REVIEW: ‘I Care a Lot’ crumbles due to poor writing

Sometimes there are pieces of media that just try way too hard to be edgy. “I Care a Lot” definitely joins that club.

Rosamund Pike stars as Marla Grayson in “I Care a Lot,” a woman who’s made a career as a legal guardian for the elderly. As part of her job, Grayson will get a notice from a doctor she works with stating that an elderly person can no longer live on her own, which she brings to a court.

In turn, the court will then grant legal guardianship to Grayson, allowing her to determine the care for the elderly person, which results in her putting them in an assisted living facility. It also means she has access to the elderly individual’s finances. The latest individual she decides to get legal guardianship over, Jennifer Peterson (Diane Wiest), though, just happens to have a significant connection to Russian mob boss Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage).

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REVIEW: ‘Nomadland’ is a superb film about the human condition

Director Chloe Zhao is on a roll, following up her phenomenal picture “The Rider” with one of 2020’s best films.

“Nomadland” tells the story of Fern , a woman who’s retrofitted a commercial-sized van to live out of. Fern, played by Frances McDormand, made her decision after two-life changing events occurred. One of them was the death of her husband, and the other was the closing of the main company in a small Nevada town which economically devastated the city. With nothing left, Fern decided to go out on the road.

The movie picks up with Fern working at an Amazon facility, earning paychecks during the busy holiday season. When the season comes to an end, the film follows her journey across the the Great Plains and western-mountain states. During her time living on the road, Fern meets several people who share their perspectives on life and what their plans are for the future.

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REVIEW: Character issues make ‘Over the Moon’ a misfire

The year 2020 hasn’t been my favorite for animation and unfortunately, “Over the Moon” hasn’t helped that case.

The picture, released on Netflix, tells the story of Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), a young girl who became fascinated by the Moon because of stories told by her late mother. At the film’s outset, following the death of her mother, Fei Fei is working with her father at their small pastry company.

Life seems to be carrying on for the family, but the pain of loss still lingers for Fei Fei. That pain is reinforced when her father begins spending time with a woman, Ms. Zhong (Sandra Oh), as the Moon Festival approaches. Eventually, she learns that her father plans to marry Ms Zhong, and as a result, she will likely be getting an annoying step brother in the deal.

Hoping to fix the situation, she builds a craft capable of reaching the moon to speak with an ancient being who resides there. The plan goes a little haywire, though, when it turns out her step-brother-to-be, Chin (Robert Chiu), tagged along for the ride.

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REVIEW: ‘Minari’ is a beautiful, emotional immigrant story

Definitions of the American Dream can sometimes vary, but when you see it, you know it. An audience can see it clearly in this picture.

“Minari” tells the story of David (Alan Kim), a young boy whose Korean family is moving to Arkansas. His father Jacob (Steven Yeun) and mother Monica (Han Ye-ri) both get positions at a local chicken hatchery for employment, and settle in at a rural home. Along with his parents, David’s family also includes his sister Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and grandmother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung).

As the film goes on, it’s shown that Jacob intended to use his job at the hatchery to get some footing, and that his main plan is to create a farm on his property, where he will grow Korean vegetables. As he plants more crops, Jacob hires a neighbor, Paul (Will Patton), to help with the process. The film follows the family trying to establish their life in Arkansas and the struggles that come with it.

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REVIEW: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is a powerful, magnetic drama

The use of confidential informants, as this film shows in great detail, can be a problematic law enforcement measure.

In this case, the movie is about informant Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), a young man who is arrested for pretending to be an FBI agent to steal a car. Rather than be charged right away, though, O’Neal is given an opportunity by bureau agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Not long before Mitchell gave O’Neal the opportunity, J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) announced that Black Panther Illinois Leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) needed to be monitored.

That’s the job offered by Mitchell, and to avoid prison time, O’Neal reluctantly accepts. O’Neal makes his way into the Black Panthers organization and over time, establishes himself as a full-fledged member. As a result, O’Neal begins getting closer to Hampton and is able to report his findings to the FBI. However, with tensions seeming to rise all around him, O’Neal finds himself being pulled in two directions.

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REVIEW: ‘Bliss’ breaks down due to story, pacing issues

During my viewing of “Bliss,” I was starting to have flashbacks of 2019’s “Serenity,” another January release. At the very least, “Bliss” is better than that feature, but only slightly so.

Owen Wilson plays Greg in “Bliss,” a man who seems to be lost in thoughts of a dream home while at work. Unfortunately, his lack of attention ends with him being fired from his position. Not long after, he finds himself in a bar with Isabel (Salma Hayek), a woman who informs him that she can manipulate reality around them.

She’s able to do this because, according to her, the world they’re living in isn’t actually a real one. Basically, Isabel says the simulation theory is real and what she and Greg are in is an artificial reality. With this new information, Greg begins being pulled in two directions, and has difficulty in determining what’s real and what’s not.

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REVIEW: Repetitive dialogue makes ‘Malcolm and Marie’ mediocre

Zendaya and John David Washington do verbal battle in this new romantic drama on Netflix.

Washington stars as the titular Malcolm in this feature, a director who’s just coming home from the premiere of his first big movie. After getting home, with his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya), Malcolm begins talking about how his movie will be interpreted by the public as well as his thoughts and feelings about being a filmmaker.

As Malcolm continues, Marie interjects into the conversation, and the two begin talking about the film and its influences. Eventually, the talking turns to debating and as a result, their relationship is explored, along with their backgrounds.

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REVIEW: ‘The Little Things’ has little to offer the detective genre

Denzel Washington is once again doing detective work in California but this time, it’s not a training day.

Washington plays Joe Deacon, who casually goes by Deke. A former detective, Deke now works as a sheriff deputy with a normal beat. He mostly stays in his own lane, but at the movie’s start, he’s brought in to give some experienced advice on a new murder case.

The case is being primarily helmed by Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), a young detective who’s already making a name for himself as a talented inspector. While the two are at first not thrilled about working together, they eventually decide they can figure this puzzle out better by working side-by-side. The film explores them doing so and also begins revealing why Deke made a career change.

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REVIEW: ‘The Marksman’ never hits the bullseye

When I saw Liam Neeson on the big screen fighting a mob in France back in 2009 during my first year reviewing and second year in college, I didn’t know I’d be spending a decade watching him battle all kinds of things.

He’s fought wolves, been an agent in Germany, he took on terrorists as an air marshal, and now all this time later, he’s fighting against a Mexican cartel.

In “The Marksman,” Neeson portrays Jim, a former Marine and rancher who owns property along the Mexican border in Arizona. Because of where his land is, Jim has a radio with him to call the U.S. Border Patrol in case there are crossings. Meanwhile, in Mexico, a young woman and her son are sent on the run from a cartel because her cousin double crossed them.

Her and her boy, Miguel (Jacob Perez), make it across the border, but the cartel quickly catches up, right as they make it across a fence. At the same time, Jim just happens to be there ranching his land. A firefight ensues and the woman passes away, asking Jim to take care of Miguel and get him to Chicago where the rest of their family lives. While reluctant, Jim decides to take on the task and try to make his way to the Windy City with the boy. However, the cartel remains committed to finding both of them.

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REVIEW: Not much good to report in ‘News of the World’

Before there was Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Walter Cronkite, there was Tom Hanks’s character Jefferson Kidd. At least according to “News of the World.”

In the film, directed by Paul Greengrass, Hanks plays Jefferson Kidd, a former Civil War captain who now earns a living by going from town-to-town in Texas to read the top headlines and stories from the nation’s largest newspapers. Set in 1870, reconstruction is still a work in progress, with some parts of Texas remaining dangerous while others are lined with United States soldiers.

The movie picks up with Kidd on his way to a different town for another news delivery. Along the way, he finds a young girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), who’s near a broken down wagon. From paperwork in the wagon, Kidd learns that Johanna was taken in by a Native American tribe after the deaths of her parents, and that she was supposed to be taken to surviving family members in another part of the state. Kidd is then instructed by officials to take her to reunite with her family members, which is a tough, 400 mile journey.

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