Ricky’s Review Roundup: Parallel Mothers, Old Strangers, Shattered, I, Challenger

Parallel Mothers

Written and Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar 
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Rossy de Palma, Julieta Serrano,
Plot: The story of two mothers who give birth the same day.

I have missed this movie several times throughout the award season, but thankful for the chance to finally sit down and catch this one after hearing so many good things within the industry.

Pedro Almodóvar does an incredible job of building the story filled with love, compassion and mystery. I loved the way he peeled back so many different layers within this story that made us, the viewer, feel so many things. In addition, the writing throughout was so eye-opening and profound.

I’ve seen a lot of chatter about Penelope Cruz being in the Best Actress conversation and I can finally join the bandwagon because she gives one of the best performances of the year. The emotional range that she shows during this film is nothing short of incredible. My goodness, she floored me in several scenes.

Parallel Mothers is a beautiful piece of cinema that I wish I had experienced in a theater. From beautiful direction to fantastic performance to an incredible score, you can’t ask much more from a movie.

Old Strangers

Written and Directed by Nick Gregorio
Starring Ted Evans, Madeleine Humphries, Colton Eschief Mastro,
Plot: Three friends reconnect in a secluded mountain town after a long quarantine. While out for a hike, the trio stumble upon something dark and terrible in the deep woods.

I am still shocked when I see people wearing a mask, talking about getting tested, etc., when it comes to movies. I believe it’s something that, if done right, fits the story but isn’t the main story, and this film gets it right.

I love a good campy horror and that’s what Old Strangers is. Sure, it has some cheesy dialogue from time to time and takes some time to build, but the entire film has this mysterious tone that keeps you intrigued by what is ahead.

As the mystery builds around what is happening to Danny, we start to see some strange things happening to people in the town. The entire last twenty minutes of the film are bizarre and I am still uncertain what was going on, but with a short runtime and a decent premise, Old Strangers is an easy watch.

Shattered

Directed by Luis Prieto
Written by David Loughery
Starring Lilly Krug, Cameron Monaghan, John Malkovich, and Frank Grillo
Plot: A rich divorcee Chris falls in love with a mysterious woman Sky and soon Chris’ ex-wife and his child get trapped and a desperate fight for survival ensues.

Let me kick this off by saying I was SURPRISED by Shattered on many levels. First, the entire plot felt like something we have seen before with the trailer and even the logline. However, writer David Loughery did an excellent job structuring this story to bring a unique touch to the film. I love a great psychological thriller and this was just that.

I can’t rave about Lilly Krug enough about her role as Sky. She truly carried this film with her twisted, crazy portrayal of this mad woman on a mission. Her twisted-like approach to the part reminded me a lot of Rosamund Pike’s approach to Amy Dune. Her ability to flip the switch on and off as Sky brought the film to another level.

Shattered is one of the better thrillers I have seen in a while and I can’t wait for more people to check this out!

I, Challenger

Directed by Paul Boyd
Written by Paul Boyd and Kara Scobey Brown
Starring James Duval, Coy Stewart and Tina Majorino
Plot: Sid, a kid who spends his days playing video games and selling weed, is about to be evicted. Desperate to change his life, he enlists his gaming buddy Logan in a dangerous, harebrained scheme involving the livestream of a self-burial video. Despite a near-death experience when the self-burial misfires, it seems Sid’s luck is finally on the upswing, with a financial windfall — and even a romance — in his future.

Some of the best movies are the ones that make you think and reflect upon life itself. Writer/Director Paul Boyd paints this picture of Sid, who can be any one of us, somewhat down on his luck, for various reasons and sure some of them are self-inflicted. But the bigger picture is we see a man fighting for his life to attempting to get back on track.

James Duval does a great job within the role of Sid. I saw an actor who cared about his project and gave a believable and authentic performance. The movie is reminiscent of Buried (if you haven’t seen it, watch it) but a more light-hearted venture in some aspects.

I, Challenger is a fun independent film that has good writing, performances and a strong message that you can easily root for.

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