21 Movies Like Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) (Page 2)

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Less a documentary on Johannes Vermeer himself and more about the art scholar's mission to study ideas of beauty and aesthetics from various perspectives, this documentary successfully takes an admittedly very esoteric subject and makes it compelling. Director Suzanne Raes easily gets to the essence of the complex questions and insights that these Vermeer experts have, but without dumbing them down or reducing them into generic academic talking points. In fact, the thing that really comes through in the film's discussions is the emotion that these people feel in figuring out how Vermeer managed to paint such stunning images, and what the man was drawn to in human beings. It's oddly persuasive; whether or not you're a fan of 17th-century artists, watching Close to Vermeer feels like finally solving a puzzle.

Genre: Documentary, History

Actor: Abbie Vandivere, Anna Krekeler, Gregor J. M. Weber, Jonathan Janson, Pieter Roelofs

Director: Suzanne Raes

Possessor announces a visionary new voice in Brandon Cronenberg, and is one to watch for the concept alone, brilliantly melding science fiction and horror into one. Cronenberg's direction is reminiscent of a cross between Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin, but has more than enough originality to stand well on its own. However, unfortunately, it is surprisingly slow at times, and is far from the mind-blowing gore fest that was promised, resulting in a well made but underwhelming experience. BUT, if you were in the mood for a trippy introspective sci-fi thriller and are able to keep your expectations tempered, this is well worth a watch

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Andrea Riseborough, Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves, Christopher Abbott, Christopher Jacot, Daniel Junghuan Park, Daniel Park, Danny Waugh, Deragh Campbell, Dorren Lee, Doug MacLeod, Gabrielle Graham, Gage Graham-Arbuthnot, Hanneke Talbot, Hrant Alianak, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kaniehtiio Horn, Kathy Maloney, Matthew Garlick, Megan Vincent, Rachael Crawford, Raoul Bhaneja, Rossif Sutherland, Sean Bean, Tuppence Middleton

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Rating: R

While this documentary may not provide the level of insight or as cohesive a narrative as other films from recent years about children's entertainment, Hot Potato benefits from the sheer charm and approachability of The Wiggles themselves. It's inspiring to see these men and women be perfectly ordinary people who just patiently put in the work to get to where they are today. The film doesn't necessarily find a central idea or philosophy behind The Wiggles' music, but their creativity and enthusiasm for performing manages to turn the simplest things (like fruit salad) into a celebration of life. The documentary isn't particularly good at balancing its tones, especially when it deals with the struggles that various Wiggles have faced in their personal lives, but it remains likable and wholesome all the same.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Anthony Field, Bindi Irwin, Caterina Mete, Emma Watkins, Evie Ferris, Greg Page, Jeff Fatt, John Travolta, Lachlan Gillespie, Lucia Field, Matthew Broderick, Murray Cook, Paul Field, Paul Paddick, Robert De Niro, Sam Moran, Sarah Jessica Parker, Simon Pryce, Steve Irwin, Terri Irwin, Tsehay Hawkins

Director: Sally Aitken

Made to commemorate Toei Studio’s 70th anniversary, The Legend & Butterfly seemed like a good choice for this purpose. As a historical epic about the first Great Unifier of Japan, the film could have enabled the production company to show off their studio’s best in production design, set pieces, costumes, and score, through a familiar story Japanese audiences would care about. And with Nohime having a near blank slate in history, it gives enough creative freedom for the team to craft a heartrending romance. While the design aspects definitely succeeded, the romance did not. On top of this, the film’s focus on the romance takes away time, effort, and emotional resonance from the large-scale spectacular war battles that epics like these are known for.

Genre: Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Ai Mikami, Daisuke Honda, Haruka Ayase, Hideaki Ito, Hio Miyazawa, Hirotaro Honda, Ichikawa Somegorō VIII, Jun Hashimoto, Kinya Kitaoji, Kokoro Morita, Manabu Hamada, Mansaku Ikeuchi, Masato Wada, Miki Nakatani, Shuichiro Masuda, Takuma Otoo, Takumi Saitoh, Takuya Kimura, Toshinori Omi, Tsutomu Takahashi

Director: Keishi Otomo

In the saturated sphere of sci-fi and superhero movies, Gray Matter just doesn’t cut it. The film, which was produced as part of the filmmaking workshop/reality show Project Greenlight, doesn’t add anything new, much less its own spin, to a story we’ve heard countless times: that of a young kid learning to harness her supernatural powers for the first time. If you’ve seen Carrie, Firestarter, or more recently Stranger Things, then you’ll be able to predict how most of Gray Matter turns out. It is watchable, sure, enjoyable even in the first few minutes where it promises a world chockful of lore, but it never fulfills that promise. To be fair, the performances are solid and the technicals maximize what limited resources the movie has (it looks more decent than you’d expect a small-budgeted sci-fi production to be), but the pros don’t outweigh the cons in this case. It’s simply too empty and generic to be elevated by anything else. 

Genre: Science Fiction

Actor: Andrew Liner, Garret Dillahunt, Jessica Frances Dukes, Mia Isaac

Director: Meko Winbush

Rating: PG-13

Unknown's next documentary installment takes us to the stars following the construction and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope. The documentary centers on the behind-the-scenes of launching the telescope, which eradicated all possible errors as it was the most expensive operation to enter space without human intervention. Explanations are palatable, and the highlights of their successes and failures are enough for casual viewers. Packed with emotion from NASA's scientists and engineers (and global spectators during Covid), the investment in this project and journey carry the film even though the concepts are too large to condense. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Joe Biden

Director: Shai Gal

Rating: G