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Four Short Reviews: Four new films integrate captivating storylines

In the last few months, several new films have sparked a buzz in the film industry. Below, read more about four new movies that have captivated audiences everywhere. 

1. “Dream Scenario”  

“Dream Scenario” is directed by Kristoffer Borgli and stars Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera and Dylan Baker. “Dream Scenario” tells the story of Paul Matthews, played by Cage, and how he starts appearing in people’s dreams, ranging from his close loved ones to strangers. After reading the synopsis I knew I had to see it.  

Ironically, “Dream Scenario” is a dream come true for Cage. He is great in the film. For years, Cage has appeared in awful, low-budgeted films like “Left Behind” (2014) where his performance is mostly boring and forgettable. In “Dream Scenario,” Cage plays a well-written character who has his issues and is believable in his nature and tendencies. 

Other than Cage as Paul Matthews, my favorite aspect of the film would be the various dreams other characters experience. Like how dreams are, they are all completely random and have a connection to one another except for Paul Matthews’ presence. This leads to Matthews gaining national attention and becoming famous.

However, as time goes on, people’s dreams of Paul Matthews become nightmares as Matthews begins doing horrible things to these people like torturing them in multiple sinister ways. Matthews is quickly seen by many as a monster outside of the dream world. This ruins his life and strains his relationship with his wife (played by Nicholson) and two daughters. 

“Dream Scenario” is the perfect kind of film when the audience goes in with absolutely zero expectations. Cage delivers one of his best performances, and just the concept of the film is unique and works well in its execution. “Dream Scenario” is still playing in select theaters. I recommend it for everyone to watch. 

Rating: 4/5

2. “Thanksgiving” 

“Thanksgiving” is directed by Eli Roth and stars Patrick Dempsey, Addison Rae, Nell Verlaque and Rick Hoffman. “Thanksgiving” tells the story of a serial killer dressed up as John Carver and how he starts terrorizing the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts one year after a Black Friday tragedy during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Roth has let it known that he is a massive horror genre fan. Roth stated in an interview that he wanted to make a horror film that gave him the same feeling of dread and fright after watching a classic horror film like John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (1978) or Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974). Where “Thanksgiving” fails is that it isn’t necessarily scary in any way like those two films. 

“Thanksgiving” is closer to a horror film like the “Friday the 13th” franchise, where it is corny and sometimes unintentionally hilarious when trying to be serious. The overreliance on loud jump scares does not help either. The writing of the characters is poorly done, and the film soon becomes just one hour and forty-six minutes of grizzly kills. To Roth’s credit, the killer does kill each of his victims differently, so there is at least a variety and the audience does not know the killer’s next plan of attack. 

Another positive in “Thanksgiving” is the performances by the actors and actresses. Everyone does their best despite having to play underwritten characters. My favorite out of the entire cast would be Nell Verlaque as the main character, Jessica. Verlaque has major potential and she deserves more recognition and role offers. 

“Thanksgiving” is a film that does excel in some areas but has too many problems with its script, which makes it hard to recommend. If you like a horror film containing gruesome kills, this film is for you. For myself, “Thanksgiving” is a film that I do not regret watching, but I probably would not watch it again. It is just not my ideal horror film. 

Rating: 3/5  

3. “May December” 

“May December” is directed by Todd Haynes and stars Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore. The film is about a famous actress named Elizabeth Berry (played by Portman) who meets a married couple to do research for a film about the couple’s past. Berry is cast to play Gracie Atherton-Yoo (played by Moore), a notorious woman because she had a romantic relationship with a seventh-grade boy while she was 36 years old. 

“May December” was brought to my attention not because of a trailer online or any other advertisement but instead scrolling through the hundreds of movie and television selections on Netflix. The choice of watching new releases on a streaming service without having to drive to a local theater is truly remarkable. A film like “May December” would not work playing on a big movie theater screen. It is perfect to watch in the comfort of your home while simultaneously making you uncomfortable because of its subject matter. 

“May December” is a great film that does not allow the audience to move from their seats. What makes the film great is the acting of every single actor. Portman and Moore are both equally captivating, but so is the rest of the cast. The standout actor in the film is Charles Melton as the character Joe. Joe is the seventh-grade boy whom Gracie had an intimate affair with. 

Melton perfectly shows how someone might be after they have gone through such a life-changing and traumatic experience. There are many scenes in the film where the audience gets the sense that he is intimidated by Gracie and is concerned for people interacting with her. Simply put, Melton nails his role. Another thing I loved about the film is the commentary it has on the entertainment industry producing films about controversial topics. 

There is a scene where Berry is speaking to a classroom full of students about her process of selecting film roles. She points out that she chose to play Gracie because she is always interested in playing characters who are considered more morally gray than others. This sparks an engaging conversation on whether or not it is OK to make a film about a touchy subject that will ultimately gain profit.  

Watching “May December” was a total blast and I could not recommend it enough to moviegoers. If you have a Netflix subscription and a couple of hours without anything to do, please watch this film. It is too good to not be seen. 

Rating: 4.5/5 

4. “Godzilla Minus One” 

“Godzilla Minus One” is directed by Takashi Yamazaki and stars Ryunosuke Kamiki, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Minami Hamabe, Kuranosuke Sasaki and Yuki Yamada. Godzilla is one of the most iconic movie monsters in cinema history. There have been dozens of films that are all over the place in terms of quality. Some are truly great and some are flat-out terrible. 

“Godzilla Minus One” is the best Godzilla movie and I do not hesitate when I say that. The reason why it is great is not only because of the king of the monsters himself but also the human characters. This is possibly the first Godzilla movie where the filmmaker and screenwriter(s) put effort into creating likable characters that the audience cares about.  

So many times the moviegoers and fans of Godzilla have been treated with trash human characters that they don’t care about whatsoever. It’s refreshing to see that Yamazaki cared about writing good characters so that the audience would root for them in their times of distress. I loved seeing the main character Koichi Shikishima (played by Kamiki) experience the brutality of warfare and come back home to be involved in dealing with another threat.  

That’s where the film works very well. The Japanese people fell victim to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and so much of their cities and towns were demolished and the small Japanese population that did survive had to start their lives from scratch. The audience sees a broken man with Shikishima. His family is dead and he has an enormous amount of guilt because he was supposed to be a Kamikaze pilot. 

Shikishima is even blamed for the deaths of others because he failed to serve his purpose as a Kamikaze pilot. Shikishima’s character from beginning to end goes from a tortured man who struggled to escape his internal war to a man who found a new purpose in life which is to truly live again and be with the people he loves. 

It brings me great joy that this film was made by Japanese hands. I don’t think any of the Godzilla films based in America are good in my opinion. I find them all to be cringe-worthy in their attempt to make Godzilla a sort of hero figure. Godzilla is a monster of mass destruction created by the Japanese. Let him be handled by Japanese filmmakers. Plus, as Americans, we already have our kaiju-like monster in King Kong.  

“Godzilla Minus One” is the best Godzilla movie because it has well-defined characters, good action set pieces, a great musical score and Godzilla being what he is supposed to be, which is a metaphor for the fear of the rise of nuclear weapons. If you love Godzilla and a well-crafted dramatic film, “Godzilla Minus One” is up your alley. 

Rating: 4.5/5 


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