By AD Beal

Uncut Gems
The Safdie brothers might currently be the best directors at making an audience root for the most irredeemable characters possible. Howie Bling, played incredibly by Adam Sandler, does almost everything wrong – constantly screwing over and hurting his family, friends, and business associates. Knowing all of that, there is something about his charm and mannerisms that make you want him to sink that half court shot. The brothers’ dark comedy and panic attack-esque filmmaking style also shines here in scenes that can make you laugh at even the most horrifying of moments. Bolstered by Daniel Lopatin’s score and a colorful supporting cast, you’ve got an experience that feels like the lost Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro collaboration. While this film likely won’t be for everyone, I highly recommend it.

6 Underground
This is Michael Bay without limits and that’s not necessarily good. Imagine his immature humor, over the top action and frantic editing…and then multiply it by 10. Now imagine one-dimensional characters, lazy continuity errors, obnoxious comedy and exploitation of some serious real-world horrors. None of the actors, despite being highly talented, bring anything to the table and Bay confirms that the charm of his insane style wears off after an opening 10-minute car chase scene. At least he avoids exceeding a 2hr and 15 minutes run time.

The Grudge
The most disappointing films are the ones that feel like they waste all of their good qualities. Taking the anthology format of Grudge in a new direction with an R-rating, an interesting director like Nicolas Pesce and a great cast seems like a perfect idea. Unfortunately for the viewers, somewhere something went horribly wrong. There are no characters here, only archetypes (the haunted cops, the soon-to-be parents, etc.) The horror consists of nothing more than jump scares. Overall, the movie doesn’t do anything unique or interesting. The worst part was that somehow, in a series where there was always a sense of dread, grief or trauma, the film continuously pulls punches leaving it flat and almost comedic. While it’s still early in the year, I believe this will be one of 2020’s most underwhelming films.

Like a horror film, 1917 makes each moment feel like the difference between life and death. The long takes aren’t there just for the sake of showing off, but for Director Sam Mendes and DP Roger Deakins to place you in the shoes of the characters. This film mirrors real life with sudden, pivotal moments that change the course of everything, and everyone effected. The actors mesh perfectly in their roles – particularly the decision to give the minor/supporting roles to major actors, portraying a sense of importance without taking away from the leads. The production design and looks are also incredible. My favorite nightmare is the detail given to No Man’s Land. As a whole, 1917 was an intense, emotional experience.