Review: ‘Vivo’ starts strong, ends less strong, and lags in the middle

Vivo

The basic premise of Vivo is both simple and heartfelt: A kinkajou goes on a quest to deliver a love letter from his father figure to his father figures long lost love. That’s it, that’s the whole pitch, and if you pack the cast with talented actors and singers and hire a nearly-EGOT-winning songwriter to turn the whole thing into a musical, that’s a recipe for something special. Most of the time, anyway.

That’s not to say that Vivo is bad; exactly, it’s just fine. It opens with a top-tapping duet that will stick in your head for ages and closes with a reprise of the same, but there’s a long stretch in the middle where the film takes no exactly no chances and suffers for it.

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Review: ’12 Mighty Orphans’ is a perfectly suitable underdog sports drama

12 Mighty Orphans

Think about a sports drama. You know the one: where the main team is somehow disadvantaged in life, but they have a coach who believes in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. Where through the sport and the self-confidence that comes with playing well and winning, the kids turn their lives around and inspire the community around them. 12 Mighty Orphans is not the first time this story has been told, and it won’t be the last, but it’s a pretty good version of that story.

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Home Video: Rent, Buy, or Stream the DC Extended Universe Films

The Suicide Squad

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad will hit theatres this weekend, and it is one of the most highly anticipated DC films in ages. There are nine films in the DCEU so far, or ten depending on how you count the versions of Justice League, and here is where you can rent, buy, or stream each one.

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Review: ‘The Green Knight’ grapples with temptation and virtue, cowardice and courage, and ends up one of the best films of the year

The Green Knight

There’s no one moment that will let you know that The Green Knight is going to be something special. It is apparent from the beginning that you are about to watch something excellent, both the production design and casting tell you that, but it’s not until nearly in the second half that you may realize you’re watching something truly great.

A knightly quest, and a chivalric romance, The Green Knight is a film that has so many questions and diversions that it could have been a mess, but instead is one of the most purposeful and human films of the year, and one of the best, too.

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Review: ‘Old’ highlights M. Night Shyamalan’s weaknesses, but also his strengths

Old

I think a lot about M. Night Shyamalan. I don’t like all of his movies, but all of his movies are unmistakably his movies, and I love him for that. So what makes an M. Night Shyamalan movie? Janky dialogue delivered weirdly and a very straightforward understanding of human emotion and behaviour, but also a keen eye for visuals and a newly unparalleled ability to use the camera to tell a story. He is, in a word, a dichotomy. His latest film Old is no different.

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Review: ‘The Last Mercenary’ misses the mark

The Last Mercenary

Action movies aren’t a genre that has ever let the age of their stars get in the way of a good time. If you do things right, you can have aged men play all kinds of characters. The Last Mercenary seems intent on pushing that idea to the limit by casting a 60-year-old Jean-Claude Van Damme as a mysterious spy returned from the cold to rescue his wayward son.

It also seems intent on being as over the top silly as it can be, with Van Damme’s character –dubbed “The Mist” because it’s there, but you can’t touch it– being a master of disguise, a master of proverbs, and hyper-competent at basically everything while also making all the most ridiculous choices.

Does it work though? Well… no, not really.

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Heads Up: Fantasia Festival 2021 is coming next week!

Fantasia Festival 2021

Good news, everyone! Montreal’s Fantasia Festival is back for its 25th year. This year will be a hybrid of in-person and online screenings, which means we’ll be covering the festival from our headquarters in Vancouver.

The festival runs from August 5th to 25th and features a ton of genre films from around the world. The online portion of the festival will be available to audiences across Canada, which means you can enjoy it from home, too.

You can check out the entire catalogue online now at the 2021 Festival Website. Watch for coverage here on Awesome Friday starting on the 5th.


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Review: ‘Jungle Cruise’ is fun!

Jungle Cruise

Given the state of the world, it might be a more interesting fact that Disney hasn’t made more films based on the rides at their theme parks. I know that’s a weird thing to think about, but the future is weird. Disney is a vast, money-making empire and can monetize its properties like no other vast, money-making empire, and many of the rides in its parks are iconic.

Now, I know what you might be thinking, that it’s maybe a little cynical to make a movie based on a theme park ride, but to that, I say two things. First: tell it to the Pirates of the Caribbean, and second you can make a good movie out of anything. Here to prove that second point is Jungle Cruise, a good movie based on a theme park ride.

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Patron Exclusive Podcast Episode: Full Audio of Interview w/ Wyatt Rockefeller

Greetings friends! For all Patreon supporters at the Lieutenant level and above, the full audio of my interview with director Wyatt Rockefeller is now available.

I hope that you enjoy listening to it. If you’d like more of this kind of content, please feel free to tell your friends to subscribe. I really enjoy film blogging, but it also isn’t free. There are costs –both money and time– associated with doing it. That’s just the world we live in. The more support I have, the more I’ll be able to bring you.

Either way, thank you for reading, listening, and supporting. I love you all.

Listen to the interview now.

If you’re not a patron, you can read the interview here.

–Matthew


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Like this? Please consider supporting me via Patreon, Ko-Fi, PayPal.me (or click on an ad)!

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Interview: Wyatt Rockefeller on his film ‘Settlers.’

Wyatt Rockefeller

Settlers, the new Sci-Fi western set on Mars, is available on-demand starting today. I had the chance to speak with director Wyatt Rockefeller about his inspirations for the film, the themes it portrays, and the best movie robot of the year.

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Review: ‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’ is a lovely, if predictable, romance story

Last Letter From Your Lover.

Picture this: in the present, a young journalist discovers a series of love letters. They were written between a married woman and her paramour in the 1960s, and they tell of a passionate but star crossed affair. Naturally, the journalist searches for more of the letters and, eventually, finds love of her own.

This is the plot of The Last Letter From Your Lover. It isn’t entirely original, but it is a pretty good version of this kind of story.

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I made a list of film festivals

Film Festivals

He friends, I made a thing. I made a list of upcoming film festivals for my own reference, and I figured that others might find it useful, too. I know there are ways to find this info, but I like having it all in one big list, and I figure I can’t be the only one. 

This list is by no means exhaustive; it’s just the festivals that are presently on my radar. If you were wondering: yes, there are way too many for anyone to attend them all. If you know of a festival that I don’t have here, please feel free to shoot me an email or @ me on Twitter.

The list is presented in chronological order. Expected dates are present whenever they’re not available, and those dates are my guesses. I will do my best to keep this up to date on a monthly-ish basis. 

You can find the list here. I hope you find it useful.

-Matthew

Review: ‘Blood Red Sky’ isn’t quite the film it could be, but is still fun

BLOOD RED SKY

An ill woman and her son are on a plane to New York. Awaiting them, a doctor with an array of ultramodern medical technology will give them the best chance to cure her ailment. Her plane is then, of course, hijacked. All of this is a slow build to a reveal that you can see coming from a mile off her ailment isn’t an ailment; she’s a vampire trying desperately to suppress the monster within, and the hijackers are about to find out that they aren’t in the movie they thought they were in.

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