Movies of the Week #6 (2021)

In & of Itself (2020): A surprising find (from the HBR podcast), Derek DelGaudio’s “documentary” is the rare example of an engrossing one-man performance that’s both clever and insightful, without feeling forced. It’s not your usual piece of filmmaking, as DelGaudio incorporates some impressive illusions to tell tales about himself and his (our) sense of being. Or is it maybe the other way around? Regardless, come for the popcorn, stay for the show, as the saying goes. A perfectly balanced piece of entertainment with a big emotional pay-off, In & of Itself is one of the best things you can watch right now. 9/10

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020): An eternity ago, I went to see the first Borat movie at a cinema in Ashford, Kent with a bunch of friends from university. It was hilarious. Seeing this sequel at home somehow lacked the same appeal, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s absurdist character proves he still has buttons to push. Timely, if not as sharp, Borat’s shenanigans get a new dimensions thanks to the addition of Maria Bakalova, who plays his daughter and elicits most of the more…intriguing reactions. So yes, the subsequent movie is good enough indeed. 7/10

Ready Player One (2018): Long overdue, RPO proved justifiably easy to ignore upon its viewing. In an dystopic world, where most people spend their days in a virtual reality, a few younglings try to win a game that will offer them complete control over said VR. An evil corporation stands in their way. After a lot of to and fro, good prevails. The end. There’s little to elevate this adaptation coming from the mind of Steven Spielberg to more than entertainment fodder – because in spite of some flashy action sequences and the odd touching tribute here and there (The Shining ftw), it sure feels like a soulless intrusion into the world of videogames. If you don’t care much about that, then do watch. 6/10

Space Sweepers (2021): A modern B movie that borrows heavily from a plethora of familiar sci-fi films, Space Sweepers (aka Victory) looks good, but mostly feels routined, if not clumsy. To be fair though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that’s as multilingual as this one, showing perhaps a glimpse of what communicate could look like in the (near) future. So that worked in its favour, but the super-child plot got tiresome, in spite of its wholesomeness. Ultimately, it’s, similarly to Ready Player One, a well executed sci-fi, with a teensy bit of heart, which fails to go beyond the expected. 6/10

Tracktown (2016): Alexi Pappas plays the lead, co-wrote the script and co-directed Tracktown, which is quite a feat for a first timer. Similarly to her more recent Olympic Dreams, this one also feels like an insider’s look into the mindset and worldview of a young athlete, one step away from taking the Olympic route – the pressure, the isolation, the sacrifices. It’s a quirky little thing, littered with famous inspirational quotes our lead repeats to herself in order to find the oh-so-necessary positivity that justifies…everything. Unfortunately, the movie is not particularly exciting, even if it works well enough. So, once more, just a mild recommendation for genre fans. 6/10