On DVD & Blu-Ray: January 28, 2020

“Those assholes never learn.”

If you’re able to bring back Linda Hamilton you bring her back when you have a better story than this. Terminator: Dark Fate is essentially the original film with a few necessary augmentations made to include the original characters. The story it’s telling isn’t bad and can certainly be fun and thrilling at times (director Tim Miller of Deadpool fame knows his way around a relentless action sequence though one too many do take place at night), but none of it ever feels compelling and it’s by no means the game changer the film it's intended to be a direct sequel to was. Video review here. C

Who is rich? Who is poor? Why are some so and others not? In writer/director Bong Joon-ho's Parasite the Kim family live in what is referred to as a "semi-basement" home in Korea. The house is essentially half above and half below ground and is a common fixture of poorer neighborhoods in the region; this space above ground representing the slight amount of hope left in the residents that they have not yet succumbed to the lowest possible level. This is not to be dismissed as a decision based purely in realism as Parasite is the type of film that builds upon its details and attaches great significance to every aspect of its execution. This slight amount of hope afforded the Kim family is manifested through opportunities gained through deceit that then become an invasion or infiltration into not only another family, but another class of family.

Parasite's calculated blend of drama, comedy, satire and unbelievable tension give way to scenarios in which the rich and poor see the same circumstances with vastly different perspectives; one recognizing what is being done to them as a con or crime while the other viewing it simply as a means to an end...survival, in other words. Bong ultimately alludes to the fact that the poor-no matter the lengths of their tactics or the subtleties of their actions-still find themselves figuratively buried if not literally, by the world and by the ramifications of their actions. Video review here. A

The only way Ed Norton wins an Oscar for Motherless Brooklyn is if they actually add a stunt category.

The writer/director and star's central performance never feels less than this while the film itself, despite being shot by the well regarded cinematographer now forever known as Dick Poop, looks like a TV movie that fails to match either the grand ambitions of Norton's period piece or the lengthy running time. The narrative is involving and more or less serves to force us to deal with the characters, but we're more interested in what is happening rather than who it's happening to. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the lone exception though this has just as much to do with her character's role in the events depicted as it does her performance. I'd like to imagine the end result here doesn't exactly match Norton's initial ambition for this story, but given he's at the center of every major facet it's hard to imagine this isn't at least pretty close to what he intended. Unfortunately, what we end up with is an overlong and rather indulgent neo-noir flick that seemingly stretches all the right muscles, but leaves little to no impact. C

I have started watching Harriet more than any other film this awards season and if it hadn't been for the fact it was being released on home video platforms today or for the fact Cynthia Erivo was nominated for best actress and best song, both for the biopic, at this year's Academy awards-I may not have finished it at all. That isn't to say this film, written by Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans, Ali) and directed by Kasi Lemmons (The Caveman's Valentine, Talk to Me) is bad or doesn't do the titular historical figure justice as it paints her in as seemingly a true and respected light as possible, but the end product is simply so mediocre and bland sans for less than a handful of scenes with real tension and/or depth that the movie ultimately feels more like a SparkNotes retelling of Tubman's story than it does a compelling and grounded look at the bravery it actually took to be who this woman became. C+       

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