Kajillionaire (2020)

 

A woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re planning. (IMDb)
The unique and tense settings and plot points of the film (the skimming, the leaky office home, the past-due rent, and the urgency inherent in them all) provide an easily and immediately compelling base for the poignant, equally quirky, and well-acted character/family drama that emerges (see the moving parenting classes, dark bathroom journey, gift returns). The new relationship is sweet (see Melanie to the rescue) but its romance is a bit discomforting due to the maturity/power imbalance.
8/10 (Great)

Annihilation (2018)

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A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply. (IMDb)
Ultimately unhelpful flash-forwards and -backs mar an otherwise immersive (viscerally more than intellectually–the ending didn’t satisfy) sci-fi experience initiated by the haunting homecoming scene early on: solid turns, an intense score, and monumental visuals carry the film from spooky (see the first wake-up) to grisly (see the bear attack; stomach cut) to weird (see the trippy cave scene), with just an unforgettable sense of “WTF is going on!?” (both in awe and terror) pervading it all.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

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A dramatization of the disaster in April 2010, when the offshore drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon exploded, resulting in the worst oil spill in American history. (IMDb)
The build-up is perfect, right from the chilling opening “spoiler” audio: Excellent foreshadows (see the coke can) and an eerie soundtrack keep you on the edge of your seat amidst the well-crafted sense of normalcy (the jargon-heavy dialogue does a great job here), with the classic tension between money and safety excellently executed (Malkovich’s Vidrine is a chilling adversary). The explosion-heavy scenes that follow start to tire, but an emotionally potent epilogue is suitably cathartic.
8/10 (Great)