This week’s film reviews include “Gretel and Hansel,” “The Rhythm Section,” and a new series on Netflix made in Norway titled “Ragnarok.”
If you are curious about movies this year, make sure to check out my #NativeNerd friendly list of movies coming out in 2020.
(Previous story: #NativeNerd list: 45 great movies for 2020)
#NativeNerd scoring system
I rate movies and shows based on a total achievable score of 10 stars. Ten stars being the highest score a film can get and one star being the worst. I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
Here are this week’s movie reviews.
Gretel and Hansel
8.1 out of 10
My quick quote: “‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a bizarre and dark version for sure, but also a bit self-serving on the part of the director. Hidden within it all, gorgeous cinematography.”
Synopsis: When their mother descends into madness, siblings Gretel and Hansel must fend for themselves in the dark and unforgiving woods. Hungry and scared, they fortuitously stumble upon a bounty of food left outside an isolated home. Invited inside by the seemingly friendly owner, the children soon suspect that her generous but mysterious behavior is part of a sinister plan to do them harm.
The darkness of the theater is never more apparent than when watching the horror/suspense thriller “Gretel and Hansel” directed by Oz Perkins.
In its essence, the film has a foreign film aesthetic to it. What I mean is that many times when I am watching a foreign film, I notice a sense of unapologetic storytelling that gives the film viewer a bit of a homework assignment of sorts, in that “hey guys, you are just going to have to figure things out for yourself.”
It is an element I actually do appreciate on several occasions when watching films that are not made in the Hollywood style of answering any question the film viewer might have. Hollywood-style films have — for the most part — a 100 percent resolution rate. In my experience, and I certainly don’t say all of them, but foreign films don’t always offer a resolution. This is the most appreciated thing I feel toward them, the films will linger in my mind, causing me to figure things out for myself.
“Gretel and Hansel” has this sense to it. It is a combination of almost a documentary on Gretel, — portrayed by Sophia Ellis, a talented young actress I suspect we will be seeing a lot of in the future — and a foreign film, but in this case, focusing solely on the aspect of not offering much in the sense of resolution.
The film dives deep into the darkness of the time. In fact, I wanted to turn on a light for the whole movie, not out of fear, but because I just couldn’t comfortably see much. But I also liked it.
So the two kids meet the witch, enjoy the excesses of food and goodies, all the while trying to figure out the witch’s intentions.
I liked the movie, and I liked Perkins’ approach. But there were so many unanswered questions, I began to think the director was more interested in telling his own story for his own reasons instead of sharing his artistic message. I was left with more questions than I want to have when walking out of a theater. Well-worth seeing for all of it’s spooky and unsettling storytelling, but I want to know more about his message he wanted to share.
One last thing, this movie has beautifully composed shots in the forest. Breathtaking actually, so hats off to Galo Olivares for some absolutely beautiful cinematography.
“Gretel and Hansel” is now in theaters.
The Rhythm Section
7.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “A great concept for a spy-thriller but I was frustrated at the worn-out usage of shaky camera footage during many of the action scenes. For gosh sakes use the stabilizer button in your film edits. Jude Law was awesome.”
Synopsis: Stephanie Patrick veers down a path of self-destruction after a tragic plane crash kills her family. When Stephanie discovers it wasn't an accident, she turns to a former CIA operative who can help her find the culprits. But her quest to uncover the truth soon turns into a full-blown quest for revenge as Patrick decides to punish those responsible.
This is a really good movie actually. But I admittedly got extremely frustrated at the shaky footage in the action scenes. I assume it was on purpose to give the viewer a sense of “wow, things sure are hectic at this moment!” But I was struggling to see anything clearly enough to know what was happening.
I am not familiar with the work of Blake Lively, known for her TV role in “Gossip Girl,” but she did a nice job in the film as a “family girl goes down the wrong path” after her family dies tragically in a plane crash. This is mentioned in the film immediately - so no spoiler there.
Jude Law is always exceptional, and I enjoy his performance here.
I was surprised this film was able to cram so much activity in a just under two-hour film, but they did it. The human elements were real in terms of a clumsy girl trying to become a killer, and the results were fairly believable.
I liked it and bought it. But there were so many details flying by at each moment, I feel like I needed a notebook to keep track of the enemies versus the good guys.
Cool rainy Saturday movie. I’ll likely add it to my collection.
Now playing in theaters.
9.1 out of 10
My quick quote: “Not the Ragnarok you think, and that is the best thing about this enormously entertaining take on a contemporary battle of the Norse gods and their adversaries”
Synopsis: A small Norwegian town experiencing warm winters and violent downpours seems to be headed for another Ragnarok -- unless somebody intervenes in time.
Created by Adam Price, “Ragnarok” is a version of the Norse god’s story that should be on every supernatural movie fan’s playlist.
So far I have only jumped into the first episode of the series but I am already hooked. I love this series, which delves into the world of a new high school student Magne, who returns back to his childhood small town of Edda because his mother found a new job.
In an act of kindness, Magne receives a powerful gift, setting off the series in an incredibly fun and imaginative way. Throw in the fact that the town is run by an environmentally-unfriendly corporation, and the CEO is just as much as an adversary to do-gooders as the Norse gods are to their giants, and you have a perfect mix for great entertainment.
Overall a great series I certainly recommend.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Follow the #NativeNerd, Vincent Schilling, associate editor for Indian Country Today and a proud movie reviewer.
Also, follow my Indian Country Today #NativeNerd account on Twitter at @ICTNativeNerd
Support Indian Country Today by becoming a member. Click here.