#SpoilerFreeReviews

    Written by: Aaron (Dobler) Goldstein. Follow along on twitter.

    WADE IN THE WATER 🏡

    A near indie gem’s 1st act depicting isolation drowns for a bit too long, preventing WADE IN THE WATER from swimming in the deep-end of the fully-lived in emotions it wants the audience to soak in. First-time feature director Mark Wilson keeps things afloat on a shoe-string budget that allows actor Danika Golombek to breathe life into the second act as she submerges as the protagonist / real star of the film.

    It’s not an easy viewing experience, but it’s one that you won’t be able to towel dry from once you leave the water.

    It is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video as of 08/21

    HOWARD 🍿

    “Great artists give you a way of looking at the world that you never saw before. And the only way they can do that is to show you their world.”

    HOWARD is a pitch-perfect documentary that shows audiences how to be a part of Howard Ashman’s world. There are a lot of beasts in the telling of his narrative, but there are more beauties in this love letter to the man that revolutionized the animated musical.

    It is available to stream on Disney Plus.

    AN AMERICAN PICKLE 🤮

    AN AMERICAN PICKLE aspires to be a full sour serious film about loss, yet the tone is too jarring to support the half sour themes. Instead, we have to “dill” with a Seth vs Seth sausage party “a salt.”

    In other words, a Pickle Rick cameo would’ve been a welcome addition.

    It is available to avoid on HBOMax

    THE RENTAL 🍿

    THE RENTAL is a taut uncomfortable 88-minute movie that is not for the squeamish. Writer/Director Dave Franco hosts a five star enjoyable coastal cabin that doesn’t quite land the check out experience.

    It is the perfect rental to convince audiences to shelter-at-home. ;)

    It is available to stream at a “slashed” rate of $6.99 via Amazon, Google, Apple, Vudu and FandangoNow

    THE OLD GUARD 🏡

    Director Gina Prince-Bythewood created one of the most thoughtful coming-of-age romantic movies, LOVE & BASKETBALL. In her latest film, she attempts to take that same thoughtful approach to the action genre with mixed results.

    My pitch after seeing the long-winded dialogue scenes that repeat the same themes at nauseam is this - if content creators now have full creative control to let scenes run long, audiences should be allowed to view those scenes in podcast enabled 1.5x speeds.

    With that feature, THE OLD GUARD would feel new. As it stands, it just feels tired and…wait for it…old.

    It is currently available to stream on Netflix

    PALM SPRINGS 🍿

    “I decided a while ago to stop trying to make sense of things altogether because the only way to really live in this is to embrace the fact that nothing matters,” says Nyles.

    “Then what’s the point of living?” Sarah asks

    Nyles replies, “Well, we don’t have a choice but to live, so I think your best bet is just to learn how to suffer existence.”

    What could easily be a quote about 2020 is actually from the best romantic comedy of the year - PALM SPRINGS.

    I am giddy to have spoiler filled conversations about this fun and insightful movie, but will refrain. I’ll simply state - Cristin Millioti is easily the GOAT of PALM SPRINGS as she teaches Andy Samberg’s character that there is “nothing worse than going through this shit alone.”

    It is currently available to stream on Hulu

    HAMILTON 🍿

    There is no replacing theatre with a video experience, yet HAMILTON shockingly comes close to being as outstanding and immersive as it is on Broadway.

    Going to the theatre is an experience - so why not treat this event like one? I encourage you to put down your phones, dim the lights, gather the members of your cabinet (physical or virtual) and enjoy being in “The Room Where It Happens.”

    Why is it so good? You will have to “Wait for It,” and tell your “Story of Tonight” post experiencing it.

    I do hope the seeds that HAMILTON plants help shape others legacies and continues to “Burn” inside long after seeing it as it has for me 4+ years ago at the Richard Rogers theatre. And if it does my #SpoilerFreeReview friends, that is the magic of life changing theatre. 🎭

    It is currently available to stream on Disney Plus

    EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA 🤮

    After John Stewart’s IRRESISTIBLE, here comes another film with great actors / producers that cannot decide on the film’s tone. Is it a gross-out comedy, a sweet romance, a musical or a competition picture?

    EUROVISION successfully fails to be all of the above (a feat not easy to do), leaving audiences wanting to vote themselves out from this competition.

    It is currently available to avoid on Netflix

    IRRESISTIBLE 🤮

    John Stewart’s latest movie, IRRESISTIBLE is unfortunately an unfunny political version of DOC HOLLYWOOD. The tone of the movie is so inconsistent and it cannot decide if it is a small-town farce, a political message flick or a meaningful drama.

    If it wasn’t for an all-star cast, a clever climax and the documentary inspired credits, this movie would be nearly unwatchable.

    It is currently available on-demand to rent via Amazon, Google, Apple, Vudu and FandangoNow

    MISS JUNETEENTH 🏡

    Critics are hailing MISS JUNETEENTH as “a movie for this moment.” That is definitely true, it’s just too bad the moments are so plodding, softening the impact of the tremendously empathetic mother/daughter bond at the heart of Channing Godfrey Peoples directorial debut.

    Regardless of that critique, lead actor, Nicole Beharie turns in a quietly restrained award worthy performance as a mother pushing her failures on her daughter to be the beauty pageant winner instead of just listening to what her daughter really wants.

    It is currently available on-demand to rent via Amazon, Google, Apple, Vudu and FandangoNow

    7500 🏡

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives the performance of his career in 7500, a self-contained no-frills suspense/terror flick that inventively takes place entirely in the cockpit of an airplane. It’s just a shame the movie runs out of gas and doesn’t quite soar to great heights due to a 3rd act where faulty autopilot character development leaves this plane grounded.

    It is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

    YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT 🏡

    YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT is an expertly crafted horror/drama film where the small themed story doesn’t give THE SHINING dramatic reveals that David Koepp / Kevin Bacon (re-teaming for the first time since the far superior STIR OF ECHOES) were hoping to achieve.

    It is available on-demand to rent via Amazon, Google Apple, Vudu and FandangoNow

    THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND 🍿

    Judd Apatow has a soft touch that takes audiences into worlds they do not know anything about and makes the surroundings feel empathetically familiar. That statement can’t be more true in his latest, THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND, where he surprisingly makes Staten Island suburban life feel familiar but even more importantly, he makes the not-so relatable Pete Davidson…relatable.

    This is the first movie I’ve seen on-demand that deserves to be seen in a theater. Why? Because I personally long for the theatrical experience again…where I can once again laugh, cry and enjoy the magic of a heart-warming flick with the company of complete strangers.

    THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND is available on-demand to rent via Amazon, Google Apple, Vudu and FandangoNow

    ARTEMIS FOWL 🤮

    Josh Gad is now the comedic relief narrator in the best new content available to stream this summer…unfortunately it is CENTRAL PARK and not ARTEMIS FOWL.

    With the latest big-budget offering from Disney, they have officially produced the 2020 equivalence of Sony’s 2019 special-effect dud, MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL.

    ARTEMIS FOWL is currently available to stream on Disney Plus

    DA 5 BLOODS 🏡

    I <3 Spike Lee, so it pains me to say DA 5 BLOODS is not quite the message joint he was hoping for. As the film leads wander around countless jungle sequences that don’t propel the story forward, I found my mind equally wandering away from the screen.

    So is it still worth it? Sure. Spike is still the most prolific director working today with films that have never felt more timely. This joint just doesn’t soar to the heights of his last one, BLACKKKLANSMAN.

    Here are “Da Top 5” good things about the flick:

    1. The historical footage of African-American heroes weaved into the narrative is masterfully done
    2. Delroy Lindo’s maddening APOCALYPSE NOW like performance is Oscar worthy
    3. Terrance Blanchard’s haunting score mixed with Marvin Gaye is literally music to the audience’s ears
    4. The amount of fun the 5 leads are having makes their friendship on screen all the more believable
    5. Isiah Whitlock Jr when he finally says, “sheeeitttttt””

    It is currently available to stream on Netflix.

    DO THE RIGHT THING 🍿 @Home

    I just re-watched Spike Lee’s angry classic from 1989 and it is just as riveting today as it was 30+ years ago. Replace the film’s heat wave in NY with COVID-19 and we sadly have a similar story to what we are currently living through.

    How the hell did Spike Lee capture racism, the urgency to vote (final lines by Samuel L Jackson in the film), mocking Donald Trump (occurs during a blink and you miss it scene in Sal’s Pizza), sneaker culture and most importantly Black Lives Matter before it was a movement?

    The Malcom X quote over the end credits fully captures the anger Spike felt in 1989, which is very much alive today in 2020…

    “I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self- defense, I call it intelligence.”—Malcolm X

    It is available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon, Apple and Google.

    #RadioRaheem4Life

    WENDY 🏡

    In 2012, Benh Zeitlin’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD was my favorite film of that year and I’ve returned to watch Hushpuppy navigate the bathtub countless times.

    Sadly, Benh Zeitlin’s follow-up WENDY tries to create the same magic, yet fails to transcend to the great heights of BEASTS.

    A quote from WENDY: “All children grow up, for most it just happens like a change in the weather. But for some. The wild ones. The ones with the light in their eyes. Escape.”

    Here’s hoping that Benh Zeitlin “escapes” this misstep and makes something that once again captures that deeply-personal feeling of what it is like to be a child. Here’s hoping that he has another story in him that makes Hushpuppy proud.

    WENDY is available to rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV

    SCOOB! 🤮

    SCOOB! Should have taken more from the latest SONIC THE HEDGEHOG playbook, where less fan service and more heart made it a far better film.

    It doesn’t take a Mystery Machine to realize the filmmakers were attempting to make a love letter to Hanna Barbera. Unfortunately, SCOOB! quickly becomes a dastardly convoluted story that would have benefited from focusing on what Scooby-Doo has always been about - friendship.

    THE HALF OF IT 🍿

    THE HALF OF IT is:

    • ½ predictable teenage CYRANO DE BERGERAC
    • ½ LGBTQ character study with a focus on friendship and family

    Combined together you get an easy to digest 50/50 blend aka Netflix’s version of the black and white cookie.

    It is currently available to stream on Netflix.

    A QUIET PLACE 🍿@Home Edition

    Five viewings later and A QUIET PLACE is still my top movie from 2018. The plot parallels with a family attempting to go outside feel oddly familiar…subbing an invisible enemy for one that can be seen.

    The film pays brilliant homage to HUSH, BUFFY the VAMPIRE SLAYER’s best episode that wasn’t a musical while adding more empathy, characters and most importantly, the struggle to try keep you and your family alive during a pandemic.

    Here’s hoping the sequel gets released in 2020…

    It is currently available to stream on Hulu.