Mooreviews’ Must Watch/Might Not Have Heard of Movie Recommendations (May 13th)
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!
Where can you find it: Amazon (HERE)
With his third feature, Waves, writer/director Trey Edward Schutls crafts a deeply emotional and universal story about young love and the struggles of a modern-day family.
The film follows a family in the midst of a tragedy after the oldest child, Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), makes a mistakes that alters the lives of the entire family and forces them to find a greater understanding of love and forgiveness in order to come together. The way that Schutls tells this story of this pivotal moment is very effective as Tyler’s story builds towards a life-changing incident and Emily’s (Taylor Russell), his younger sister, captures the fallout of it. There’re so many moments of tragedy, love, and hardships that viewers can relate to and will be touched by. It’s truly a genuine depiction of a modern family being torn apart and having to find a way to come together again and it pulls no punches in exploring the faults and flaws of its characters. Not to mention, the award-worthy performances from Harrison Jr., Russell, Sterling K. Brown, Alexa Demis, Lucas Hedges, and really everyone involved are magnetic and the true cherry on top of everything excellent in Waves. It’s still a marvel to me how these performances didn’t make the cut for Oscar potential last year.
Schults really creates a film that boasts raw emotion in Waves that’s elevated through the strong storytelling and performances. It’s a genuine rollercoaster of emotions and tells an incredibly relatable and engaging story that simply can’t be missed
Where can I find it: Amazon (HERE)
Featuring a criminally under-talked about Brad Pitt performance and a beautifully haunting look at our obsessions with space travel, James Gray’s Ad Astra might be one of the most under-watched movies of last year.
The film is a bona fide space odyssey that follows Roy McBride (Pitt), a highly regarded astronaut following in his father’s (Tommy Lee Jones) footsteps as he embarks on the same journey to find life outside our solar system. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ve seen a more imaginative and realistic vision of humans colonizing the moon and other planets and it’s very effective in sucking you into this world. The film is visually stunning every step of the way and contains plenty of surprising sequences with incredible sound design and unique problems that Roy faces. While Pitt is usually known for bringing his personable charm and stellar dialogue delivery to his characters, he gives a much more subdued performance here that’s all about emotion and delving into his inner thoughts and commentary about what’s around him through internal monologues – which Pitt absolutely nails every time. Not to mention, the message and themes about human connection in Ad Astra are not only very powerful, but I think more relevant and meaningful now.
Listen, there’re definitely some things about Ad Astra, mainly the slow pace and overly artsy feel, that will turn some viewers away, but I can’t help but recommend that you persist on and give it a chance. It’s a modern space odyssey with all of the right moving parts both in front of and behind the camera to make it a unique and meaningful experience that shouldn’t be ignored. So, don’t miss out on what is one of the best original sci-fi films in decades.
Where can I find it: Amazon (HERE), Hulu
Carefully crafting a grisly and primal story about kids in a military setting, writer/director Alejandeo Landes’ sophomore feature, Monos, is pretty much Lord of the Flies on steroids.
The film follows a group of eight kids that exist as an army unit on a mountaintop tasked to watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow. There’s this sense of isolation that stems from the gorgeous cinematography from Jasper Wolf and the echoey sound design that immediately makes you uncomfortable as a viewer. Once Landes puts viewers there, he constantly tests their nerves with pulse-pounding sequences, including one of the most haunting night vision scenes I’ve ever seen, and an unnerving sense of unsureness with how these kids will handle the dire situations they’re mistakes put them in. The consequences they face are truly brutal and the lengths they go to stay alive are almost too primal to imagine. Not to mention, the film is littered with stellar performances from everyone – especially from Moises Arias as he delivers one of the most gut-wrenching and darkly villainous performances on his career.
Monos isn’t exactly an easy watch at times, but those that can overcome a, personally, easy subtitle barrier and the sheer brutality that occurs throughout will find a grisly, intriguing, and nerve-shredding watch that doesn’t disappoint.
Where can I find it: Netflix
Writer/director Richard Shepard’s The Perfection is one of the most unique and horrifying films to hit Netflix with its real-life horrors and ability to pull the rug out from viewers.
The film follows Cheryl (Alison Williams), a troubled musical prodigy whose interactions with her teacher’s new prodigy (Logan Browning) uncover a dark and disturbing past that connects them. It’s unbelievable how well this adapts on the fly: always shifting in tones, changing viewer’s perspectives on characters, and subtly building towards unimaginable horrors that mirror reality. The Perfection really hits strong with the #METOO connections it has and is legitimately nauseating with the realistic pain and struggle Cheryl and others go through in confronting their past. The performances from Williams and Browning are absolutely stunning and they constantly surprise viewers with all of the changes in tones and intentions they go through. It’s honestly the kind of film I can’t talk about too much because the experience of going in as blind as possible is what makes The Perfection so special.
All I can really say is that Netflix has a hidden gem that’s worth finding and the all too real horrors portrayed through fascinating storytelling and performances is something that makes The Perfection an absolute must-see.
Under the Silver Lake
Where can I find it: Amazon Prime Video
Writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s follow up to his 2014 horror hit It Follows, Under the Silver Lake, is a conspiracy theory driven by incredibly enticing storytelling and a fully committed performance from Andrew Garfield.
Following a disenchanted young man (Garfield) as he uncovers hidden secrets and conspiracy that’s incredibly bizarre after a girl (Riley Keough) he sees swimming in his apartment pool disappears. Under the Silver Lake is the kind of film filled with breadcrumbs for viewers to follow and make jaw-dropping discoveries that’ll rattle your brain. The directions this film take can be mind-boggling and the little details Mitchell adds in create this mystery that’s almost too tantalizing not to want to solve. Garfield’s performance only adds to the intrigue as we watch him become consumed by with conspiracies as he slowly falls down the rabbit hole – and what a strange rabbit hole it is. Frankly, I love how weird this film can get with certain mythos, like the Owl’s Kiss and the Dog Killer, that Mitchell brings in and it’s a big part as to why Under the Silver Lake is such a compelling and unique watch.
With Under the Silver Lake, Mitchell creates a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream through one man’s intriguing and determined journey to uncover the hidden secrets around him. If you’re looking to get lost in a fresh modern mystery, then it’s time to watch Under the Silver Lake.
Where can I find it: Amazon (HERE), Netflix
It’s really rare to see a great Western anymore any more with the genre pretty much being an endangered species in the film industry and that’s what makes writer/director Scott Cooper’s 2017 Western drama – Hostiles.
The film follows legendary Army Captain Joseph J. Blocker (Christian Bale) as he reluctantly escorts Cheyenne chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) through dangerous territory. Right from the brutally bloody first scene, Cooper immediately shows that Hostiles isn’t going to hold back the harsh nature of the time. There’re some truly heart-pounding sequences that will keep viewers on edge and some instances that are heartbreaking because of how some things comes to an end. Frankly, I love the arc in the relationship between Blocker and Yellow Hawk as it’s a genuinely human story about no longer seeing people unlike yourself as Hostiles and it’s made even better through Bale and Studi’s incredible performances. Personally, I’d even say that this is one of the more underrated performances from Bale and it’s worth mentioning that Rosamond Pike also puts in a touching performance full of hurt and heart. Even the end of the journey and the film has really stuck with me in memory in a way that most films don’t and it’s one of the few films that come to mind that I look more fondly on as I look back at it.
Even while it’s been sometime since I saw Hostiles, literally being the second movie I ever reviewed for this blog, it’s still excites me to think about it and hope that other Westerns can follow in his footsteps. With Cooper’s next film, Antlers, just awaiting to be released, there’s no better time to get to know the director than watching Hostiles.
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