Movie critic Paul McGuire Grimes sits down with the stars of One Night in Miami, one of his top 10 movies of 2020. Plus he has a few other suggestions to watch this weekend.
Justin Timberland is no stranger to being called the triple threat. He can sing, dance, and act and he certainly pulls off the best performance of his career in Palmer. He goes the most outside his comfort role so far as Eddie Palmer. He’s spent the last twelve years in prison now out on parole living with his grandmother (June Squibb) After some unforeseen circumstances he now finds himself the unofficial guardian of a young boy named Sam. Newcomer Ryder Allen makes Sam this spirited boy who like to play with dolls, loves princesses, and naturally gets teased by the other kids in school.
Palmer is a human-interest story about two opposites who really need each other. It’s the traditional unlikely friendship navigated with patience and understanding. There’s also the common bond with Palmer and Sam both coming from absent mothers.
Part of the film sets out to be a starting over movie with Palmer hoping to leave his past behind him in order to prove himself a changed man. It’s set in the traditional small town where everybody knows each other’s business. That close knit community is certainly felt throughout rural America today. In this film, the locals all know Palmer’s past, and everybody knows Sam’s mother Shelly is an unreliable drug addict thus making it harder for Palmer to start over.
This is a redemption story we’ve seen before but Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen keep us invested with their heartfelt performances. Timberlake doesn’t try for any sort of transformation style musician to dramatic actor style of performance. He keeps things focused leaving the charming entertainer behind him. Those qualities are felt with Ryder Allen who certainly makes a name for himself as Sam. He’s outgoing and sassy but can easily bring out Sam’s inner hurt with the bullying at school or the lack of love from his strung-out mother who cannot get her act together even for the betterment of her son.
Palmer is a feel-good drama with a reminder about meeting and accepting someone for where they are at in life. They could be at a crossroads, they may be starting over, or maybe they just need someone to tell them everything will be okay.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THE LITTLE THINGS (HBO Max, In theaters)
When Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto all star you the same movie, you hope for a heavy film that packs a punch. Their new film The Little Things will have you on edge. Denzel Washington suits up as Sheriff Joe Deacon, who heads back to his stomping grounds in Los Angeles to help catch a serial killer on the loose. His replacement Jimmy Baxter, played by Rami Malek, isn’t too keen on Deacon sticking his nose in the latest killing, but knows he needs Deacon’s veteran experience if there’s any hope of capturing the suspect before a seventh victim is found. Adding to the complicated web of clues is Jared Leto’s Albert Sparma who checks all the boxes of a being killer.
The title is taken from some advice Washington’s character gives to Malek “The little things are important. The little things will get you caught.” It describes their approach to the work as Deacon being the veteran that he is, is quiet, unassuming, and stealth in his approach even if its not always by the books. Malek’s Jimmy Baxter is more of a hot head who too often looks at the broad, easy big picture.
Director John Lee Hancock’s take on the serial killer psychological thriller is one that’s more focused on the characters than the crimes themselves. He shows quite a bit of restraint in terms of seeing victims pursued but not the actual brutal killings themselves.
That does get explored as Hancock makes us think about the toll these unsolved murders and serial killers take on the detectives desperately trying to solve them and what happens if there is no closure.
The Little Things is pretty straight forward in its approach. It’s not overly original like Seven or The Silence of the Lambs, but I appreciate that it’s a character driven piece that doesn’t rely on showing bloody crime scenes or hokey twists to give it some edge. Washington, Malek, and Leto should keep you invested in trying to figure out the whodunnit while watching the mind games their three characters play on each other.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
SUPERNOVA (In theaters now, Digital Rental on 2/16)
Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are a dream pair together in the new film Supernova. Stanley Tucci faces the grim reality of early on-set dementia through his character Tusker in Harry Macqueen’s new film. He’s a renowned writer who is heading out for a little road trip with his longtime partner, Sam, played by Colin Firth. They take their RV out into the English countryside, gaze at the stars, bicker like any normal couple and visit friends and family for the last time.
Writer/director Harry Macqueen could have made this a morose and depressing film given the sensitive subject matter, but he makes it a tender, beautiful story celebrating life and the little moments we shouldn’t take for granted. It’s easy to get wrapped up with Sam and Tusker’s relationship given the decades-long friendship between Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in real life. That chemistry effortlessly translates on screen.
Supernova is primarily a two-person road-trip film and not the ensemble film you think it will be. It’s 94 minutes and doesn’t overly languish or wallow in the grief. It’s simple in its execution to grab hold of you with a few humorous moments along the way. It’s the kind of film where you’ll have the laughter through tears as you watch these two phenomenal actors quietly enjoy their time together through with their dog by their side.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS