The narrative begins to unravel near the end, mainly because it’s so loosely-knit to begin with. But until then, Lapsis is chock-full of satiric commentary, mostly about conformity and greed. Quantum could just as easily be Amazon, Nestle, Apple or the phone service I have the privilege of paying 200 bucks a months for…companies whose monopolizing business practices not-only go unquestioned by John Q. Public, we’re ultimately unable to avoid them. For a grassroots piece of budget-conscious sci-fi, Lapsis ends up being surprisingly perceptive.
Despite some tense moments, The Little Things mostly walks a familiar path and ends with more of a whimper than a bang. However, the effortless gravitas Denzel Washington brings to his character keeps the film from becoming completely rote. It’s worth checking out just for his performance.
Judas and the Black Messiah is also massively entertaining. Not only does it shine a light on an important African-American revolutionary – and reminds us that not much has changed since then – the film features vivid, engaging characters, authentic dialogue & production design and a killer soundtrack (both the score and H.E.R.’s Oscar winning song, “Fight for You”). Easily one of 2020’s best.
Extraordinarily poignant without ever lapsing into heavy-handed sentimentality (though the temptation had to be strong), Nomadland has the viewer poised for an emotional crescendo that never actually comes. Instead, the story defies expectations by coming full circle without any kind of obvious resolution. But that’s only on the surface. Upon reflection, we realize we have been experiencing Fern’s character transformation and life-changing epiphanies the entire time.
Though the chance to turn the scenario into a wicked black comedy is definitely a missed opportunity, Concrete Plans is well-paced and features solid characters. Viktor and Bob serve as moral compasses, while Jim and Bob’s nephew, Steve (Charlie Palmer Rothwell), evolve into hateful sons-of-bitches. There’s also a lot of perverse gratification in watching Simon get what’s coming to him, mainly because we’ve all encountered assholes with a similarly-misguided sense of superiority.
Some of the restaurant’s backstory is kind of interesting, though not entirely necessary. There are moments that tend to over-explain things, throwing-in serial killers, satanic pacts and the town’s dark past. It might have been more effective – and a little creepier – if no reason was given. Still, Willy’s Wonderland is worth checking-out for another bout of Nicolas Cage craziness, owning the entire movie without uttering a single word. It makes a fitting conclusion to his “Bonkers Trilogy,” though none of us really think it’s gonna end here, do we?