Sound of Metal (Darius Marder – 2020) A

This is one of the best films from last year. The story of Ruben, the heavy metal rock drummer, who loses his hearing. It’s a movie with amazing performances all around especially by Riz Ahmed as Ruben and his girlfriend Lou played by Olivia Cook. The story is about how much we yearn for “normal” all the while missing the chance to hold on to the new life that lays ahead. Many of the best dramas give us an opportunity to learn about other people and communities. This one does exactly that when Ruben becomes part of the deaf community to help him learn sign language and acclimate to his new life. It’s not always an easy film to watch. It is heartbreaking, tender and does not always do what you might expect.

Bacurau (Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho – 2019) B+

Good mixing of genre and themes in this rough, grimy, violent and excellent Brazilian film. It is not clear what it is going to be about till maybe a third of the way through. It’s like nothing else that I’ve seen. Sure it borrows from Seven Samurai and others I suppose but the location, a small town in Brazil, set in the near future (I think) and cast of impressive characters are unique. By the end of it the story it tells about a town standing up for itself in the face of invaders leaves quiet an impact.

His House (Remi Weekes – 2020) B+

I expected a horror movie, as in a haunted house type thing. It is not. It’s a much more effective tale about grief, guilt and how difficult it is to be a stranger in a strange country. Sure it has elements of the horror genre but like the best of them it is about much more than the surface. The actors do a great job and the first time movie maker creates a solid piece of work.

Mank (David Fincher – 2020) B-

The best thing about Mank is that it made me re-watch Citizen Kane. As well-made and charming this film is I did not think it came together very well. It’s got great performances, excellent set pieces here and there and really good dialogue. Yet, it left me a bit cold. The parts were really much better than the whole.

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