#NativeNerd reviews: 'Parasite,' 'Judy,' 'Aeronauts,' ‘The Gentlemen’ and more

Vincent Schilling

Native cultural appropriation in Parasite, the tragedy of Judy Garland and the surprising thrill-ride of Aeronauts, also Spies in Disguise, and The Gentlemen

This week’s film reviews include two Oscar-nominated films “Judy” (Renée Zellweger for best actress and Jeremy Woodhead for Best Makeup and Hairstyling), and “Parasite” (6 nominations including Director Bong Joon-Ho and best Picture) and a few surprisingly decent films “Aeronauts” and the animated “Spies in Disguise.” “What Men Want” is a comedy recently released to streaming platforms, so I will give it a review.

I also just watched “The Gentlemen,” so this review will be fresh in my mind.

In my last reviews column, I posed the question of including one or both the official movie posters and trailers with each film I review. You responded yes at 44.3 percent for both, so I am happy to oblige. My reviews will have both the movie posters and movie trailers when available.

Also, if you are curious about movies this year, make sure to check out my #NativeNerd friendly list of movies coming out in 2020. #NativeNerd list: 45 great movies for 2020

Native Nerd Movie list of 45
Also, if you are curious about movies this year, make sure to check out my #NativeNerd friendly list of movies coming out in 2020. #NativeNerd list: 45 great movies for 2020

#NativeNerd scoring system

I rate movies and shows based on a total achievable score of 10 stars. 10 stars being the highest score a film can get and 1 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.

Parasite

7.0 out of 10

My quick quote: “Holy cultural appropriation. Between the family that takes money under false pretenses or the family that appropriates everything Indian, I question who the real parasite is.”

Parasite movie poster
Parasite movie poster

Synopsis: Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

I question the motives of director Bong Joon-ho, who created an exceptionally entertaining film the likes of which I have never seen before. But man, did I cringe over and over again about the youngest son of the Park family that was a boy scout and a lover of everything American Indian, down to the suction cup bow and arrows, real feather headdresses and a cloth “Native-designed” tipi purchased in America by the mom.

I loved this movie. But it was horrendously hard to watch. I hated the concept of cultural appropriation, I sincerely hope this was purposeful, but non-deep thinkers won’t see it.

There was one saving grace, there is a moment when the two men of the families are both wearing headdresses and preparing to create a fake fight between them (the bad Indians) with the wealthy man’s son (the good Indian) and Mr. Kim hesitates as if truly turned off by the idea.

It was as if this moment was used to demonstrate the different levels of parasitic infestation., The Kim’s sought to get financial compensation by any means necessary, but in their quest, they express concern about the welfare of those people they might have harmed. The same sentiment shows its face when Mr. Kim hesitates at playing Indian.

The wealthy Park family appropriates without looking back. They release longtime employees without much concern and could seem to care less and throw a party when their own nearby community is recovering from disaster.

The real question perhaps (at least I sincerely hope the director thought this) is who is the real parasite in this story?

This was a tough one, and though the process of thought might be there, I fear the extended repercussions once again over playing Indian.

Now out on streaming platforms.

Judy

7.9 out of 10

My quick quote: “Renée Zellweger deserves a nomination nod for best actress, but I wish ‘Judy’ would have delved a bit further into the life of Judy Garland”

Judy Movie Poster
Judy movie poster

Synopsis: Thirty years after starring in "The Wizard of Oz," beloved actress and singer Judy Garland arrives in London to perform sold-out shows at the Talk of the Town nightclub. While there, she reminisces with friends and fans and begins a whirlwind romance with musician Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband.

Renée Zellweger deserves an Oscar nomination nod for her role as Judy Garland in the acclaimed film “Judy.” But I feel the movie was too slim of a slice of the pie that was her life.

Ok, she had terrible problems with her children, her ex-husband and she was difficult to rely on. But this movie — as much as I appreciated it — was way too narrow of a story for what I feel they could have delved into.

Not much about her actual films, other than her uncomfortable moments as a neglected child star, and way too little on her adult life in general.

I’ll be honest in that there isn’t much more to comment on than that. A good film, I liked it and all, but I really wanted to love it.

Now playing on streaming platforms.

The Aeronauts

8.1 out of 10

My quick quote: “A surprising thriller of a movie. Unexpected fun, even if lacking a bit in a resolution.”

The Aeronauts poster
The Aeronauts movie poster

Synopsis: In 1862, headstrong scientist James Glaisher and wealthy young widow Amelia Wren mount a balloon expedition to fly higher than anyone in history. As their perilous ascent reduces their chances of survival, the unlikely duo soon discover things about themselves -- and each other -- that help both of them find their place in the world.

Wow, this was a surprise. And a good one at that. I hardly expected a movie about balloon travelers in the 1800s to offer much in the way of excitement, but I was wrong.

I really liked this movie. It starred Felicity Jones as a headstrong female explorer/adventurer entertainer type and Eddie Redmayne as the stoic scientist obsessed about weather conditions.

The duo made a good team on the screen and I found myself enjoying their friendly and playful banter in a movie that turned from good to terrible in a matter of moments. A few of the “going back to an earlier time in the back story” I could have done without as I was much more immersed in their travels in the hot-air balloon.

Overall a great movie. It was a pleasant surprise and much more entertaining than I thought it was going to be.

Now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Spies in Disguise

7.9 out of 10

My quick quote: “Pretty good movie actually, even for the animated genre. Will Smith once again gets my vote for playing well to the audience. I love spies and I love pigeons, thus a win-win.”

Spies in Disguise movie poster
Spies in Disguise movie poster

Synopsis: Super spy Lance Sterling and scientist Walter Beckett are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is not. But what Walter lacks in social skills he makes up for in smarts and invention, creating the awesome gadgets Lance uses on his epic missions. But when events take an unexpected turn, Walter and Lance suddenly have to rely on each other in a whole new way. And if this odd couple can't learn to work as a team, the whole world is in peril.

I really loved this movie. It was tons of fun and who doesn’t love spy movies with an added bit of animation magic thrown into the equation? Will Smith was perfectly cast as Lance Sterling, the tuxedo-wearing super spy.

I don’t want to give away anything, as the plot is heavily embedded into a major spoiler. But it is hilarious fun with a lot of pigeons.

I am the Walter Beckett character m(played by Tom Holland) in a lot of ways, so this movie really worked for me.

Watch this movie and have fun. I did.

What Men Want

7.4 out of 10

My quick quote: “A rom-com with a lot of heart, even amidst all the over-dramatic humor. But all of it worked and I enjoyed the ride. Great performances from Taraji P. Henson, Erykah Badu, Richard Roundtree, and Tracy Morgan.”

What Men Want movie poster
What Men Want movie poster

Synopsis: Passed up for a well-deserved promotion, sports agent Ali Davis wonders what else she needs to do to succeed in a man's world. Hoping to find answers from a psychic, Ali drinks a weird concoction that suddenly allows her to hear what men are thinking. Using her newfound ability, Ali starts to turn the tables on her obnoxious male colleagues while racing to sign the next basketball superstar.

I didn’t know what to expect because I had seen this movie in trailers, but wasn’t able to get to it in theaters. 

This film has some of my favorite actors (Tracy Morgan, Richard Roundtree) and others I had not seen before and truly enjoyed. Taraji P. Henson as a sports agent treated unfairly or Erykah Badu as a freaky fortune teller were exceptional fun.

Ali Davis gets mind-reading powers of men’s minds. She uses her powers for great results and rises to great exploits. I would have liked to see things go even a bit further, but I liked the movie.

Tracy Morgan does a good job or being an over-obsessed father of a sports player, and I appreciated the films’ direction of addressing a perceived stereotype assumed by sports agents.

Worth a watch and for a few fun laughs.

“What Men Want” starring Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, Josh Brener, Erykah Badu, Richard Roundtree, and Tracy Morgan was really a great fun lighthearted romantic comedy. Now on Amazon and other streaming platforms.

The Gentlemen

9.4 out of 10

My quick quote: “A cast with the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, and others is hilariously good? I’m shocked to say, yes, absolutely and completely hilarious.”

The Gentlemen movie poster
The Gentlemen movie poster

Synopsis: Mickey Pearson is an American expatriate who became rich by building a marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he's looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes from those who want his fortune.

I wanted to see this earlier, but I am literally typing this review after having just left the theater on Friday night.

This movie, with a star-studded cast of British accent speaking male actors is a cacophony of hilarious jokes. The movie is a consistent twisting and turning of scheming that only exists at the highest levels of illegitimate money empires. That is empires built on the most illicit of desired illegal products.

I was sincerely worried that Matthew McConaughey, with his slow drawl, might drag the picture down, but nothing could be further from the truth, he ruled his role as Mickey Pearson and I looked forward to every bit of his performance in the movie. 

Hugh Grant was also a massive surprise and I literally had to lean closer to the screen in an attempt to convince myself that “yes, that is him.” Here is a sentence I never thought I would write: Hugh Grant was amazing in this movie. I truly appreciated his performance.

My other favorite character in the movie was Colin Farrell as the coach, who looked more than hilarious with his huge glasses, super short buzz cut and wide open-eyed expressions that are causing me to laugh as I write this.

The film writing was exceptional and the twists of the script make me want to see it again.

If you like admittedly foul-mouthed abrasive and yet exceptionally clever humor. “The Gentlemen is an excellent, excellent movie.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant, “The Gentlemen” is now in theaters.

Native Nerd Phone

Follow the #NativeNerd, Vincent Schilling, associate editor for Indian Country Today and a proud movie reviewer.

Have a film, product or another review request? Email me at vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com or reach out to me on social media, Twitter at @VinceSchilling and Instagram at @VinceSchilling.

Also, follow my Indian Country Today #NativeNerd account on Twitter at @ICTNativeNerd

Comments (6)
No. 1-6
WhiteManWanting
WhiteManWanting

Re: "The Aeronauts," I agree, it was a reasonably good movie, but the ending just - well, it wasn't.... And a couple of times we weren't sure exactly when we were looking at - before the "present" time of the flight, afterwards, or what. Just a few more clues would have helped with continuity. The main problem for me, and it wouldn't be for most, is that I knew too much about high altitude physiology as a former Air Force pilot. The woman could never have pulled off the feat she achieved toward the end (I won't give away more of a spoiler than that). Time of useful consciousness, as it's called, is measured in single-digit seconds at that altitude. Considering their final altitude (I won't give it away) and comparing it to the summit of Mt. Everest (29,029'), and knowing what's required "just" to make it to the top of Everest and back without serious brain damage, clearly illustrates the impossibility of achievements in "The Aeronauts." Sometimes ignorance is bliss - I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't mentally laughing at and criticizing the absurdity of some of the details in the movie. Still - we enjoyed it. Special effects really made this a thriller despite the problems with technical details that render their achievement as impossible. And frostbite? Why weren't their hands black by the time they returned? Now go enjoy it anyway, and don't make the mistake I made by sweating the details. :-)


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