I watched a lot of awesome movies in February. Most of them were catching up on the Oscar nominees. However I’m working on an Arnold Schwarznegger, Eddie Murphy and Sylvester Stallone retrospective which is really fun. Here is a snapshot of all the films and television I’ve watched in February.
In The Cut (2003)
In The Cut, a 2003 film directed by Jane Campion, initially garnered intense backlash due to Meg Ryan’s departure from her traditional romantic comedy roles into a more erotic thriller genre. However, the film itself is not a typical erotic thriller, such as Basic Instinct or Fatal Attraction. Instead, it uses sex realistically to drive character development and dramatic tension. Despite the initial reception, both Ryan and Mark Ruffalo deliver outstanding performances in this disturbing thriller, which defies conventional genre tropes of its time. It is a true Arthouse film with a unique style that captivates and intrigues its audience. The movie’s oddness and individuality make it an interesting and memorable cinematic experience.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
The late Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of Black Panther/T’Challa receives a poignant and emotional tribute in this sequel, beautifully envisioned by the talented director Ryan Coogler. The movie’s stunning visuals and cinematic storytelling are comparable to James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. The lead women, portrayed excellently by Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Angela Bassett, step up to defend Wakanda following T’Challa’s death, delivering moving and powerful performances. The absence of Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan is felt deeply throughout the film, leaving a significant void to fill. While the movie may be somewhat overlong, its style and grace make it an essential viewing experience. Tenoch Huerta delivers an awesome performance as the villain Namor, posing a genuine threat to the powerful Wakandans.
Glass Onion (2022)
Glass Onion is a hilarious sequel to the 2019 mystery classic, Knives Out. This time, Daniel Craig’s Detective Benoit Blanc is embroiled in a post-COVID mystery, involving a fresh set of selfish and money-hungry suspects. The film leans more towards comedy than its predecessor, and although not as strong, it still delivers laughs and entertainment. Daniel Craig delivers another brilliant performance as the detective, adding to his impressive filmography.
The Fabelmans (2022)
Steven Spielberg’s youth, legacy, and contributions to cinema are honoured in a touching tribute with this film, The Fabelmans. It is a rare treat to have a biographer make a movie about their subject and do it so masterfully, with beautiful direction and cinematography. Gabriel LaBelle delivers an excellent performance as the teenage Steven Spielberg, aka Sammy Fabelman, a young Jewish boy who is passionate about making movies. Paul Dano and Michelle Williams portray his parents wonderfully, adding depth and emotion to the film. The movie is a perfect blend of beauty, heartbreak, humour, and inspiration, much like Spielberg’s best films. He truly is one of the greatest artists of our generation, and this movie celebrates his contributions to the industry. The supporting cast, including Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch as legendary director John Ford, also deliver excellent performances.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance (2023)
Magic Mike’s return to the big screen, portrayed by the talented and attractive Channing Tatum, starts with a bang but quickly falters with a mediocre plot. The story revolves around directing a stage play for a wealthy divorcee, played excellently by Salma Hayek. However, the movie plods along and lacks the excitement and entertainment value that one would expect from a collaboration between Tatum and director Steven Soderbergh. The movie has the potential to be much more engaging and captivating, but unfortunately falls short of expectations.
On first viewing, this Arthouse film can be challenging to sit through, but upon reflection, it reveals itself as a fascinating and tragic piece that reflects the current state of the art world in 2022. Cate Blanchett’s performance is masterful and adds depth to the story, which touches on themes such as ego, sexual advances, and the impact of the post-COVID world. The movie is a searing drama that delves into the complexities and struggles of the art world, and its characters are forced to confront the harsh realities of the industry. While it may be difficult to watch at times, the movie ultimately delivers a thought-provoking and engaging experience for its audience.
All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)
War films continue to be relevant in today’s society, exploring themes of brotherhood, sacrifice, and the futility of war. Despite the passage of time, the realities of war remain an ever-present aspect of human experience, and movies offer a powerful medium to explore its complexities. One of the most refreshing perspectives in recent years has been the portrayal of the German side, providing insight into the other side of the conflict. These films allow us to empathize with the soldiers and understand their motivations, hopes, and fears, humanizing both sides of the conflict. In short, war films remain a vital means of exploring human experiences and provide a crucial perspective on the realities of conflict.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Sam Raimi’s horror masterpiece is an immersive and terrifying experience that feels like a literal haunted house ride from start to finish. The movie is bold, shocking, and endlessly entertaining, with every scene designed to elicit a visceral reaction from the audience. Raimi’s skillful direction and attention to detail make every moment feel deliberate and purposeful, building tension and suspense with each passing minute. The film is unapologetically gross and disturbing, making it a must-see for horror enthusiasts. Despite its age, it remains a classic and a testament to Raimi’s mastery of the genre.
This 90s superhero movie is a delightful romp that draws inspiration from 1989’s Batman but allows director Sam Raimi to put his own spin on the genre without relying on existing properties. Raimi’s eccentric flair, honed to perfection in his Evil Dead films, is on full display, making the movie a fun and playful experience. The film is extremely campy and should not be taken too seriously, but that’s part of its charm. Raimi’s experimentation and willingness to take risks result in an entertaining superhero flick that stands out from the crowd.
The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)
Imagine if your best friend told you that they no longer wanted to be friends. That’s the premise of this movie, which features terrific performances from Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and especially Barry Keoghan. The stunning Irish scenery and gorgeous cinematography add to the bittersweet and laid-back tone of the film, which captures the essence of friendship and its complexities. The movie is a testament to the power of friendship and the impact it can have on our lives, even when it comes to an end. It is a beautiful and poignant reflection on the human experience, with outstanding performances and breathtaking scenery that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Army of Darkness (1992)
In the third instalment of the Evil Dead series, Ash is transported back in time, finding himself in a sword and sandals epic rather than a haunted house. Director Sam Raimi’s eccentric and playful style is still present, but some might argue that it goes a bit too far this time around. The movie is a fun and entertaining ride, but the tonal shift may not appeal to everyone. Despite this, the film still manages to capture the essence of the series, providing plenty of laughs, thrills, and action. If you’re a fan of the franchise or enjoy Raimi’s unique style, it’s definitely worth a watch.
Knock at the Cabin (2023)
M. Night Shyamalan delivers a solid thriller, which centres around a gay couple and their adopted daughter who are held hostage by a group of people who believe they need to stop the apocalypse. Despite the couple’s love for each other and disbelief in the group’s claims, the ticking clock and a series of events cause tension to mount. As a natural disaster looms, Shyamalan’s masterful use of camera, sound, framing, and acting elevate the movie to another level. Dave Bautista delivers an excellent performance, proving himself to be a talented and interesting actor. The movie is a gripping and intense experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Triangle of Sadness (2022)
Swedish writer and director, Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness is a hilarious satire told in three acts, each one more ridiculous than the last. The movie’s witty and irreverent take on modern society is sure to have audiences laughing from start to finish. The film’s clever writing and absurd humour make it an utterly enjoyable experience. It’s a refreshing break from serious dramas and action-packed blockbusters, offering a light-hearted and entertaining escape. Triangle of Sadness is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you.
Women Talking (2022)
Writer and Director, Sarah Polley, adapts Miriam Toews novel Women Talking. This movie is gorgeously shot, with near-black-and-white visuals that add to the film’s emotional impact. The excellent acting from Clare Foy and the entire cast draws you into the story, which is a heartbreaking tale of hope and loss. The movie explores the complexities of the human experience, showing how even in the darkest moments, there can be a glimmer of hope. It’s a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the resilience of the human spirit. The film’s striking visuals and outstanding performances make it a must-see for anyone who appreciates powerful storytelling and masterful filmmaking.
Back in 2002, I absolutely loved this movie. It was a thrill to see my childhood favorite superhero brought to life on the big screen and stay true to the source material. Sam Raimi did a fantastic job creating a vivid comic book-inspired version of New York City, and all the beloved characters from the comic book were faithfully brought to life, including Uncle Ben and Aunt May, Mary-Jane, J. Jonah Jameson, the Green Goblin, Harry Osborne, and of course, Peter Parker. The nostalgia factor is high for me with this film, and it’s easy to see how it changed the cinema landscape. Nowadays, only Marvel movies are guaranteed box office hits, but this film paved the way for the superhero genre and set the bar high for all that followed.
You People (2023)
This movie can be best described as a cross between “Meet the Parents” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. When I heard that Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were in it, I was excited and thought it would be the comedy of the year. Unfortunately, it falls short of expectations. The jokes are too obvious and the overall vibe doesn’t quite work. However, the movie is watchable thanks to excellent performances from Lauren London and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. While it may not be a laugh-out-loud comedy, it’s still worth watching for the talented cast and interesting premise.
Ryan Coogler showcases his brilliance as a director in this film, transitioning seamlessly from indie projects to blockbuster hits. Michael B. Jordan delivers an excellent performance as the young boxer Adonis Creed, who is struggling to overcome the trauma of his childhood as well as his deceased father’s legacy and prove himself in the sport of Boxing. Sylvester Stallone returns as the iconic Rocky Balboa and is also outstanding as the old, grizzled boxer who has lost everyone he loves and is facing his own mortality with a cancer diagnosis. Despite the challenges, he proves that Rocky is always a fighter. The movie is well-directed, with excellent cinematography that captures many iconic scenes. Overall, it’s a powerful and emotionally charged film that showcases the talent of everyone involved.
The Terminator (1984)
James Cameron’s legendary direction and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s breakout performance make this sci-fi masterpiece a must-see for fans of the genre. The film expertly blends time travel, horror, and action set pieces, delivering a thrilling and captivating experience. Schwarzenegger’s performance helped turn him into a megastar, and the plot is nothing short of awesome. The special effects, direction, and acting are all top-notch, coming together to create a film that is truly outstanding. Simply put, this movie is so good!
Conan The Barbarian (1982)
Before he became known for his iconic role in The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s breakout performance was actually as the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan, originally created by Robert E. Howard in 1932 for a series of fantasy stories. Directed by John Milius, this film is a true epic that is brutal and savage in its tone and style, similar to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and an inspiration for the mature fantasy of Game of Thrones. Despite Schwarzenegger’s struggles with the English dialogue, Milius wisely gives him minimal dialogue and plenty of action to showcase his strength. The action set pieces are spectacular, and Schwarzenegger’s physique is simply unbelievable. James Earl Jones is also great as the villain, adding another layer of depth to the film’s already rich storytelling. Overall, Conan the Barbarian is a must-see for fans of the fantasy genre, showcasing Schwarzenegger’s early talent and Milius’ masterful direction.
Conan The Destroyer (1984)
Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers plenty of horse and animal punches in this sequel that veers towards a more fantasy-based storyline than the original. The film is reminiscent of 80s cartoons like He-Man, with its abundance of monsters, castles, towers, and goblins. While it’s fun and visually interesting, it’s not as memorable as the original film. It’s more like Ridley Scott’s 1985 film Legend or George Lucas’s 1983 Return of the Jedi in terms of its fantastical elements and puppetry. The film was a hit and one thing’s for sure: Arnold is in peak physical form and delivers an impressive performance.
Red Sonja (1985)
A really fun sword and sandals adventure with Arnold Schwarznegger’s Conan now taking a step back to let 80s female action star Brigitte Nielsen take the lead as Red Sonja. This is very similar to Conan The Destroyer in its style and campiness. However Brigitte Nielsen is really good in the role and it’s too bad we didn’t get more adventures. The He-Man and She-Ra comparisons are extremely visible and if I had discovered these films as a kid, I would have really been into them. However, in today’s film landscape the special effects and action scenes do not hold up as well as your latest Marvel blockbuster. I think this could be a great Netflix show with the right people behind the scenes and a Game of Thrones inspired brutal new vision. Bring back Schwarznegger’s Conan!
The Golden Child (1986)
Eddie Murphy was at the peak of his popularity and was following up the hugely successful 1984 hit Beverly Hills Cop. Eddie followed the popular trend of the 80s and starred as a fish out of water Private Investigator who is tracking a missing child that leads him down a fantastical path. This is one of Eddie’s forgettable films and there isn’t anything memorable about it. Eddie is still funny but the hokey special effects and racist undertone of the film don’t hold up today.
The 1992 film “Boomerang” marks Eddie Murphy’s return to the big screen after the underwhelming performances of his previous films, “Harlem Nights” (1989) and “Another 48 Hrs” (1990). In this movie, Murphy debuts a new persona as a sexy, suave leading man – a successful black man who effortlessly attracts women – in contrast to his earlier comedic roles. The film features a star-studded cast including Robin Givens and Halle Berry, whose performances add to the on-screen sizzle. Comedic greats Martin Lawrence, David Alan Grier, Chris Rock, and John Witherspoon also feature, alongside Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, and Tisha Campbell, who deliver hilarious performances.
“Boomerang” is a mix of laugh-out-loud humor, steamy romantic moments, and dramatic twists. It is an underrated hit from the 90s, with Eddie Murphy in top form. The film also boasts an awesome soundtrack featuring R&B greats such as Boyz II Men and Toni Braxton.
Despite its association with boxing, Sylvester Stallone’s iconic film, “Rocky,” is actually a heartwarming low-budget character drama. The film follows the story of a struggling boxer who is given the chance to prove himself in a city where he is seen as nothing more than a bum. “Rocky” is an inspiring and charming film that I find myself watching every year for a pick-me-up.
Stallone is joined by Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, and Burt Young, all of whom deliver excellent performances. The film is grittily directed by John G. Avildsen, who expertly captures the struggles and triumphs of the characters on screen. Overall, “Rocky” is a film that goes beyond its boxing theme to deliver a touching and uplifting story of perseverance and redemption.
Coming to America (1988)
During the late 1980s, the African American culture experienced a surge in popularity. Arsenio Hall hosted a highly acclaimed tonight show, Michael Jackson dominated the music industry, Whitney Houston was regarded as a pop princess, Prince’s album “Sign of the times” enjoyed great success, Michael Jordan dominated basketball, and Eddie Murphy released his biggest hit yet.
Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America” features Prince Akeem (played by Eddie Murphy), a wealthy African prince who lacks nothing except a wife who loves him for who he is, rather than his title. In order to avoid an arranged marriage, Akeem and his fastidious sidekick, Semmi (played by Arsenio Hall), escape to America to find his queen. Disguised as a foreign student working at a fast-food restaurant, Akeem falls for Lisa (played by Shari Headley) but struggles with revealing his true identity to her and his father, the king (played by James Earl Jones).
This film combines all of Eddie Murphy’s best elements, from his charm as a leading man to his comedic prowess, honed during his time on “Saturday Night Live,” showcased in his various characters. The sweet love story is hilarious throughout, making “Coming to America” a true comedy classic.
Seinfeld: Season 1 (1989)
The classic sitcom Seinfeld started with just five episodes, which were not its finest but not the worst either. Right from the beginning, the easygoing camaraderie between comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander’s iconic George Costanza was spot-on. Their banter about relationships, superheroes, and the mundane aspects of daily life in New York laid the groundwork for the show’s eventual success. Julia Louis-Dreyfus shines as Elaine Benes, Jerry’s ex-girlfriend who frequently joins them, and she makes a fantastic first impression in “The Stake Out,” which is the season’s best episode.
Seinfeld Season 2 (1991)
Seinfeld returned for its second season with a larger amount of seventeen episodes which allowed the show to flesh its characters to become the iconic New York four. Jerry has a great return with his sarcastic and neurotic flair on showcase in the second episode ‘The Pony Remark.’ All four get episodes to shine in, Jason Alexander’s classic George Costanza shines in ‘The Phone Message’, ‘The Statue’, and ‘The Revenge’. Julia Louis-Dreyfus hilarious female lead shines in episodes such as ‘The Deal’, ‘The Apartment,’ and ‘The Chinese Restaurant.’ Michael Richard’s iconic Kramer begins to take form into the hipster doofus who would eventually dominate the comedy of the show in episodes such as ‘The Revenge’, ‘The Heart-Attack’ and ‘The Statue’. The series mix of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s neurotic vision of the world is becoming to take shape in this great season of the 90s classic sitcom.
In its second season, Seinfeld returned with a larger episode count of seventeen, which allowed the show to further develop its characters into the iconic New York foursome. Jerry made a strong comeback with his signature sarcasm and neuroticism on full display in the second episode, “The Pony Remark.” Each of the four main characters had their moments to shine, with Jason Alexander’s unforgettable George Costanza delivering memorable performances in “The Phone Message,” “The Statue,” and “The Revenge.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s hilarious portrayal of Elaine Benes, the leading lady of comedy, also stood out in episodes like “The Deal,” “The Apartment,” and “The Chinese Restaurant.” Meanwhile, Michael Richards’s classic character, Kramer, began to take shape as the lovable goofball who would eventually dominate the show’s humour, particularly in episodes like “The Revenge,” “The Heart-Attack,” and “The Statue.” This great season of the ’90s classic sitcom saw the series’ signature mix of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s neurotic worldview beginning to take shape.
Seinfeld Season 3 (1991)
The third season of Seinfeld reached new heights of comedy. Jerry Seinfeld returned in top form in the opening episode “The Note,” where his inappropriate comment to a masseuse leads to hilarious consequences. George Costanza also shone in “The Note,” as he becomes uncomfortable with a male masseuse. Jason Alexander’s iconic performance continued to improve with episodes such as “The Truth,” “The Library,” and “The Nose Job.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus also delivered standout performances as Elaine Benes in episodes like “The Pen,” “The Dog,” and “The Suicide.” Michael Richards’s hilarious portrayal of Kramer stood out in episodes such as “The Letter,” “The Parking Garage,” and “The Keys,” where he travels to Los Angeles.
Furthermore, several episodes in the season were inspired by the writers’ personal experiences. For instance, “The Pen” drew inspiration from Jerry Seinfeld’s discomfort with his mother’s sofa bed, while “The Tape” was based on something Larry David had tried in New York. In “The Letter,” Larry David’s experience at a baseball game in Anaheim inspired Elaine’s story. Finally, the character Mr. West was named after one of the show’s executive producers, who had provided Larry David with access to the seats in the owners’ box.
Seinfeld’s third season solidified the show’s reputation as a comedy about nothing. The humour is derived from the everyday, mundane situations that the characters encounter. The comedy arises from their neuroses, quirks, and unique perspectives on the world. The dialogue is rapid-fire and clever, full of witty wordplay and puns.
The show’s creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, have a clear comedic vision that involves attention to detail and boundary-pushing. The show tackles taboo topics, like sex and death, in a humorous way that is both irreverent and insightful. The characters are flawed and often self-centered, but their antics are always entertaining. Overall, Seinfeld is a show that turns the ordinary into something extraordinary, a beloved classic that continues to captivate audiences today.
Overall, Seinfeld is a show that takes an unconventional approach to comedy, focusing on the humour in the mundane and elevating it to an art form. Its unique style and approach have made it a beloved classic that continues to be relevant to this day.
Breaking Bad Season 4
The fourth season of Breaking Bad is the epitome of tense, action-packed television, elevating the show to classic status. The epic battle between Walt and Gus Fring is a game of cat and mouse like no other. Aaron Paul’s performance as Jesse Pinkman, suffering from PTSD after his fateful decision in season three, is exceptional. His shifting allegiances between Walter White, Mike, and Gus provide ample drama and unforgettable scenes throughout the season. Giancarlo Esposito shines as the ruthless drug kingpin Gustavo “Gus” Fring, blending brutal violence with a disarming friendly demeanor. Jonathan Banks also delivers a standout performance as the gruff but highly skilled hitman, Mike Ehrmantraut. Additionally, Bob Odenkirk’s comedic turn as Saul Goodman provides much-needed relief amidst the season’s relentless tension.
Watching this season back in 2011, I was convinced it was the best season of television, and more than a decade later, it still holds that distinction.