2021 AFI Festival Review: Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss and Jockey

2021 AFI Festival Review: Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss and Jockey

Juice Wrld: Into the Abyss

Directed by Tommy Oliver
Plot: Exploring the life of late hip hop star Juice WRLD.

I will admit going into this documentary, the only thing I knew about Juice World was that he was added to the long list of talented artists that couldn’t overcome their demons in life. He was the type of rapper that rapped about the battles he faced and the same demons that overcame him. 

We opened with a freestyle that showcases the lyrically genius that was Juice Wrld. He had a flow about him that felt authentic but came off the tongue so easily that it isn’t something just anyone is born with. 

One of the more disturbing things is you see so many people around him riding this high with him, but none of them really slow him down. Selfish people enjoy the ride until it breakdown and that’s why it is so important to surround yourself with people that look out for you and you alone. 

Juice Wrld: In the Abyss was a captivating look at the rise and the fall of one of the most creative minds we have seen in this generation. Fans of the superstar will be rewarded with a personal look at what made the man they loved so good. Yet, at the same time, the rest of us witness a creative genius taken from us at a young age. 

The Verdict: B+

Jockey

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Adolpho Veloso

Direct by Clint Bentley
Written by Clint Bentley, Greg Kwedar
Starring Clifton Collins Jr., Moises Arias, Molly Parker,
Plot: A jockey wants one more championship. That’s when an up-and-coming jockey shows up, claiming to be his son.

I watched Jockey at the Sundance Film Festival and I liked it, but I didn’t love it. Fast forward over nine months later and I revisit the film here at AFI. 

In Jockey, we meet Jackson (Clifton Collins Jr.) as he’s attempting to make one final Rocky Balboa style run at the horse-racing championship. Next, we meet Gabriel (Mosiés Arias), a young up-and-coming jockey who arrives in town claiming to be Jackson’s son. Although he denies him as a son, he trains Gabriel.

One of the more impressive things about the film is Adolpho Veloso’s gorgeous color palette which at times takes your breath away. In addition, the cinematography has this incredible story of its own throughout that keeps you invested in the film. 

Another thing that works is Clifton Collins Jr.’s performance. However, I felt the same way I did back at Sundance because the performance is good within a script that lacks true vision. It takes away from the big picture of the role because of this. 

I liked Jockey slightly more this go around than I did at Sundance, but overall, it felt like a missed opportunity at something better.

The Verdict: C+

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