The Power of the Dog (2021)

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Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. (Letterboxd)
Excellent turns (Cumberbatch’s nuanced lead especially), with lots of interesting relational and thematic dynamics at play (brother-brother, mother-son, old hat vs. new hat, harsh vs. tender, banjo vs. piano) and storytelling that’s appreciably subtle and moody, aided as it is by patient camerawork and an unnerving soundtrack. Despite the slow-burn approach, some of the character shifts feel sudden (see Rose’s descent; Phil’s change), but it’s tied up in a satisfying (leather) bow in the end.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

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The story of Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the national Black Panther Party, who was assassinated in 1969 by a Cook County tactical unit on the orders of the FBI and Chicago Police Department. (Letterboxd)
In the way it captures the injustice, high stakes, and high-running emotions of the revolution it triumphs, and loudly–the music, the sounds, the turns all scream for your attention (see especially Hampton’s welcome home speech). As a whole it feels a bit scattered though, with biopic-obligatory-feeling side plots (see Jake’s revenge), teased but discarded character dynamics (see Roy’s discomfort with Hoover), and a titular relationship that doesn’t quite live up to its dramatic potential.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Game Night (2018)

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A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery. (IMDb)
Keeps things fresh, to its credit–the plot and humour don’t rely solely on the initial premise of dramatic irony, the characters are funny but develop depth too (see dumb, cocky Ryan’s vulnerability in the van; big shot Brooks’ pavement penitence), and the cinematography takes creative turns (see the game-board zoom-ins, one-take egg exchange)–even if the choices don’t always work (the third act has one or two too many twists; the dark comedy isn’t always funny–see Annie’s “Oh no, he died!”).
7/10 (Good)