Check out Jordan Parker's "The week's best and biggest on Netflix" every Friday on HalifaxToday.ca.
Dick Johnson Is Dead
This is, by far, one of the nicest surprises of 2020. This story of a woman’s father — in the throes of worsening Alzheimer’s — is one of the most heartfelt documentaries I’ve seen in a long time.
His daughter, Kirsten, directs this look at her father’s life and condition — the good days and bad ones — and her love for this man shines through the lens.
Dick Johnson, it becomes clear, is an adored man. His family, friends, patients — he was a therapist — and all those whose lives he touched take part in doing him tribute here.
The friendly, funny approach to this serious topic allows us to also get to know Dick well, and I have to say I loved him by the end also.
Joel Kinnaman seems to be singularly known for his time on The Killing, but if you look at his filmography, you’ll find some really great gems.
He’s truly splendid here as FBI parolee and informant Pete Koslow. He digs deep into the drug operations of Russians, but when he gets caught up in a cop’s murder, things change.
He’s sent further undercover to a maximum security prison to infiltrate drug operations there. But as allegiances flip and a local cop becomes certain there’s more to the story than Pete lets on, things get messy.
It’s an incredible starring vehicle for Kinnaman, joined here by Common, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen and Ana De Armas. They’re all fantastic, making this the best crime thriller I’ve seen in a while.
A Simple Favor
This sassy, sexy and totally insane little thriller is so, so much better than the trailer makes it look.
Director Paul Feig — best known for Melissa McCarthy vehicles Bridesmaids, Spy and The Heat — veers into Wild Things territory with this one.
When single mother Stephanie becomes friends with beautiful, popular Emily, the two find more in common than the fact their kids attend the same school.
But when Emily disappears, Stephanie goes to all lengths to find her new friend and uncovers some insane secrets along the way.
Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are, quite simply, perfectly cast here. The script and dialogue are razor-sharp, and with Dustin Milligan, Andrew Rannells and Henry Golding aboard, it’s all-talent.
This is one heck of a ride, with twists you won’t see coming.
The Sisters Brothers
This is a movie no one talks about, and that’s always bothered me. Its director, Jacques Audiard, won the Silver Lion from the Venice Film Festival in 2018.
It played to a packed house at FIN 2018, and yet, it never caught fire like it should have in Canada or America.
The western — starring Hollywood favourites Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as assassin brothers in 1850s Oregon — is one of the slickest flicks I’ve seen in the last 20 years.
Reilly and Phoenix both give Oscar-worthy performances in this flick about their chase of a gold prospector.
When your supporting cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed and Rutger Hauer, you have something incredible.
This is a movie that passed so many people by but now’s your chance. Catch The Sisters Brothers while you can. You won’t regret it.
Pieces of a Woman
An absolutely electrifying 2020 entry, it’s no doubt a huge part of Netflix’s Oscar campaign this year.
The story of a couple’s disintegration and difficulty connecting after their baby dies during a home birth is so hard to watch.
Vanessa Kirby is electrifying and amazing as the would-be mother who withdraws following the event. No matter how hard her husband — played by Shia LaBeouf — tries to console her, she just doesn’t know how to move past it.
Playing her mother, Ellen Burstyn is magnificent and should also be headed for Oscar consideration. These two women are absolutely electrifying and steal every second of this film.
Readers may understandably shy away from watching due to the criminal allegations against Shia LaBeouf, but I beg you, watch it for these incredible female performances.
Do not miss this film to spite LaBeouf. Instead, see it for the women performers who, frankly, act circles around him here. They are the real stars of the magnificent Pieces of a Woman.
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.