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We Are So Back. Let’s Talk About Movies!

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With the writers and actors strike both finally coming to a close, all thanks to the consistent efforts of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, the door is officially open to discussing film and television once again. But if we’re being honest, four months of movies that has gone by, with some riding the blockbuster wave, while others garnered attention from smaller audiences. Nevertheless, it gives me great pleasure to go back in time, and provide a synopsis and a brief review of every movie I’ve seen then. Welcome back to Pooja’s Picks…now let’s talk about movies!

Barbie

Director: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, and an extensive and outstanding all-star cast)

Where To Watch: Available for rent or purchase on Apple TV and YouTube

There’s no denying that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie took the world by storm upon its release. The film follows Barbie as she begins to experience changes to her everyday routine. This forces her to travel from Barbie Land to the real world, where she uncovers a startling and life-changing realization. 

Barbie stands out in a way where it appears to be a capitalistic advertisement for the Mattel name, only to do a complete 180 by being a representation of what it means to be a woman. In its own way, it is a coming of age story that serves as a spark for conversation regarding feminism, societal standards, and identity, all of which are topics to apply to everyone. With its stunning visuals, engaging and comedic dialogue, and magnetic cast, Barbie excels as one of the best movies of the year. It reminds us that existing as a woman is one of the most difficult things to do, but the existence of women is one of the most beautiful things. And for that, this Barbie approves of this film.

Samosa Rating:
Barbie receives 5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Oppenheimer

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and also an extensive and outstanding all-star cast

Where To Watch: Currently unavailable

Coinciding with the well-known “Barbenheimer” phenomenon, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer sparked much discussion. The film follows the adulthood of Robert J. Oppenheimer, a physicist who joins the infamous Manhattan Project as they attempt and succeed in creating the world’s first ever atomic bomb during World War II.

The film gives us a story that uncovers Oppenheimer’s planet-sized ego and blatant disregard for the rules, with the end result being the only priority in his mind. Much of the intrigue is brought about by Cillian Murphy’s engaging performance as well as the stunning artistic choices made throughout the film. The sound design and score are both hauntingly beautiful, with excellent cinematography. However, the big issue to be found with this film is the way it presents Oppenheimer as morally gray and fails to show the aftermath of his actions. It begs the question: Who is this movie for? It’s enough to leave a bad taste in the mouth as one walks away from the film, angrier than before.

Samosa Rating:
Oppenheimer receives 3 out of 5 Samosas. 

They Cloned Tyrone

Director: Juel Taylor
Cast: John Boyega, Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris
Where To Watch: Netflix

When a bizarre series of events in a predominantly Black town pushes an unlikely trio to work together, they begin to uncover a government conspiracy that is far sinister than they realized. They Cloned Tyrone is a strange mystery film that is absolutely hilarious but keeps you on your toes as the suspense builds. The chemistry between Boyega, Foxx, and Parris allow for excellent comedic timing while also adding to their quirky team dynamic. The film only suffers from its slightly dragged out runtime but it’s worth seeing a fun cast of characters interact in a unique way. While it’s not for everyone, this is a film that you have to watch for yourself to truly understand that it’s not at all what you might expect.

Samosa Rating:
They Cloned Tyrone receives 4 out of 5 Samosas. 

The Haunted Mansion

Director: Justin Simein
Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Tiffany Haddish
Where To Watch:
Available to stream on Disney+

After a woman and her son move into an old mansion, strange things begin to occur, leading them to believe the mansion may be haunted. It takes an unlikely crew of supernatural experts to work together and remove whatever haunts the creaky mansion. Twenty years after the original adaptation of the classic Disney ride was released, The Haunted Mansion manages to set itself apart from the stories of both the original film and the iconic attraction. Introducing brand new characters with engaging backstories, it’s an enjoyable and spooky ride all throughout. However, it takes too much extra time to reach its climax and resolve, while boring us with dialogue that feels forced and unenthusiastic, no matter how hard its cast tries to bring emotion into the picture. And no offense to Jamie Lee Curtis, no one can beat Jennifer Tilly’s performance as Madame Leota.

Samosa Rating:
The Haunted Mansion receives 3 out of 5 Samosas. 

Talk To Me

Director: Danny and Michael Phillippou
Cast:
Sophia Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji
Where To Watch:
Available for rent or purchase on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video

A mysterious embalmed hand becomes all the buzz amongst a group of friends when they discover a way to use it to summon spirits. But when one summoning goes too far, the danger becomes too real too soon, and the consequences begin to pile up without end. While the film isn’t exactly a conventional horror story, Talk To Me still finds a way to use supernatural elements and startling violence to frighten the audience on a more psychological level. A montage of spiritual summoning’s with a wacky mysterious hand and strange carvings only to end in the absolute worst way possible is enough to terrify anyone the more one thinks about it. Talk To Me remains to be one of the better horror films released this autumn season and is definitely to one to watch.

Samosa Rating:
Talk To Me receives 4 out of 5 Samosas. 

Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani

Director: Karan Johar
Cast:
Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh
Where To Watch:
Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

When a flamboyant and rich Punjabi boy meets an intellectual and outspoken Bengali journalist, the two begin to fall in love with one another. But to combat their disapproving families, they decide to live with the other’s family for three months before marrying, putting many relationships to the test. The way this film fuses modern times with throwbacks to the old days of Bollywood is a sight to see. The musical numbers are generally captivating and jubilant, with some taking a breath to serve as internal thoughts for our characters. Alia and Ranveer have a workable amount of chemistry but are a sight to see on screen together. And while the film can be a bit too on-the-nose when it comes to presenting modern ideals, it still pushes past boundaries within judgmental family structures,  challenges traditional thinking, and encourages new perspectives from everyone. 

Samosa Rating:
Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani receives 4.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Director: Jeff Rowe
Cast: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Nicolas Cantu, Brady Noon, Ayo Edebiri
Where To Watch: Available to stream on
Paramount+

Four of the most famous Turtle brothers return in an all new animated film as we watch them cope with everyday teenage struggles while also being hidden from the human world. Desperate to be amongst the humans, they meet April O’Neil, an aspiring journalist, as they attempt to take down a mysterious crime gang. Mutant Mayhem is a blast from the past, giving fans of the TMNT franchise exactly what they’ve been wanting and with stellar animation. The film’s voice acting cast is totally star studded but it’s the voices for our favorite Turtles that steal the show with their endearing personalities and perfect comedic timing. Here’s to hoping we see more of these characters in the near future.

Samosa Rating:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem receives 4 out of 5 Samosas. 

Gran Turismo

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom
Where To Watch: Available for rent or purchase on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video

Gran Turismo depicts the true story of an underdog gamer-turned-racer, Jann Mardenborough, who sacrifices everything to be a professional racing car driver. Let’s start off by saying that while the performances of David Harbour and Orlando Bloom knock it out of the park, it’s Archie Madekwe that audiences need to watch out for. Not only does he capture the likeness of Jann Mardenborough, but he is able to convey the intense drive and passion of someone who is desperate to fight against the odds and make their dreams a reality. The film keeps its humor to a minimum so as not to take away from the more heartfelt or heartbreaking moments. The story does drag occasionally and ultimately, despite sharing the same name as one of Sony PlayStation’s biggest racing games of all time, it’s bound to be a forgettable film. But that shouldn’t stop any Gran Turismo fan from checking out this incredibly inspiring film.

Samosa Rating:
Gran Turismo receives 3.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Blue Beetle

Director: Ángel Manuel Soto
Cast: Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquezine, Belissa Escobedo, Adriana Barraza, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Where To Watch: Available to stream on Max

From DC, Blue Beetle follows Jaime Reyes, a young adult who finds himself in possession of a technological scarab beetle intended for military purposes. When the suit connects to Jaime and only Jaime, his world is flipped upside down as he’s suddenly thrust into an exciting but dangerous world of superpowers and greedy, corrupt individuals. Blue Beetle by no means can carry the weight of James Gunn’s upcoming DC universe, but that doesn’t take away from its ability to be a fun comic book movie. It’s clear that it makes every attempt to connect with Mexican-American audiences and succeeds in doing so with humor specific to the demographic. Like many superhero films, Blue Beetle suffers from the curse of having a forgettable villain, regardless of their motivation. However, Xolo Maridueña knows who Jaime Reyes is and gives him heart, making him a memorable character that we hope to see going forward. And never to be forgotten are the supporting cast who make the audience feel as if we’ve been graciously welcomed into their home for an adventure.

Samosa Rating:
Blue Beetle receives 3.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Bottoms

Director: Emma Seligman
Cast: Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, Ruby Cruz, Havana Rose Liu, Kaia Gerber, Nicholas Galitzine
Where To Watch:
Available for rent or purchase on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video

Two queer high school girls decide to set up a fight club with other girls as a ploy to romance a pair of cheerleaders before graduation. When their plan begins to go awry, they must figure out a way to keep their intentions from being leaked to the whole school. Bottoms is one of those insane teen movies that brings on the comedy in the most outlandish ways. While it has a rough beginning, the film finds its footing within the first half hour and marches to the end with cliche arguments, queer plot twists, and outrageous laugh-out-loud moments. Edebiri is the star of the show, through and through, as she never misses a beat in every scene she is in.  And if anything, Bottoms is proof we need to keep bringing in more queer stories. 

Samosa Rating:
Bottoms receives 4 out of 5 Samosas. 

The Equalizer 3

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Eugenio Mastrandrea, David Denman
Where To Watch: Available for rent or purchase on Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video

Equalizer 3 serves as the hopefully final return of former assassin Robert McCall who finds himself residing in Southern Italy, attempting to live a peaceful life. But when his new neighbors and friends are under the threat of an intimidating group of crime bosses, Robert finds himself the protector of the locals and faces the mafia head on. The film itself isn’t anything new, both as a part of the Equalizer series and within the genre as a whole. The backdrop of Italy is great and all, but it is ultimately a bit boring and overused, and it just feels like the film didn’t really need to be made. But hey, if you’re into violent action films with Denzel leading the way, this might just be for you.

Samosa Rating:
The Equalizer 3 receives 2 out of 5 Samosas. 

The Nun II

Director: Michael Chaves
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell
Where To Watch: Available to stream on Max

In 1956, after a French priest is brutally murdered, Sister Irene makes a return to investigate, only to find herself facing off against evil supernatural entities once again. The film is a follow up to 2018’s The Nun as part of The Conjuring saga, but is somehow much more interesting and engaging than its predecessor. The Nun II still follows the same pattern of horror tropes and falls into the trap of showing us the big scary monster too soon for the audience to be afraid. But the story is somehow a bit elevated and far more interesting, allowing it to be a suitable watch if you want to stay caught up with the Conjuring saga. However, it is still a movie that can be skipped with a few scattered flat performances and less than frightening moments.

Samosa Rating:
The Nun II receives 2.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

A Haunting In Venice

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Kelly Reilly
Where To Watch: Available to stream on Hulu

Hercule Poirot returns in another adaptation of a classic Agatha Christie mystery. This time, we find Poirot in one of the oldest and most famous cities of all, Venice, as he has now retired from detective work and seeks to live without the chaos of murderous cases. After being convinced to attend a séance in a haunted palace, Poirot is suddenly thrust back into detective mode when a guest is murdered. A Haunting in Venice is perhaps the most fun to be had with a Poirot film since Murder on the Orient Express, making it the perfect release of the recent spooky season. The film does drag at times and can find itself in moments of absolute boredom but manages to pick itself up and move forward to the finale. Kenneth Branagh is as fun as always in his portrayal of Poirot while the cast of characters each have the audience constantly guessing. Tina Fey and Kelly Reilly have stand out performances but perhaps the most memorable of all is that from Michelle Yeoh. If you’re looking for a murder mystery, this might just be the one for you.

Samosa Rating:
A Haunting in Venice receives 3.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Dumb Money

Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen

Where To Watch: Available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

Dumb Money follows the real life events of Keith Gill, the man who took to social media to talk about and invest in GameStop’s stock. After inspiring others to do the same and causing mayhem on the stock market, Wall Street fires back as billionaires suffer the loss. Dumb Money is a total riot, and feels as if it took the template of David Fincher’s The Social Network and mashed it up with modern day internet memes and language. It is incredibly hilarious but also relatable in so many ways. The film explores multiple stories of individuals who followed Keith Gill by investing money into GameStop, all in the hopes of making their lives a bit better or to absolve themselves of overwhelming debt. And in a time of financial and economic uncertainty, it’s refreshing to see billionaires be taken down by underdogs who exploited an otherwise manipulative system. It can be a touch overstimulating at times, but regardless, this is an absolute must-watch.

Samosa Rating:
Dumb Money receives 4 out of 5 Samosas. 

It Lives Inside

Director: Bishal Dutta
Cast: Megan Suri, Neeru Bajwa, Mohana Krishnan

Where To Watch: Available for rent or purchase on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video

Bishal Dutta’s directorial debut, It Lives Inside, follows Samidha, a high school girl who rejects her culture in an effort to fit in. When a mythological demon that has latched onto her former best friend suddenly transfers to Samidha, she investigates the source of this demon and reconciles with her culture to defeat it. The film does an excellent job of diving into Hindu mythology and uses it as a major plot device to keep the story moving forward. The only problem with the film is that despite its clear potential, the fear factor is lost within the first half of the film, leaving little to the imagination of the audience. Regardless of this, it still maintains its ability to engage with the viewer, particularly with Megan Suri’s incredible performance which demonstrates pure fear. Overall, a decent watch if you’re looking for something unique with a few frights.

Samosa Rating:
It Lives Inside receives 3.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

The Creator

Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: John David Washington, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe, Sturgill Simpson, Allison Janney

Where To Watch: Available for purchase on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video

In 2070, fifteen years after humans waged war on artificial intelligence, an ex-special forces agent, Joshua is tasked with locating and eliminating a being called, The Creator. When he discovers that the AI is only a child, Joshua’s feelings toward the conflict begins to change as he begins to question his own role in the human and AI war. The Creator has incredibly stunning camerawork which is used to build the world in which our characters inhabit. A majority of the film takes place in what is a fusion of several Asian nations who have joined forces alongside the AI beings against western society. But that is where the issue predominantly lies, because while it’s an intriguing concept with a captivating world, the use of Asian culture within  the setting feels off and inhuman, to say the least. And in a time where the mere mention of artificial intelligence can bring about complicated feelings for many, it’s hard not to have feelings about The Creator that are just as complicated.

Samosa Rating:
The Creator receives 3 out of 5 Samosas. 

The Exorcist: Believer

Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Leslie Odom Jr., Lidya Jewett, Olivia O’Neill, Ann Dowd
Where To Watch: Available for purchase on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video

Fifty years after the release of the iconic and terrifying film, The Exorcist, comes what is intended to be a true sequel to the film. Believer follows two young girls who go missing for three days and upon returning, their families begin to notice major changes that feel supernatural and aligned with evil. It takes a community of neighbors, priests, and the legendary Chris MacNeil to rid themselves of the evil presence. If we’re being honest, Believer isn’t the most frightening film but it doesn’t have its moments where it inspires discomfort and some terror. There is just something about young kids being possessed that always feels unsettling, and this film continues that trend. At times, the intended frightening moments pulled from the trailer can feel less impactful as there isn’t much left to instill fear in us. But one of its more interesting strengths is the use of various religious beliefs and community to fight against what is plaguing the main characters which sets it apart from other possession or supernatural films.

Samosa Rating:
The Exorcist: Believer receives 3 out of 5 Samosas. 

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Movie

Director: Sam Wrench
Cast:
Taylor Swift, and her amazing dancers and crew!
Where To Watch: Currently playing in theaters

If you know, you know. And if you didn’t know, now you do. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Movie is a hit and if you’re a Swiftie, then there’s no way you could have missed out on this one. The nearly three hour film is carefully edited to spotlight iconic performances from every single era of Taylor Swift’s music, from her self-titled album to her 2022 album, Midnights. It is incredible to see a woman like Miss Swift be able to carry herself through a performance as impactful as her Eras Tour performances, and whether you’re a long-time fan or just recently became a Swiftie, this was an absolute treat to watch and dance along with other fellow fans.

Samosa Rating:
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Movie receives 5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Five Nights At Freddy’s

Director: Emma Tammi
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Matthew Lillard, Piper Rubio
Where To Watch: Currently playing in theaters

Based on the iconic indie video game of the same name, Five Nights At Freddy’s introduces Mike, the new security guard at a local abandoned arcade-style pizzeria who is struggling to maintain a steady life to keep custody of his younger sister, Abby. When the two of them spend the night together at Mike’s job, strange things involving the animatronics begin to occur, and it’s only a matter of time before the truth about the pizzeria comes out. Five Nights At Freddy’s seems to be a hit or miss, depending on the audience member, and regardless of if you’re familiar with the games or not. However, the film’s introduction of new characters to set a story in place is genius and gives us someone to care about and root for. Josh Hutcherson never fails to give his all in any role and that includes his performance as Mike whom you can’t help but feel sympathetic towards. While there’s some confusion of the order in which the film portrays its grisly events and a question regarding who or what the darn cupcake is, it still remains a fun and horrific ride all throughout. Remind us never to go to an abandoned pizzeria, though.

Samosa Rating:
Five Nights At Freddy’s receives 3.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Pain Hustlers

Director: David Yates
Cast: Emily Blunt, Chris Evans, Andy Garcia, Catherine O’Hara, Chloe Coleman
Where To Watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Pain Hustlers, inspired by the many stories of those affected by pharmaceutical money schemes, centers around Liza Drake, a desperate single mother who takes a job at a pharmaceutical startup company. When her partner, Pete Brenner, and the owner of the company, Jack Neel begin to go off the rails by encouraging unethical practices, all hell breaks loose. This film had immense amounts of potential and does manage to reel the viewer in, particularly in the manner that the story is told. Emily Blunt and Chris Evans exhaust their talent to bring energetic performances to make up for the unfortunately forgettable experience of the movie. One might watch this once, think about it for a moment, and forget about it until years later if they’re lucky. In general, it’s a great concept but lacks the ability to shine brighter than other films like it.

Samosa Rating:
Pain Hustlers receives 3 out of 5 Samosas. 

Quiz Lady

Director: Jessica Yu
Cast: Awkwafina, Sandra Oh, Will Ferrell
Where To Watch: Available to stream on Hulu

Anne, a reserved homebody, and her older free-spirited but irresponsible sister Jenny suddenly become responsible for handling their mother’s outrageous gambling debts. Desperate measures force them to go on a road trip across the country as Anne attempts to score a spot on her favorite game show. The comedy in Quiz Lady can be hit or miss throughout the first half of the film, but immediately picks up in the second half. It is well-supplemented by heartwarming moments and inspirational conversations among characters, with Akwafina and Sandra Oh giving us a bizarre yet endearing relationship between sisters. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell is reminiscent of Alex Trebek, which is the perfect added touch. If you need a fun adventure and some laughs, check out Quiz Lady.

Samosa Rating:
Quiz Lady receives 3.5 out of 5 Samosas. 

If you want even more film discussions, reviews, or just some good old recommendations, be sure to follow @samosasandpopcorn on TikTok!

Pooja Chand
Pooja Chand
Known on other platforms as Samosas and Popcorn, Pooja is a movie enthusiast topped with sprinkles of her love for TV. She can typically be found watching anything from the latest blockbuster movie to a feel good anime, and is always ready to start the discussion on movies and TV so you don't have to.

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