Cold Pursuit (2019): Action / Crime / Drama

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After his son gets murdered, a snowplow driver tracks down and goes after everyone responsible for his death.

Hans Petter Moland, writer/director of films with a unique character such as Aberdeen (2000) and his latest Out Stealing Horses (2019), impresses this time by remaking his own film In Order of Disappearance (2014) – all three led by Stellan Skarsgård. The film was shot in early 2017 but was released only recently. I guess it would have done better had it been released before a controversial interview Liam Neeson gave earlier this year.

Politics aside, Cold Pursuit is enjoyable adding some dark comedy to the aforementioned genres, resembling Fargo (1996) and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999). Julia Jones, Emmy Rossum, and Tom Bateman stand out. A lot of similarities can be found with the original film, especially in tone and rhythm, and both of them make one wonder who was Nels Coxman before…

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Widows (2018): Crime / Drama / Thriller

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Four women who are left with nothing but debt after their husbands died in a heist are pulling a heist of their own to reclaim their lives.

Based on the homonymous 1983 British series, “Widows” (2018) takes the fight from London to Chicago. Astonishing performances from the ensemble cast with Viola Davis and Robert Duvall standing out. Then, the powerful opening chase sequence promises an action-packed drama to keep you on the edge of your seats. A promise that doesn’t deliver though…

It is not first and certainly will not be the last when a European or an East Asian director goes to Hollywood. See, for example, actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz and “Babylon A.D” (2008) or Jee-woon Kim and “The Last Stand” (2013). One way ticket back… Even though “Widows” is nowhere near as bad as the aforementioned films (by brilliant directors) or the reviews surrounding it, it lacks the Steve McQueen, fine art training, personality, and idiosyncrasy.

It lacks the suffering of “12 Year a Slave” (2013), “Shame’s” (2011) internal struggle, and “Hunger’s” (2008) realism. Maybe his first cut (around 3 hours long) offered all of the above and more. Regardless, I really look forward to McQueen’s next film, European, American, or otherwise.

 

A Monster Calls (2016): Animation / Drama / Fantasy

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One of the most impressive and heartbreaking films of 2016! Following “The Orphanage” (2007) and “The Impossible” (2012), Director J.A. Bayona follows the book, almost to the letter, creating this adventurous, tear-jerking, cinematic journey. A tale of grief, remorse, and guilt triggers an unfathomably allegorical crossing between reality and fantasy that seeks catharsis and closure and to appeal to one’s deepest feelings.

Unnecessarily rated as PG-13, “A Monster Calls” should be a story for the whole family. A kid dealing with their mom’s terminal illness is an on going, never ending, global scale torment that plagues kids of every age, from every corner of this Earth. Even now, while writing this review.

“Monster Calls” is nothing short of hauntingly beautiful magic on screen. A heart-wrenching, coming of age faithful adaptation with Oscar-worthy performances, directing, cinematography, editing, music, sound design, visual effects, and more. As I like saying, a round of applause for all cast and crew and a big “thank you” for this masterpiece.