What We're Watching: July 30, 2021

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Brock: "Two sports movies this week. Was pleasantly surprised how well Rookie of the Year (1993) holds up. A lighthearted baseball fantasy that the parents can enjoy along with the kids. And a long overdue rewatch of Hoosiers (1985) once again showed me why revisiting some movies can be like seeing them for the first time. Turns out I only remembered two scenes; everything else was brand new. Found Hackman once again terrific, and yes while the story is the standard 'new coach makes a difference in the lives of the players and the town' fare, this one just works from start to finish. Definitely check this one out if you haven't seen or its been a while." 

Jakob: "Edgar Wright is known for curating a great soundtrack in films like Baby Driver, so it should be no surprises he’s championing oddball pop rock duo Sparks in his new documentary The Sparks Brothers (2021). I had vague memories of the band’s weird music videos on MTV, so this was a fun deep dive into their history spanning over five decades. If you’re a fan of the band or appreciate unconventional music, then I recommend it. It did introduce me to the one film Sparks appeared in; disaster film Rollercoaster (1977). A terrorist is blowing up amusement park rides until a ransom is paid and the only person who can stop him is…a safety inspector? The film has its moments of thrills like the first sabotaged rollercoaster crash but the explosions are few as a lot of time is dedicated to just showing off coaster tracks from around the country. It’s too bad this ends up feeling like a dull carnival ride than rush the opening scene promised."

Stuart: "Just finished the first season of The Mandalorian, and it's easily the most inspired entry in the Star Wars franchise since The Empire Strikes Back. Jon Favreau has created something both familiar and fresh by fusing Lucas' iconic film grammar and production design with spaghetti Western and samurai flick influences. And who could blame Pedro Pascal's titular bounty hunter for breaking his professional code to save that absolutely adorable Yoda baby? Here's hoping the Force is still with them in Season Two." 
Jason: “Japan was like America’s frenemy in 80s and 90s movies – think Gung-HoRising Sun, and Ridley Scott’s Black Rain (1989), in which bitter, divorced, and possibly corrupt cop Michael Douglas duels with a Yakuza boss on the streets of Osaka while he and partner Andy Garcia adjust to the Japanese way of doing police work. Rather than mine the film’s premise for audience-friendly, fish-out-of-water hijinks, Scott sticks to real talk about clashing cultures and relies on Douglas’ hardened detective to fuel the drama. Douglas is all-time, and this one kinda flies under the radar (despite pulling in $134 million in 1989 dollars), but it deserves a watch, because he is every bit the badass that he looks to be on that poster.”

Heath: "I'd never seen Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer (1991) before finally watching it this week. And all I can say is, why on earth did I wait so long to see this underrated gem? This is a superb adventure throwback that because of its 1930s setting, feels timeless and apart from a couple of sub-par effects shots, hasn't barely aged a day. Bill Campbell is likeable but a tad vanilla as the titular jetpack-wearing hero, but thankfully he's surrounded by an incredible supporting cast consisting of Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Paul Sorvino, Terry O'Quinn and especially Timothy Dalton who is a moustache-twirling delight as fictional movie star and secret Nazi Neville Sinclair. James Horner's soaring score might be one of his best ever, and this for me ranks alongside Honey I Shrunk the Kids as the best film of Johnston's career. If you loved Captain America: The First Avenger (also directed by Johnston) but have never seen this, you will not be disappointed."

Santiago: "Our Souls at Night (2017) caught my attention because of its screenwriters, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, who penned such romances as 500 Days of SummerThe Spectacular Now as well as being nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars for The Disaster Artist. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda are the main attraction here as two widows who start spending nights together, non-sexually, to cope with their loneliness. Their chemistry is the main reason why I like the film as much as I do, and that chemistry carries the film through some dramatic moments that come off as a little too cheesy for my taste. Still, this is a very effective romantic drama and a pleasant watch."

Adam: "This week I'm looking forward to Werewolves Within (2021). Sam Richardson was likeable enough in the recent The Tomorrow War (2021) and brought much needed levity to the film. The trailer has me thinking of What We Do in the Shadows (2014), which is never a bad thing!"