The Devil All the Time (2020)

Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality. (IMDb)
Well-made, not just in its technical elements but in the way it deftly ties its many characters and generation-long plot threads together in such a satisfying (and ultimately surprisingly positive, as suspicion and violence give way to trust and sleep) manner, making for a powerfully morbid epic on the dangers of religion. That said, it’s done through a distanced, fairy tale-like approach that prevents it from ever reaching emotional dramatic excellence despite solid turns by the whole cast.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Terminator Genisys (2015)

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When John Connor, leader of the human resistance, sends Sgt. Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor and safeguard the future, an unexpected turn of events creates a fractured timeline. (IMDb)
It was around the third trip through time that the twisty plot crossed the line from “huh, interesting!” to “wut.” but at least we had Simmons’ wild-eyed O’Brien to add some comedic flavour to the mess (“Goddamn time traveling robots covering up their goddamn tracks!”). The main trio are engaging enough to take us through the wild action-adventure, though the romance is cringe-y and still on the shelf (cuz I didn’t buy it. Heh) and Clarke’s strong Sarah is often undermined (“Protect my Sarah”).
6.5/10 (Alright)

First Man (2018)

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A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. (IMDb)
Immersive and boldly chosen visuals and sounds on the ships (blurry, claustrophobic, loud) are paralleled by more shaky-cam close-ups and tense drama on earth, leading to stunning physical and emotional release on the bleak, vast, and silent lunar landscape (Gosling is solid throughout). The blip on the radar is how the great “Whitey on the Moon” critique (“I can’t pay no doctor bill, but Whitey’s on the moon”) is only followed up with, well, more movie about white guys going to the moon.
8/10 (Great)

Winchester (2018)

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Ensconced in her sprawling California mansion, eccentric firearm heiress Sarah Winchester believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle. (IMDb)
Had potential–loved that red font of the opening title, the set-up was intriguing, and the setting perfectly spooky and surreal–but the execution really underwhelms: the interest surrounding the titular character dissolves almost right after we meet her, and what follows is merely a half-baked ghost story with mediocre jump scares and a commentary on grief and gun violence that’s never fully realized (not helped by average turns and poor dialogue–there’s a lot of people talking to themselves).
5.5/10 (Poor)

 

Mudbound (2017)

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Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war. (IMDb)
There’s a billion different plot threads here over a years-long time span but the potent mixture of blood (see Jamie and Ronsel’s harrowing experiences abroad and at home), sweat (see the farm work scenes throughout), tears (see Laura’s breakdown), and mud (see the gritty landscapes) adeptly sticks them all together to form a powerful meditation (literally–see the multi-perspective narration throughout) on the poverty and racism of rural 40s Mississippi. Strongly acted, shot, and directed.
8.5/10 (Amazing)