Friday, January 19, 2024

The Kitchen (2024)

Streaming Service: Netflix 
Movie Name/Year: The Kitchen (2024) 
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi 
Length: 1h 47min 
Rating: R 
Directors: Daniel Kaluuya, Kibwe Tavares 
Writers: Daniel Kaluuya, Joe Murtagh
Actors: Kane "Kano" Robinson, Hope Ikpoku Jr., Henry Lawfull, Reuben 'Trizzy' Nyamah, BackRoad Gee, Cristale, Alan Asaad, Rasaq Kukoyi, Demmy Ladipo, Jedaiah Bannerman, Fiona Marr, Ian Wright, Teija Kabs, Rania Chakir, Tiarnae Fearon-Spencer, Olivia-Rose Colliard
IMDb Blurb: In a dystopian future London where all social housing has been eliminated, Izi and Benji fight to navigate the world as residents of The Kitchen, a community that refuses to abandon their home. 
Cat’s Point of View: 
My impression of The Kitchen was complicated.
First, I don’t necessarily feel entirely misled by the trailer because all the promised elements were within the film. It was, however, presented at a different pace than teased in the promotional material. There was less of a thrilling aspect and more of a slow-burning family and societal drama unfolding, instead. I also question that The Kitchen was labeled as an “adventure.” It was dystopian and subtly sci-fi, but all too close to current reality in everything other than some aspects of the setting and the technology displayed.
On one hand, I appreciated that there was no long-winded explanations spoon-feeding me the story of how the world – or, more specifically, London -- had come to this state of being. The flip-side of that, though, is that there needed to be a significant amount of context within the story and visuals of the movie to build the background for what wasn’t said outright.
When I read the synopsis for The Kitchen on sites such as IMDb before sitting down to write, I had an “Oh!” moment because aspects of the plot became clear only then. I am pretty sure I was glued to the screen the entire runtime of this film and I simply did not pick up on some of the facts. I understood the element of gentrification at play against the residents of the housing block where the primary characters resided, but not the political aspect behind it. I still have so many questions that the abrupt ending didn’t resolve for me.
On the other hand, The Kitchen was a powerful and emotional story about community and the building of a paternal bond between a reluctant, perhaps unsuspecting, man and a young boy. The Kitchen really shined through these story elements and how they struggled to find common ground and their own right paths. The whole housing situation played a role, but that and the dystopian and futuristic aspects of this tale took a backseat to the dramatic search for family and connection in the wake of grief.
In spite of the fact that I was lacking answers to some aspects of the world this story was set in, the subtlety of how life in future London was portrayed was rather impressive. It was more realistic and believable than huge leaps of technology as we often see with the flying transportation, holograms everywhere, and cybernetics galore. It helped ground everything with a sense that it was believable and could actually happen – rather than disconnecting the audience as a clear work of fiction.
I was impressed to learn that this was the feature directorial debut for Kibwe Tavares (Robots of Brixton, Jonah, Robot & Scarecrow) and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah, Nope). This was a visually stunning opening foray for this pair and I am looking forward to seeing what they bring audiences in the future, as they refine their craft.
I’m not sure that The Kitchen would be my go-to recommendation if looking for an adventurous sci-fi film on Netflix. If you were, however, looking for a significant drama with a sci-fi flair, then this might be something up your alley.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 55%
Metascore – 68%
Metacritic User Score – None 
IMDB Score – 5.3/10 
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5 
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Project Dorothy (2024)

Movie Name/Year: Project Dorothy (2024)
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Director: George Henry Horton
Writer: George Henry Horton, Ryan Scaringe
Actors: Danielle Harris, Tim SeZarn, Adam Budron, Olivia Scott
Blurb from IMDb: After a botched robbery, two men take refuge in a remote and lifeless scientific facility, inadvertently awakening a monster within.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was really into the trailer for Project Dorothy. There’s so much going on with artificial intelligence these days that new movies based on the worst of it make sense to me. I settled in to watch it with hope in my heart.
Although the acting of the two main characters was decent, and the concept of Project Dorothy was great, the execution left much to be desired.
I hated the way the AI, Dorothy, was portrayed. I don’t know if it was an issue with the writing or Danielle Harris’ (Roadkill, Creepshow, Inoperable) acting, but there was a disconnect somewhere.

Part of what makes movies like this scary is just how inhuman artificial intelligence is. Despite sounding, or even looking, human, it can’t be reasoned with or threatened – there are no emotions to appeal to. It’s the uncanny valley. In Project Dorothy, the portrayal of Dorothy is just too human. She laughs, she has normal inflection in her tone, she even gets scared. It broke any tension the very slow first half of the film created. I would have bought it if the twist was that she was just some psychopath behind a curtain pretending to be AI. Might have even made it interesting.
I can’t recommend Project Dorothy; it completely missed the point of its own sub-genre.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 96%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13
Movie Trailer:

Monday, January 15, 2024

Destroy All Neighbors (2024)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Destroy All Neighbors (2024) 
Genre: Comedy, Horror 
Length:  1h 25min 
Rating: Unrated 
Director: Josh Forbes 
Writers: Mike Benner, Jared Logan, Charles A. Pieper 
Actors: Kumail Nanjiani, Thomas Lennon, Alex Winter, Jon Daly, Randee Heller, Phil Hendrie, Jonah Ray, Ryan Kattner, Kiran Deol, Christian Calloway, Madara Jayasena, Franco Vega, DeMorge Brown
IMDb Blurb: Struggling prog-rock musician William Brown finds himself in a living nightmare when he accidentally kills Vlad, the neighbor from hell.
Jonah Ray Rodrigues and Alex Winter in Josh Forbes’ DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.

Selina’s Point of View: 
The beginning of Destroy All Neighbors felt perfectly B, but with better acting. If you’re a fan of B-horror movies, then you know exactly what I mean. It was corny, and a little funny, with some decent – if not the highest quality – banter. It was a little racy, with some humorous – if immature – gags.
Not that there’s anything wrong with immature, in the right setting. Which this was. 
Just when I thought Destroy All Neighbors was nothing but a bit of ridiculous fun, it hit me right in my imposter syndrome. I did not expect it to come so hard for me in that way. 
Thomas Lennon and Jonah Ray Rodrigues in Josh Forbes’ DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
Throughout the film, the audience is bombarded with a ton of goofy B-movie-style dialog, death, and graphics. Since that’s pretty much exactly what I was expecting, I was happy with it. Campy and amusing, it was what I wanted it to be. As it rolled on toward the end, it became clear that it was more about the artist trying to get over his crippling doubt than the silly Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) style of deaths he was causing.
For there to be any moral at all in Destroy All Neighbors was something completely out of left field for me, but not in a bad way. 
I had fun and wound up a bit inspired. Not bad for a flick I was expecting to be a silly little gorefest. 
Jonah Ray Rodrigues in Josh Forbes’ DESTROY ALL NEIGHBORS. Courtesy of Shudder. A Shudder Release.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74% 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 69% 
Metascore – 52% 
Metacritic User Score – 6.6/10 
IMDB Score – 5.3/10 
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – TBA
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating - R
Movie Trailer: