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Sundance Film Festival 2021 Round-Up



Sundance Film Festival 2021 is over and despite being virtual, there were a lot of good films! I tried to watch as many new films as I could across the course of the festival, and I managed to see a total of 16 films. I’m going to be going over below what I thought of some of them and some films I’d recommend you keep an eye out for later in the year.

The best film that I saw at Sundance was Mass. You can read my full review of it here but in short, Mass was an absolutely stunning directorial debut from Fran Kranz. It follows two sets of parents meeting up to talk years after a tragic event involving their children. The script is so well written and the performances from the four leads are all phenomenal. This is a film that you should definitely look out for and seek out once it gets released, it could even be a big hit at the Oscars and other awards ceremonies next year.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ryan Jackson-Healy.

Another film that I absolutely loved was CODA. And it wasn’t just me that loved the film as it won awards from the Grand Jury for best US dramatic film as well as the Audience award for best US dramatic film. CODA isn’t your traditional coming-of-age film and that’s what made it all the more powerful as the film follows a Child Of Deaf Adults- a CODA. Despite the fact that it hits all the beats you expect a film like this to hit and it can be seen a somewhat generic coming-of-age film that doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre, it is still an incredible and emotional film. It was one of the best films of the festival and you can read more about what I thought of CODA here.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Judas and the Black Messiah is going to be a big hit this awards season, with predictions touting it as a potential Best Picture winner amongst other categories. Daniel Kaluuya is superb as Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton and Lakeith Stanfield is just as electrifying as William O’Neil, the FBI informant inside the Black Panther Party. It’s a really timely film that will hopefully be seen by a wide audience as it releases on February 12th in cinemas in the US as well as on HBO MAX.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Glen Wilson.

The British horror film Censor was a really shocking and exciting film and it’s definitely not for everyone but if you’re a fan of violent and extreme horror films like this, you’ll love it as it’s a love letter to the video nasties of the 80s. Censor is a really impressive directorial debut from Prano Bailey-Bond and it has a great lead performance from Niamh Algar. Check out my full review of it here.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Prisoners of the Ghostland is quite a crazy film. It stars Nicolas Cage and Sofia Boutella and is directed by Sion Sono so already it’s clear that it’s going to be an entertaining ride with a mismatch of lots of different tones and styles. The film mixes the east and the west really well and it has some really amazing and ridiculous moments but it’s a film that’s really engaging and exciting and it’s one that’s definitely worth a watch.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

This list features quite a few heavy films but Together Together is a really nice, light comedy film about platonic love starring Ed Helms and Patti Harrison. The film is about Matt (Helms) who hires Anna (Harrison) as the surrogate for his child but after spending more and more time together their relationship grows and develops and they begin to challenge their perceptions of love and relationships and connections between people.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Ben Wheatley is a filmmaker that a lot of people really love having made films including Kill List, Free Fire and High Rise although he’s a director that I’ve never really been mad-keen on. Saying that I really liked his latest film In the Earth. Or at least I liked certain aspects of it. It has some absolutely crazy, loud and flashy scenes that I thought were great although certain aspects such as story and character weren’t quite as good but overall I thought In the Earth was a good attempt at making a film during the pandemic that’s centred around a virus that’s ravaged the earth. You can find my full review of In the Earth here.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

On the Count of Three is a really good comedy/drama starring Jerrod Carmichael and Christopher Abbott. Carmichael also directs here with his feature debut and it’s a really impressive first film. It’s about two friends that decide they’re going to kill themselves at the end of the day and they’re going to make the most of their final day. It obviously deals with the heavy issue of suicide and it does so in a really careful and appropriate manner, but it also manages to keep the film funny at the same time. It’s a really good film, in particular the final 25 minutes or so which really take it up another level.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The best documentary that I saw at Sundance was Misha and the Wolves. I don’t want to divulge into too many details about it as it’s a remarkable story that you almost struggle to believe is real. It’s such a shocking story following the events after the publication of a woman’s Holocaust memoirs and it’s really a story that you have to watch for yourself to find out all the twists and turns in this staggering story.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tomek Kaczor.

Prime Time was a really interesting Polish film that had a thoroughly captivating plot and gets right into it from the get-go. It’s about a 20-year-old man with a gun that locks himself into a TV studio on the last day of 1999 along with 2 hostages. He has a message that he wants to share with the world and Prime Time is engrossing and engaging throughout. It’s a really good film with a great premise.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Charles Murphy.

R#J is a really innovative and fresh take on Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The reason why this film felt so original and inventive is because the whole film takes place on phone screens. Think similar to 2018’s Searching or the two Unfriended films that take place on computer screens. Whilst not everything works in this modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, it’s just such a creative and new way of telling such a well-known story and even if the final film wasn’t amazing and it had some big flaws, it’s worth seeing R#J just for the impressive visuals and the impressive way that the story is told entirely through mobile phones.

Were you able to watch any films at Sundance this year? If you did, let us know in the comments what your favourite films were and what you thought of the films mentioned above.

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Expendables 4 Movie Review | Explosive & Funny!



Expendables 4 (Lionsgate Movies)

The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie material being covered here wouldn’t exist.


A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Iko Uwais as Suarto Rahmat (Lionsgate Movies)

The Expendables Film Series

I highly recommend catching up on the other movies in the Expendables film series.

Expendables 1 (2010)

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 2

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six tons of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

The Expendables 2 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 3 (2014)

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. In order to defeat Stonebanks, Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Movie Review

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Sylvester Stallone bring the explosive energy needed to give us an explosive performance on-screen. The new members, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia bring in a breath of fresh air with new attitude and fighting styles to keep us entertained. This movie is the fourth in the Expendable film series, but there is definitely no clear link between this movie and the prequels. Each movie in essence is a new mission and Expendables 4 can be watched without watching the previous movies. I suggest watching the previous three movies to experience the explosive action that you get when you combine our favorite action heroes.

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 4 was great and delivered yet another action-packed mission filled with awesome fights, humor, cultural references and explosions. However, it wasn’t difficult to spot the main villain and there aren’t much surprises in terms of the new action stars who join this mission.

The movie starts us off with the Expendables in a race against time to retrieve nuclear warheads, but the mission goes south and instead of sticking to orders, one of the soldiers attempt to save his team member instead, which results in a failed mission and a casualty. The story follows the combination of accomplishing the mission while delivering a can of revenge-based whoop-ass. The last fight isn’t as explosive as the cast but still manages to deliver a plot-twist finale.

Megan Fox, Andy Garcia & Jacob Scipio, some of the newest members of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

A future sequel should really consider a completely new group pick up the baton and leave us in suspense as to who the new heroes and villains could be. I love a good surprise with a side of plot twist in any movie.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the very end. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the plot twists you can expect from the movie. Overall, my rating for Expendables 4 is a 3.5 out of 5.

Make sure to watch at a cinema near you!

Expend4bles Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

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Sung Kang’s ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a Campy Horror-Comedy With Superb Performances



Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen in 'Shaky Shivers' (Cineverse)

If you thought that Sung Kang can only thrill you with amazing car stunts, then you are wrong. The acclaimed star is set to take you on an entertaining ride with his directorial debut titled ‘Shaky Shivers’.

The latest horror-comedy film marks the feature directorial debut of Sung Kang, renowned for his roles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise and several other big projects. The movie stars Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen, with an ensemble cast including Jimmy Bellinger, Erin Daniels, and Herschel Sparber.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

From the very beginning, ‘Shaky Shivers’ grabs hold of your attention with the comedic chemistry between lead actresses Brooke Markham (Lucy) and VyVy Nguyen (Karen). Their hilarious banter and dynamic friendship draw you into their world of magic, mayhem, and monstrous encounters. While a few other characters make appearances, the heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Karen and Lucy, whose relatable and believable friendship makes the story even more bewitching.

One of the best aspects of the film is how Sung Kang skillfully directs the title despite limited cast and limited settings. It still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Kang also pays homage to classic horror films like ‘American Werewolf in London’ and injects fresh energy into the scenes while showcasing his comedic flair.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

If you are one of those who enjoy unapologetically goofy and fun movies, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is undoubtedly a fun watch. Embracing its campiness, the film doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable ride filled with supernatural elements. The characters have a helpful book of spells that they use to solve problems, which adds a clever and funny element to the story that will make you laugh..

While categorized as a horror-comedy, ‘Shaky Shivers’ leans more towards comedy than horror. However, don’t worry, as the supernatural beings like werewolves, zombies, and witches make their presence known throughout. The practical effects and impressive monster makeup, reminiscent of old-school horror flicks from the 70s and 80s, immerse you in a world of creatures and enchantment.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

The plot of ‘Shaky Shivers’ escalates in an exciting and compelling manner, filled with unpredictable twists and goofy surprises.  While it may not leave you terrified, the perfect blend of supernatural ambiance and comedic moments guarantees plenty of laughter and enjoyment.

In conclusion, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a must-watch horror-comedy that delivers on laughs, friendship, and supernatural encounters. With its engaging storyline, talented cast, and Sung Kang’s impressive directorial debut, the film is a delightful addition to the genre. So grab a large tub of popcorn and take your family for this fun-filled ride.

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Sex Education Season 4 is a Spectacular (and Overstuffed) Conclusion to One of Netflix’s Extraordinary Series



Official posted of 'Sex Education' Season 4 (Netflix)

When the first season of Sex Education came out on Netflix in 2019, it felt pretty daring and exciting for everyone. While there were many shows about teenagers and sex, ‘Sex Education’ stood out because it talked about these topics openly and covered them in a pretty detailed manner. Without any guesses, the show became really popular and is now considered a classic on Netflix. For 3 long seasons, viewers have seen students of Moordale, and everyone around them, dealing with a lot of complications, but now, it’s time to say goodbye to some of our character as the Netflix series has returned for its fourth and final edition.

At the end of Season 3, Moordale Secondary School closed down. This means that Otis, Eric, Aimee, Jackson, Vivienne, Cal, and Ruby have to go to a new school, Cavendish Sixth Form College. Some of them fit in well, while others struggle. And while Otis tries to focus on his therapy work, he finds out that there are other young people who are experts on relationships and sex in town.

Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn in ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 (Netflix)

One of the strengths of Sex Education is its diverse and inclusive representation. The show shines a light on various sexual orientations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds, providing a platform for underrepresented voices. Season 4 continues to explore these themes, introducing new characters who add depth and complexity to the narrative. On ghe other hand, the only problem with Season 4 is that there are too many things going on at once. There are so many sub-plots that might distract you at times and make you feel that this story might have looked good if there was another season in pipeline.

Even then, the writing remains sharp and witty, creating relatable and genuine teenage characters who grapple with their own insecurities and desires.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong in Sex Education Season 4 (Netflix)

The performances in ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 are consistently strong. Asa Butterfield brings vulnerability and charm to his role as Otis, portraying the character’s growth and maturity. Ncuti Gatwa shines as Eric, capturing both his strength and vulnerability as he navigates new relationships and personal challenges. Emma Mackey delivers a nuanced performance as Maeve, showcasing her character’s intelligence and emotional depth. Mimi Keene is stupendous as well and bring another layer to her character which was so nice to see. Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson does what she is best at: deliver another extraordinary performance.

Emma Mackey as Maeve in Sex Education Season 4. (Netflix)

On the other hand, Aimee Lou Wood continues to mesmerise us with her charm and simplicity. Directors should definitely look at her and give her a leading role soon because she deserves it. Another actor that is surely a star in the making is Anthony Lexa, who portrays Abbi in Season 4. Her performance adds an additional charm to the series and gives a hope to Trans actors that they can too achieve their dreams.

A still from ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 (Netflix)

The final edition tackles difficult topics with sensitivity and care, highlighting the importance of consent, communication, and understanding in relationships. The show’s ability to tackle these issues head-on without becoming preachy is a testament to its thoughtful storytelling.

While the final season of ‘Sex Education’ does have some pacing and narrative issues, the strength of the performances, the thoughtful exploration of important issues, and the show’s commitment to inclusivity make it a satisfying and engaging watch. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to these beloved characters, but the legacy of Sex Education will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the television landscape.

Sex Education Season 4. (L to R) Mimi Keene as Ruby, Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education Season 4 (Netflix)

In conclusion, ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 continues to deliver a standout and boundary-pushing narrative that explores sexuality, identity, and personal growth with humor and sensitivity. Despite some minor flaws, the show remains a shining example of inclusive storytelling and offers a heartfelt farewell to its beloved characters.

Some goodbyes are hard and this is certainly one of them.

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