Friday, August 19, 2022

Look Both Ways (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Look Both Ways (2022)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 1h 51min
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Catchlight Studios, Screen Arcade, Netflix
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Writers: April Prosser
Actors: Lili Reinhart, Luke Wilson, Andrea Savage, David Corenswet, Danny Ramirez, Nia Long, Aisha Dee, Amanda Grace Jenkins, David Corenswet, Jaden Tolliver, Jason Johnson, Justin Donte, Lauren Garrott, Sahara Ale, Solar Dena, Taylor Ashley Murphy
IMDb Blurb: On the eve of her college graduation, Natalie's life diverges into parallel realities: one in which she becomes pregnant and remains in her hometown to raise her child and another in which she moves to LA to pursue her dream career.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for our review today, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to watch Look Both Ways at this time. I’ve been craving action, sci-fi, and thrills this summer. Prepping for August’s Top 20 Movies, while we were going through trailers, I noted that the premise of the movie looked cute.
It didn’t quite make it onto my personal list, but Selina placed Look Both Ways as her #17 pick. It was just barely edged out by other films I was, frankly, a little more excited about.

I also had this nagging feeling that I’d seen this movie before. It didn’t take a lot for it to sink in that I was remembering Sliding Doors (1998). I liked that movie at the time, too. Though, much like today, it was during a time in my life I was watching a lot of movies. A lot of those weren’t always because I was dying to see them – it was because I worked at a movie theater and customers would ask if employees had seen the films we were showing. We got late night employee screenings of most new flicks so that we could offer answers to those questions. I digress.
All of that said, Look Both Ways wasn’t disappointing. I enjoyed it well enough. The premise was interesting and I appreciated that they didn’t attempt a cookie-cutter remake using the premise of a missed travel connection to split the parallel timelines. Many of the younger audience that would be drawn to Look Both Ways today might not even be aware of Sliding Doors – that is, if they haven’t read critic reviews in advance – to be aware of the comparison. There’s a time gap of over 20 years between productions, after all.

The cast didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed Lili Reinhart (The Good Neighbor, Chemical Hearts, Riverdale) as she explored both trajectories her character’s life could have taken. I don’t have any faults with any of the cast’s performances. The production value was fine, writing seemed grounded. It was a cute story.
I can’t promise that I’m going to remember Look Both Ways years from now – just as I struggled to recall the title of the similar movie I watched ages ago. That shouldn’t deter anyone else from seeking out and enjoying this Netflix Original, however. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 58%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 84%
Metascore – 50%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.4/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Day Shift (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Day Shift (2022)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy
Length: 1h 53min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Impossible Dream Entertainment, 87Eleven Entertainment, Netflix
Director: J.J. Perry
Writer:  Tyler Tice, Shay Hatten
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagan Good, Karla Souza, Steve Howey, Scott Adkins, Oliver Masucci, Snoop Dogg, Peter Stormare, Eric Lange, Zion Broadnax
Blurb from IMDb: A hard-working, blue-collar dad who just wants to provide a good life for his quick-witted 10-year-old daughter. His mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income: hunting and killing vampires.

Selina’s Point of View:
Cheesy, gory, fun-loving horror-creature flicks speak to me. There is a special place in my heart for them. The moment I saw the trailer for Day Shift, I knew it was going to be right up my alley.
What is there not to like about Day Shift? It doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. The fight choreography is absolutely glorious. The people involved could elevate anything, and I cannot say enough about the soundtrack.
Let’s walk it back a minute and talk about the people.
In my Top 20 Movies to Look Out for in August I went on a whole rant about why you should expect good things from stunt people making their directorial debuts. I knew that whatever J.J. Perry (Beast Mode, Shadow and Bone, F9: The Fast Saga) gave us was going to have amazing action. He didn’t disappoint.
The years of his experience showed in every scene. The fight choreography and stunts included moves that no other director would likely ask for. I imagine they wouldn’t realize the majority of it was possible without CGI, but his use of contortionists was inspired. From a purely action perspective – Day Shift was miles above any other vampire, and most action, flicks. Only a person well educated in the stunt side of Hollywood could have given us this kind of thing.
The story itself was a little tropey and basic. It reminded me of an upgraded Blade (1998). That’s where the actors come in.

Jamie Foxx (Baby Driver, Just Mercy, Project Power) is about as flawless as an actor can get. He can do absolutely anything, and I’m reminded of that whenever I see him on screen. He’s been type cast a bit lately, as a sarcastic action type, but he works so well in that role that I find it hard to argue. His comedic timing worked really well with Dave Franco’s (Nerve, The Little Hours, If Beale Street Could Talk) style of na├»ve humor.
For a buddy cop comedy without the cops, the pairing worked phenomenally.
And then there’s Snoop Dogg (Blood Pageant, The Addams Family 2, Good Mourning). Everything’s a little better with Snoop Dogg, and with his involvement the soundtrack was a given. He’s just got an epic on-screen personality.
Snoop has finished the game, and he’s just completing all the side quests at this point. I support that.
Don’t be fooled by the reviews.
Day Shift has a middle-of-the-road score because people can’t agree on the benefits of cheesy horrors… not because it’s bad. High-art critics are likely to hate it, while those of us just here for the movies are going to enjoy it.
If you’re into cheesy action/horror-comedies, you cannot go wrong with Day Shift.

Cat’s Point of View:
When you mention Jamie Foxx, you start getting my attention. He’s a phenomenal actor with so many facets. He can sing, dance, he’s personable, charismatic… I could go on, but I think I’d be preaching to the choir.
At the time we watched the trailer for Day Shift and I saw that not only would Foxx be in this film, but also Snoop Dogg and Dave Franco – fighting vampires, no less – it became a “shut up and take my money” situation.
If I could have watched Day Shift the moment our trailer-viewing stream had ended, I would have.
There were so many good things about Day Shift, I almost wouldn’t know where to start – but since I’ve already touched on the cast, I’ll run with that. There wasn’t a single performance I could find fault with. I bought everyone’s characters and the comedy was on point. The more serious moments hit right, also. Some of the scenes were a little over-the-top but this was a movie about vampire hunters – it fit and felt right.
This was quality escapism, I tell you.
Foxx and Franco really delivered the buddy-cop-like dynamic, and I loved it. Pairing a strait-laced guy with a maverick in action movies is generally a recipe that works. I had a gleeful giggle when Snoop was on screen, also. I might have cheered a bit when his character brings out Big Bertha. I’m leaving out the context there – you really need to see the movie to get the effect of that scene- it was epic and glorious.
Don’t get me wrong, though, the ladies in the cast did a great job, too. I loved that the primary antagonist and vampire ringleader was Karla Souza (The Sleepover, Home Economics, There Are No Saints). She really delivered on the essence of classy with a hint of ‘rip-your-face-off.’ I believe this was the first larger role for Zion Broadnax (Holly Day, Station 19, Abbott Elementary), and she killed it as Foxx’s on-screen daughter. Their chemistry was great, and she embodied her precocious character well. I see bright things ahead for her.

Let’s talk about director J.J. Perry. Day Shift was his directorial debut, and he has an extensive history as a stunt coordinator. I applaud him for this amazing conglomeration of stunts and storytelling. I hope he can bring us more like this in the future. (I wouldn’t mind a sequel.)
Perry has gone on record about his use of practical effects in Day Shift. If it couldn’t be done for real, he didn’t really want to do it. It’s clear that there were only minimal touches done with computers in post, and Day Shift got a lot of bang for their bucks that way.
He was also working with the same stunt team that trained and coordinated for John Wick (2014).
The actors were comfortable doing most of their own stunts, too – save for the exceptionally dangerous shots. I was hard pressed to tell between what was really Foxx (or Franco) and what was done by the doubles.
It also helped to have 5th-degree black belt and martial arts superstar Scott Adkins (Accident Man, Dead Reckoning, Castle Falls) – certainly no stranger to stunt work - among the vampire hunter cast.
These were vampires like we’d never seen before. I loved the fresh take with the contortionist moves. Perry also brought a new element in by experimenting with filming some sequences in reverse for better effect.
I could probably ramble for ages about all the great things about Day Shift. I’ll reign myself in and encourage you to look it up on Netflix, however. I would recommend this one in a heartbeat and I’ll likely be watching it again soon because it was just that much fun.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 59%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 63%
Metascore – 51%
Metacritic User Score – 5.0
IMDB Score –6.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 5/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 15, 2022

Glorious (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Glorious (2022)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 1h 19min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: AMP International, FallBack Plan Productions, Eyevox Entertainment, Citizen Skull Productions, Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Shudder
Director: Rebekah McKendry
Writer:  Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry, Todd Rigney
Actors: Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons
Blurb from IMDb: After a breakup, Wes ends up at a remote rest stop. He finds himself locked inside the bathroom with a mysterious figure speaking from an adjacent stall. Soon Wes realizes he is involved in a situation more terrible than he could imagine.

Selina’s Point of View:
About five minutes into Glorious I was rolling my eyes a bit. The set up felt typical and it bled into a scene that was drowning in cringe.
When the film really gets going, though, there’s no looking away. The cringe starts to make sense, and the typical feel of the beginning gives way to something much more mind-blowing. I’d even go so far as to say Glorious has the feel of something NEW.
It’s definitely got that Lovecraftian, not-meant-to-make-sense-of-it, aura. Still, there’s a novelty to it that draws it into another level. I think that aspect comes from the comedy infused in it.
Lovecraftian comedy does exist. It’s almost always got a thread of parody running through it, though. The last one I can remember watching was The Last Lovecraftian: Relic of Cthulhu (2009), which was fun – but silly. Seeing that mash-up of genres in a film that still takes the subject seriously is different.
With the amount of movies I watch per year, I cannot tell you how grateful I am when I see something that is not only original, but works.

Everything elevated Glorious for me. I’m a fan of Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, The Hurricane Heist, Expired), and J.K. Simmons (Being The Ricardos, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Night Sky) is a treasure. I’m not familiar with Rebekah McKendry’s (Psycho Granny, All the Creatures Were Stirring, Elevator Game) direction, but if Glorious is any indication of her talent, then I probably should know more.
It even had a decent script and interesting story. Joshua Hull (Chopping Block, Bethlehem, The Impersonators), David Ian McKendry (All the Creatures Were Stirring, Psycho Granny, Sins in the Suburbs), and Todd Rigney (Headless, Found) made a hell of a statement with their work here.
Glorious is a good example of what can be done with a simple idea when everyone puts the right kind of effort in. Even the editing was on point, keeping the result tight and just over an hour long. There was never really any time for dragging.
Glorious lived up to its title.
If you’re interested in seeing for yourself, and I think you should be, Glorious premieres on Shudder August 18th.

Cat’s Point of View:
It has been far too long since I’ve had a chance to see a movie that was straight-up Lovecraftian. That was one of several reasons I was excited we would get a chance to watch Glorious. I have to say, I was intrigued as to how the production would incorporate those elements into such a confined setting.
I certainly got my answers, and I was suitably horrified as a result.
Aside from the ode to H. P. Lovecraft’s work, I was initially drawn to Glorious by its cast. J. K. Simmons pops up in the most interesting places, and I think his voice was perfect for Ghat and Ryan Kwanten is often underrated. Though, I suppose that helps him get some of these diamonds in the rough roles that might seem crazy to others. Considering the majority of Glorious was focused on him, as the primary (and often only) actor actually visible on-screen, I believe this was an excellent opportunity to showcase his range.
In fact, I was so drawn in with the main character’s emotional rollercoaster that I nearly had whiplash when certain aspects of the story were unveiled.

When you consider that the primary setting for Glorious was a grungy and graffiti-adorned rest-stop bathroom in the middle of nowhere, I’d say the production value for what they were working with was fairly high. It seemed that they were able to accomplish a lot with practical effects, and CGI was kept to a minimum. Given the scenarios where it was employed, I’d say that it was appropriate and generally well rendered.
Glorious certainly fits in with the films that have preceded it in the Lovecraftian horror genre. It will certainly resonate with fans of the Cthulhu mythos. I do believe that the story was executed well enough that anyone unfamiliar with Lovecraft, or his creations, would still understand the film enough to enjoy it. I would note that this one would definitely not be for anyone squeamish or easily grossed out. I can’t underscore that enough.
I’m not sure that I would be quick to watch Glorious again – because gross – but I was satisfied with my dabbling into this madness and would absolutely recommend this movie to anyone that’s a Lovecraft fan.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 71%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 3.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: