I have been scrambling for the past few weeks to say the least to find the time to post reviews of films I can watch and post reviews in a timely way. I also wanted to find a few films that may not immediately be on your radar as so many of us are at home and perusing online movie-streaming sites anyway.
I hadn’t planned to watch “Underwater” in the theater necessarily, but it just came out on streaming platforms, and I thought it was worth a look.
“The Last Full Measure” about an Air Force service member serving in Vietnam that makes the decision to aid combat soldiers in the midst of battle — and is arguably due for the military Medal of Honor — caught my eye, so I decided to give it a go.
“Queen of Paradis,” about a woman artist that travels cross country in pursuit of her next art showing, was brought to my attention by the filmmaker himself, Carl Lindstrom. I was immediately drawn to the artwork of the movie poster, an artwork image created by Reine Paradis, the leading person in this documentary.
Read my reviews below.
A note about my #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of ten. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
So that’s that.
7.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “Seeking to find success with a film that was put together as if successful movies were an algebraic formula, “Underwater” manages to entertain, but doesn’t offer any new ideas or innovation. All said, I enjoyed it.”
Synopsis: Disaster strikes more than six miles below the ocean surface when water crashes through the walls of a drilling station. Led by their captain, the survivors realize that their only hope is to walk across the sea floor to reach the main part of the facility. But they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when they come under attack from mysterious and deadly creatures that no one has ever seen.
When I look back at the most successful thriller and horror movies that have hit theaters or the eyes of viewers, there are certain resounding elements and themes that seem to resonate. The first films to come to mind that are of a similar genre to “Underwater,” — a movie where a crew of deep-sea industrial workers must escape a damaged drilling station — are “Alien” “The Predator” or even “The Terminator.”
“Underwater” is the “Alien” movie, except it takes place in the deepest parts of the ocean. I couldn’t help but notice striking similarity after striking similarity, to the point of wondering if the director hadn’t been playing with the alien creature in his tub way too much as a kid.
The movie has some of my favorite actors, including T.J. Miller (who plays one of my favorite roles in the Deadpool franchise movies as the smart-aleck bar owner and once played Marmaduke in the series “Car-poolers” a tv series cut tragically short by the writer’s strike years ago) and another great actor is Vincent Cassel. The film stars Kristen Stewart, who does a good job, but her shaved head is eerily familiar to Sigourney Weaver in the “Alien” franchise.
For all of its similarities, the movie is fun to watch, even with its expected deaths at every 11 minutes and ominous scary creatures at every third left turn in a darkened water-filled tunnel.
It’s well worth the $5.99 rental cost. So give it a go. I enjoyed it much more than I might sound critical.
T.J. Miller is my favorite part of this movie.
Now available on streaming platforms to include Amazon Prime, VUDU and YouTube.
The Last Full Measure
9.2 out of 10
My quick quote: “'The Last Full Measure' is a great and yet tragic story of a man who saved sixty lives in Vietnam. As a former military veteran, I can’t help but feel a connection to this great film.”
Synopsis: The Last Full Measure tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as a PJ) medic who personally saved over sixty men.
It is hard to be too critical of this movie, which is described in its synopsis on the Rotten Tomatoes website as “the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger (Jeremy Irvine), a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (also known as a PJ) medic who personally saved over sixty men.”
This is a great movie, with a bit of due criticism in its portrayal of a “much too jaded” Department of Defense lawyer, who simply can’t be troubled with having to research the story of U.S. Air Force Pararescueman William H. Pitsenbarger.
I always notice anything formulaic in films, and this aspect of the movie fell a bit into a stereotype, so that is my bit of criticism.
But all said, I did enjoy the story of the film, and was impressed by the decision made by Pitsenbarger to join combat soldiers that he was not obligated to assist to the extent that he did.
But knowing that it was the right thing to do, he headed into the lion’s den, thus saving countless lives.
A great film I recommend highly. Besides, Samuel Jackson is in it.
Now available on streaming platforms to include Amazon Prime, VUDU and YouTube.
Queen of Paradis
9.4 out of 10
My quick quote: “A surprising gem of a film. Though perhaps unknowing in its intrusions, an interesting mix of talent featuring the complex artistry of Reine Paradis and her talented filmmaker husband Carl Lindstrom.”
Synopsis: After selling out her first exhibition in Los Angeles in 2016, artist Reine Paradis, and her filmmaker husband Carl Lindstrom, embark on a dangerous and surreal road trip across the United States to complete her next body of work. It's an all-out adventure, an intimate story, and a bold examination of what it takes to make art today.
I enjoyed this film, even if I experienced a notable bit of anxiety following artist Reine Paradis, and her filmmaker husband Carl Lindstrom, as they go off on a cross-country trip to find the perfect spots for a series of artistic projects that are destined to be created by Paradis.
Though I write about my anxiety regarding this film, make sure to read my note below, because the filmmaker Carl Lindstrom wrote me an amazing email after reading my review.
Why did I feel anxiety? It was all in fun perhaps, as the artist/filmmaker duo hold nothing back in getting that perfect shot. They climb under fences to climb atop a salt mountain, scale a billboard at the threat of getting cited for trespassing, and lay at the bottom of a sand dune in the severe heat of summer during an oncoming sandstorm.
I asked myself time and again, “how important is this location for a potentially photoshopped image?” But Reine — in the course of the film — asserted it was that important. She insists on the perfect location, and in the end, it pays off with impressively colorful artistic results.
I got a little uneasy when the duo traveled to tribal territories in one part of the film. I feared the thought of the duo intruding into Indigenous sacred lands without permission — as the two of them often ventured without thoughts to this intrusion — but it didn’t happen. I exhaled with relief.
So though aspects were uneasy, and perhaps they pressed onward with stress regarding an upcoming deadline, I fear the film might give permission to a sort of guerilla tactic when pursuing art.
For the most part, this quest was lighthearted in its approach, and perhaps you might need to shake some things up, but there could have been a lot more inclusion in this film, rather than the exclusion to those who might not understand the process. At one point, a man threatens to call the sheriff when Reine lays on his front lawn and walkway, is it intrusion? Or art?
This may sound critical, but I don’t mean it to be. The film was fun, and endearing and in truth quite adorable based on the relationship between filmmaker and artist. They in truth, they are both artists and deserve a place in each of their own rights.
The film was a lot of fun, and it was mesmerizing to watch an artist’s mind unfold its process.
I enjoyed it, while figuratively biting my nails.
UPDATE: I changed this movie's score. Something I have never done before.
Shortly after posting my review, I sent a courtesy email to Carl Lindstrom the director letting him know. Within minutes of sending the email, he sent an email with a heartfelt message that he and his wife would be courteous in their efforts moving forward. Certainly in the case of Indigenous lands.
I was shocked. I honestly didn't consider the fact I might correspond with the filmmaker regarding his film, but here it was. A kind and courteous message.
My anxiety melted away.
I now realized, that moving forward, this would be a thought these artists would hold in their minds. I felt listened to.
This shows me the concerns were more embedded (though rightfully) in my own psyche more than anything else. Everything is a process of learning and growing. Of which this film was.
I told Carl in my email, "It is a nice thing to say that you would be mindful. So thanks. The gem was your dedication to your wife, the real moments you shared and the genuine honesty you showcased. You have an incredible skill as a filmmaker ... please don't ever stop."
I mean it.
Points for courtesy and care Carl.
I highly recommend your film.
#NativeNerd Vincent Schilling is the associate editor for Indian Country Today and a film industry certified movie reviewer.
Indian Country Today #NativeNerd Twitter @ICTNativeNerd
Review on "Queen of Paradis" was updated