Flix At :48

Thursdays at 4:48 p.m.

Each week UPR’s Film Guru Casey T. Allen joins us for Flix at :48.

Tune in Thursday afternoons at 4:48 during All Things Considered for Casey’s reviews of the latest movie releases from Tinseltown.

Courtesy of 'Thunder Force' movie.

Thunder Force is a superhero comedy first released on Netflix April 9th, and it inspired me to send a personal message to the film's leading actress, Melissa McCarthy (Superintelligence, 2020). The message reads like this: "Dear Melissa McCarthy, Please stop making movies with your writer/director husband Ben Falcone. Sincerely, Casey T. Allen. The end." 

Choosing to produce a fresh contemporary horror film is so often a bad decision, like rollerblading as an adult, or naming a newborn infant Kenneth. Thankfully, the film Relic has proven me wrong with a horror film that is lasting, patient, and chilling. Relic was officially released in July 2020 but has recently become available through both Amazon Prime and Redbox.

Shalayne Smith Needham: Our conversations recently have focused on award season for the film industry. There has been a lot of talk about the Oscars, which are coming up in about a month from now. It's been a difficult year for the industry, of course, with COVID-19. First, tell us how will the 93rd Annual Academy Awards be different this year?

Ammonite is a quiet lesbian drama centered on real-life geologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel, 2017) and her lonely world during 19th century England. This film was originally released in November last year, but who knows who actually saw it in November because it was likely in very few movie theaters in Utah and available on very few streaming platforms. But Ammonite has now been released on Hulu in early March for a wider audience to see. 

Courtesy of 'The United States vs. Billie Holliday'

Biopic films are an especially challenging mountain to climb. They’re done a lot, so they can get formulaic; and some go too far to sanitize their subject (Bohemian Rhapsody, 2018) or vilify them (Mommie Dearest, 1981). The United States vs. Billie Holiday miraculously doesn’t fall into any of these metaphorical ravines. 

Oscar-nominated actress Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, 2014) plays another villainous role as Marla Grayson, a professional guardian who takes care of old people who can no longer live independently. But Marla's care is a finely-tuned scam forcing the innocent seniors into a retirement home against their will, liquidating all their assets, and draining their life savings. But her crooked scheme takes a left turn when the latest victim she swindles turns out to be connected to a mobster. 

'Malcom & Marie' Review With Casey

Feb 23, 2021

 

Writer/director Sam Levinson (Another Happy Day, 2011) definitely shines in his explorations of complicated loving relationships and emotionally charged monologues. His latest film, Malcolm & Marie, serves exactly those things but in a boldly intimate way.

Actress Robin Wright (Wonder Woman 1984, 2020) co-produces and stars in her feature film directorial debut as an emotionally shattered woman retreating from life in the drama Land. After suffering a deep loss, a quiet woman moves into an abandoned cabin alone with no car, no electricity, no running water, and no phone deep in the mountains of Wyoming. Suffering dangerous winter storms, wild intruders, and persistent hunger, this woman places herself firmly in her grief with no intentions of escape.

Supernova is a heartfelt love story of two married men straining against loss, aging, and time. During a road trip through the countryside of England, one husband struggles to remain strong while the other husband struggles with dementia. 

The Midnight Sky is a quiet contemplative drama, set in the future, about survival and human connection adapted from the 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Since The Midnight Sky premiered on Netflix recently, it has inspired a persistent philosophical question in my mind: “What is happening to George Clooney?” I don’t mean to suggest that Gorge Clooney is sliding into Nicholas Cage territory. (Color Out of Space will forever remain one of the worst films of 2020.) What my question means is, “When did George Clooney become so sentimental in his work?” 

One Night in Miami is a powerful portrait of the anxieties and hopes of Black Americans in the 1960s, and it has strong connections to the culture of today. This film is adapted from a one-act play, written by an African American man Kemp Powers (who also worked on the screenplay), that was first produced in 2013 in Los Angeles. The story is a fictionalized gathering of four famous African American men celebrating in a motel room together in 1964.

Oftentimes, a drama film tugs at your heartstrings...and sometimes a film can lacerate them. When a young couple's home birth ends in tragedy, the expecting mother tries to keep living under a constant cloud of grief. 

First time feature film writer/director Emerald Fennell has created a story challenging the male gaze and stabbing it between the eyes. 

You are tuned to Utah Public Radio. I'm Shalayne Smith Needham, here with our film critic Casey T. Allen. Hello, Casey. 

You are tuned to Utah Public Radio. I'm Shalayne Smith Needham, here with our film critic Casey T. Allen. Hello, Casey.

'The Prom' Review With Casey

Dec 17, 2020
Courtesy of "The Prom" Movie

The Prom is a movie musical that premiered on Netflix on December 11th and is adapted from a Broadway musical first produced in New York City in 2018. The story follows four narcissist Broadway celebrities who travel to small town Indiana to publicly support a lesbian teenager who is banned from taking her girlfriend to her high school prom. Celebrity activism for LGBT youth guarantees positive publicity! Right?!

Courtesy of 'Mank' movie

Mank is a brilliant biopic of Herman Mankiewicz, his screenwriting career in Hollywood, and his creation of the screenplay for the famous Citizen Kane film from 1941. (Practically every film scholar and film historian includes Citizen Kane as one of the greatest films ever made.)

'The Life Ahead' Review With Casey

Nov 20, 2020
Courtesy of 'The Life Ahead' Movie

The Life Ahead is a coming-of-age drama set in Naples, Italy about a 12-year-old orphaned boy (Ibrahima Gueye) who is sent to live with an elderly cantankerous woman whom he recently robbed. This reluctant pairing is a clash of opposites with young and old, Muslim and Jew, refugee and native, as the young boy starts selling drugs on the street and his aged caretaker struggles with memories of the Holocaust.

'His House' Review With Casey

Nov 5, 2020
Courtesy of 'His House' Movie

When a married couple move into a crumbling apartment in London, they begin suspecting it's haunted after witnessing peeling walls, spilled fruit, and wet footprints. I know this premise sounds familiar and overdone. There's plenty of haunted house movies in the past that bleed together by using the same ideas, the same twists, and the same techniques to scare viewers. Some of these movies include Darkness (2002), The Messengers (2007), The Haunting in Connecticut (2009), The Conjuring (2013), and We Are Still Here (2015). 

Courtesy of "Rebecca" movie

Netflix recently released their own adaptation of the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca, that was first adapted into a feature film in 1940. This 1940 version was directed by Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window, 1954) and received the Oscar for Best Picture.

Courtesy of "The Forty-Year-Old Version" Movie

In the current wasteland of barely mediocre movie theater releases, I'm happy to say I recently watched a new release in my home (on Netflix) that's one of the best I've seen all year.

Courtesy of "Ava" movie

An efficient assassin traveling the globe tries to reconcile her damaged family relationships and fight her own superiors for survival when the tables turn against her. 

Courtesy of "The Personal History of David Copperfield" Movie

Writer-director Armando Iannucci has proven himself an exciting creator of raucous, vulgar, profane comedy with the dark historical parody The Death of Stalin from 2017 and the brilliantly insulting TV series Veep (2012-2019) which concluded last year. His latest film is still funny, but with a PG rating The Personal History of David Copperfield is decidedly less obscene than Iannucci's other work.

Courtesy of "The Binge Movie"

The Binge was released on August 28th and is currently available for personal streaming on Hulu. Set in the not too distant future, when all alcohol and drugs are banned from everyone in the United States, The Binge focuses on the stressful lives of 3 teenage boys trying to attend an exclusive party on the one night of the year when all drug and alcohol consumption is legal for everyone. It's like a merging of the films The Purge (2013) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). 

'The Secrets We Keep' Review With Casey

Sep 24, 2020
Courtesy of "The Secrets We Keep" Movie

The Secrets We Keep is a patient psychological mystery set in a quiet post-WWII suburb where a housewife (Noomi Rapace, Prometheus, 2012) starts to unravel when she suspects a new man living in her town is a Nazi who tortured her during WWII years ago. This suspicion leads to kidnapping, interrogation, and blood. And when suspicion grows into an obsession with vengeance, nobody walks unscathed. 

Two men standing back to back with guns in front of a cityscape on a movie poster.
Courtesy of "Tenet" movie

Oscar-nominated director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, 2017) is evidently still enjoying his obsessions with complicated action sequences and non-linear storytelling. 

Courtesy of 'Tesla' movie.

 

Tesla is a historic, biographical drama on the life of pioneering engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla, whose ideas changed the world at the turn of the 20th century and beyond (his work included the alternating current electricity system, a thermo-magnetic motor, and the Tesla coil.) 

'Waiting for the Barbarians' Review With Casey

Aug 14, 2020
Courtesy of "Waiting for the Barbarians" movie.

Waiting for the Barbarians is a historical period drama based on the award-winning novel of the same name by South African writer J.M. Coetzee first published in 1980. This newly released film (premiered on August 7th) tells the story of a Magistrate, played by a soft-spoken and dignified Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, 2015), who manages a small settlement in a foreign, quiet desert on the far edge of an unnamed empire (presumably the British Empire).

Courtesy of "The Rental" movie.

Aren't weekend getaways a blast? They're especially fun when they have dangerous secrets, hidden cameras, a hot tub, and dead bodies. Actor Dave Franco, mostly known for light-hearted comedy and action films like The Disaster Artist (2017) and Now You See Me (2013), has his feature-length directorial debut with The Rental currently playing in select movie theaters throughout Utah after its nationwide release on July 24th. 

Courtesy of "The Old Guard" movie.

 


 

The Old Guard was released on July 10th this year and has become one of the most popular original films streaming on Netflix this month. Adapted from a graphic novel series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez that was first published in 2017, The Old Guard follows a group of expert, world-weary (and refreshingly diverse) mercenaries who travel the globe killing terrorists, hiding their identities, and speculating on immortality (hinting at this film's gold mine twist).

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