2020 Movie Reviews: Another Round/Bacurau/Wonder Woman 1984

With Covid-19 and everything, it’s easy to forget new movies are still being released and while the current stress of the situation has driven me to plunge into the home-y comforts of classic movies I’ve seen a jillion times, I took some time this past weekend to catch three 2020 releases.

Another Round

Essentially a European Wild Hogs or Old Dogs, Thomas Vinterberg‘s Another Round follows a group of Danish high school teachers (including Mads Mikkelsen) who decide they’ve become old fogies like their parents and need something fresh in their life to get through to their students. One mentions he read an article that stated human beings are born with a .05 blood alcohol level deficit and can only perform to their full potential when properly sloshed. The four then make an American Pie-esque pact to be consistently sloshed during the week and it brings out the best, but ultimately the worst in them. I think the biggest problem with Another Round is its identity crisis, not only its chunky blend of comedy and drama, but not really knowing what it is trying to say about alcohol abuse. The three other characters not played by Mads Mikkelsen are unfortunately underdeveloped, one guy’s whole personality comes down to his wife being a real nag. Ehhhh. Mads Mikkelsen on the other hand, feels like he’s in another movie entirely, delivering a typically perfect performance as a washed up dude trying to reclaim the spark in his life. It’s one of those rare great performances in a film incapable of supporting it, but somehow he succeeds anyway. Grade: C+ ($6.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

Bacurau

No film this year has more creatively and effectively tackled themes of colonialism and white privilege/supremacy as Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano DornellesBacurau. Set in what appears to be like a dystopian alternate future reality of Brazil, the movie follows inhabitants of the tiny poor village of Bacurau as they try to ward off slimy politicians who don’t do anything to help them and a gang of European and American mercenaries whose motives are unclear at first. Bacurau can be a frustrating experience, one because the small white subtitles disappear into the mostly white color palette and two, because you really can’t start piecing together what exactly is happening until 2/3 of the way through the picture. The film rewards patience and critical thinking though, as we are given the gift of coming to our own specific conclusions with the ambiguous but compelling morsels the filmmakers feed us. It’s extremely violent but undeniably gorgeous filmmaking that will spark much needed conversations about race and politics. My only complaint is that it wasn’t longer and because of that many of the characters come off as sketches. As a four or five part miniseries, I think Bacurau could have succeeded in bringing more humanity and depth to the citizens of Bacurau, while teasing out the self-serving motives of the politicians and mercenaries more. As it stands, it’s one of the most strikingly original films of 2020. Grade: B+ ($4.99 rental on Amazon Prime)

Wonder Woman 1984

Few things are as mediocre as DC’s Wonder Woman 1984, a punishingly long and mostly uneventful slog through recycled themes of absolute power corrupts absolutely and girl power. The beginning of the movie promises to be this low stakes, cheesy and fun super hero adventure movie, which would be great if it didn’t get super serious and let’s be honest, totally up it’s own ass, halfway through. I wasn’t a big fan of the first Wonder Woman but watching this makes me appreciate it so much more. It was Kelly Reichardt-level nuanced compared this one, which goes so far out of its way to make a direct correlation between Pedro Pascal‘s evil oil guy and Trump that at one point Pascal is standing in front of a podium with a white house logo in the back, screaming about more power while his yellow hair is violently tossed about by the wind. Pascal is a good actor, but his villain isn’t very compelling because we’ve seen this desperate loser character who uses magic to rise to power in so many other, better comic book movies. Kristen Wiig on the other hand delivers one of the only credible performances in the whole film, she’s great as Not Cat Woman and upstages the typically wooden Gadot every chance she gets. At the end of the day though, Wonder Woman 1984 offers enough dumb fun in its first half to avoid being a bad film, it’s just a painfully mediocre one. Patty Jenkins is capable of so much more. Grade: C (HBOMax)

On the next 2020 Movie Reviews

  1. Ozark‘s Julia Garner faces inappropriate office antics in Kitty Green‘s micro-aggression horror film, The Assistant
  2. Two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania road trip it to Brooklyn to acquire an abortion in Eliza Hittman‘s Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  3. Jamie Foxx and what appears to be a cat headline Pixar’s latest blockbuster, Soul

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