TC Candler

THE Films of 2021…


(Good Films Released This Year)

The Worst Person in the World (NOR)

Director, Joachim Trier, delivers a wonderful film centered around a few years in the existence of a thirty year-old Norwegian woman who hasn’t figured out what she wants, needs or deserves in life.  Renate Reinsve is lights-out fantastic in the lead role.  Anders Danielsen Lie plays off her beautifully.  This is a film festival darling that will charm your socks off with genuine empathy, biting cynicism, and recognizable angst.

9.5 / 10

Shadow in the Cloud

Part “Memphis Belle” (1990)… Part “Locke” (2013)… Part “Sucker Punch” (2011)… This insane, adbsurd film somehow manages to pull it all together and makes for a relentlessly entertaining thrill ride and one of the best surprises in years.  Chloë Grace Moretz is outstanding as the mysterious stowaway aboard a 1943 WWII bomber plane.  Prepare yourself for utter cinematic lunacy… in the best way imaginable.

9.4 / 10

No Time to Die

Daniel Craig has had his time as Bond, but he bows out with a spectacular entry in the classic franchise.  “No Time to Die” hits all of the iconic beats, delivering some breathtaking set-pieces, tangible emotional impact, and one of the best farewells in recent cinematic history.  Ana De Armas stakes a claim as the next James Bond, with a dynamic and sexy role.  Lea Seydoux brings heart to the movie.  If, perhaps, there is one small quibble with the film — it is that Rami Malek’s villain is stale, clichéd and lacking in memorable charisma.  Nevertheless, Craig’s Bond is the best of the bunch… and I will miss his version immeasurably. 

9.4 / 10


I must admit that I went into this film expecting mediocrity… A weak-sauce version of Jason Bourne in Liam Neeson’s “Taken”.  Instead, I got a meditative story on the nature of family and the acceptance of fate.  And I have to give special credit to everyone involved for avoiding every single cliché that I thought I saw coming.  The only negative to this film was the trailer and promotion — which completely misleads audiences with a shameless money-grab.  

9.4 / 10

Bo Burnham: Inside

I don’t count most stand-up comedy specials as films.  Eddie Murphy’s two 1980’s classics are very rare exceptions.  Bo Burnham’s latest Netflix special feels like it belongs as an exception.  It is part documentary, part sing-a-long into the madness and isolation of a genius during Covid quarantine.  I laughed hard.  I ruminated hard.  I empathized hard.  This is a special special.

9.4 / 10

The Lost Daughter

This entire film is in the shadow of uncertainty and approaching dread.  It almost plays with the tone of a horror story.  Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson both play mothers who doubt their skill, desire and devotion to the role.  Director, Maggie Gyllenhaal, takes on a complex narrative, filled with ambiguity, with her debut stint behind the camera.  She nails it.  “The Lost Daughter” is a masterclass of Hitchcockian tension.

9.3 / 10

Shiva Baby

Rachel Sennott plays a college girl who leaves a night spent with her sugar daddy to head to a traditional Jewish wake.  At that wake, she runs into her not-so-secret “scandalous” ex-girlfriend… and that very same sugar daddy, fully in tow with his wife and newborn baby.  The first-time feature from director, Emma Seligman, plays like an awkward comedy and a claustrophobic horror.  Sennott is spectacular in the lead role… and the extensive supporting cast is fakakta brilliant.

9.3 / 10


Leos Carax directs Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard in this cinematic opera that explores the nature of family, fame, jealousy, exploitation, obsession and madness.  To describe the plot would be madness itself.  This is best described as an experience that you will either adore or despise… and possibly both in equal measure.  There were times during the film that had me doubting… but somehow, it weaved its magic and had me truly caring about all of the insanity.

9.2 / 10

Drive My Car (JPN)

A poetic masterclass in acting.  Hamaguchi Ryūsuke directs this quietly observational film about a man who loses his wife, first to infidelity and then to a sudden fatal medical condition.  The story effortlessly follows him trying to come to terms with those events, while being driven, in his own car, back and forth to theater rehearsals by a mysterious female driver, who has a haunting past of her own.   

9.1 / 10

The Lost Leonardo (DOC)

Here is a documentary that plays like a mystery thriller.  All the events navigate the discovery, sale, re-sale, auction sale, and disappearance of the most expensive painting of all time… ‘Salvator Mundi’ by (perhaps) Leonardo da Vinci.  It is a fascinating, riveting story of art, restoration, lore, provenance, and astronomical financial power.  It is superb.

9.0 / 10

The Father

Anthony Hopkins delivers what has to be the most emotionally devastating performance of the year as “The Father”.  Olivia Colman and Olivia Williams play the same character, the daughter, to a man who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.  It may not be a joyful film… but it is a crushing analysis of the end-of-life issues that await us all to some degree.  Pencil in another Oscar for Hopkins.

9.0 / 10

Blue Bayou

A visceral and cinematic peek into the absurd and cruel deportation policy in the USA with regards to adopted children. Justin Chon and Alicia Vikander are superb as the central married couple who are being torn apart by the barbaric system. This is a small gem.

9.0 / 10

Shades of the Heart (KOR)

This is an introspective meditation on life, loss & loneliness.  The film is a sequence of half-a-dozen conversations between the main character, Chang Seok, and the various people he encounters on his walks around Seoul.  Each of them plays like a short film within a themed narrative.  Each was poetic.  Each was beautifully acted.  Each was shot by an old soul… for old souls.

9.0 / 10

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was one of my favorite people.  At least the persona he gave us on travel shows and interviews was.  The real Bourdain, somewhat showcased in this documentary, was obviously darker than our adventure guide around the globe.  Nevertheless, many of us identified with the tortured soul… the curious poet… and the conflicted observer.  It is a shame that the final months of his life were probably his least fulfilled, least independent, and most lonely.

8.8 / 10

The Girl and the Gun (PHL)

This thriller from the Philippines (“Babae At Baril”), stars Janine Gutierrez in a mesmerizing central performance.  If there is one small complaint, it is that the film veers away from her character at the halfway mark… just when we reach a climactic point.  If we had stayed with her from start to finish, this would have been a masterpiece.

8.6 / 10

The White Tiger (IND)

The comparisons to “Slumdog Millionaire” will inevitably arise because the film is set in India, and it is about a poor young man on his journey to success.  However, this film doesn’t reach those heights because it lacks emotion, and it doesn’t have the panache of Danny Boyle’s masterpiece.  Nevertheless, it is a consistently interesting and entertaining story of a servant’s awakening to the real world.

8.1 / 10

A Quiet Place Part II

Very similar to the original, in terms of quality, tension and visceral discomfort.  This was the first film I saw in a theater in over a year (due to Covid), and perhaps it benefitted from missing the theatrical experience.  Nevertheless, this is a sequel that is well worth the price of admission.  It is good to have movies back!

8.0 / 10

The Killing of Two Lovers

A low-boil thriller that starts hot and ends a tad hotter.  This is the story of a marriage falling apart, with one of the two parties moving on, and the other clinging to what’s left.  There is jealousy and pent-up rage.  There is a nice balance between vengeance craved and responsible parenting.  I have very few complaints about this small indie film.

7.5 / 10

The Last Duel

This interesting story of jealousy, loyalty, revenge, power and trust is a classy production from top to bottom.  I am not 100% sure that it requires the “Rashomon” treatment of multiple perspectives.  Ben Affleck is hardly convincing as a normal human being… let alone a 13th century Count.  Despite his obvious talent, Matt Damon also feels a tad miscast here.  The standout is Jodie Comer… She is fantastic.

7.5 / 10

No Sudden Move

A 1950’s mob-heist-gone-wrong thriller with a stellar cast and directed by Steven Soderbergh.  Perhaps that description promises more than the film ultimately delivers.  I have no complaint, other than its general insignificance.  The tacked-on “grander themes” message at the end added nothing to the story.  However, I liked it.  It is a quality production from top to bottom…  But, I will never remember to watch it again.

7.4 / 10


This isn’t up to M. Night Shyamalan’s best standard (“The Sixth Sense”, “Signs”, “Unbreakable”, “The Village”)… But it is a solid mystery thriller that almost has the balls to be great.  Unfortunately, the ending is a tad underwhelming in its explanation.  I would have appreciated if he had gone even darker and more ambiguous with the final scenes… perhaps ending at the coral.

7.3 / 10

Petite Maman (FRA)

Céline Sciamma directs this touching tale of an eight-year-old girl who wanders back in time on a stroll through the woods, only to meet her own mother at the same age 23 years earlier.  It is beautifully shot.  The Sanz twins are superb in the roles.  Perhaps it is a tad too personal to have universal appeal, but still very much worth watching.

7.3 / 10

The Mauritanian

What starts off as a fascinating peek into the gross injustice of Guantanamo Bay, soon dwindles into a slightly formulaic true-story biopic about one of the tortured prisoners who spent 12 years inside.  The film is well-intentioned, but slightly self-congratulatory and uncinematic.  The central performances carry the project.

7.3 / 10

Locked Down

Doug Liman takes full advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and films a socially distanced story about a failing relationship and a small-time heist plot.  The movie has a refreshing simplicity to it and the two central performances are impressive.  Perhaps, it starts to come off the rails with the silliness toward the end.  However, it is an easy watch.

7.2 / 10

I’m Your Man (GER)

An ancient language researcher agrees to host an artificial life form for three weeks, in order to access whether or not they would make ideal romantic partners.  The film bounces between rom-com tropes and interesting poetic philosophy.  It is a mixed bag, but generally enjoyable.  I especially liked the two lead performances.

7.1 / 10

I Care a Lot

The first hour of this film is so good that it manages to carry the ridiculous implausibility of its second hour to a satisfactory conclusion.  If it had not tried to become “Mission: Impossible” and stayed confined to the small-time grift of elderly care abuse, this would have been one of the best films of the year.  However, like the characters in the film, the writer / director gets greedy, and pays for it.

7.0 / 10


This film is marketed as a sci-fi, altered reality adventure.  It isn’t.  “Bliss” is a drug-induced hallucination from the perspective of a man who has lost touch with reality and fallen in love with an enabler.  This is his struggle to regain his sobriety and reconnect with his estranged daughter.  The film is a bit messy and the acting is simply passable… However, it is fresh and inventive, and it moves along swiftly.

6.8 / 10


As a viewer, when it comes to “unstoppable assassin, hell-bent on revenge” movies (and there are hundreds of them), it always comes down to how much you can forgive. Generally, that depends on a few things: the charisma of the central character; the direction of the action sequences; the coolness of the locations; and the pace of the film. “Kate” has just enough going for it, to overlook the lunacy of it all. Nothing about this film makes any logical sense – but I was distracted and entertained enough to let it all go.

6.5 / 10

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s western, set in 1925, is gorgeous to observe and tremendously well acted from credits to credits.  It is patient and thoughtful, telling a complete story with intricate detail.  If there is one thing to nitpick, it is that the primary plot “secret” is telegraphed with very little subtlety, and therefore lands without much emotional impact.

6.5 / 10

Escape from Mogadishu (KOR)

Based on a true story, this political thriller tells the tale of Korean diplomats escaping from the Somalian capital as civil war breaks out.  I have to concede that, although well-made, the film is somewhat routine throughout.  However, the chase scene in the final third of the movie is supremely thrilling and carries it all to a satisfactory conclusion.

6.4 / 10

The Stronghold (FRA)

Also known as “BAC Nord”, this French cop drama is a hard look inside the world of the poverty-stricken Marseille projects and its culture of drug crime and lawlessness.  The film is well paced and very nicely acted by the entire cast.  If there is one complaint, perhaps it is hard to find anyone to like or respect or admire amidst all the corruption.

6.4 / 10

Lamb (ISL)

A pair of Icelandic sheep farmers discover a newborn lamb that appears to be half human.  They take the creature in as their own child, while the ominous nature of nature starts to impose on their idyllic bliss.  This is an asburdist tale, well made and performed.  Perhaps it feels a tad empty in parts, but nonetheless beautiful and evocative.

6.3 / 10

Boss Level

This is a ludicrous “Groundhog Day”/ “Edge of Tomorrow” style action flick starring Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts.  Its inherent absurdity only works because it doesn’t take itself at all seriously.  The movie is directed without an ounce of cinematic nutrition… instead relying on fatty, greasy, tasty stupidity laden with ketchup and mayo.

6.3 / 10

Hard Hit (KOR)

This is a remake of a 2015 Spanish film, which will also soon be remade in Hollywood with Liam Neeson at the helm.  The premise is exciting — combining elements of Keanu Reeves in “Speed” and Colin Farrell in “Phone Booth”.  Hostages, Bombs, Car Chases… It’s all fast-paced and well produced.  My one quibble was the final outcome.  I wish they had been a little braver in the final ten minutes.

6.2 / 10

Benedetta (FRA)

If you tell me there is a Paul Verhoeven project with lots of kinky nun sex… I will be first in line.  “Benedetta” was one of my most anticipated films of 2021.  However, half way through, I found myself asking if this was a masterpiece or complete and utter trash.  That was probably Verhoeven’s intent.  I am edging toward trash, but I still somewhat enjoyed it.  Boobs make everything better… especially nun boobs.

6.2 / 10

The Courier

A reasonably well made, paint-by-numbers, cold-war espionage flick with a solid cast.  There are no real complaints about this true story, but it all feels a tad stale and has the look of something we have all seen before.  It is professionally presented, but slightly forgettable.

6.2 / 10

The Many Saints of Newark

As someone who never watched “The Sopranos”, this film doesn’t push any of my nostalgic buttons.  The result is an uncontained, nebulous story that doesn’t have much weight or structure.  That being said, it is well crafted and has some nice performances.  I just have no real idea why it was made or why it matters.

6.1 / 10

Silent Night

Keira Knightly hosts a literal end-of-the-world Christmas party for her well-to-do family and friends.  The festivities occur with the looming threat that they are all about to pop a suicide pill before the deadly poison reaches their country mansion.  I found this to be a clear commentary on the suicidal nature of Brexit — showing the stupidity of those who are voting against their own best interests.  The film has some amusing moments and decent performances, but ultimately peters out to a gimmicky insignificance.

6.1 / 10

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (JPN)

Hamaguchi Ryūsuke also directed one of the best films of 2021 with “Drive My Car”.  In this cinematic triptych, he explores the nature of fidelity, memory and complex relationships.  The first of the three pieces is riveting conversation and I loved it.  The other two are nice, but perhaps a little too distant to be fully grasped.  As with all of his films, the performances are key, as his stoic camera observes quietly.

6.1 / 10


The story of a 19-year-old Swedish beauty who makes her way to Hollywood in order to become the next big porn star.  The film has rightly had its fair share of publicity, due to the graphic sex scenes featured throughout.  However, that shock value soon wears thin, leaving a somewhat hollow tale of cold-hearted loneliness.  Still, it earns a slim recommendation due to a stunning central performance from newcomer, Sofia Kappel.

6.0 / 10

Gunda (DOC)

A gorgeously shot black and white documentary, on a farm, following the daily routines of new-born piglets, a one-legged chicken, and a herd of cows.  The film only features the animals and the ambient sounds… no music, no people… simply observation.  It is beautiful, and it certainly hints at the changes we should consider when it comes to farming.  However, it drags a little and only just gets a positive review.

6.0 / 10

The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

Night in Paradise (KOR)

For the bulk of its running time, this Korean gangster thriller sets a tone that promises a poetic and subtle conclusion.  Unfortunately, the final third lands with the delicacy of a sledgehammer to the skull.  The two central performances deserved a more intelligent screenplay.

5.8 / 10

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

As with all Marvel movies, the ending tries so hard to be enormous that it becomes visually impossible to comprehend.  I would like it if just one of these superhero movies had a character think and talk their way out of a threat to humanity.  Nevertheless, this is one of the better attempts… Primarily because it is a well acted origin story with a minimal amount of heart and soul.  Be thankful for small mercies!

5.7 / 10

Oxygen (FRA)

Melanie Laurent awakes trapped inside a cryogenic chamber.  Her memory is almost erased.  She has no idea why she is there.  It is a familiar cinematic premise.  The film finds a handful of interesting ideas within its own limitations.  Laurent is very good.  I just wish I cared more.  It just feels like a cold exercise in screenwriting.

5.7 / 10

Sinkhole (KOR)

Although the set pieces are pretty spectacular, this disaster movie falls apart for a few reasons.  Some of the logistical lunacy is just too hard to swallow.  The characters are more stereotypes than fully developed personalities.  And the tone tries to balance goofy humor with tragic deaths… never quite managing to toe that impossible line.

5.6 / 10

The Little Things

With a cast of Denzel Washington, Jared Leto and Rami Malek, you’d expect this serial-killer, police-procedural to be a gripping mystery.  Instead, the final third of the film meanders into strange unnecessary directions.  It tries too hard to be about something more than what it is.  The last thirty minutes disappoints a decent set-up.

5.5 / 10

Ascension (DOC)

A visually hypnotic documentary that observes the relentless monotony of the enormous Chinese machine.  You get a real sense of the plague of absolute capitalism that is driving that machine — to what is already global domination and will eventually, decades from now, lead to a desperate collapse, similar to the one America is having right now.

5.5 / 10

The Woman in the Window

A stellar cast all work well… A seasoned director shoots beautifully… A classic premise made famous by Hitchcock.  It all seems set up for a great film.  Unfortunately, the final-third pay-off is dull, predictable, unimaginative and cliché.  It promises amazing things… and delivers a run-of-the-mill TV-movie thriller. 

5.4 / 10


An intriguing, claustrophobic premise propels this sci-fi thriller.  It is well shot and features solid performances all around.  Unfortunately, the film is mired in self-serious moral quandaries.  It all leads up to a final third that thinks of itself as a lot more profound than it actually is.

5.2 / 10

Raging Fire (HK)

Action movies from Hong Kong are almost universally packed with spectacular stunts and crazy set-pieces.  “Raging Fire” is no exception.  The cinematography is really nice… but the editing and the direction are a little choppy, which leads to some confusing storytelling and some hard-to-believe sequences.  

5.0 / 10

Jungle Cruise

This Dwayne Johnson action-adventure is a direct rip-off of Brendan Fraser’s “The Mummy” franchise.  Emily Blunt plays Rachel Weisz… and Jack Whitehall plays John Hannah.  Unfortunately, none of it matches its blueprint in terms of excitement or comedy.  It isn’t a bad film… but it does feel like it was directed by Disney’s computer algorithm for making bank. 

4.9 / 10

House of Gucci

The rise and fall and subsequent rise of the Gucci empire is an interesting story.  The two leads are very good (Gaga and Driver), somehow holding all the disparate pieces together.  However, director Ridley Scott lets the pacing get away from him.  This film is easily 45 minutes too long.  Also, there are some atrocious performances from Jared Leto, Al Pacino and Salma Hayek in supporting roles.

4.9 / 10


This sci-fi thinks it is thoughtful and deep.  Instead, it plays dress-up and runs through all of the familiar film-noir tropes like a young girl trying on mommy’s make-up.  None of it really feels authentic.  The bars aren’t particularly seedy.  The flood waters are cleaner than my nightly bath. The trilby hats don’t feel lived in.  It is a pretend version of “Inception”, directed by another first timer who was given too many toys to play with.

4.9 / 10


A truffle farmer’s beloved pig is stolen in the backwoods of Oregon and he will stop at nothing to retrieve it.  The premise sounds original and fascinating.  The actuality is a stale, and often boring, introspection on the meaning of memory and lost connections.  “Pig” isn’t a bad film… just one that confuses minimalism with depth.

4.9 / 10

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright made the cult-classic, “Shaun of the Dead”… but has never quite lived up to the success of that movie.  All of his subsequent efforts have been mixed bags to say the least.  The same is true of this film… a psychological horror with good performances, striking visuals and dazzling camerawork.  However, it is more of an interesting, ambitious failure.  It doesn’t hold up to detailed scrutiny.  It muddles tone.  It feels more like an ode to a time and a place than an actual logical narrative.  It is a near miss.

4.9 / 10

Hostage: Missing Celebrity (KOR)

South Korean superstar, Hwang Jung-min, plays himself in a movie about a celebrity kidnapping for ransom.  It is based off a true story that occurred in China back in 2004.  The film is somewhat pedestrian, never quite delivering the thrills it intends.  It is merely passable entertainment and nothing more.

4.8 / 10

Don’t Look Up

Despite a star-studded cast, director Adam McKay dribbles out an extended Saturday Night Live skit.  Biting satire can’t be this obvious and on-the-nose.  In recent years, we have seen the lunacy of the Trump presidency, and the absurd denial of obvious simple science… So when it is all lampooned in such a routine way, it loses much of its impact.  The film isn’t terrible… merely cheap and simple.

4.8 / 10

Sweat (POL)

A movie that delves into the life of a successful fitness influencer.  The trappings of fame… The loneliness of online popularity… The dangers of opening yourself up to public obsession… All of those are interesting subjects that could make for a riveting story.  “Sweat” doesn’t quite hold the attention well enough to recommend.  It all feels shallow and underdeveloped.  A decent try — well acted — but hollow.

4.8 / 10

The Guilty

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this Hollywood remake of the 2018 Danish masterpiece.  This 2021 version is a predictably unnecessary mess that never quite gets the tone right.  Many of the scenes are the same… and the quality of the story carries us through to the finish.  However, the usually solid Gyllenhaal overdoes it with histrionics.  Also, a crucial plot point is changed — one that smacks of ‘studio intervention’… and it really does impact the final few scenes in a negative way. 

4.8 / 10

Double Patty

I watched this primarily to get a glimpse of Irene in her feature acting debut.  The film is cute, but slight.  Irene is really good, and assuredly has a fantastic secondary career ahead of her.  I wish the film delved a little deeper.  I wanted more character development.  I wanted more food porn.  I wanted more drama.  Unfortunately, not much is on the line.

4.6 / 10


Listen, I hate Trump and the Republicans as much as the next sane guy… However, this thinly veiled critique of those conservative maniacs is simplistic and dumb.  Every character feels one dimensional.  Every scene is stale and predictable.  Every turn is overtly foreshadowed.  There is nothing to hate here.  It is just distinctly sub-par.

4.4 / 10


Split into five sections, with a central narrative tying them together, this film feels a tad disjointed.  Each section has a separate director… and each is named after a specific phobia.  “Robophobia” & “Hoplophobia” are the two best sections.  The others leave room for improvement.  Camilla Belle, makes her directorial debut with the latter of those two… and she shows tremendous cinematic control and storytelling.

4.2 / 10


(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

The Matrix Resurrections

The self-referential meta screenplay is mildly amusing in the first half hour of this fourth “Matrix” installment. However, it soon wears out its welcome and becomes overly muddled with ludicrous complexity that 14-year-olds will think of as philosophical depth. The bending-over-backwards bullet dodges and the wall-running somersaults quickly become tiresome. Keanu Reeves’ iconic Neo somehow keeps the film watchable, but it does remind us that the original “Matrix” was never anything more than a very cool 1999 action flick – not a religious experience that some nerds would have you believe.

3.8 / 10


Is it possible to be in favor of everything a film stands for… but think the way it stands is cheesy and lame? “Moxie” is an after-school special with the most diverse, inclusive and woke cast imaginable. While, technically, it is right about all the issues, the screenplay is so on-the-nose that it will give you a nose-ache.  It isn’t as deep as it thinks it is.

3.5 / 10

Good On Paper

Iliza Shlesinger writes and directs this odd little film that doesn’t really know what it is.  Early parts of the story work relatively well… as the ‘catfish relationship’ starts to develop.  However, once the conceit is revealed, the plot falls apart.  None of the side characters bring anything to the table.  Margaret Cho is especially heinous as the best friend.  It all devolves into a cackling, cheap-sitcom, mess with no connection to any real human emotions. 

3.3 / 10

The Trip (NOR)

The first thirty minutes are filled with some really successful dark laughs.  Unfortunately, the rest of the movie becomes ludicrous beyond belief.  The gory violence doesn’t shock because the silliness cuts the tone… And the comedy doesn’t hold up because the violence is too grotesque.  Just asking… But how did the fat old man with crutches, whose chest was shredded by a lawnmower, manage to climb into a hammock?  Perhaps that is the least of this film’s worries.

3.2 / 10

The French Dispatch

Probably Wes Anderson’s weakest film, “The French Dispatch” is all too concerned with fitting the director’s unique and quirky tone, rather than telling a compelling story with three dimensional characters.  It all feels like a series of individual scenes… some of which are mildly amusing… some of which are nauseatingly too self-aware.

3.2 / 10

Recalled (KOR)

As a huge fan of lead actress, Seo Yea-ji, I was really hoping this film would be thrilling.  However, despite a very good performance in her central role, the plot just became too ridiculous to tolerate.  I simply didn’t believe all the twists and turns.  “Recalled” plays more like melodrama than actual drama.

3.2 / 10

Titane (FRA)

I am a fan of arthouse cinema.  I enjoy weird and strange.  Anything non-standard and original intrigues me.  I have seen virtually every film ever made that has been labelled as shocking or controversial.  “Titane” purports to be all those things… but it fails on all levels.  I found the film slow and empty.  I thought it was shock over substance… and the shock was timid and pointless.  It is the kind of cinema that thinks it is deep and meaningful, but has very little to say at all.

2.8 / 10

The Marksman

With “The Marksman”, Liam Neeson branches out and plays a bad-ass who takes on a gang of thugs in order to protect someone.  You might as well call this film “Taken 8”.  The lack of originality is so cynical, that they even directly lift the famous “he will find you and he will kill you” line… practically verbatim… while on the phone!!!  This is an instantly forgettable movie with generic stereotype characters and a cloned plot that should embarrass Neeson and everyone involved.

2.5 / 10

The Ice Road

Liam Neeson delivers his second disappointment of 2021, after “The Marksman”.  The first half of the film seems headed for pleasant mediocrity, but then power slides off the ice in the latter stages.  Ludicrous set pieces…  Un-killable bad guys…  Cheap trick direction… Truly lame dialogue.  It recycles every cliché in the book.

2.5 / 10

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse

This is lazy movie-making.  Jam packed with clichés, and riddled with poor performances and stock characters, this movie fails to generate one moment of excitement or tension.  Some might be tempted to give it a pass, because it arrives on Amazon Prime near the end of a global pandemic that has seen a dearth of action entertainment on the big screens.  I didn’t believe a moment of it.  Poor casting.  Cheap looking sets.  A script intended for Dolph Lundgren in 1988.

2.4 / 10


This is marketed as a ‘Hitchcockian’ wrongly-accused-man thriller.  Instead, “Beckett” is a dull fugitive-on-the-run snooze-fest with a central figure that we don’t care about… and a resolution that seems intentionally absurd, so the audience won’t question the logic of it all.  John David Washington is a total blank in the title role.  Alicia Vikander is virtually unused and killed off inside 15 minutes.  Everything about this dud feels empty and meaningless.

2.3 / 10

Red Notice

Prepare for dozens of product placements: Coca Cola; Teremana Tequila; Alitalia; Russian Gulags. We get all the same hits we’ve seen before… Dwayne Johnson reprises his role as “The Rock”. Gal Gadot being hot AF in sexy haute-couture, while throwing spears. Ryan Reynolds doing his rehashed smarmy, smug stand-up routine. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a multi-vitamin – all of the ease, none of the nutrition. We even get treated to untouched 75-year-old Nazi vehicles starting up first time, only to be ‘fast-and-furioused’ through a well lit Amazonian mine shaft. Also, keep an eye out for the exhaustive double-cross endings. They will keep you on your toes while you try forget the details that chip away your suspension of disbelief.

2.3 / 10

The Suicide Squad

Something ceases to be cool the moment it becomes aware of its own “coolness”.  This trillionth superhero movie gets miniscule credit for attempting some new things… but is all too aware of itself (“Deadpool”-style) to actually work.  The sole purpose of this film is to be cool… and thus it fails to be exactly that.  It is another in a long line of infantile blockbusters.  A drab commentary on what sells at the box office these days.

2.3 / 10

Sentinelle (FRA)

The underrated Olga Kurylenko isn’t given much to do in this low-budget, low-stakes, action-revenge plot.  The fault lies in a 74-minute running time and a story that seems to skip a handful of meaningful and necessary scenes.  It all feels so empty and simplistic.

2.2 / 10

Sweet Girl

You would think that Jason Momoa would have enough clout to avoid having to work with a first time director who clearly has no idea what he is doing yet.  The plot even falls back on the “it was all a dream” technique.  Everything about this story is desperately dumb.  Momoa and his co-star, Isabella Merced cannot save a ludicrous screenplay.

2.2 / 10


Kate Beckinsale is the only thing that rescues this otherwise garbage movie. There is so much wrong with this, it is hard to know where to start. This is the billionth “John Wick” clone. It is the 25th movie, in the last 20 I have seen, to feature an underground fight club. Laverne Cox is particularly horrendous in a supporting role. The dialogue would only sound cool to a teenage boy. The final scene cameo from Susan Sarandon is unnecessarily ludicrous. This abomination is about as moronic as it gets.

2.1 / 10

Gunpowder Milkshake

Imagine “Jane Wick” directed by a low-rent Tarantino rip-off artist.  This movie so desperately wants to be cool that it completely forgets to be good.  The wokeness is strong with this one too.  Nothing is remotely believable.  The attempts at humor are embarrassing failures.  The acting is more about posturing.  This entire project has about as much nutritional substance as a milkshake… and it leaves the aftertaste of gunpowder.

2.0 / 10


I really like Denis Villeneuve as a director, and was truly excited to see his version of “Dune”.  However, this is a drab, morose, self-serious misery.  The film is completely lacking in joy or spectacle.  Every CGI set-piece is obscure and dark and devoid of detail.  Every performance is pompous and sour.  The film is two and a half hours long because two hours of it is filmed in slow-motion.  Movies like this are supposed to be fun.  This was cinematic torture.

1.9 / 10

The Green Knight

Featuring metaphor and symbolism on steroids, this film thinks it is desperately deep, but it fails to deliver a compelling, or even a comprehendible, narrative.  Instead, we are treated to an aimless, meandering mess that asks the viewer to do all of the work.  It is so vague and random that anyone could claim to read anything into the pointlessness of it all.  A dreary, dismal misery.

1.9 / 10

Black Widow

When it comes to superhero movies, I have come to expect cheap, clichéd plots and poorly directed action sequences.  Lame, self-serious dialogue and mailed-in performances are the norm in this genre.  “Black Widow” adds to a long list of films that are infantilizing mainstream moviegoers… rehashing the same tired material with the cinematic equivalent of fast-food junk. 

1.8 / 10

Coming 2 America

There is exactly one laugh-out-loud moment in this weak-sauce 30-year-old sequel.  Essentially, you can expect some greatest-hits call-backs along with a tacked on woke message… much along the same lines as the “Bill & Ted” sequel from 2020.  Lame and tired.

1.7 / 10

This is the Night

With overwrought performances that border on melodrama, and a plot as generic as a bad 1980’s teen comedy, “This is the Night” feels very much like it means something to the writer / director… But it won’t have the same affect on anyone else.  I didn’t buy any of the plot points.  They all feel wedged in.  The enormous character swings are way too abrupt.  This feels very much like a film-school sophomore’s lazy screenplay, crammed in during finals week.  D for effort.

1.7 / 10

Below Zero (SPA)

“Con-Air” on wheels, in the snow.  You know what kind of movie you are in for when the highly dangerous inmates’ cells can be unlocked from the inside by sticking an arm through the handcuff hole to reach the deadbolt.  It is every bit as dumb as “Con-Air” without any of the star-power or budget.

1.6 / 10

Blood Red Sky (GER)

The first hour of this film is reasonably tense and somewhat intriguing.  After it turns into a gory creature flick, the director loses all control and simply gives us run-of-the-mill bloodbath.  It promises heart and hints at depth… However, it devolves into throat-ripping nothingness. 

1.6 / 10


A Disney disaster that is too dark to entertain children… and too childish to entertain adults.  The soundtrack is clichéd and on-the-nose.  The performances are intentionally hammy… but it plays like a cheap stage production.  No one creates a single real emotion of any kind.  I didn’t laugh.  I didn’t care.  I didn’t buy any of it for one second.

1.5 / 10

The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

The Vault

A European version of the “Ocean’s Eleven” style of film… Only this one makes the Clooney heist look like a walk in the park.  The jaw-dropping absurdity of this plot would insult the intelligence of a 7-year old dog.  At no point does this film ever resemble real life or real drama.  It is an exercise in teenage screenwriting 101.

1.4 / 10


Do you remember all the late-1990’s Tarantino rip-offs?  This feels like a rip-off of those rip-offs.  “Copshop” is an “Assault on Precinct 13” style plot, with all sorts of nefarious criminals trying to break into a remote prison in order to kill one of the inmates.  Everything about this movie has been done in far more mediocre efforts.  Avoid at all costs.

1.4 / 10

A Perfect Enemy

I was sucked in by a misleading trailer.  I thought I would be watching a slick European thriller… Instead, I was treated to a cheap, poorly-acted, melodrama with some of the most absurd twists and turns imaginable.  Everything about this hideous movie feels amateurish.

1.3 / 10

Godzilla vs. Kong

Make no mistake, this is an animated movie. Sure, there are some actual humans screaming “Oh My God!” at green-screens. However, this movie is just filled with ones and zeros punching each other, while tens of thousands of digital humans are slaughtered against the backdrop of a ludicrous plot that would make a seven-year-old roll their eyes. The extraordinarily expensive special effects look cheap. Simple minds will guffaw at the spectacle.

1.2 / 10

The Card Counter

Having lived half of my life in poker rooms, I can assuredly tell you that “The Card Counter” rings false on almost every detail.  Nothing about this morose character study has any authenticity.  It also features one of the most woefully inept performances in the 5000+ films that I have seen — a stiff embarrasment of a turn from Tiffany Haddish.  Oscar Isaac tries to hold all the disparate pieces together… However, director Paul Shrader misjudges every frame of this dismal film.

1.0 / 10


A low-rent “John Wick” rip-off with absolutely none of the cinematic panache or thrills of Keanu Reeves’ franchise.  Odenkirk fails to deliver a character that we can believe is capable of such single-handed destruction.  The supporting cast is riddled with clichés.  “Nobody” is a cheap nothing… lacking cool… lacking joy… lacking thought.

0.9 / 10

Cosmic Sin

This sci-fi has the budget of my last KFC run.  But hey, you can tell it is set 500 years in the future because it has neon lights.  Bruce Willis and Frank “How the Hell Did I get Famous” Grillo are tantamount to cardboard cutouts in this cheap nothing-burger.  I have already forgotten the plot… and I watched it ten minutes ago.

0.7 / 10

Wrath of Man

Guy Ritchie (The Worst Director of All Time) simply doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t understand cinema.  To him, it is all about cheesy one-liners and cheap violence.  Jason Statham is perfectly cast in this emotionless, brainless, wet dream for a moronic teenage boy.  This is pure trash, made by trash, for trash.

0.6 / 10

Red Dot (SWE)

A vile humans hunting humans plot, with despicable people on both sides of the sniper rifle.  The only three creatures in the film who die are an innocent child, a beautiful dog and the black girlfriend who was only guilty of being a bitch.  The people who live are all murderous sickos.  This is a morally reprehensible film… amateurish and horrid.

0.3 / 10

Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).

“F9: The Fast Saga”
I became tired of the F/F franchise about 15 minutes into the first one…  Point blank refuse to watch the rest.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy”
I have zero nostalgia for the original… and the NBA has become a joke in recent years.  Not at all interested.

“Halloween Kills”
I cannot believe they still make these.

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