Mooreviews’ Must Watch/Might Not Have Heard of Movie Recommendations (April 15th)
To make the current quarantine life a little easier, every two weeks I’ll be throwing out some recommendations of films that everyone can access across different streaming sites!
For me, the best thing that a horror movie can do is make the most of a simple premise and that’s exactly what writer/director Elle Callahan does with her feature debut – Head Count. Following a group of friends that accidently become involved with a shape-shifting entity while vacationing in Joshua Tree National Park, Head Count evokes paranoia that’s reminiscent to John Carpenter’s The Thing. The film is like a simple campfire story come to life as the film’s shapeshifting monster is always on the back of viewers’ mind and makes it’s hard not to be engaged or find yourself guessing at who’s really there and who isn’t. The quantity of characters never outweighs the quality as their relationships and connections are well built and you get to know them in a way that allows you to question if they are really themselves.
Even the clear budget constraints that show when the entity finally revealing itself never take away from the overall experience – which is filled with tension and suspense. There’re plenty of great sequences, like a camera spinning game of “Never Have I Ever” and a hangout at the cliffs that takes a brutal turn, that focus on delivering more subtly sudden scares that are incredibly effective. It’s smart in how it trickles out the entity forming its sadistic plans and creates this mystery that viewers will want to solve.
All in all, Head Count is the kind of simple horror flick that needs to be made more often and unnerves viewers through its simplicity and steady direction from Callahan. Best of all, it’s just sitting on Netflix waiting for someone to check it out – and you should.
Being one of my favorite films of last year, there’s no way I could let an opportunity slip by without highly recommending Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut – Booksmart. In some ways, we’ve seen stories like Booksmart before with two friends trying to make their last days of high school memorable by heading to one of the biggest parties of the year. However, Booksmart forges its own path through two incredibly hilarious performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, an incredibly strong story, and great direction from Wilde.
There’re very few films that will actually make you laugh from start to finish like Booksmart does because of the infectious chemistry between Dever and Feldstein. They both create incredible moments, like them attempting to get info from a pizza guy by acting like robbers and dealing with every amount of iconicness that Billie Lourd brings as Gigi, and are always endearing with how they genuinely feel like relatable friends. The way the film builds both their friendship and the other characters they run into throughout the film is perfect and there’s some really touching themes about stereotyping that hit really well. Not to mention, Wilde’s direction offers the perfect amount of variety and genuine care in building a varied, non-stop coming of age story with the perfect amount of unapologetic bite.
It still blows my mind how so many people slept on Booksmart last year and dubbing a “female Superbad” simply doesn’t do it justice. It’s an absolute comedy riot that can’t be missed and a film that will make you want more from Wilde in the future.
The Beach Bum
It’s actually kind of strange that I find myself recommending something from writer/director Harmony Korine because I’m generally not a big fan of his films. For me, his films simply have no plot and the stoner storylines he crafts together usually don’t do it for me, but there was just something about his latest film, The Beach Bum, that totally clicked with me.
The story of Moondog (Matthew McConaughey), a rebellious, wealthy, weed-smoking writer who plays by his own rules and must finish a novel about his life in order to regain his riches, is actually very engaging to watch. Maybe it’s because McConaughey is truly in a role that he was born to play and gives a performance that’s impossible not to love. Maybe it’s because the rest of the cast is made up of all-star names giving great performances. Maybe it’s because The Beach Bum tells a story with a surprisingly emotional beginning that eventually forms into a chill ride that’s friendly, funny, and genuine in its own right. Maybe it’s really all of these things coming together and creating a career-best for Korine that anyone can enjoy.
If you’re looking for a laid-back good time to alleviate some of the stress we’re currently facing, look no further than The Beach Bum.
A Prayer Before Dawn
Where can you find it: Amazon Prime Video (HERE)
There’re very few, possibly no other, sports films that are as gritty, riddled with emotion, and are as real as A Prayer Before Dawn.
Based on the memoir by Billy Moore, the film follows Moore (Joe Cole) as his struggles with drugs and living through crime lands him in one of Thailand’s most dangerous prisons and he can only find redemption in the boxing ring. Cole’s performance is absolutely immaculate as you feel all of the pain, struggle, and fear he faces in being alone and becoming a talented Muay Tai boxer. A Prayer Before Dawn holds nothing back in depicting the harsh reality of Moore’s addiction and life for him in prison. The film gives off this sense of realism, likely due to the film actually being shot on location at Nakhom Pathom prison in Thailand and featuring characters that are actual prisoners, that makes you connect to everything happening on-screen and makes you feel like you’re actually there. It’s one of those sports stories that strips away all of the glitz and the glam to present a raw, ominous, and powerful story of redemption.
To this day, I still think about Moore’s story and Cole’s unbelievable performance and it’s a big part to why A Prayer Before Dawn is an absolute must-see. It’s a film in A24’s stellar filmography that’s woefully under-recognized and now is a more perfect time than ever to see why.
Writer/director Alex Garland quickly made a name for himself with his sci-fi hit Ex Machina and is currently making waves on Hulu with his new series, Devs, but did you know that his second film, Annihilation, is both incredible and free to watch on Hulu.
Following a group of scientists and soldiers as they embark on expedition into a mysterious area where the laws of nature don’t apply, and horrific secrets are waiting to be unearthed. There’s something so beautifully haunting about entering this mysterious zone and there’s a great mix of alluring beauty and horrifying creatures that give it an otherworldliness that’s hard not to be curious about. The cast is filled with a strong female cast, a rarity for the genre, that gives their characters their own unique personalities and motivations with Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh giving top-tier performances. It’s the kind of story that pokes at viewers’ curiosity and keeps them hooked on the secretive story elements that results in a chill-inducing ride with mind-blowing and nerve-racking visuals.
With Devs also being on Hulu, there’s no better time to have a little Alex Garland marathon as Annihilation deliver the kind of deep, mind-blowing sci-fi that’s made him a name to watch.
Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus
Where can you find it: Netflix
Being the Invader Zim fan that I am, there was no doubt in my mind that Enter the Florpus, the new Netflix film that brings the iconic Nickelodeon character back, would be an easy recommend. However, Enter the Florpus is even better than any Invader Zim fan could dream of an is easily one of the funniest things that flew under many people’s radar – right alongside Booksmart.
Enter the Florpus catches fans up with the ongoing rivalry between Zim and Dib as it escalates to absolute insanity. Every time you think you understand what’s going on inside Zim and Dib’s heads, you immediately have the rug pulled out from under you in the most hilarious ways possible. The film is a welcomed return to the classic series in every way imaginable and it’s a heartfelt and authentic tribute to the hilarity the original series brought. I still laugh at things like Zim’s opening workout montage to get back in action, what Dib turns into without Zim around, and the entire mind-blowing end sequence that’s beautifully and creatively animated.
Enter the Florpus reminds fans why the series is so great in a way that so few reincarnations of classic do. It’s easily one of the funniest finds on Netflix and its currently keeping my fingers crossed that Zim, and possibly other iconic Nickelodeon cartoon, could be seen again in the future.