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Four Short Reviews: 'Drive-Away Dolls' excites, 'All of Us Strangers' reminds viewers to call their parents

For those looking for new movies to check out, “Drive-Away Dolls” is an impressive solo project by Ethan Coen and “All of Us Strangers" tugs on the heartstrings. Keep reading to learn more about a few 2024 standout films:

1. "Drive-Away Dolls" 

"Drive-Away Dolls" (2024) is directed by Ethan Coen and stars Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein, Pedro Pascal, Colman Domingo and Matt Damon. The film follows two young women going on a road trip to Tallahassee, Florida. Along the way, things become complicated when the two encounter a group of criminals. 

It's been interesting to see the Coen brothers split from being a filmmaking duo to leading their own projects. Joel Coen, the older of the two, directed "The Tragedy of Macbeth" (2021), a pretty excellent adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic play.

Qualley and Viswanathan both deliver wonderful lead performances. Qualley plays Jamie, a promiscuous woman, while Viswanathan's character, Marian, is more uncomfortable sexually. Both actresses bounce off each other incredibly well and make the perfect couple. 

The film's pacing between scenes is also done well. Jamie and Marian's characterization does not feel rushed or underdeveloped. Each cast member feels like a real three-dimensional person. The Coen brothers have always been pros at writing secondary and minor characters, and in this film, a standout is Curlie (Bill Camp), the owner of the shop, where Jamie and Marian get their drive-away car.  

Another aspect that the movie does well is subverting audience expectations. Many things happen in the film where you think it will end somehow, and then it completely goes in the opposite direction.

Overall, "Drive-Away Dolls" entertains its audience. Not once was I bored or disinterested. It is the definition of a joyride experience.

Rating: 3.5/5 

2. "Bob Marley: One Love"

"Bob Marley: One Love" (2024) is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch and James Norton. The film chronicles Marley's life and the creation of the iconic album "Exodus." 

"Bob Marley: One Love" has two things going for it: a terrific lead performance from Ben-Adir and the soundtrack. Ben-Adir's styling, dreadlocks and accent are perfectly crafted. The soundtrack is also worth noting; after watching the film, I added the entire "Exodus" album to my playlist.

Sadly, most of "Bob Marley: One Love" follows the trend of many biopics about famous musicians and/or bands. Similarly to Bryan Singer's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (2018), both films prioritize glitz, glamor and good music rather than character development and theme.

The film attempts to tell much of Bob Marley's life in under two hours. It might've helped the film to cut out certain subplots and instead focus on one or two core events. Some of the characters also feel underdeveloped and possibly unnecessary. 

"Bob Marley: One Love" is not a bad movie by any means, but I didn't feel invested as an audience member. Everyone has different film tastes, so it is still worth a watch.

Rating: 2.5/5 

3. "All of Us Strangers" 

"All of Us Strangers" (2023) is directed by Andrew Haigh and stars Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy. The film is based on the book "Strangers" by Taichi Yamada and is about a man named Adam (Scott) who works as a television screenwriter in London. He soon meets another man named Harry (Mescal), and they develop a romantic bond. 

Throughout most of the movie, Adam frequently visits his parent's home and relives his experiences as a young boy who struggled to express his sexuality growing up. This leads to some pretty heartwarming and heart-crushing scenes. I wasn't expecting this film to bring so many emotions out of me.

The plot of "All of Us Strangers" is not very dense, but it doesn't need to be. This film widened my eyes to conversations surrounding sexual orientation and the LGBTQIA+ community. Its story of human connection is incredible. 

If you decide to watch this movie, give it your full attention. It contains spectacular performances and is one of those films that stick with you. Also, as a side note, please call or visit your parents. 

Rating: 4/5 

4. "The Zone of Interest" 

"The Zone of Interest" (2023) is directed by Jonathan Glazer and stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller. The film is about a man named Rudolf Höss (Friedel), who is the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. 

Based on the book of the same title by Martin Amis, "The Zone of Interest" is a film that is not very dense when it comes to its plot. One could argue that this film does not have a plot at all. The film follows a family, and the patriarch of the family happens to be a commandant of Auschwitz. What is most interesting about the film is that it does not go out of its way to make the Höss family evil monsters with zero ounces of humanity. 

Glazer decided to deliver the Höss family as they were: human beings. Perhaps the scariest reality the film attempted to convey is that evil isn't always a giant monster. Sometimes, evil is a person you know, and Glazer pulls that off tremendously in this film. 

"The Zone of Interest" masters technical quality. Every shot and frame was meticulously planned out. The camera does not move a lot in this film and doesn't need to. The set and costume design is also amazing. As a viewer, you feel like you are in that period with the amount of thought given to even the little details like certain types of dialogue. It is just so well done. 

Each actor did a fantastic job; not one overperformed or underperformed. However, after seeing Sandra Hüller's brilliant performance in Justine Triet's "Anatomy of a Fall" (2023), I wish she had more time to show her acting range in this film. 

"The Zone of Interest" is one of the more interesting films about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. It may not seem to be a movie with a lot of meat on its bones, but after time, I predict many viewers will gain a better appreciation for what it is saying and how well it's made.

Rating: 4.5/5 


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