It might be easy to overlook this little gem – a movie about a punk-rock band brutally fighting their way out of a neo-Nazi bar. The setup is simple, but there’s a real flare in the telling. Coming from writer/director Jeremy Saulnier, the man who gave us a gritty surprise hit with 2013’s “Blue Ruin.” Saulnier does so much with suspense in small spaces – tour vans, claustrophobic backrooms and tight hallways. He puts actors in these pressure cookers, and we get to watch them explode. A young and talented cast fills up these spaces with big performances. Imogen Poots and Alia Shawkat both stand out. Patrick Stewart drops a bombshell as a white supremacist. But the cloud over this film is it was the last feature film Anton Yelchin released before his accidental death in June. Yelchin has the starring role and really does make the bleak, violent tone relatable to the audience. For so many reasons, this one is worth a watch.
What can I say about this action flick? Let’s see…It was shot in the first-person POV, almost totally with GoPro cameras. Ten different stuntmen and cameramen play the title character. More than 200 people die in spectacular ways onscreen. Writer/director Ilya Naishuller chose to break into feature films by racing us through a video game simulation for an hour and a half. Sharlto Copley is a great sidekick/comic relief as we run and jump and get blown up beside him. If you get motion sickness, the action will probably nauseate you. The last time a movie was done entirely in first-person POV was 1947’s “Lady in the Lake.” It flopped, and it took 70 years before another one hit the theaters. Yeah, that about wraps it up. The style has major limitations, but for action fans, this one is hard not to like – worth a watch.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele jump from their recently concluded sketch-comedy show “Key and Peele” to feature films. It’s nice to see the duo back together. Since 2012, nobody has consistently combined silliness with smart comedy quite as well. They find a comfort zone in this tale of a man’s missing cat and his voyage through Los Angeles’ gangland to get him back. Peele wrote the script with longtime collaborator Alex Rubens, and director Peter Atencio was with the show since the beginning. The pair geek out with the freedom of a full movie. Cameos scratch across the scenes. Things get outlandish as they roll around in the catnip of an R-rating. Plus, the cat is damn cute. It gets tangled in the twine when the action-comedy troupes pounce on a little too long, but overall, this one is litter free – worth a watch.