Anthony Pantalone, Editor
One of the finest perks of being an AMC Stubs Premiere member is that I can see up to three movies each week for only $20 a month. When I’m in a theater there and the lights begin to dim, I just have this indescribable feeling that I am about to go somewhere I’ve never been before. Somewhere our heroes feel like the best parts of all of us. A place where somehow heartbreak feels almost good. As an AMC Stubs member, I had the chance to see a number of stories that felt perfect and powerful—just because they were seen in an AMC theater. Without further ado, here are my reviews of “Pearl,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
The long-awaited sequel to Marvel’s 2018 megahit classic “Black Panther” finally arrived in theaters last week and offered a heartfelt tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. This film had been building up hype and anticipation for months as many wanted to see how director Ryan Coogler and Kevin Feige would handle Boseman’s untimely passing and follow up this prior Best Picture nominee. “Wakanda Forever’s” hype is well-deserved. The movie is really long, but all its elements and each plot feel necessary. The movie serves as a touching tribute to its late lead actor yet still tells a story with interesting themes and messages. It effectively explores the effects of grief on an individual while also offering interesting commentaries on the exploitation of the global South and the in-fighting between exploited nations. Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda is one stand-out of the film as she delivers a great performance. Also, Tenoch Huerta’s Namor might be one of the MCU’s best-written characters in years and transcends many complaints about Marvel antagonists. As someone who was a longtime Marvel fan, I had been feeling a lot of fatigue with these movies lately, but “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” felt like a breath of fresh air.
Ti West follows up on this year’s “X” with a prequel-sequel that offers the origin of Pearl, the killer and villain of the first film. This director also teams up again with Mia Goth who had played both this titular protagonist and the character of Maxine. Speaking of Mia Goth, she puts on a clinic in this film and offers a fantastic performance of a completely unhinged character. There is an incredible monologue late in the film that lasts what feels like almost ten minutes, and Goth easily delivers it, showing off her skill and acting prowess. The performance should likely be in the conversation for a Best Lead Actress Oscar, but nevertheless it comes from a genre almost always overlooked by the Academy. The opening score is remarkable and reminds one of the grand scores of old Hollywood from that bygone era of cinema. Also, the end credits are truly unsettling, but I will not say anymore in the interest of not disclosing spoilers.
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
Martin McDonagh’s newest film features an “In Bruges” reunion with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and depicts the story of two friends on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin in 2022. This story shows the end of their friendship as Gleeson’s character Colm wishes to no longer speak to or spend time with Farrell’s character Pádraic. This sudden falling out is only one-sided and motivated by Colm’s despair and existential depression due to his mortality. Knowing that he will one day die, Colm cannot bother to spend any more of his precious time with dim-witted Padraic. This predicament soon grows dire for the two of them as the stakes of their fight continue to intensify. McDonagh’s screenplay stands out as a major achievement for this film as it carefully blends dry humor, existential angst and tragedy all together. The script does all this while also making you feel like you are watching a dark Irish folk tale. Coming off his prior cinematic success with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” McDonagh has captured lightning in a bottle again and will likely receive award buzz for this film. One final note: Barry Keoghan gives one of my favorite performances of this year in this movie. Every time he was on screen, I could not personally stop laughing at his line delivery. I dearly hope he gets a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this role. He is going to be huge in Hollywood in the next few years.