The Menu Review

There are plenty of films that have dealt with eccentric chefs or focused on food in some way. The Menu takes this concept to the next level and makes you think twice about the man behind the food you are eating. This is a closer look into the pressures of being a head chef and the reputation that man or woman has to keep to stay on top in a cutthroat industry such as the restaurant industry.

Tyler and Margot (Nicholas Hoult and Anya Taylor Joy) are a young couple who are going to an exclusive restaurant on an island where they will be served a special menu of food for this occasion. Along with a food critic and her editor, a movie star and his personal assistant, two regulars, and some others making the number twelve exclusive guests. They all get more than just the food and the chef experience though. They get some special surprises they weren’t counting on.

Ralph Fiennes gives a great performance as this chef who’s stuck on himself and his way of doing things. He commands the screen every time he’s on it which is quite a lot. As Chef Julian Slovik he controls every aspect of the dinner. He commands his cooks and food preparers like they are in the military and he’s a drill sergeant. Clapping his hands to indicate when the next course is ready to serve and gives them time lengths to be ready for each course. It’s pretty crazy how this all is set up. 

There is a way that the story flows Seth Ross and Will Tracy have used each course as a chapter in the story so the director Mark Mylod only has to follow these rules in the story. As long as certain things happen between each course the film and story continue to move forward.  This isn’t a normal dinner though and some crazy stuff is thrown in for good measure ala Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. These two characters are eccentric and they want to show people who don’t realize how hard and important what they do truly is.

I’m a big fan of food and I’ll pay for a good meal sometimes. It’s worth the price to get something good or great once in a while and be wowed when you get up from a table after having eaten a great meal. This film takes that concept to the next level. This experience wasn’t cheap and what these people got wasn’t exactly what they paid for. But in a way, they got what they deserved.  An exclusive meal served by a world-renowned chef at his restaurant. What more could they have wanted? That’s a joke. They got much more than they wanted but exactly what they deserved.

Anya Taylor Joy on the other hand is an enigma the whole time. She isn’t exactly who she is supposed to be and she is hard to figure out by the head man Fiennes’s character. He likes that she is aloof though and isn’t like the rest of this snobby group of people. She beats to her own drum and it benefits her in the end. She is really the only likable character in the movie. Even her so-called boyfriend is a stuck-up food snob.

As a friend of a family of restrauntiers, I have come to realize this isn’t an easy world to succeed in. The pressure to deliver good food at a great price has always been hard. They do a great job continuing their legacy of providing great food every day but it’s not easy. So I can imagine how hard it had to be for a four-star restaurant and Michelin man to keep up his restaurant and his reputation. This film takes it to the next level though and that is what makes it a genre film for lack of a better word.

The Menu is a culinary delight of superb acting by the star Ralph Fiennes. Who gives one of the best performances of the year? Anya Taylor Joy is always solid in whatever she does. The whole food experience and restaurant setup were very interesting to me. I don’t usually go to very expensive restaurants and this was worth the price of admission to me. The story and direction by Mylod were first-rate. He understood this world he was filming and depicting on screen. It was a delicious meal to digest from beginning to end.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Bones and All Review

Luca Guadagnino is a director who is starting to become an auteur director. His films Call Me By Your Name, the Suspiria remake and A Bigger Splash reboot are all distinct visions. His latest film Bones and All once again starring Timothee Chalamet might be the most accessible film he’s done yet and it’s about cannibalism. It’s a beautiful romance as well.

Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) is a teenage girl who lives with her father in a rundown mobile home in Virginia. When she seeks out at night to go hang with a few high school girlfriends, she is pregnant to eat human flesh crops up as she starts to chew on one of the girl’s fingers. She runs home screaming and her father realizes they need to pack up and get out of there. They move to Maryland and start a new life. Until her father decided to leave her on her own. He leaves some money and a walkman with a cost tape with a goodbye message. At this point, she embarks on a journey across America to find her mother.

Along the way to find her mother Russell’s character meets some interesting characters. One of them is Sully, played by Academy Award-winning actor, Mark Rylance. He’s a creepy old man who has a similar affliction as Russell’s character. Also, she meets a young man Lee played by Timothee Chalamet. These two become fast friends and start to travel together on her journey. They stop off in Kentucky at his old house to visit his sister on their journey to Minnesota. He is also a cannibal like her so they have similar interests in that regard. Also, they meet a weird guy played by Michael Stuhlbarg. He seems to be sizing them up with his buddy played by Halloween Ends director David Gordan Green.

This film is a bit misleading though. It has this subtext of these cannibals that are traveling across the country but it is also a beautiful romance between these two young people. They have a great relationship that I wish I could have had with a young woman my own age when I was this young. The journey across the country was such a great way to tell this story. A road trip film like no other I’ve seen before. They get to know each other and find out that they just have a lot in common regarding their parents and background. If it weren’t for the horrific subtext this would be a straightforward romance film. It’s the horrific stuff that adds an element that is mindblowing to me. 

The performances from Chalemet and Russell are fantastic and these two actors prove they are two of the best young actors in the business today. They just seem to work perfectly together as these two lovers who happen to be cannibals. Mark Rylance is crazy though and he seems to be going to a different level as this older man who just wants to be a father figure to this young lady. When she says she doesn’t want anything to do with him and she wants him to leave her alone I knew he wouldn’t let it go. And he doesn’t. Guadinino gets great performances from everybody involved. 

Along with the performances the technical aspects such as the cinematography, by Arseni Khachaturian, and the score, by Trent Rezner and Atticus Ross, is first-rate. This was a beautifully filmed movie set in the heartland a lot of the time during the 80s. There were so many beautiful scenes of sunsets and green grass fields and hilly valleys. There was some beautiful scenery in this film. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have become quite the composing duo of late. They have been nominated for a bunch of Oscars and finally won two together. They create some interesting sounds and weird compositions for this equally weird/different type of film.

Bones and All is a throwback to films of the past and has a look of said films like Bonnie and Clyde and so forth. With the addition of cannibalism. The romance is a classic tale of love and the performances by Russell and Chalamet are fantastic as these two lovers. Throw in some odd characters like Ryance and you have one of the most original and refreshing films of the year. The horror aspects are done fanatically by Guadagnino and the cinematography and score are some of the best of the year. This film isn’t for the faint of heart but if you can bare a little blood and gore it may be just what the doctor ordered for a change of pace this holiday season.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Women Talking Review

Women Talking is based on the worldwide best-selling book by Mariam Toews. It is a book that deals with sexual assault and how a group of women deals with the men involved in the assault and what they need to do going forward after the assault. This movie deals with sensitive topics regarding women and their bodies. The director is a woman but she still has to tread lightly on how she deals with this subject matter. This film has gotten a lot of critical acclaim based on the performances of the actresses who play some of the women. It is very much deserved.

The story takes place in a secluded religious community similar to the Amish known as Mennonites. They live together in a little town. They grow their own food and sustain their way of life by working together in a society. The men have an authoritative rule over the community and with that comes the power to do whatever they feel like doing. After a sexual assault on several women, the community decides on what to do regarding this heinous act. They created a voting system on how to go forward and each woman had to pick a way to proceed that best fits themselves.

The cast of this film which includes three-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand is stacked with great actresses. Claire Foy, Jesse Buckley, and Rooney Mara all play members of this community. Born Wishaw plays a man who wasn’t involved in the attack and he’s a teacher of the youth of the group. Most of these women are relatively calm and discuss the two choices they have been given calmly but Foy and Buckley’s characters are a little more fired up about what happened to them. In fact, they are pretty angry about the whole situation. Buckley’s character has a little more to lose than the others though.

This movie is filmed like a play most of the time. The camera moves around the barn in which these women are talking to each other in. It’s like a dance, how it moves around. Each character old and young gets their close-ups to shine in. The dialogue is very well handled and all the women express themselves very well. Even though there are a few big-name actresses in the cast the director doesn’t exclude any member from saying their piece. There are various coins to discuss regarding what to do. It’s not an easy decision and they don’t come to their conclusion on what to do very lightly.

This story isn’t going to be an easy one for people to watch. This is similar in a way to the classic Sydney Lumet film 12 Angry Men. These women have to come to a conclusion that isn’t easy they argue and bicker and one, in particular, has to deal with a husband who gets out of jail early and comes home and beats her. Even though this movie takes place in modern times it still has a semblance of the past in regards to the community. The men act as such where men are the bosses and women do what they are told. With the Me Too movement still going on, this film is going to touch on difficult thinking and mindsets. 

Women Talking wasn’t an easy watch for me because of how the story was presented. It deals with dialogue and a difficult subject matter. These women do a great job of getting this story across. Foy, Buckley and Mara are all terrific in their various roles. They all have different agendas regarding what to do after the assault. They all will be thinking different thoughts on how this situation affects them each. The community as a whole makes a decision that changes their lives and that is oh too familiar regarding this country’s Me Too movement. The director Sarah Polley handles this topic very carefully but very professionally as well. It’s one of the best films of the year.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Armageddon Time Review

James Gray isn’t the first or the last, in fact, Steven Spielberg has a story of his upbringing coming out in a couple of weeks called The Fablemans, a director who has decided to tell his semi-autobiographical story of his youth. And what it was like growing up in a Jewish family. In the 70s and 80s. Coming-of-age films are a staple of Hollywood so this film Armageddon Time is a movie that will surely resonate with some audiences.

Paul Graff (Michael Banks Repeta) is a rambunctious kid. He doesn’t do that well in school and he tends to get into trouble with his teacher. While in a New York public school he meets and befriends a Black boy named Johnny (Jaylin Webb) The two of them get along pretty well, but when Paul gets in trouble one too many times he is sent to a private school. The only person in his life that he likes and listens to is his grandfather, played by two-time Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins. He just seems to understand this young man. 

James Gray creates a great aesthetic for his story of misplaced youth. The setting of the film is great. There is a grainy and gritty look to the movie that makes it look fantastic. This era of history is distinct in its look. The technical departments and score are all on par with the terrific world he is creating for the film. The production design and cinematography look amazing and that helps create the world he was going for perfectly.

Along with all the technical aspects of this movie also come the performances by the incredible cast that Gray has assembled. Besides the kids that is. Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway play the main kids’ parents. And they are very distinct in the nature of how they present these characters. Strong is very in your face as this father who doesn’t take a lot of crap from his son and Hathaway is a good mother figure but she has a breakdown from a tragedy that happens in the movie. This family was very reminiscent of people I knew growing up as a kid. These people were like the family I knew in my neighborhood. It is kind of scary how these people remind me of my own upbringing. 

Armageddon Time might seem like an odd title for this type of film but if you really think about it’s the perfect title. When you’re a kid or a young teen these years of your life are important. For Gray, it seemed like they were very important. He gives this story a gravity where it’s very important for this child to learn some difficult lessons about life. It’s not easy! So in other words this part of a child’s or teen’s life is an explosive time in their lives. It sure was for me that’s why this film resonated with me so much. My childhood was a difficult one but certain people made it better the older I got. People very similar to Hopkins’s character. Also, the father figure played by Strong was very similar to my father. I think even though I am Irish Catholic my life and this boy’s was very similar in a lot of ways.

Gray made this film with a lot of love and affection toward some of his family members and a specific childhood friend. As a coming-of-age film, this one works very well. It brings the audience into his world and the problems he faced and how the difficulties affected his mother and father. Armageddon Time is a great title that reflects the gravity of a child or teen’s life at this age. With great performances from Hopkins, Strong, and Hathaway Gray captures this lifestyle perfectly. I was completely enamored with this film. And its look, feel, and aesthetic. 

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

The Whale Review

Darren Aronofsky is a director that isn’t for everybody. His films are a little offbeat. That’s not surprising though to most film fans or critics. We’ve been watching his films for a while now. I started watching his films with Requiem For a Dream and Pi. The Fountain wasn’t one of my favorites of his but he has gotten better as far as I’m concerned. The Wrestler and Black Swan are great films and from what I saw regarding The Whale he has another winner on his hands.

Charlie (Brendon Frazer) is an obese reclusive English teacher in Idaho. He tries to be a good guy to his students and he gets along pretty well with his stay-at-home nurse Liz (Hong Chau) When his estranged daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink) comes to his apartment unexpectedly this changes his life. He feels like he has been given one last chance at redemption. The problem is his daughter isn’t a sweet young girl like he remembered. She’s a bitter angry teenager that doesn’t care about her life or her father who left her at eight years of age. 

Aronofsky usually gets a lot out of his actor and that’s no different this time out. Fraser gives the best performance of his career as this overweight man who is on the brink of death at any moment. He infuses his character with a lot of empathy and you just can’t help but feel sorry for him and his plight. Fraser gives everything he had even though the film takes place in his apartment. He rarely moves but when he does it’s a constant struggle to get up and down. He usually needs help from somebody who is at his apartment at the time. The sweat beads off his head and covers his various shirts so it’s very obvious he’s in a constant battle with himself in the shape he’s in. Fraser exudes every moment of this struggle in his performance.

With a character like this, there are going to be people that are going to say this is a film that makes fun of fat people or marginalizes them. And that’s not the case. He goes into a detailed description of why he has gotten this way and why it’s nobody’s fault but his own. He literally says it’s my own fault I’m this way. The problem is he still tries to hide his appearance from his students and a pizza guy that comes by and drops off his dinner every night. He inadvertently marginalizes himself. As someone who has had an obese family member I could relate to him and his situation a lot.  Fraser gave me everything I could have expected from this character. He was brilliant.

This story is told in the form of a play and you come to find out it was based on a play about this real man stuck in his apartment because he can or rarely moves. That setting lends itself to this story perfectly. Everyone comes and goes from his apartment letting the viewer see everything from his point of view and it’s not a pretty one. The various views and camera angles are done exceptionally well by Aronofsky within the construct of the apartment.

The Whale isn’t an easy watch. None of Aronofsky’s films are though. He tends to ask the hard questions of the audience about his deeply flawed characters. The topics handled regarding obesity, parenting or lack thereof, and how one looks at themselves are very hard-hitting topics. The flaws we have as humans aren’t easy to overcome. We tend to beat ourselves up over what we perceive ourselves to be or not to be. Aronofsky with the writer’s help doesn’t mince words regarding these heavy topics. A lot of people are going to be turned off by the main character depicted in this movie but they shouldn’t be. Because he is in a way us as a civilization. People of constant gluttony who neglect what really matters in our lives. This film hammers it’s message home perfectly and Fraser knocks this role out of the park.

5 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review

The whole world mourned the passing of Chadwick Boseman two years ago because he was beloved as T’challa/Black Panther but the main reason was because he was relatively young and had a long life ahead of him. Marvel, in a prolonged decision, decided to not recast this role in the MCU. This didn’t go over well with a lot of fans of the comics. Most people in the industry and Black leaders thought it was a great decision though. Fast forward two years and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now out in theaters. Is it a film that makes Boseman’s legacy proud.? That question is about to be answered.

Wakanda is dealing with the death of T’Challa and they haven’t had the time to think about the decision to be a part of the world instead of being hidden. This decision has had repercussions as the world has deemed them a dangerous nation due to their vibranium. When a vessel exploring the deep depths of the ocean for the said vibranium ends up with a bunch of dead bodies including CIA agents people start asking questions. And Wakanda is blamed for the deaths. Queen Ramunda (Angela Bassett) her only remaining child Shuri (Letitia Wright) Okoye (Dania Guerra) the head of the Dora Malaje ends up pinpointing a scientist who ends up being a nineteen-year-old MIT student Riri Williams (Dominique Thorn) who created a device that can find Vibranium. She is in grave danger from a new threat even more powerful than Wakanda and its people.

Ryan Coogler had his hands full with writing a new script and dealing with the loss of Boseman. It couldn’t have been easy figuring out a way to do his legacy proud while also giving fans and critics a good film. Well, he did a good job in my book. This film indeed does his legacy proud and shows people that there are still a lot of stories to be told involving these characters and the world of Wakanda. Also, he had to introduce a new world of Talokan and a new villain never before seen in the MCU, Namor (Tenoch Huerta) along with a new young hero Ironheart. These stories were developed very slowly and steadily. That’s why the film is two hours and forty-one minutes long. 

The original Black Panther was a huge hit with fans and critics alike. It made a lot of money and was nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards. Winning three for some below-the-line categories like makeup and hairstyling, costumes, and production design. Along with the best score for Ludwig Gorinssun. This movie doesn’t quite live up to those lofty accolades but it’s not a bad movie either. These departments are pretty good in the sequel all except for the cinematography. That to me seemed like a backward step. The underwater and night scenes seemed a bit too dark where it was hard to see the underwater world and the visual effects were a bit underdone. These are minor quibbles though.

Wakanda Forever captures the new world of Talokan brilliantly and Namor is a complete badass. His back story is done impeccably and the origin story of these people is very intelligently depicted. The backstory makes complete sense in the context of the MCU. Coogler has decided to do things differently from the DCEU. They got to Atlantis first so the Coogler and company didn’t want to be redundant so they used the Myan race and made it the origins of these people. They have their own language and all. Wakanda has its hands full dealing with this underwater civilization. Tenoch Huerta as Namor is a pretty awesome villain but his cohorts Attuma and Namora (Alex Lininali and Mabel Cadeno) are equally as badass of characters as Namor is in the film.

This film has a lot of moving parts and even though there is a through line from beginning to end it also has a few individual storylines. Each of the main characters have their own individual arc that fits into the overall story. These subplots are very well done to show this world is full of exciting characters with engaging stories and that’s where the title comes in.  Lupita Nyongo, Winston Duke, and even Martin Freeman all return and have good subplots within the context of the overall film. They fit in very nicely. And make the movie better.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a fantastic film with a great villain. This world has been expanded upon superbly. With the tragedy of the passing of Boseman to deal with Coogler and company have handled it gracefully and the film does his legacy justice. This film has a couple of things that don’t live up to the original from a technical aspect but aren’t a big deal as far as the storylines go. The cast is all fantastic in their returning roles but Bassett is the standout among the cast. The new characters introduced in the movie are very well developed and the actors are terrific as these new characters. This is the best MCU film of 2022 and at the end of Phase 4, it ushers in a new era and brings the MCU nicely into Phase 5 in February with Antman Quantumania. This is a very solid sequel though and fans should very much enjoy it.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

The English Review

Westerns are one of my favorite genres. So when a new film or television show western pops up I am highly anticipating it for that reason. The English is a western done in conjunction with Amazon Prime Video and the BBC. So it has a British subtext to it that is a bit different from normal American westerns. With Emily Blunt being attached to it as a star, it becomes a series that I now have very high expectations for.

Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) is a woman who lives a nice life in England when a tragedy happens in her life. This makes her leave the idyllic life she had in England behind to go to America to seek out this man and get revenge. Along the way, she meets a Native American from the Pawnee tribe but he’s currently a soldier in the service of the North during the Civil War in the late 1800s. Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) has his own story and reasons for coming along for the ride if you will with Blunt’s character. They get into quite a bit of trouble during their travels.

This show from showrunner and director Hugo Blick has a lot of moving parts to it. It goes back in time from the main timeline of 1890 fifteen years and forwards in time to around 1900. It has a few groups of characters besides the two main characters. The show’s main characters run into some unsavory characters including Timothy Flynn (Miguel Alverez), he is another soldier who is on the hunt for Native Americans and rogue soldiers. Rafe Spall (Life of Pi) plays a man who steals money from another and uses it to start his own town. He’s a shady character, to say the least. Stephen Rae plays a marshal who gets caught up in all the mayhem that ensues regarding the other characters.

Along with these semi-main characters, there are a couple of cameos of well-known actors in the film. Blink and you’ll miss him Toby Jones and as another bad guy who gets what is coming to him, Ciaran Hinds. Both were in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy together. The cast as a whole has a lot of very good performances including some newer actors I wasn’t very familiar with. Blick surrounded himself with a lot of great actors and they all were fantastic in their various roles including the two main stars.

I’ve talked enough about the acting so now let’s talk about the cinematography of the series. It is set in the western plants and Colorado and these areas were filmed beautifully, by Arnau Valls Colomer. He captures the landscape perfectly via vistas or while characters are riding horses over hills and plains. This is one of the best-looking shows I’ve seen this year bar none. I wished all the shows I watched looked this good. 

Brick created a series with a few things going for it, the title of The English notwithstanding. The story was very engaging and I was completely invested in the journey of Blunt and Spencer’s characters. The supporting cast was fun to watch as well. As far as westerns go this one wasn’t bad. It kept me interested from beginning to end. I really cared about what happened to the stars. I am a sucker for a good western and this was another one I can say was worth my time. Hopefully, audiences will catch it on Amazon Prime Video this November. It’s worth a watch.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story Review

Parody films are far and in between. They are not a huge genre but a niche genre. There are a few good ones like the Naked Gun Series, Hot Shots, and Popstar Never Stop Never Stopping. Weird The Al Yankovic Story is a parody of a musical biopic similar to Yankovic’s career parodying popular music songs.  Just like his career, this film is pretty funny considering how and what he became famous for.

Al Yankovic (Richard Aaron Anderson, David Bloom, Daniel Radcliffe) is a young man who is a bit awkward. He likes to play the accordion, not a lot of kids his age do this, and he parodies established popular songs and puts his own spin on them. People, including his father, Nick Yankovic (Toby Huss) don’t necessarily think this is a good hobby. Al thinks otherwise and goes to some music executives to sell his idea to them. He gets turned away straight away but doesn’t get discouraged. And keeps at it to his eventual success. 

Besides those three actors as Yankovic, there were a lot of other cameos in the film. Conan O’Brien as Andy Warhol, Jorma Toccone as Pee Wee Herman was funny, and Jack Black as Wolfman Jack played a role in driving Yankovic’s career forward. Last but not least, Patton Oswalt was a heckler at a bar early on in the movie. This film was stacked with stars but the biggest star was Madonna played by Evan Rachel Wood. 

Wood is uncanny as Madonna, who requests that Yankovic write her a song so she can get the so-called Yankovic bump. His star has risen so far that he actually falls in love with and starts to date, Madonna. He gets more than he bargained for as the relationship takes a turn for the worse. Wood is very good as Madonna though and they play this relationship up very nicely. It’s a bit exaggerated but it’s kind of funny in a way.

Radcliffe looks like Yankovic as an adult and that’s part of the charm of his performance. Along with him the rest of the makeup and hairstyling team do an exceptional job making these actors look like other celebrities. Also, the voice-over and lip-synching by Yankovic and Radcliffe were seamless. If I didn’t know any better I would swear it was Radcliffe as Yankovic singing all his popular parody songs.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story was a fun ride. It had a lot of fun cameos of famous people played by other famous people and all the technical aspects were on point especially the hairstyling and makeup departments. The voice-over and sip synching were solid as well. Radcliffe was the standout as Yankovic. You could tell he was having a blast playing this role and the whole parody aspect was right up his alley. This was a fun parody biopic. And I think people will enjoy it.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Aftersun Review

Father-daughter or father-son movies have been a genre that has usually had some good films. It is a genre that pulls at the heartstrings and brings out the emotions of the characters depicted in the movie. These types of films usually have dramatic moments or tough love that parents can give to their children. And of course, the opposite is that kids want more freedom to do what they want and at a young age it’s not usually the case. Teens are a little different. Aftersun has a completely different vibe than most of these types of films. This one isn’t quite a coming-of-age film though.

Calum (Paul Mescal) is a father who takes his daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio) on a summer vacation. They get to spend a lot of quality time together getting to know each other. Sometimes they separate and give each other space. Sophie goes to play video games with a young man her own age and sometimes she plays pool with some older kids. While her father meditates in his room by himself. This vacation is mostly spent sunbathing by the pool or swimming in said pool. There is a lot of quality time that they spend together for this father-daughter pair. Which is the best part of the film.

The director Charlotte Wells does a few interesting things in this movie that make it a fascinating look into father-daughter relationships. She has the question and answer parts which are very probing between the two of them. The back and forth between the past and future Sophie is a thing that shows what type of person she has become and what the relationship between her and her father means to her. There were also some moments of shallow depth of field that were strange but effective in showing the mindset of the father in the movie.

Children look up to their parents to be there for them and what they don’t know at times is parenting isn’t easy. This father had his moments of doubt and that is shown very vividly in the film. On the other side of the coin are kids. They are surprisingly smart at times and have good intuition regarding things and some kids know when they have good parents. In this case, the main character played by Corio knows her father means well and wouldn’t do anything to hurt her or put her in harm’s way.

This is essentially a two-hander with a few supporting characters in it. But mainly Paul Mascal bares his soul as this father who doesn’t want to lose his daughter. He wants to be firm but also he wants her to know she can trust him with things she needs to talk about in her life growing up. I wish I had that kind of relationship with my own father. We never were like that when I was a kid growing up. He had a better relationship with my younger brother instead. Now he wants to be my best friend though.

Aftersun isn’t going to blow people away but what it will do is bring genuine emotion to those watching it. Especially fathers and parents in general who have brought up children. It’s not easy in this day and age to be a parent. There are so many distractions for kids and parents alike. It is the parents in the case of this story, a father who takes an interest in his daughter and her upbringing. Charlotte Wells seems like she knew this material well and it showed in her direction. This is a film that should be seen and kids and parents can learn a lot about how each has a tough time. Everybody should just have some compassion for what others are going through in their various situations.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Decision to Leave Review

Park Chan Wook is considered one of the best directors in the world by filmgoers and critics. His films such as Oldboy, The Handmaiden, and Stoker have garnered a lot of success with critics such as myself and fans alike. His latest film Decision to Leave is another great film from this acclaimed South Korean director. With all the buzz coming out of Festival De Canne the positive buzz is very much merited.

Have Joon (Park Hae Il, Memories of Murder) is a police detective in South Korea. He ends up getting a case where he has to investigate the so-called murder of a mountain climber. One of the main suspects is the dead man’s wife Seo Rae (Tang Wei, A Long Day’s Journey into Night) The detective starts to get so enamored with this woman that he all but ruins the investigation because of his feelings for the woman. Once they separate from each other this investigation becomes more confusing for everyone involved.

Wook creates a film that has the vibes of Basic Instinct to some degree but also crafts his own narrative. A narrative unravels and comes back together again multiple times. The length of the film which is well over two hours is completely needed because of how much that is crammed into this mystery/ romance. The murders in the film are a subtext to the overall relationship between these two main characters. Their relationship is one of cat and mouse at times but then it’s wonderful and beautiful at other times. In the end these two characters are completely unlikeable despite my assessment of them during other scenes in the movie. This film is very complicated.

Besides the amazing storyline that Wook creates he also accompanies it with great technical aspects. The first is the editing of Sang beom Kim. The editor infuses this movie with a life of its own. Many split-screen scenes and scenes where people were overlaid with different backgrounds are just incredible. This is some of the best editing I’ve seen all year. The second is the cinematography by Kim Ji Yong. There are many screens where characters are gazing over cliffs or into the ocean which are quite beautiful to behold. The rest of the film has many great shots of various angles and through objects such as reflections in mirrors or through windows. This is some amazing cinematography even though some scenes are oddly filmed by Wook. It all adds to the talent behind the camera.

I love murder mysteries and this one is one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. There is some much going on in this movie, it’s just too much to talk about. There are so many twists and turns it’ll make your head turn around like an owl. The depth and layers of this film are incredible. Just when you think this movie couldn’t go any further it does and it’s still very much engaging. Wook keeps the story going. For those that think it’s too long, I will say a film is never too long or too short. It’s precisely as long as it needs to be to get this story across properly to the audience watching on Mubi at home or at the theater.

Decision to Leave is a mind-bending murder mystery with a side plot of romance. It has a well-developed narrative that will keep the audience guessing all the way through its two-hour and eighteen-minute runtime. The two main actors played by Hae Il and Wei are both phenomenal in the movie. They give nuanced and provocative performances. The technical aspects of the film such as the editing and cinematography are the strengths of the movie. The camera work is impeccable. The story is a bit hard to follow but worth it if you have the patience to wait it out. It’s a revelation once the mystery is finally revealed. The heart of the film is the relationship between the two main characters. They carry this incredible film and they deserve a lot of credit for that. Wook can add another great film to his resume. I hope the audience gives this film the time it deserves and hopefully it’ll get some awards buzz this awards season as well.

5 stars 

Dan Skip Allen