January 2021

The Top Ten Movies of 2020

by Alan Rapp on January 29, 2021

in Top Tens & Lists

The Top Ten Movies of 2020

2020 was a hard year, and an unusual one for the movie business at large. In the void of many larger films being rescheduled and pulled from theaters due to COVID, the vacancies left room for many smaller films to garner more attention than normal. While the year may not have given us all that we wanted, and left several movie houses on the verge of bankruptcy, the quality of the movies did not diminish. The list includes all films released up until this date (so it does not include 2020 releases which won’t be available to the public until February or later). Here’s a look back the best films of 2020.

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Nomadland

by Alan Rapp on January 29, 2021

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Nomadland
  • IMDb: link

Nomadland movie reviewNomadland is a quiet, contemplative film not unlike Into the Wild or Wild in which a character leaves behind the conventions of society in search of something their former life can no longer offer. In the case of writer/director Chloé Zhao‘s tale, adapted from the book by Jessica Bruder, our character is an older widow who has lost nearly everything in the Great Recession including the home she made with her late husband when the town completely collapsed.

Taking to the road in a van, we travel along with Fern (Frances McDormand), meeting a number of other people in the same position searching for a way to make due with the little they have and hang on to the last of their independence. We discover a large community of the nomads, helping each other learn the tricks to survive. Bruder’s book took an in-depth look at the real nomad culture of older Americans hitting the road in RVs of all shapes and sizes looking for work and a way to get by. We don’t have to guess about the reality of these characters as many people play themselves in the film making Zhao’s tale an unusual blend of dramatic character study and documentary with Fern acting as the audience’s doorway into this world.

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The Vast of Night

by Alan Rapp on January 28, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: The Vast of Night
  • IMDb: link

The Vast of Night movie reviewPresented as something very similar to an episode from the original Twilight Zone, The Vast of Night offers a glimpse into a non-descript small town on a night when almost all are gathered for a high school basketball game and only a scattered few become aware of odd goings on in the night sky. The small town, set in the 1950s, focused on radio and reel-to-reel recordings, sets just the right mood for story which will slowly unfold. Self-financed, the low-budget film from writer/director Andrew Patterson is something to behold as it slowly builds before earning its final shot.

Our main characters are the night telephone operator Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) and her friend and local disc jokey Everett Sloan (Jake Horowitz) who become aware of an odd signal broadcasting across phone and radio lines. Putting the sound on the radio, in hopes others might be able to identify it sends the pair down a rabbit hole starting with the story of a soldier (Bruce Davis) about top secret military projects and including the account of an elderly shut-in (Gail Cronauer) forcing both characters to question what they believe.

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Charlie’s Angels – Angel Flight

by Alan Rapp on January 28, 2021

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Charlie’s Angels – Angel Flight
  • wiki: link

Charlie's Angels - Angel Flight television review

Throwback Thursday takes us back to the tale of three beautiful former police officers turned private detectives working for a faceless boss known as Charlie. When an old friend (Fawne Harriman) of Sabrina (Kate Jackson) reaches out for help, the Angels set out to find who is harassing the stewardess. Kris (Cheryl Ladd) and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) go undercover as new trainees while Sabrina plays herself, just an old friend in town for a few days. Despite the skill we’ve seen up until this point, the Angels miss some vital clues about the value of the experimental auto-pilot system the airline is launching with their training flight. It’s almost too late before they learn one of the pilots is attempting to steal the plane with the unwitting help of Sabrina’s friend.

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Prodigal Son – Alma Mater

by Alan Rapp on January 28, 2021

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Prodigal Son – Alma Mater
  • IMDb: link

Prodigal Son -  Alma Mater television review

“Alma Mater” sends Malcolm (Tom Payne) back to the boarding school where he attempted to remake himself to help solve the murder of the headmaster who expelled him. The episode presents three cheating students (Lily Ganser, Arthur Langlie, and Salena Qureshi) with obvious motive not only for the crime but the prankish presentation of the body, although a late redirect works as a red herring. It also allows Malcolm to revisit the cause of a vicious attack he suffered as a student and raise questions about what led to a traumatic event that followed. The episode is most notable for flashbacks which reveal the source of Malcolm’s hand tremor, which has been a staple of the show, while also highlighting the similarities and differences between Malcolm and his father. Speaking of dear old dad, the Surgeon’s (Michael Sheen) plans on escape take one giant step forward thanks to the help of one of his fellow inmates.

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