough credit for his performance here), Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sonada, Garret Dillahunt, and a standout who borderline steals the scene ever chance she is on screen, Tig Notaro. This ragtag group of mercenaries is hired by Sanada to steal $200 million dollars in Las Vegas, the only hiccup, the city is walled off due to a zombie virus infecting the city. 

Dave Bautista has been typecast ever since his breakout performance in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy as the buff tough guy who can also do comedy. In this film however he shows a much larger range. Snyder gives Bautista more room to work in, and leaves the comedy to other actors in the ensemble. The visual style of this film is similar to the previous style of Snyder’s previous films, but with him also being the Director of Photography along with Directing, he is in total control of the frame.

After the 8 year stint at Warner Bros and being screwed over constantly, Zack Snyder has been welcomed into the Netflix family with full creative control and support from the streaming giant. Giving Snyder full creative control might be the best decision made in this film. From the fantastic and mesmerizing opening scene and opening credits sequence, that has become a staple in Snyder’s visual style, that provide the viewer with as much laughs as shots that are nothing short of pieces of art. Snyder’s latest is the gory fun that we have come to expect from him and his return to the zombie genre is full of twists, great action scenes, and very colorful and memorable dialogue. 

Army of the Dead Trailer

Army of the Dead is currently in limited theatrical release and streaming worldwide on Netflix.

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

Carnaval

Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde

30/100

There are movies that aren’t good but you still try to find a reason to like them. This was the case for me. There are very few redeeming qualities and instead this movie reads like a giant advertisement for attending carnaval and visiting Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  As someone who has been living out of Brazil for over 10 years this movie hit me with an intense sense of nostalgia that made me miss home and the warmth of the Brazilian people. This is one of the few things I enjoyed and found was transferred in the film successfully. 

Plot wise this is an underwhelming endeavor. It tells the story of Nina, a social media influencer, whose influencer boyfriend cheats and dumps her before a couples trip. This misfortune leads to a sponsored trip to Salvador, during carnaval, where Nina requests that her 3 best friends join her. When they arrive they get put up in a shabby hotel while the more popular influencers stay at a fancy all inclusive resort. As the trip progresses Nina hooks up with a popular local musician which sees her follower count rise as her friendships fall apart. 

Only when we are about an hour into the movie does it pick up a bit of steam. At this point Carnaval moves away from the influencer plot line, for a few minutes – at least -, and the audience as well as Nina get to see Salvador unfiltered, not through phone screens or social media posts, but through the eyes of a local who knows the city and its history. Here we see capoeira, the traditional cuisine street food acarajé, street vendors, the Lacerda public elevator, which separates the lower city from the upper city, Candomble, and other Afro-Brazilian traditions. When the movie leans into this it does well.  But shortly after this reprieve we move back into the hollow plot line that costs Nina her friendships and her dignity. 

At the end of the day, this movie does not really know what it wants to be. Is it a friendship drama? Is it an elaborate advertisement campaign? Is it a commentary on influencers and the social media age? By trying to do everything the movie ends up doing nothing. It does not spend enough time developing its characters in any meaningful way. This makes me wonder who this movie was made for? I don’t see an audience for this one especially for those who are unfamiliar with Brazil and its culture. The sights and sounds are infectious but, at the end of the day, by making Carnaval for everyone it ends up being for no one.

Carnaval Trailer

Carnaval will be available to stream on Netflix on June 2nd.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

Episode 95: RoboCop / Starship Troopers / Miami Vice

“I don’t underestimate audiences’ intelligence. Audiences are much brighter than media gives them credit for. When people went to a movie once a week in the 1930s and that was their only exposure to media, you were required to do a different grammar.”

Michael Mann

Links: Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Google Podcasts | LibSyn | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their First Impressions of Project Power & She Dies Tomorrow and the Feature Films: RoboCop, Starship Troopers, and Miami Vice.

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Streaming links for titles this episode

RoboCop is currently available on Prime Video

Starship Troopers is currently available on Tubi TV

Miami Vice is currently available to rent or purchase

1BR

Written by Michael Clawson

50/100

Shortly after moving to Los Angeles in hopes of a fresh start with only her cute cat Giles for companionship (don’t get too attached, Giles doesn’t last long), Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom), a soft-spoken twenty-something, is lucky enough to quickly land a one bedroom at an apartment complex where it appears she’ll enjoy the company of highly sociable neighbors. A lively and welcoming community is just what Sarah needs since not only is she new in town, she’s also bitterly estranged from her father after her mother’s recent passing, and we gather that mom and dad were her only close family. Loneliness, however, is better than what Sarah’s tightly knit neighbors ultimately have in store for her. Pain and suffering turns out to be a prerequisite for becoming a part of their cult-like community, and leaving isn’t any easier.

Bloom’s lackluster lead performance is one reason why this mediocre thriller doesn’t amount to as much as it should. Sarah is meant to be somewhat meek—that’s partly why her property manager identifies her as a suitable tenant—but Bloom overplays it, and doesn’t bring enough energy to the role. The rest of the cast also disappoints; when the sinister side of everyone around is Sarah is eventually unveiled, it’s not just unconvincing, it’s eyerolling. Writer/director David Marmor (this is his debut feature) does have good instincts for pacing. His freshest move is placing the film’s major revelation towards the middle of the movie, and focusing on Sarah’s response to her disturbing, imprisoning situation in the back half. Far less impressive is Marmor’s visual creativity. The film is fairly engaging, but there’s nothing interesting to look at.

1BR Trailer

1BR is currently available on Netflix

Pieces of a Woman

Written by Taylor Baker

48/100

Kornél Mundruczô’s Pieces of a Woman starts out with one of the most beautiful (to look) at sequences of film in the last year. But between issues with lighting continuity, general continuity, off center cinematography, and a story that is both too broad and too narrow. There are unfortunately a large amount of areas where the film stumbles. Which is exacerbated by the early heights of its first quarter. The central recurring problem for me is the entirely useless recurring day and month title cards throughout the film. Those specific dates offer nothing important or engaging to the viewer. A month card while unnecessary would have been just as effective without any confusion of tracking dates for significance.

There are strong performances from most the actors involved. Benjamin Loeb’s handheld cinematography is sharp while the camera is moving, and Gemma Hoff and Joan Parris do a great job with make-up. Whoever was responsible for the prosthetic stomach in those first 30 minutes also deserves an abundance of credit. We see a brief a return for Jimmie Fails to feature film for the first time since The Last Black Man in San Francisco which brought immense delight to this writer.

Ultimately the film loses its through line and suffers by removing the perpetually problematic uber talent that is Shia LaBeouf from it’s ending. Whether it was a post-hoc or narrative decision its clear from this end of the film that the decision was a poor one. It is his flawed character Sean that brings out the well of emotion for Kirby’s Martha. Allowing her squints and ringed fingers dancing with chipped polish to elicit emotionality where otherwise none might be. All these issues are punctuated by an entirely absurd 7 minutes of credits, that once again provide more continuity questions than answers due to the size of the apple trees.

Pieces of a Woman Trailer

Pieces of a Woman is available to stream on Netflix

Episode 91: Raindance 2020 / He Dreams of Giants / A Dim Valley / Nafi’s Father

“Well, I really want to encourage a kind of fantasy, a kind of magic. I love the term magic realism, whoever invented it – I do actually like it because it says certain things. It’s about expanding how you see the world. I think we live in an age where we’re just hammered, hammered to think this is what the world is. Television’s saying, everything’s saying ‘That’s the world.’ And it’s not the world. The world is a million possible things.”

Terry Gilliam

Links: Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Google Podcasts | LibSyn | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their First Impressions of Hillbilly Elegy & Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and the Raindance 2020 Titles: He Dreams of Giants, A Dim Valley, and Nafi’s Father.

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At this time there are no streaming links for titles this episode

He Dreams of Giants, A Dim Valley, and Nafi’s Father are currently seeking distribution and awaiting a formal release date announcement.

You can read Taylor’s review of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom here

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Written by Taylor Baker

66/100

Black Bottom starts with a magnetic and memorable opening scene. Viola is at once alluring and gravitational. Her character ‘Ma’ or ‘Ma Rainey’ is a powerful role. She lingers with the viewer long after the credits roll. That distinctive face and sooty make up engulf you. Boseman’s ‘Levee’ is deserving of the attention he’s received. For me though he’s a bit too big and the character a bit too sharp on the edges. I was particularly fond of the understated performance of Colman Domingo. Whose become a favorite of mine over these last couple years following his turn in If Beale Street Could Talk.

Though I’m happy to see August Wilson’s Plays are becoming available to the masses, I can’t help but brood on how much more engrossing, and how much more deeply I might be moved had I seen this live rather than at home. A particular pick I have to nit is the obvious and ultimately drab choice to have a door that leads to nowhere play so crucial to the third act. I don’t mind a foreshadow here or Chekhov’s gun there, but my God that was telegraphed a mile away. Despite my hang ups this is still near the top of the heap in the bevy of award season releases we’ve seen recently and one I’d recommend to just about any viewer.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Trailer

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is available to stream thru Netflix

Episode 87: Rescreening By the Sea

What nourishes me also destroys me.

Angelina Jolie

Links: Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Google Podcasts | LibSyn | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor Rescreen Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea and provide a First Impression on our next Rescreening episode title, Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret.

By the Sea Trailer

By the Sea is currently available to stream on Netflix

Drink in the Movies would like to thank PODGO for sponsoring this episode. You can explore sponsorship opportunities and start monetizing your podcast by signing up for an account here. If you do please let them know we sent you, it helps us out too!

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Episode 85: VIFF 2020 Doc Talk / Mr. SOUL! / Into the Storm / My Mexican Bretzel

“My Mother when she saw the film. She told me I had made a most truthful portrait of her parents than if I had told the truth. So maybe it’s better sometimes to use fiction to tell truths.”

Nuria Giménez Lorang (Interview Link)

Links: Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Google Podcasts | LibSyn | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their First Impressions of: Dick Johnson is Dead & MLK/FBI. Followed by the VIFF 2020 Documentary Titles: Mr. SOUL!, Into the Storm, and My Mexican Bretzel.

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Streaming links for titles this episode

Mr. Soul! is currently available in Virtual Cinemas

My Mexican Bretzel on IndiePix Unlimited

Into the Storm is currently seeking distribution.

Drink in the Movies would like to thank PODGO for sponsoring this episode. You can explore sponsorship opportunities and start monetizing your podcast by signing up for an account here. If you do please let them know we sent you, it helps us out too!

Episode 84: VIFF Kickoff / The Devil All the Time / Sibyl / Siberia

“Life is what happens when you’re doing other things, right?”

Abel Ferrara

Links: Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Google Podcasts | LibSyn | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their First Impressions of: The Trial of the Chicago 7 & Shithouse. Followed by The Devil All the Time, Sibyl, and the VIFF 2020 Official Selection Siberia.

We’d like to thank PODGO for sponsoring us this episode.
You can explore sponsorship opportunities and start monetizing your podcast by signing up here. And when you do let them know we sent you!

Visit us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Streaming links for titles this episode

The Devil All the Time on Netflix

Siberia is currently seeking distribution

Sybil is currently available to rent from multiple sources.