Friday, May 20, 2022

High Life (2019)

Streaming Service: Showtime
Movie Name/Year: High Life (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Horror
Length: 1h 53min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Alcatraz Films, Andrew Lauren Productions, Arte France Cinéma, BFI Film Fund, Canal+, Ciné+, Madants, Pandora Filmproduktion, Polski Instytut Sztuki Filmowej, The Apocalypse Films Company, Wild Bunch, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, A24, ADS Service, Against Gravity, Bir Film, Elevation Pictures, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Imagine Filmdistributie Nederland, Interior13 Cine, Maco, Madman Films, Movies Inspired, NOS Audiovisuais, Pandora Film Verleih, Polyfilm Verleih, Russian Report, Spentzos Films, Thunderbird Releasing, Transformer, Ukrainian Film Distribution, Wild Bunch Distribution, Alive Vertrieb und Marketing, Karma Films
Director: Claire Denis
Writers: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Geoff Cox, Andrew Litvack, Nick Laird
Actors: Agata Buzek, André Benjamin, Claire Tran, Ewan Mitchell, Gloria Obianyo, Juliette Binoche, Lars Eidinger, Mia Goth, Robert Pattinson, Scarlett Lindsey
IMDb Blurb: A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have been struggling to put coherent words together to describe my experience with High Life.
The TL;DR is pretty straightforward: It’s uncomfortable, slow, triggering, brutal, bleak, and boring.
Here’s the thing. High Life was generally well made. The production value, on the whole, was decent. Most of the acting was on point. Robert Pattinson (Queen of the Desert, Waiting for the Barbarians, The Devil All the Time), who I maintain is tragically underrated as an actor, was absolutely fantastic. He gave an epic performance here – especially all things considered. If nothing else, I bought every nuance he was selling.

The plot was out-there… really out there, however. It was a little hard to suspend my disbelief in some instances. I felt I pretty much needed an astrophysics degree to really appreciate some of the story.
The pacing was so slow, that it made a sluggish but violent crawl over my last nerves. It was extremely hard to stay invested in what was going on. I have a confession – this wasn’t my first time to attempt to watch High Life. I had been intrigued by the trailer when we put our April 2019 Top 20 list together. I listed High Life as my #13 entry, while Selina had it at a lofty #5. After it hit a streaming service I had access to, I attempted to watch. I fell asleep. More than once. I gave up and chalked it up to being a victim of my chronic fatigue. Oh, how wrong I was. Regardless, it didn’t matter then because it wasn’t on the schedule. I meant to come back to it eventually so I actually got a little excited it came up for review this month.

It took copious amounts of caffeine and sheer stubborn determination to keep myself watching this whole production.
I was ultimately disappointed.
High Life came across as a situation of ‘inmates running the asylum’ in a tediously long episode of prison rape and babies in space – as an art film. If you think that sounds wild, grotesque, and unpleasant; then High Life may not be the movie for you.
Further, High Life dances on the razor’s edge between Rated R and NC-17. This is absolutely not anything you want to be anywhere near a child while watching. Hell, my husband interrupted me while I was watching to ask me a question and I didn’t even want to have to discuss what I was watching with him.
While the violence within High Life wasn’t egregious and unfounded, given the circumstances within the story, it still wasn’t my cup of tea. My rating is based solely on my personal entertainment factor. Take that for what you will, and watch at your own risk, if you dare.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 82%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 42%
Metascore – 77%
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score –5.8/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 2.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Operation Mincemeat (2022)


Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Operation Mincemeat (2022)
Genre: Drama, History, War
Length: 2h 8min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: See-Saw Films, Cohen Media Group, Archery Pictures, FilmNation Entertainment, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Paradiz, Shaw Organisation, Warner Bros. Pictures Germany, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros., Joy n Cinema, Netflix
Director: John Madden
Writers: Michelle Ashford, Ben Macintyre
Actors: Charlotte Hamblin, Colin Firth, Jason Isaacs, Johnny Flynn, Kelly Macdonald, Lorne MacFadyen, Mark Gatiss, Matthew Macfadyen, Penelope Wilton, Ruby Bentall, Rufus Wright, Caspar Jennings, Hattie Morahan, Dolly Gadsdon, Simon Russell Beale, Michael Bott, Alex Jennings, Ellie Haddington, Paul Lancaster, Simon Rouse, Paul Ritter, Amy Marston, Jonjo O'Neill, Gabrielle Creevy, Nicholas Rowe, Will Keen, Alexander Beyer, Markus von Lingen, Nico Birnbaum, James Fleet, Mark Bonnar, Javier Godino, Pedro Casablanc, Laura Morgan, Pep Tosar, Alba Brunet, Óscar Zafra, Lin Gallagher, Graham Curry
IMDb Blurb: During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.

Cat’s Point of View:
While I have a soft spot for World War II movies, they can sometimes be quite hard to watch. There are an abundance of reasons why - one of them being that I miss my grandfathers terribly and they both served in the conflict. I also have to be in a particular mood to enjoy straight war drama. It’s just not generally my cup of tea. When you get into the nuts and bolts of espionage, however, that’s a different story. I can identify with those tales on a whole other level.
It’s worth noting that my anticipation for Operation Mincemeat gave the movie a #4 placement on May’s Top 20 list.
Spy stories carry weight and tension beyond the battlefield carnage or even modern action sequences. I love that, if executed correctly, how they can engage the mind and ensnare your senses. I enjoyed sinking into the twists and turns of Operation Mincemeat’s story and finding my pulse rising in spite of my fore-knowledge of the eventual outcome.

While Operation Mincemeat outlines a story crazy enough to be fiction, it is a retelling of actual WWII events that saved countless lives in Europe.
There were so many nuances that brought humanity to all of the people involved with the task of pulling the wool over Hitler’s eyes so that German forces wouldn’t be waiting on the beaches of Sicily that fateful July. I loved the wry wit and the layers to each of the characters. The movie’s tale wove in elements of humor, ambition, jealousy, and romance in organic ways that didn’t undermine the bigger picture or the underpinning of suspense.
Operation Mincemeat didn’t need car chases, aerial dogfights, or explosions to keep my attention. I was just as invested watching Colin Firth (Mary Poppins Returns, 1917, Mothering Sunday) and Matthew Macfadyen's (Anna Karenina, Ripper Street, Succession) characters pacing and staring at what was effectively a typewriter, waiting for news.

I was charmed by the story and impressed with the details of the caper that it brought to light. I never lost interest and didn’t find my mind wandering, as it sometimes does – especially during long and/or dry subject matters. I was engaged throughout, and that’s saying a lot for my ADHD brain.
Firth and Macfaydyen weren’t the only stand-outs among the cast, either. Jason Isaacs (The Death of Stalin, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Occupation: Rainfall) embodied once more a character that I loved every minute of disliking. Kelly Macdonald (Goodbye Christopher Robin, T2 Trainspotting, Line of Duty) deftly brought to life a key player in this spy game with real gravitas. I could go on, but I really don’t need to.
I don’t regret for one minute placing Operation Mincemeat as high as it was on my list this month, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I even watched with my picky teen daughter and she didn’t complain one bit (in spite of this not being her cup of tea).
If you have Netflix and enjoy tales of intrigue, Operation Mincemeat is worth a shot. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%
Metascore – 65%
Metacritic User Score – 6/10
IMDB Score –6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, May 16, 2022

Sneakerella (2022)


Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Sneakerella (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Family, Musical
Length: 1h 52min
Rating: TV-G
Production/Distribution: Disney Channel, Disney+, Jane Startz Productions, Maple Plus Productions
Director: Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum
Writers: David Light, Joseph Raso, George Gore II, Tamara Chestna, Mindy Stern
Actors: Bryan Terrell Clark, Chosen Jacobs, Devyn Nekoda, John Salley, Kolton Stewart, Lexi Underwood, Logan Thompson, Lovina Yavari, Tara Nicodemo, Yvonne Senat Jones, Mif, Juan Chioran, Robyn Alomar, Hayward Leach, Robert J. Tavenor, Keethan Krish,
Levi Dombokah, Mekdes Teshome, Michael Madonis, Navi Dhanoa
IMDb Blurb: A modern twist on Cinderella set in New York City's Sneaker culture.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve got to admit, Sneakerella was better than I thought it would be. I was a bit on the fence when I listed it as my #12 entry on May’s Top 20 list. I’m just not a sneakerhead, and I was a little worried that the story might not fully translate into something other than just ‘cute’ Disney fare.
The good news is that I didn’t have to be a subscriber to that cultural niche to get a lot out of this new reimagining of the Cinderella story.

We have seen so many iterations of Cinderella over the years. I enjoy most of the ones that I’ve seen. There are some that are simply iconic – much like Disney’s original animated classic from 1950. While a lovely story of rags to riches and triumph over domestic oppression, it sometimes gets a bit worn out.
Sneakerella gives the narrative a flip on many levels. I’m not just talking about the excellent hip-hop choreography of the dancers, either.
Here, we had a new spin on the essence of the story – it was about a young man finding himself as a shoe designer and saving the legacy of his mom’s shoe store. It wasn’t about anyone looking to get married. Sure, there was a little romance involved, but it was the appropriate interaction level for the characters’ ages. I’m actually head over heels about the pacing of such. I think Disney finally got a clue, and seem to be sticking to Elsa’s advice from Frozen (2013) that “You can’t marry [someone] you just met.”

I really liked the spotlight on the Astoria, Queens area, also, and the emphasis on neighborhood and community. I found myself grinning ear to ear as the role of the ‘fairy godmother’ was revealed and worked in with a bit more subtlety than the common interpretations of this story.
All of the key elements were present and presented well in conjunction with the film’s messages of diversity, honesty, following dreams, finding your voice, staying true to yourself, and making the choice to take a bold first step.
Sure, some elements were a little sappy – but who cares?!

I found Sneakerella to be a movie that kids would enjoy and parents won’t roll their eyes watching the first few times. The dancing was cool, the music was catchy, and I had a lot of fun.
If you like the premise of Cinderella, it’s worth giving this version a shot. You can find it now on Disney+ included with membership at no additional premium.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 57%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –4.2/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer: