Wow! Since making the decision to lean into my film reviews and be part of a social media community that feels more validating and engaging, my film viewing increased by over 200% LOL.
In 2020, I watched 28 films. In 2021, I watched 79—I guess I just felt the need to keep up with everyone else LOL. Now were all those films great? Of course not. Well, let me rephrase because as another film reviewer and I discussed via comments (shout out to ultimatemovieaccount), “There isn’t really a “bad film,” just films that didn’t do enough/missed the mark, and were “just okay” when they’ve could’ve been better.” (This is something I am going to carry into 2022, and use to possibly rethink how I do my reviews).
Personally, with that statement, I recognize that directors also operate under the capitalist umbrella. Films and the people who make them are expensive, and it means getting as many people out to see your film as possible in order to recuperate that money. Because of that, I think it’s EXTREMELY important for filmmakers to be mindful of either how films can feel for multiple demographics so that the money coming in from genuine interest isn’t a regret for moviegoers; OR for the industry and filmmakers to think about different avenues to fund and promote projects that may not be universally appealing so that too much money isn’t spent with the risk of too much loss.
With that being said, below are the 10 films of 2021 that “could’ve been better”:
10. #Respect by director Liesl Tommy; story by Callie Khouri & Tracey Scott Wilson.
The positive is that Jennifer Hudson gave a solid performance. I also think Marlon Wayans showed great commitment to his character.
Unfortunately for me, I feel that there really wasn’t anything theater-level exciting about Aretha’s story, and it could’ve been a Lifetime biopic, not told at all, OR taken the same direction as the Whitney docu-film that came out in 2018 if the team really wanted a movie theater release.
9. #TheGreenKnight by director David Lowery; story adapted by David Lowery.
The positives are that this is one of the most visually captivating films of 2021, and Dev Patel is a beautiful man.
Unfortunately for me, I found the story to be extremely choppy and too random in its premise, and the character development to be too rushed and gapped. It’s a story that I feel could be better suited as a 10-part series in order to fully unpack this fantasy concept.
8. #Old by director M. Night Shyamalan; story by M. Night Shyamalan, Pierre-Oscar Lévy, and Frederick Peeters.
The positives are that the premise is really promising, Rufus Sewell was absolutely amazing, and the scene where characters begin to lose senses due to age was such a good moment—both in terms of entertainment and technically.
Unfortunately for me, the writing is cringy and the setting lacks rationale. Additionally, there was so much unexplained forcing in the story throughout Acts 1 and 2 in order to make sense of this “twist” in Act 3. Similar to The Green Knight, this could’ve also been a mini-series so that the idea could be fully flushed out.
7. #Bliss by director Mike Cahill; story by Mike Cahill.
The positives are that Salma Hayek was a really engaging character, and the premise had a lot of promise.
Unfortunately for me, this story moves extremely fast which doesn’t give anytime for anything to make sense. It is just so chaotic, and that ending… Trash!
6. #LicoricePizza by Paul Thomas Anderson; story by Paul Thomas Anderson.
The positives were the great cameo performances, as well as Alana Haim’s performance.
Unfortunately for me, and similar to #Respect, I felt that this was a story that really didn’t need to be told. It was very mundane, and seemed that problematic choices were added to try and make it “interesting” and be “social media bait.” Then, throwing the “comedy” sticker on it just felt like a safety cop-out.
5. #Synchronic by directors Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead; story by Justin Benson.
The positives are Anthony Mackie’s performance, and the pacing—it actually moves really well.
Unfortunately, the story is all over the place and doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be—a drama, a comedy drama, and suspense drama… it was just weird. Additionally, there was no consideration for character development. Our leads just seemed to be moving through different scenes and saying random shyt that are supposed to be important to who they are, but then are never brought back up or given purpose…
The film felt like filmmakers taking advantage of the everyone sheltering in place and just trying and giving “anything.”
4. #ThePowerOfTheDog directed by Jane Campion; story by Jane Campion.
The positives are the performance by Benedict Cumberbatch and the depth of his character, and the scenery.
Unfortunately for me, this story was possibly one of the most draaaaaaagging ass stories I’ve sat through. There was so much dead space in both the film and with characters—particularly Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Piemons. It was as if they were just a random side story distraction to fill in space to help balance and unpack Cumberbatch’s character because CLEARLY his character can’t carry the entire film… … (being sarcastic). I just feel like Brokeback did this story better, even though it was inspired/adapted by this particular story… but to that I say to Jane Campion: #TooBadYouMissedYourMoment
3. #BarbAndStarGoToVistaDelMar by director Josh Greenbaum; story by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig.
The positive is that the core aspect of the story is actually a cute idea.
Unfortunately for me, as I said in my original review: “[It’s] a little dumb. And honestly, I felt like I was taken advantage of as a movie viewer/goer because it just feels like a bunch of rich, [white] folks got together and decided to do random silly shyt to humor themselves, and passed it off as a film.”
It really wasn’t funny at all, and the film sort of went outlandishly left in Act 3.
2. #Coming2America directed by Craig Brewer; story by Barry W Blaustein, David Sheffield, Justin Kanew, & Kenya Barris.
The positive is the level of nostalgia this film provides.
Unfortunately for me, this sequel showed no respect for the reverence of the first film. The story felt extremely forced, the comedy felt exaggerated, and even seeing Eddie and Shari as Akeem and Lisa didn’t feel the same. Like I mentioned with Synchronic, Coming 2 America felt like the team just took advantage of the shelter in place and overall hype, and decided to be experimental and a little careless.
1. #NamasteWahala directed by Hamisha Daryani Ahuja; story by Hamisha Daryani Ahuja, Temitope Bolade, and Diche Enunwa.
The positives were that Rusiaan Mumtaz is GORGEOUS, I loved the focus on interracial relationships between Indian and African cultures, and the ending credits were cute and inspiring.
Unfortunately for me, as mentioned in my original review: “I found myself laughing to suppress and mask my disappointment and shock at how all over the place it was…It was very similar to the response/reactions people had/have about Tyler Perry’s #TheOval, or the wigs for his characters, or all of the mistakes that were caught in his #AFallFromGrace… I felt like I wanted to give this cast and team a hug for at least trying and getting the project done—“that was so precious.”…”
The direction was just unclear. There were moments that felt like a TRL music video, and then scenes that went waaaay too long, and random filler scenes and scenarios that characters would be placed in because “it seemed like a nice location and idea for a particular conversation…” like reality tv planning.
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Let’s see what 2022 gives.