If you've seen one underdog team sports film, you've seen them all, but that doesn't stop Hollywood from churning out another two or three per year ad nauseam. Welcome "12 Mighty Orphans" to the mix, a period football film that does nothing to further the genre, but one that might satisfy those who find themselves suckers for this brand of melodrama.
It's a fine line that the new historical documentary "Final Account" tries to walk: Is examining the Holocaust from the perspective of Germans too dangerous a venture? How does one do so without appearing sympathetic to such unthinkable evil?
As those who survived and/or lived during the time of The Holocaust become fewer and fewer as the years go by, it becomes more important than ever to archive first-hand accounts of what occurred, for history's sake but also for the sake of future generations, so that they can contextualize, if not ever truly understand, this unimaginable human catastrophe. But until now, we've rarely heard from Germans who actually were involved in Hitler's Third Reich...the thought of even doing so seems blasphemous, at best.
"Final Account" is a legacy project in more ways than one...it is also the final film from documentarian Luke Holland, who passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer. In this, his final film, Holland assembles interviews from nearly 300 elderly Nazi perpetrators, recorded over the last decade, and the results are stunning.
Stunning, mostly because of how relevant it feels to today - where men and women alike can find themselves pledging blind faith to a horrific man, and a horrific cause - and how absolutely mind-boggling it is to think that something like what happened in the 1930s and 1940s is still entirely possible...and how little we've learned.
The only negative thing I could say about the new documentary, "Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street," is that i didn't like the end...in that I wish it could have gone on forever.
That's how I felt watching it. This incredibly insightful, hilarious and heart-warming documentary is one part origin story, describing how a group of tremendously talented and motivated people all got together at just the right time and place in history to create something timeless. It's also a celebration of what was created, and what was achieved, in a television landscape that was like the Wild West, unexplored and primed for pioneering. Then it's an inspirational trip down memory lane...nostalgia served up in delicious spoonfuls...that made me long for simpler times.
Watching "Street Gang," I was a kid again, and was made to feel thankful that I - like millions of other children - grew up on "Sesame Street." But as an adult looking back, the love and appreciation is deeper by a hundredfold, especially when you realize just how daring, bold and innovative "Sesame Street" really was.
"Sesame Street," as one person puts it in the film, "is Television if Television loved the audience, instead of just trying to sell to it." This love permeates through "Street Gang" and makes it one of the most effective, insightful and yes even important documentaries of our time.
"Judas and the Black Messiah" will remind you of other "undercover" movies, like "Donnie Brasco" or "Serpico," but with a timely twist. It's story, directed with confidence and urgency by Shaka King, is a gripping drama that will not only enrage, but enlighten, featuring some bold performances from Daniel Kaluuya and LeKeith Stanfield.
Back at the 1968 Democratic Convention, anti-war protesters clashed with law enforcement over the Vietnam War. In a move that reeked of politics, several unattached and independent men were charged with conspiracy and inciting riots, despite none of them (or most of them) having ever met.
The "Trial of the Chicago 8" as it was called, received national attention and put the Vietnam War itself on public trial. In the new Netflix film, "The Trial of the Chicago 7," (streaming on October 16th), profound wordsmith, writer and director Aaron Sorkin ("The Newsroom," "West Wing," "Molly's Game") gives this dark moment in American history his usual insightful spin, mixing in humor to fill-in-the-blanks between moments of real outrage. It's a courtroom drama for sure, but what makes it special is that it's a courtroom drama from Aaron Sorkin.
Gloria Steinem is one of the most influential figures of the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Her story deserves big-screen treatment and is ripe for cinematic exploration. However in Julie Taymor's "The Glorias," style gets in the way of substance, and the audience is given the story of Gloria Steinem without the film ever quite capturing her spirit.
When you've achieved Tom Hanks-level status, you expect greatness. Whether that's fair or not, Hanks does have his pick of material at this point in his career, so you know he's going to be invested no matter what he chooses to do. With his latest film, "Greyhound," you can tell that this was a story near-and-dear to him...heck, Tom Hanks doesn't just star in this, he even wrote the screenplay. This just feels sub-par given the production value...it's a big, loud war movie that forgets to make us care about its subjects.
Based on the book, "The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor," by CNN's Jake Tapper, "The Outpost" is an exceptional and stark look at a group of heroes literally forced to fight their way out of a hole...a hole they were placed in by none other than their superior commanders.
If you've never seen "Hamilton," don't fret...you're actually not alone. While it has been an absolute phenomenon since its off-Broadway debut in 2015, the show, its music and its stars have been impossible to avoid ever since. EVERYBODY has at least heard of "Hamilton." And it seems like there aren't too many who haven't seen it.
I confess that not only had I not seen it - until now - but I had managed to avoid any spoilers over the years too. I always imagined I'd see "Hamilton," but I never thought it would be from the comfort of my own home, at least not for the first time. Now, "Hamilton" is being released July 3rd exclusively on Disney+, after the pandemic forced Disney to alter its plans of releasing it in movie theaters later this Fall.
If you're reading this review, you're probably either A), like me, a poor, unfortunate soul that has somehow never seen "Hamilton" and you're curious if this at-home version lives up to the hype, or B), you have already seen "Hamilton" in some way, shape or form, and you're checking to see if you can ever trust another review from me ever again.
Let me say this about "Hamilton": I've never entered into a film with such unbearably high expectations. And I've never left a film having felt more blown away.
Not every historic event should get a movie, apparently, if they're going to be as bad as "Midway." Everybody involved deserves much, much better, including the real-life soldiers that this film is based on.
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