Friday, March 12, 2021

Malcolm & Marie (2021)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Malcolm & Marie (2021)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Little Lamb, The Reasonable Bunch, Netflix
Director: Sam Levinson
Writer: Sam Levinson
Actors: John David Washington, Zendaya
Blurb from IMDb: A director and his girlfriend's relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics' responses.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was not surprised by Malcolm and Marie at all.
Between Assassination Nation (2018) and Euphoria (2019- ), I have high expectations of Sam Levinson (The Wizard of Lies, Another Happy Day, Operation: Endgame). He’s got an artistic mind and something big to say with everything he does.
In this case, there’s a scalding review of critics that I can’t disagree with. I went into it a bit with my Chaos Walking (2021) review. It’s one of the biggest reasons Cat and I don’t like to be called critics. We like to write as if we were friends to our readers and just throwing out suggestions. We’re not here to cater to the minority of film-goers that only care about a flick if it fits their film-school perspectives of cinematic perfection.
Sometimes it’s about the meaning of a film, sometimes it’s the immersion. Most of the time, it’s the sheer entertainment value that gets us.

Malcolm and Marie was amazing. I’ll admit, my mind trailed off a few times while watching, but it’s not the film’s fault. I’m having a low focus day and the toned down – more realistic – quality of the film wasn’t the kind of thing that could hold my concentration during an episode. If you’re neurodiverse, like me, you may want to hold off on watching this one until you have a good day.

Even with my personal issue, I found myself unable to look away from most scenes. The micro-movements of Zendaya (Euphoria, Spider-Man: Far from Home, The Greatest Showman) and John David Washington’s (BlacKkKlansman, Tenet, Ballers) faces as they argued were outstanding.
I’ve been in heated arguments like what was portrayed, and I felt those movements. Some of it was shit you can’t fake; like the barest tremble of a cheek muscle while trying to hold back tears.
The actors truly brought the story to another level, which is impressive because the script was one of the best-written pieces I’ve seen in a long time.
Every moment of discourse felt so natural that it was almost as if I was watching something I shouldn’t have access to. Like every private moment was being seen through the eyes of someone standing in the room with them.
As much as I loved this movie, it’s not going to be for everyone. I’d still recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
As the credits rolled for Malcolm and Marie, I sat stunned for a moment. It was complicated to unpack everything that just happened.
I have to say this is one of those rare times that I know I have watched something really profound, and I’m struggling to put actual words to the experience.
Powerful. Raw. Those are the first two descriptors that would come to mind. The word ‘authentic’ gets bandied about within the context of the movie, and it’s only too fitting to describe it as well. It’s almost a meta experience - a movie about a couple having it out in the wake of a movie premiere.
The cinematography was absolutely stunning. I loved the fluidity of the location they shot and how it was maximized through the angles of indoor and outdoor scenery. The black and white helped drill down focus to the story unfolding. I found it easier to laser in on the couple – and it spoke volumes in symbolism as well.

I felt like I was watching something real, and it occasionally made me uncomfortable as if I was an interloper in the room of something very private happening.
The story was so stripped down and visceral with dialogue that felt genuine and flowed almost like a dance of words. There were so many little nuances that offered moments of levity as well as heartbreak.
It’s hard as hell for a cast of two to carry an entire, nearly two-hour, movie, but John David Washington and Zendaya made it look effortless.
I can’t say that I will ever watch this film again, however. Intense hardcore drama isn’t usually my thing. I am glad that I did experience Malcolm and Marie all the same; and I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 57%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 67%
Metascore – 53/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Stay Out of the F**king Attic (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Stay Out of the F**king Attic (2021)
Genre: Horror
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Top Dead Center Films
Director: Jerren Lauder
Writer: Julie Auerbach, Jesse Federman, Jason Scott Goldberg, Jerren Lauder
Actors: Ryan Francis, Morgan Alexandria, Bryce Fernelius, Michael Flynn, Brynn Hurlburt, Avery Pizzuto
Blurb from IMDb: A group of ex-cons-turned-movers are convinced by their creepy client to pull an all-nighter. As the night progresses, they uncover the horrors that exist inside his old Victorian mansion.

Selina’s Point of View:
Whenever a film tries to turn Josef Mengele into a second-rate horror villain, it pisses me off.
Don’t get me wrong, when he’s portrayed in biographies, or historical pieces, it doesn’t bother me. His very existence is absolutely terrifying. Stories SHOULD be written about him, so that we never forget. I’ve even seen some horror settings doing it well before.
He needs to be shown in the right light, though. Flicks like this do not do that. They turn him into some basic horror boogeyman. It’s bullshit.
In this case, the acting wasn’t even strong enough to make him seem intimidating.
They took an unendingly menacing historical figure, made him less scary, and then put him in a badly written basic-bitch flick. Already, that annoyed me.

The rest wasn’t much better.
All three main characters were written in a ridiculously stereotypical way. The dialogue was forced and unnatural. It felt like it was written by someone who only learned about different races, and ex-cons, by watching flicks like Scary Movie (2000).
I thought it was going to save itself with a message of redemption. I kept waiting for it. Instead, the ending was a nonsensical deviation in tone that felt like it would have fit better in an action zombie film.
The whole thing was a mess from beginning to end, and I can’t bring myself to recommend it to anyone.

Cat’s Point of View:
When a movie has an expletive as bold as the ‘F-Bomb’ in the title, even mildly censored, expectations are immediately set that the experience is going to strive for an edgy and raw feel. Stay Out of the F**king Attic, as a whole, didn’t disappoint.
I connected oddly with this movie. Back in 2018 or so, I helped my daughter’s godmother pack and move her employer’s family household. The scenes of boxes, packing materials, and tape-guns brought me back in time a bit. I related on a whole other level with the protagonists. I found the process interesting to carefully preserve and package all the things, large and small.
Of course, the temptation is always there to be nosy as one proceeds to pack away the minutia of someone else’s life. It takes a good bit of willpower not to peruse the items in more detail rather than simply securing them for transit. It’s a big thing, though, honoring the client’s privacy – and taking care with their belongings. There were some scenes that I was just cringing because of the lack of both principles taking place. I can’t say that this particular situation will be the same for all audiences. It helped pull me into the story further, though.
Human nature being what it is – when someone tells you to not do a thing it’s a monumental temptation to do that very thing you were warned against. In that way, this film is an illustrated scenario for the phrase ‘fuck around and find out.’  Given, this is a rather extreme and far-fetched case – but most horror movies are, right?

If I had to pick something that bothered me about Stay Out of the F**king Attic, it would have to be a few scenes of dialogue. Some interactions just felt a bit stiff. I’m not sure if it was a purposeful decision or if the acting in those segments was just a little stilted. It didn’t take away from the movie as a whole.
Once events started ramping up, I didn’t feel anything askew anymore and pieces started falling into place better. Considering the premise of the movie, I was pleased to find that it was fairly easy to suspend my disbelief regarding the plausibility of what transpired.
I absolutely adored the ending. Not going to give you any hints there.
One thing I can note, however, is that there is a significant amount of body horror within the film, so if that’s the sort of thing that gives you crawly feelings – buckle up.
Shudder has snagged another good one with Stay Out of the F**king Attic. See for yourself on Shudder, March 11.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: