You can almost look at “Hearts Beat Loud” as something of an urban “Once,” in where music is something of the soul behind a very human story of two lost individuals in a somewhat turbulent world. This time around we meet father and daughter Sam and Frank, both of whom never really healed from a horrendous loss that they experienced many years before the narrative starts. In one instance, Frank literally sits at the scene of his wife’s death, which is still a memorial standing in the middle of a busy street, and tries to figure out where to go next.
“Roma” is the film that is making rounds this year, with high acclaim and big Oscar buzz and for good reason. Alfonso Cuarón outdoes himself with what is a masterstroke of visual and emotional storytelling. At over two hours in length, “Roma” is an engrossing and absolutely striking story that juxtaposes ideas over and over. There’s life and death, the beginning of one marriage while one comes to an end, and so on. Cuarón devotes so much of “Roma” to how much the tale of Cleo is a microcosm to the tidal wave that is life, and we view it through her eyes, as she endures endless pain, but finds solace in the most unlikely sources.
Fans of cinema both classic and arthouse are still stinging from the closing of “Film Struck” a few months ago. If you’re still aching for something completely different from the mainstream, I offer you the alternative of “Film Movement.” I’ve been cognizant of Film Movement for years now and have always intended to subscribe to the service. “Film Movement” was established in 2002 as mainly a DVD of the month club that mailed DVD’s to respective subscribers. These days while the DVD Club is still available, “Film Movement” is more of a subscription service that streams movies to subscribers much in the realm of Netflix, except the movies you’ll find here are nothing like you’ll find in the mainstream.
There really is no one on Earth that can top the combined forces of Dario Argento and Goblin’s excellent “Suspiria,” so Luca Guadagnino doesn’t even try. Instead, this new version of “Suspiria” is less a remake and more of a new tale in the same universe, or a spiritual sequel if you really want to get technical. Luca Guadagnino definitely approaches his spin on “Suspiria” with about as much ambition and enthusiasm he can muster up and what results is a wonky, surreal, bizarre, and yet overstuffed six act horror film that never quite knows when to call it quits. That said, “Suspiria” will most definitely acquire a fan base and I assume years from now fans will debate on whether this or Argento’s original is the superior film.
It’s surprising that “A Raisin in the Sun” is just as socially and politically relevant today as it was in 1961. Deep down while “A Raisin in the Sun” is a family drama, it’s also a film about inequality both in housing and socially. It’s about the poor and have nots looking for their own big break in a world that’s unfairly balanced in another direction entirely. It’s very easy to see where the stage play ends and the film begins, as “A Raisin in the Sun” is primarily a one setting drama about people looking for their own exit from a situation that offers them absolutely no future of wider horizons.
Panos Cosmatos’ “Mandy” came out in 2018 like a hurricane, sneaking up on even the biggest Nic Cage fan boys, and it’s one of the best films of the year. “Mandy” is a fever dream, and surreal revenge thriller that features Nic Cage at his best. Cage plays against a world that’s equally as loony as the man he portrays, who goes up against foes that in the eyes of a blood thirsty man seeking retribution for his slain lover, are purely monstrous beings dancing in hellfire.
Eva Vives’ drama comedy about a fracture comedienne is one of the most honest and engaging dramas of the year, and “All About Nina” is a success mainly because of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s stellar performance. Winstead is one of the most underrated and overlooked actresses of modern cinema. She’s mostly been relegated to playing supporting characters and final girls most of her career, but given the right material she’s shone in roles that should have earned her awards notice. She was immense in “Smashed” and she’s remarkable in “All About Nina.”
Writer-Director Miguel Duran’s “Monsoon” is one of the most beautiful dramas I’ve seen all year. In a sub-genre that’s often either overly exploitative or tends to be silly, “Monsoon” is a restrained and very subtle tale about loss, love, and trying to find the need to move on with your life. I knew very little about “Monsoon” going in, so suffice it to say I was taken completely by surprise. Miguel Duran really delivers a gem that audiences confronting the death of a loved one would be wise to see. “Monsoon” is a riveting and just downright heavy drama about death and the beauty of life, and I was sucked in from minute one.