In the Soviet Union era of the 1980’s a Russian Cosmonaut crash lands back to Earth, but he’s not alone, an Alien has hitched a ride in the most disturbing way possible. ‘Sputnik’ isn’t for the easily squeamish but its intelligent, compelling and has enough twists to surprise; think of it as a cross between ‘Alien’ and ‘The Thing’.
The music fits nicely with its downbeat communist synth score and Oksana Akinshina who plays ‘Tatyana’ the neurophysiologist who the military bring in, is great as the main character.
David Fincher has made cult classics such as ‘Seven’ and ‘Fight Club’, they were dark and operated outside the mainstream Hollywood fare. ‘Mank’ is more of a personal touch from Fincher, as his father Jack wrote the screenplay.
It’s about Herman J. Mankiewicz, a boozy screenwriter who worked for the studio system back in the 1930’s; he’s tasked with writing ‘Citizen Kane’, the 1941 movie starring Orson Welles.
It’s old style Hollywood movie making, shot in black and white with cigarette burns on the reel and fade to black ending of scenes, ‘Mank’ is a slow burner that made movie nerds everywhere giddy. It’s entertaining with rapid-fire dialogue and stunning cinematography and Gary Oldman as ‘Mank’ plays him perfectly as the loveable rouge you cheer for.
3. Uncut Gems
There’s a frantic energy to this movie that never lets go. Adam Sandler is ‘Howard’, a New York City diamond dealer who gets himself into all kinds of trouble. Wearing his satin shirts, he has a loan shark after him, is trying to juggle his wife and girlfriend and has lent out a rare black opal to NBA star Kevin Garnett, who now won’t give it back. ‘Uncut Gems’ is high pace, exciting and at times a tad uncomfortable to watch, but it’s a must see.
2. The Traitor
This is the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, a foot solider in the ‘Cosa Nostra’ in the 1980’s. He is the main man responsible for decimating this notorious crime syndicate when he testified against his former ‘brothers’. It’s a fascinating tale of a man in turmoil, with his own failings and his determination to turn on an organization that forgot it’s own old world ways when they turned to the heroin trade. ‘The Traitor’ has everything you’d want in a mob movie with flashbacks, courtroom drama, killings and bombings.
- The Way Back
Ben Affleck plays ‘Jack’ a construction worker who loves his booze over everything else, but when his old college asks him to coach the basketball team, he becomes a man looking for redemption. This is Affleck’s best role in years and he meets it with the gusto it deserves. It’s more than a sports drama, it’s the emotional jolt you may need and I admit I shed a tear or two during this one.
In a year where so many movies got pushed back to 2021, ‘The Way Back’ stood out amongst what was left; this is the movie of the year.