Movies of the Week #7-8 (2020)

Uncut Gems (2019): The Safdie brothers are officially the directing duo to get excited about. Not everyone’s cup of tea though, that’s for sure. Similarly to Heaven Knows What and Good Time, their last two movies, Uncut Gems is a nerve-wrecking ride, that will bludgeon you emotionally. It takes no hostages and constantly defies your expectations. What can go wrong, will go wrong, and you damned well know you deserve all these horrible things that are being inflicted upon their characters. The mirror-image of the brutality underlying the mining of gemstones is unflinching and unrelenting. And at the center of it is bloody Adam Sandler, who delivers one of the best performances of his career, a rare feature that defies the man’s cinematic reputation. So yeah, must-see. 9/10

Olympic Dreams (2019): As far as sports romcoms go, this is an unusual movie, in that it’s shot at the Olympic Village during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This very real backdrop is fleshed out in a bunch of scenes with equally real athletes, capturing an unfamiliar flavour. Starring alongside the established Nick Kroll is the movie’s co-writer, Alexi Pappas, former Olympian, just like Gus Kenworthy and Morgan Schild, who also have small roles to play. There’s a bit of a Lost in Translation (in sports) feeling to Olympic Dreams, which unfortunately doesn’t get the chance to really catch on, as the movie stumbles to its predictable finale. The good thing is Pappas and Kroll are both likable on screen, and Pappas captures a bit of the forlorn solitude of elite athletes and the harsh realities of the Olympic cycle. Not in enough depth to really make the movie memorable, but sufficiently to put a personal twist to a familiar tale. 6/10

Come to Daddy (2019): Talking of twists, why not try this one on for size? A son (Elijah Wood) goes out in the middle of nowhere to visit his estranged father, whom he’s never met before. He encounters a snarky man (Stephen McHattie), who is really difficult to get along, making him question his willingness to reopen an old wound. And then thing go from nuts to whipped cream with crazy brownies. It’s mostly entertaining, even if it fails to be as clever as it wants itself to seem. The resolution, inevitably, feels like a let-down, which is why Come to Daddy is more of a curiosity than the crazy romp it aspires to. 6/10

To All the Boys: P.S. (2020): You might remember I found the original Netflix production surprisingly sweet. Well, this sequel was just…tiresome. The story goes into a familiar place, as a new potential love interest enters the scene, the receiver of one of the unanswered love letters that built the premise of the first movie. While Lara Jean is posed with some realistic romantic conundrums, and she remains a more grounded character than your usual rom-com leads, I found this whole affair to be tedious and uninspired, lacking the personality to stand out, and taking no risks worth mentioning. 4/10

Becoming Bond (2017): For whatever reason, I forgot to review this a few weeks back, when I saw it. A quaint and highly enjoyable movie, Becoming Bond takes the rarely walked path of combining documentary filmmaking with cinematic reenactments (i.e. actors of some esteem taking up the key roles). It doesn’t always work, but George Lazenby’s persona irons over any inconsistencies, making for an entertaining story that retains its ‘larger than life’ feel. Funnily, I’m not sure it’s a must-see for fans of the newer Bonds, but if you’re up for a heck of a life’s story, then this is definitely something to indulge in. 7/10

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