Concrete Cowboy Review

Some of the best movies tell stories we may have never heard of before. It’s always nice when a slice-of-life story comes along that is very interesting and strikes a chord with viewers. Concrete Cowboy is one such film with a very touching story.

Cole (Caleb McLaughlin, Stranger Things) is a troubled teen in Detroit. His mother has had enough of his antics. She decides to take him to Philadelphia to live with his estranged father. While there, he gets a hard lesson about life and becomes friends with the locals. They have an interest in training and riding horses. This might be a way for Cole to communicate and relate with his father Harp (Idris Elba).

Films like this are very interesting because of the aspect of the lost character. In this case, it’s Cole. He’s a lost soul that needs finding. An old friend named Smush (Jharrell Jerome, When They See Us) embraces Cole and tries to mentor him. This may not be the path he needs to follow. He needs to come to this conclusion on his own though. This tight nit horse community may be the answer he’s seeking for his future.

Concrete Cowboy has a sense of family to it. This inner-city film has subject matter that is different from your average urban-set film. The father-son relationship at the center of it is the heart and soul of this story. Ricky Staub, the director, and Gregory Neri and Dan Walser, the writers, come from a very good angle on this film. They get on the inside of this community and bring the father-son angle to a high. It’s a perfect combination of storylines.

The heart and soul of the film also come from the horses depicted in it as well. The trust one needs to be able to ride a horse and train it is very hard for anybody, let alone a teenage kid who has never been around horses before in his life. That love and respect of the rider and horse is a beautiful thing when done right on film. Movies about horses are a subgenre of sports movies. They can be very inspiring at times. This film is an inspiring story.

Netflix has done a nice job acquiring or producing new projects from up-and-coming filmmakers. Some of them can be considered good films and some aren’t as impressive. Concrete Cowboy is one of the former. It is an original urban inner-city story such as Cut Throat City or Charm City Kings. The family aspect is a very familiar one, but an effective one in bringing the whole story all the way around to home base. Along with the horse parts of the film, the acting is very solid as well. This is a good first outing for the director and writers.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media

Tina Review

What I remember about Tina Turner is her huge success in the ’80s with the album Tiny Dancer and her huge hit single “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, which also serves as the title of the biopic about her abusive relationship with her partner and collaborator Ike Turner. I also remember her starring in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Tina Turner is more than all that though a lot more.

Turner was born in Nutbush, Tennessee and she came up singing in the baptist church as a young girl. That’s where Ike Turner found her and brought her into his band as a backup singer. He soon realized her talents and they started producing soul music and eventually rock and roll music together. Their inevitable explosive relationship, depicted in the film, ended very badly and in divorce. This was widely known. Like a caterpillar, Turner would blossom into a beautiful butterfly. 

The ’80s were like a new lease on life for Turner and people loved her for that. Interviews and huge concert tours fueled the success of Tiny Dancer. It allowed her to be the rock star she always wanted to be. Her shucking and jiving on stage was legendary. Nobody could dance like her on stage. Add in her iconic voice and you had an artist like no other. In an era of pop singers like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Whitney Houston, Turner stood toe to toe with them.

As a rock fan, Turner’s voice was second to none for me. I can recall listening to her songs over and over again when I was a kid. She just resonated with the kind of music I liked. Sure the others were huge stars, but they couldn’t hold a candle to Turner in my mind. She had a grasp of her voice that I just loved. It influenced my music interests for decades to come.

The abusive nature of Turner’s relationship with Ike Turner resonated with me as well. As a kid, my father and mother got into huge fights over finances and whatnot. My father drank a lot and hit my mother and us kids. This made me resent him for years to come. Violence in a relationship is sad because you start with love and things just decline from there. A lot of families can relate to this. Turner used this to drive her career and prove she could be successful without Ike. It worked!

Turner’s songs were iconic and her presence was second to none. She had an aura about her that made her forget her past and focus on the future eventually following in love again. Her collaborators such as Roger Davies on her music and Curt Loder, MTV, in her book, helped show she wasn’t defined by her past or her relationship with Ike Turner. Her success has shown what a powerful presence in music and pop culture she has become.

4 Stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment mediaShow more

Godzilla vs Kong Review

Warner Bros. landed a deal with Legendary Films and with that came the MonsterVerse. WB wanted to create this shared universe between Godzilla and King Kong to compete with Disney and Marvel to some extent. To a lesser extent. they do. Marvel/Disney has a lot more characters and can do many more films. The MonsterVerse is bigger in other countries like the pacific rim and continents like Asia and Australia. WB hopes to get their revenue from that part of the globe where these characters are more popular.

This film picks up a few years after the last film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Godzilla is attacking an Apex Facility in Pensacola, Florida. A local podcaster (Brian Tyree Henry) is investigating these occurrences with the help of Millie Bobby Brown’s character from the last film. The leader of Apex (Demián Bichir) has a sinister plan to get rid of the titans. The plan gets a little confusing but also involves Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall, and a little girl who can talk to Kong.

The inevitable part about these Godzilla and King Kong films is the human characters that drive the plot forward. Some have evil plots using the titans for their own nefarious means, such as Bichir, Samuel L. Jackson, and Charles Dance, and some are friendly towards the titans like Ken Watanabe, Millie Bobby Brown the little girl who can communicate with Kong. Most of the time the human characters just get in the way of what everybody wants to see: the titans battling and destroying stuff.

Godzilla vs. Kong has what everybody wants: epic battles between Godzilla and King Kong. The locations are interesting, though because who has the advantage in each place they fight. That sometimes weighs in on who wins each battle. Eventually, these two titans have to put away their egos of who is the best of the best and team up to fight a common foe. This is an epic battle, to say the least. These battles were great, but I give the edge to the King of the Monsters on that front. 

The plot in these films is usually just there to drive the film forward. That being said, the plot this time around was a little convoluted and hard to understand. A lot of the film is wasted on this upside-down world. I still don’t understand how a hole in the ground leads to the middle of the Earth. That was a contrived reason for Kong’s size change as well. It’s simpler when a nefarious bad guy has the plot to destroy the Titans.

All in all, Godzilla vs. Kong is a good popcorn flick. You just take your brain out and enjoy the action and destruction and ignore the human characters altogether, except the little girl who can communicate with Kong. That’s an interesting relationship I wished we would have seen more of. The destruction of Hong Kong is an epic battle between the titans and a familiar foe. Sadly, we had to wait until the end to get something worth caring about.

3 Stars

Dan Skip Allen

The Courier Review

Spy films have evolved since their origin. The James Bond franchise is the measuring stick that all spy films are measured by. But that isn’t where the spy genre stops. Some are comedies, some are based on television shows, and some are based on great works of literature. All that considered, the best spy films are those based in reality and on true stories. The Courier is based on a true story and it’s very good.

Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a normal businessman. He has dealings with men and women from all over the world, which puts him on the radar of the British Intelligence Agency and the CIA. When a Russian Colonel reaches out to the British Intelligence community and the CIA, they enlist Cumberbatch’s character to help them get Russian intelligence on their nuclear proliferation and whether this is a threat to the rest of the world during the Cold War.

Cumberbatch has played everything from Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Stephen Strange in his award-winning career. He just seems to fit in any time he plays from that of an army lawyer in The Mauritanian or Wikileaks founder Julien Assange in The Fifth Estate. His acting style is that of one that can meld into any character he plays. He’s even played characters such as Alan Turing, in his Oscar-nominated performance in The Imitation Game and Peter Guillam in Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy. His performance in The Courier is as good as the others he’s delivered in his career.

Other than Cumberbatch, the film also has some other solid performances. Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) as a CIA officer, Jesse Buckley (Wild Rose) as Wynne’s wife, and Merab Ninidze as the potential Russian defector. All actors involved are very effective in getting the motivations and stories of these characters across in this film.

The thing that needs to be asked about spy films is whether they bring suspense and espionage to the table. That is a key to a great spy film. The Courier succeeds in that regard. Aside from actually knowing about this true story most viewers were sure to be surprised and entertained by the content of this film. The writers did a great job of keeping the plot secret so the twists and turns were genuinely a surprise.

The Courier has some twists and turns and some solid writing to boot. The acting is very solid as well from some veteran actors. As far as spy films go it’s not the best, but definitely not the worst. It’s the middle of the road. If I hadn’t seen some similar films very recently I may have liked it more. It’s just not on the level of Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy, or a couple of the Daniel Craig Bond Films. It’s good though.

3 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media

Charlatan Review

This year’s crop of Best International Features has been narrowed down to a shortlist, allowing the Academy voters to have a smaller group of folks to choose from. Charlatan is one of those films. It is the Czech representative for the Best International Feature for the 93rd Academy Awards. It deserved a nomination for sure.

Ivan Trojan & Josef Trojan play older and younger Jan Mikoiasek, a self-taught healer who uses urine and plant-based remedies as well as his own concoctions to heal hundreds of people. These medical practices put him on the radar of local authorities and the Nazis. They don’t like his lack of respect for the medical community. This film is based on a very fascinating true story.

Mikoiasek’s practice has gotten so big that he needed a helper to help him be more efficient in getting through all of his patients. Juraj Loj plays Frantisek Palco, a good-looking young man. That did not hurt his practice. He was a very helpful man to the doctor. Any successful person needs help. This man is a supporter of the doctor, but even supporters can be turned against a savior or friend with the right motivation. That’s a sad fact of life.

This story is a very fascinating one, to say the least. For a man that is so successful, it’s strange that forces are marshaled against him. He has helped so many people, even Nazis. As far as doctors and patients go, when you have so many patients one or two might not be happy. It’s par for the course. These people just don’t like him so they use these cases to attack his personage and his character.

It’s nice to see films about undiscovered stories. WWII has many stories that have been told surrounding these events in the past. Some of these stories are very strange and fascinating. This is one of them. There was so much going on in that war it makes sense strange stories like this can come out in the many years since the war. I applaud the filmmakers for finding and developing this subject matter.

Charlatan is a great film! The subject matter is quite interesting. These types of stories are very interesting. The filmmakers do a great job of fleshing out the lead character and his story. He is a very sympathetic character in a very hard and dark world. There are always haters though and especially during WWII. The Nazis were the worst bad guys in history. This is one of the best films of 2021 even though it’s technically a 2020 film.

5 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media

Raya and the Last Dragon

Peter Del Vecho is a successful producer most notably because of Frozen and The Princess and the Frog. This allowed him to produce the highly original new film for Disney, Raya and the Last Dragon. Disney has created a formula that is tried and true but every once and a while they veer away from their formula. Raya and the Last Dragon isn’t exactly like their other projects, but that’s what makes it better in some regards. Stepping out on a ledge is sometimes better than doing the safe thing. 

Kumandra is a fictional land where dragons and humans lived together in harmony. Until one day when monsters that are known as Druun threatened Kumandra. All the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. When the Druun return after 500 years, a female warrior known as Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) and her band of misfits: Sisu the Dragon (Awkwafina), Tong (Benedict Wong), and Boun (Isaac Wong) help her try and save Kumandra.

Disney has been known for its cutting-edge animation. Over the decades, they have improved on their tried and true formula, making their films better and better each time they improve on their style. For the last decade or so, they’ve been doing computer-animated films similar to their sister company Pixar. Their style is a little different though, not to seem exactly like Pixar. Both have succeeded in their ways which have made Disney that much better of a movie-making company.

Raya and the Last Dragon has a lot of darker colors which help to show the difficult nature of the story. It also has a lot of the bright colors Disney has been known for. The dragons are bright and colorful. They all have their unique difference which set them apart. When the film changes landscapes, it’s notably different as well. All the beauty of Kumandra is on display in this, the newest from Disney animation. It’s nice to see all the films are distinctly different from their predecessors. This one stands apart on its own as well.

Raya and the Last Dragon has a great story of action and adventure with a little Asian culture thrown in. Even though it’s a fictional land of Kumandra, it is rich with characters and vibrant colors. It is a sweet story for anybody looking for a change of pace. It has backstabbing friends, feuding lands, and crystals everybody are chasing after. It is a little Indiana Jones with a little Mulan thrown it for good measure. It’s a fun film for adults and kids alike.

4 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Coming 2 America Review

Coming 2 America is the sequel to the widely popular and critical success from 1988 from director John Landis. Making sequels many years after the original, 33 years later, in this case, has become a thing lately. The question is can a sequel come out many years after the original and capture the originality, fanfare, and cultural significance that the original did? Amazon Prime is gambling that it will.

Set mostly in Zamunda, the newly minted leader of the kingdom, Akeem (Eddie Murphy), and his trusted friend and confidant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), try to navigate their new roles as rulers of the country. A potential threat emerges from the country next door, and its leader General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), could threaten everything his father built. Going back to America might be their only salvation for the future of Zamunda. 

The original Coming to America relied on many laughs from the audience from the fish-out-of-water situations Akeem and Semmi got themselves into. This film also succeeds in that regard. The new film tried to double down on this in the exact opposite way. Craig Brewer, the director, brought in new characters that would come to Zamunda and try to adapt to that world. The Royal Kingdom has its ups and downs. Royal bathers, groomers, and servants can be a bit to get used to, especially for the illegitimate son of Akeem, Lavelle Johnson (Jermaine Fowler), and his mother (Leslie Jones).

Many situations are funny in the film because of the royal nature of the film. dances and so forth are quite funny to watch. The characters just accentuate all of the ritzy stuff in the film. The costumes, hairstyles, and set production are all first-rate for a film about a rich African nation. They spared no expense in these departments. A little CGI added in and viola — you have a fancy African nation.

Another fun part of the original that Brewer, Murphy, and company keep in the film is the multiple characters Murphy and Hall play. Revisiting the barbershop with all the colorful characters is a pleasant surprise for me. They even add more than just those guys in the film. A sneaky wise man, a lounge lizard, and a preacher are all added to the mix. They’re all funny new characters. Levelle’s Uncle (Tracy Morgan) and Maurice (Louie Anderson) also add some laughs to the film. 

Although Coming 2 America is a charming and funny film, at times it lacks the originality of the first one. In these times we live in, it’s hard to do cutting-edge things anymore. The characters went for the jokes in the 1988 version. This time around that aspect of the film was tamer. That hurt my overall enjoyment of the sequel. This film wasn’t bad by any means — it just wasn’t on the caliber of the original.

3 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman Editor and Chief

I Care A Lot Review

In I Care a Lot, Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) plays a legal guardian who tries to bilk an old lady (played by two-time Academy Award winner Diane Weist) out of her fortune until she runs a fowl of a dangerous gangster (played by five-time Emmy winner Peter Dinklage). The film also features supporting turns by Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver) as an assistant/lover of Pikes character and Chris Messina (The Newsroom) as a shady lawyer for Weist’s character and who works for Dinklage’s character. 

Writer/director J Blakeson has crafted a witty satire on our healthcare system in the country. The hows and whys of it all will just give away all the great plot twists and turns. Suffice it to say, this film is a damning look at how people are taken care of and those in control of the system, be it judges, lawyers, or caregivers. This is a rigged system. Somebody is going to make money off of the misfortunes of others. Namely the sick and elderly. It’s a travesty of nature. 

Rosalind Pike has done a lot in her career since her sinister turn in David Fincher’s Gone Girl. She played quite a few real people over that period. Her first big break was as a Bond Girl, Miranda Frost, in Die Another Day. She’s traversed little indie films, stage work, and big-budget blockers all through her career. She has done it all. That being said, the role of a con artist and swindler in I Care A Lot might be the best work of her career. She plays this role with such confidence and guile. It’s a nice change of pace for her.

I Care A Lot has a great script. It has so many twists and turns I didn’t see coming. It makes sense such heavyweights like Pike, Dinklage, and Weist were attracted to it. It has so much for everybody in it. Everybody gets to share in the great dialogue and witty banter. Sometimes it’s almost like they are enjoying themselves a little too much. Pike seems to have a smile on her face the entire time. It’s obvious to tell she is having a blast in this role. The same goes for Wiest. Dinklage is his normal stoic self, but that is par for the course for him. 

I Care A Lot is a great look at the facilities for the well-being of senior citizens and those that run them. It also has great performances by everyone involved, especially Pike, who may have given the best performance of her career. This is not a true story or anything, but it does make one think about this system and the blatant corruption and misbehavior of those running the facilities. J Blakeson has made an enjoyable film despite the controversial subject matter.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media

76 Days Review

This film is the first of its kind. Not the fact that it’s a documentary, the fact that it’s the first film about the COVID-19 epidemic. Filmmakers Hao Wu & Weixi Chen take their cameras to the Wuhan Province in China where this epidemic started. They specifically focus on five hospitals and their doctors and nurses as well as the first people affected by this debilitating disease. 

The doctors and nurses at the various hospitals have their hands full dealing with patients, their family members, and people wanting to get in the hospitals to get checked out themselves. The hysteria involving this disease is real and everyone involved is feeling it in one way or another. This film pulls no punches, especially with how it depicts the patients the nurses and doctors have to treat.

The doctors and nurses try to do the best they can with dealing with this illness. At the time they didn’t know what it would become even though the government had curfews and so forth. We know a lot about this epidemic now that we didn’t know at the beginning. You can’t blame those who were doing their best to try to treat these people. 

The title refers to the fact that this area was on lockdown for 76 days. This was and is a real problem. The stories depicted in the film involve an old fisherman, a couple who are separated into different wings for men and women, and a mother who gives birth while being treated for the disease. These people’s stories bring this film home in the end. Some of them make it and some don’t. That’s the reality of this situation. 

Even though these frontline workers are indistinguishable from one another, they show they are there to do a job. They work very long hours keeping them from their own families. When you sign up for the life of a doctor or a nurse, you have to embrace the fact that it’s a calling. You do it for the responsibility that comes with the job. These men and women deserve a round of applause. They are the heroes in all of this even in a communist country like China.

76 Days was an eye-opening look at the beginning of this debilitating disease. The filmmakers really got inside of what goes on in these hospitals. How these men and women worked hard to help all of these patients. It was not an easy task they had. I for one would not want to be in their shoes. The sad fact of this film is that not everyone lives. That’s the cost of something hard to fight and understand.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media

Little Fish Review

In recent years, there have been a few films dealing with couples or relationships where one of the two has an illness or debilitating disease. Usually, they are sold to the public as young adult films. Little Fish is based on a short story by Aja Gabel and adapted for the screen by Mattison Thomlin. This story seems to be a little close to home considering the times we live in today with COVID-19 still running rampant throughout the world.

This film follows the lives of a couple that met on the beach inadvertently. Olivia Cooke plays a veterinarian married to a photographer played by Jack O’Connell. They live in a world where people are getting a memory loss disease called NIA (Neuro Inflammatory Affliction), which causes people to forget their life, their job, and who they are when they get it. This can be quite alarming to their loved ones, family members, co-workers, and friends

Not exactly like the COVID-19 epidemic, NIA is still a difficult disease to deal with. The tragic events that can be caused by it can be quite tragic. It can affect anybody at any time. The two leads of the film have to deal with it in their own ways. Cooke and O’Connell work very well together. Their relationship seems very genuine. Even when they argue it comes across as realistic. Scenes involving flashbacks help develop this relationship very nicely.

Cooke and O’Connell have had nice careers up until now. They were both in very good films in 2020: Sound of Metal and Jungleland, respectively. In Little Fish, they both have a chance to work on a film that stretches their acting talents even further. This film pushes them into a lot of different emotional states. The film benefits from these two great young actors. Both of their careers have led them to this moment.

Films like Outbreak and Contagion can be compared to Little Fish, but they are more drastic looks at epidemics. Little Fish mainly focuses on this relationship and that’s the strength of the film. How these two married people deal with the disease is the meat and potatoes of this film. 

The filmmaking style is nice despite the dramatic events going on in the lives of the main characters. It has a lived-in feel to it that easily brings the audience into the story. It feels like anybody could be these two people. This makes the film that much more accessible, especially during this time we live it today. It looked very nice all the way through, even the flashback scenes.

Little Fish is a stark reminder of the times we live in today, but it also shows how love and caring can help overcome the most difficult times. Chad Hartigan, the director, does an admirable job with this touchy subject matter. He is definitely a filmmaker to watch in the future.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media