Friday, February 10, 2023

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Length: 2h 41min
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Motion Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Disney+
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Actors: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dominique Thorne, Lake Bell, Chadwick Boseman
Blurb from IMDb: The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T'Challa.

Selina’s Point of View:
I knew Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was going to be a rough watch for me. Chadwick Boseman’s (42, Marshall, 21 Bridges) passing hit me hard.
Most, if not all, of MCU’s fans were rocked by the news that Boseman had died. As much as I appreciate what he brought to Marvel, I mourned him for other reasons.
There are a lot of amazing actors out there. Plenty of award winners and audience favorites. It’s hard to shine bright enough to be seen in the crowd of them, but Boseman did. That’s because he wasn’t just an actor.
Chadwick Boseman was a legend of our time. He championed the fight for full representation and racial equality in film. It would have been fine if he just did it through the occasional speech or donation, but he took it to a place where every job he took brought the subject further into the light.
Had he lived, he would have gone on to be the most recognizable face in entertainment. He would have raised the bar so high that it was where it should have been to begin with.
There are few in the entertainment world that I respect more than him. If any.

So, the first Black Panther film after his passing was a bit of a hurdle for me.
At the very start of the movie, I was already tearing up. It was a beautiful tribute to the character of T’Challa. Then the beginning credits played and there was a visual tribute to Boseman that kept the tears going.
By the time the story started, I was already emotionally a bit of a wreck. Still, the flick kept me entertained and glued to the screen.
It was, however, very much a post-Endgame MCU film. There was something missing.
The first chase scene felt more like a video game than anything cinematic. There was a strange sound quality to it, and the dialogue was very much like NPCs talking to a player. If you’re a gamer, you know exactly what I mean. Some of the fights near the end also had some janky moments where actors reacted like they were being hit, but with nothing actually touching them.
It’s still a solid movie, and it never feels like a chore to watch, I just expected something more.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have been eagerly anticipating Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - and yet, at the same time haven’t been in the biggest rush to watch it. It had nothing to do with the movie, itself, and more regarding grief avoidance. I knew with 100% certainty that I was going to do some crying during this Black Panther (2018) sequel. Enough has been heavy and bleak these days that I haven’t looked forward to that part - even though I adore Marvel movies and was keen to learn how they were going to treat the story going forward.
Chadwick Boseman was simply taken too soon. Part of me worried about how the cinematic universe would treat his absence in the realm of Wakanda. Really, I shouldn’t have. Everyone in the Marvel camp has been outspokenly supportive of the late Boseman and his importance to both the MCU and his impact on the world.
My eyes did a significant amount of leaking.
I feel the need to give kudos to Marvel for this stunning tribute within both the story and visuals of the Wakanda Forever production. I was moved from the very first moments when the animated Marvel studio logo recapped both the character of T'Challa, and Boseman as a person, amidst a moment of silence.

The narrative of Wakanda Forever picked up from there, and I can only imagine that filming offered an avenue for the grieving process for his friends among the cast and production team. It was respectful, tasteful, and I was very relieved that they didn’t try to add new footage with creative CGI. Anything that referenced T'Challa was either footage from the first Black Panther movie, or was clearly a static piece of art memorial.
Wakanda Forever had several hurdles to get over. I’d say that they cleared most of them. I loved the casting, the performances were outstanding, and the action was on point. I always enjoy seeing how the advanced tech of Wakanda gets brought to life on the screen. It also well-captured the political landscape Wakanda faced in the wake of their king’s death.
The only aspect of Wakanda Forever that I didn’t completely jive with was the new adversaries introduced in this film. They were interesting, and the visuals were cool. I just couldn’t help but think to myself that I’d already ‘been there and done that’ by watching Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) in December. I think that has to be where some of the negative reviews must be coming from.
Wakanda Forever, overall was a great MCU installment that serves to begin the bridge from Phase 4 to what comes next. I felt that it was decently balanced, and I really enjoyed the experience. If you’re a fan of Marvel movies and liked the first Black Panther, I’d definitely recommend giving Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a chance.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 94%
Metascore – 67%
Metacritic User Score – 5.3
IMDB Score –6.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4/5
P.S. Mid-credits scene
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Attachment (2023)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Attachment (2023)
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Romance
Length:  1h 45min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Nordisk Film Productions, Shudder
Director: Gabriel Bier Gislason
Writers: Gabriel Bier Gislason
Actors: David Dencik, Ellie Kendrick, Sofie Gråbøl, Josephine Park, Elinor Znaider, Filippa Marcella Olesen Olsson
IMDb Blurb: Maja, a Danish has-been actress, falls in love with Leah, a Jewish academic from London. Leah suffers a mysterious seizure, and Maja returns with her to London. There, she meets Leah's mother, Chana, a woman who could hold dark secrets.

Cat’s Point of View:
Horror and romance are a genre pairing that you don’t see every day. That was a bit of a running theme of Attachment because it also featured a story steeped in Jewish folklore and mysticism. You absolutely don’t see that everyday when it comes to horror cinema. There seems to be a bit of a recent spike in the popularity of tales leaning into the Jewish religious and ethnic background, and we are here for it. 

I’ll be the first to admit, however, that I know very little about this particular corner of folklore. I was raised Catholic and have had infrequent exposure to the traditions, tales, and superstitions of the Jewish community. For that reason, I am unable to really speak to how well the material was handled from an authenticity standpoint. That being said, it was absolutely refreshing to see a production explore this particular concept. The whole horror genre dealing with the paranormal, spirits, demonology, and its remedies has been monopolized by singular theology for far too long. 

I certainly hope that Attachment handled the subject matter respectfully. It appeared to do so by taking the subject matter seriously and not making light of any of the aspects of belief portrayed. I identified with the character of Maja, an outsider to the faith wanting to learn more in order to get to know her girlfriend and her mother better - and better understand what was going on around her.

Honestly, I am unsure why Attachment was marketed as a comedy at all. There are a few moments of levity here and there, but definitely not to such an extent that it deserved a genre label. This was a slow-burning tale that built upon an undercurrent of unease. Attachment was the opposite of a popcorn variety horror flick. 
I really adored the love story that unfolded on screen between the young women. We got to see the whole story play out from meet-cute through the development of something more serious. All the while, subtleties began to erode at the edges. I was really blown away when I realized that this was the feature-length film debut for writer and director Gabriel Bier Gislason (Samuel's Getting Hitched, Purple Haze). 

Attachment was a beautiful and complex story and its release is well-timed in February. If you’re looking for a good horror movie this month for Valentine’s Day, this wouldn’t be a bad choice at all for a cozy night in. Just keep in mind it’s not one conducive to a party. 

Attachment releases on Shudder Thursday, February 9th, 2023. 
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Guidance Rating - R

Movie Trailer:

Monday, February 6, 2023

Murder, Anyone? (2023)

Streaming Service: None
Movie Name/Year: Murder, Anyone? (2023)
Genre: Comedy
Length:  1h 21min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Red Phoenix Productions, Sandaled Kid Productions, Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: James Cullen Bressack
Writer: Gordon Bressack
Actors: Sally Kirkland, Kristos Andrews, Galadriel Stineman, Maurice LaMarche, Charles M. Howell IV, Carla Collins, Spencer Breslin

IMDb Blurb: Two playwrights, George and Charlie, are tasked with the challenge of creating the next "avant-garde, surrealistic, mind-bending neo-noire thriller". As they write, the story comes to life in real time. However, their own emotions and arguments also begin to manifest on film, creating sharp twists and turns that affect the entire movie. Filled with hilarity and chaos, Murder, Anyone? is a comedic play-within-a-play-within-a-movie that contemplates the complexities of language, art, theater, film and more.

Cat’s Point of View:

When we watched the trailer for Murder, Anyone? I was instantly in love with this concept. Learning that this production was made by James Cullen Bressack (Survive the Game, Fortress, Hot Seat) to honor his father was simply icing on the cake.

We, as audiences, don’t really get to see the process that goes on behind the scenes in the writer’s room, so to speak. Murder, Anyone? gave us a peek at that collaborative creative process, as well as the fun off-the-wall story it created. 

As a writer, this film really resonated with me on several levels. Sometimes characters take on a life of their own in your mind and you just go with the flow. Other times, it’s a lot of trial and error to figure out what makes the most sense for a story. When you write with someone else and have differing opinions, it can be frustrating to come to a compromise that works for the project at hand. Murder, Anyone? wonderfully captured that process and the emotions behind it.

I also adored the cinematography choices switching between black and white and color for the various scenes. That was a stroke of brilliance, marking clearly for the audience what the writers envisioned for their play-that-might-be-a-movie as well as what was going on in the ‘real world.’ 

The narrative for the ‘play,’ itself was a bit over-the-top but in a really fun way. The actors embraced the fact that they were characters in a scene in progress. Some bits felt really hokey and some of the dialogue was a little wonky, but it all seemed to fit and it was still entertaining.

I enjoyed Murder, Anyone? and feel connected to the director's intended message and his love for his father.

Murder, Anyone? Is set for a digital release by Uncork’d Entertainment on February 7th, 2023.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –94%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.5/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating - R

Movie Trailer: