It was a big week for streaming films and documentaries. I look at four films that I saw this week, including a couple that made my current Top 10 from Apple. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Causeway (Apple TV+)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Brian Tyree Henry, and Linda Emond
Synopsis: In this new drama, Lawrence plays Lynsey, a soldier who is trying to recover. She worked for the Army Corps of engineers and was involved in an explosion that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her sole focus is to recover so she can go back. First, she has to return home to stay with her estranged mother (Edmond). While there, a problem with her truck leads to a chance encounter with a mechanic (Henry) who is recovering from a trauma of his own. They strike up a friendship and soon these two wounded souls find in each other someone that might help them find a way forward. Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste, but this story spoke to me, especially the way it’s put together. Director Lila Neugebauer doesn’t do anything incredible with the visuals, but she gets the most out of the story and performers. I appreciated the script from Ottessa Moshfegh, Luke Goebel and Elizabeth Sanders, which features some beautiful and powerful emotional sequences. But what really strikes me in the film is the work of Lawrence and Henry. They are both tremendously talented actors who give their all to the film. I loved their work and the raw emotion of this story and the way they sink into their characters. The story was powerful and emotional, for me making it one of the year’s best.
Rating: Rated R for some language, sexual references and drug use.
My Policeman (Amazon Prime)
Starring: Harry Styles, Emma Corwin, David Dawson, Linus Roache, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett
Synopsis: This new film, based on the novel from Bethan Roberts, tells the story of three people in two timelines. In the present, Marion (McKee) and Tom (Roache) are a long-married couple living a quiet retirement. Marion brings their former friend, Patrick (Everett), to live out his final days after a stroke has taken his speech and mobility. It causes a rift between Marion and Tom who are finally forced to confront the past. In the second timeline, we see how Marion (Corwin) and Tom (Styles) first met, and we get the love story—and the series of events with Patrick (Dawson)—that propelled the trio to where they are now. By now, most are familiar with the plot here, though I won’t go into more detail. It’s meant to be something of an emotional journey, riding with these three who are caught in a decades long love triangle. Much of the action takes place in the 1950s timeline, with Styles, Corwin and Dawson getting much of the screen time. All three do a decent job. But I was also taken with the struggles of an older Marion, portrayed beautifully by McKee. The issue here is you know where we’re going and the twist near the end felt a bit too predictable. We also don’t get enough from Roache and Everett as the older versions of Tom and Patrick to make the payoff here feel earned. It’s a fine production but falls short of being a good or compelling film.
Rating: Rated R for sexual content.
The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile (Theaters)
Synopsis: This new documentary features the comeback album of country music icon Tanya Tucker, who created new music and toured behind it for the first time in 17 years. She came out of semi-retirement thanks to producer Shooter Jennings and fellow artist Carlile, who is a lifelong fan and a collaborator in this project. Their work on the music and the way Carlile is about to coax stories and new performances out of Tucker, often singing along with her, is a beautiful part of this documentary. Director Kathlyn Horan does a nice job of telling the story and following all the action, letting these two artists spin stories and share music together. It’s a feel-good story with a happy ending. I enjoyed the storytelling and the performances here. There is a sense of joy between Tucker and Carlile as they go through this journey, and that joy is infectious.
Rating: Rated R for language.
Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me (Apple TV+)
Synopsis: Mental Health is a critical challenge for many in this country. Certainly, the years long pandemic hasn’t helped, nor has the stigma of seeking help that is better but never quite went away. That’s part of what I loved about this documentary, in which Gomez lays herself and her struggles bare for the audience. It includes personal journal entries, times when she’s not at her best and times when she’s experiencing incredible success while feeling at her lowest. Gomez is brutally honest about her life and her struggles, the toll her success and scrutiny take and the loving support of those who accept her as she is. It was an incredibly powerful and emotional journey, taking place over a period of five years. I have enjoyed Gomez as a performer, especially in Only Murders in the Building. But I only knew her story from the tabloids. This up close and personal look spoke to me and proved to be a very emotional 95 minutes. It’s beautifully told and should be applauded as one of the year’s best documentaries and one of the year’s most powerful films. It’s simply beautiful.
Rating: Rated R for language
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.
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