Mini Movie Reviews #1: Medieval Action and Modern Music Dramedy

I’ve managed to watch a number of movies/documentaries over the last few weeks that I hadn’t seen before. None of them blew me away, but I have some thoughts, so I thought I’d touch on each one.

None of these are particularly new, so many of you may have seen them already, but they were new to me. I’ll share two today and two in the near future. And maybe I’ll have watched even more movies by then, too.

Richard Armitage, Jon Bernthal, and Tom Holland in Pilgrimage (2017)Pilgrimage, 2017, streamed on Hulu

I had never heard of this film starring Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal before it popped up on Hulu recently. It apparently made its US debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017. Either way, I was glad to find something I’d previously unheard of, starring some people I actually recognized.

Brief, Spoiler-free Synopsis

Essentially, this film is a about a group of 13th-century Christian monks on the west coast of Ireland who must take the holy relic buried on their grounds to Rome. Their journey across Ireland is fraught with danger from local warring tribes as well as Norman invaders.

Thoughts

This film was short at around 90 minutes, but had great pacing that did not feel rushed or contracted. The dialogue is well-written and layered, as are a lot of the symbolism used between the monks and among the Irish tribes. A thin veil of mysticism, both Christian and pagan, seems to hang over the entire film, with most characters believing that the relic holds terrible power that is never demonstrated outright, but always hinted.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure where exactly this story was going until the very end. Tom Holland’s plays a young monk named Diarmuid who is leaving the monastery for the first time since he was a boy. Throughout their journey, he proves his courage and heart in the face of violence and greed, and makes an intriguing choice at the end.

The action was solid, but nothing to get too excited about. Jon Bernthal is an incredibly emotive actor, and his playing of a mute emphasizes both his physicality and the depth of his expressiveness.

I really enjoyed this film, and I feel like it’s one of those that will stick with me the more I watch it.

Hearts Beat Loud (2018)Hearts Beat Loud, 2018, streamed on Hulu

This film also slipped under my radar, although it had some great reviews. I needed a lighter film one night, and the music and stars of this one caught my attention.

Brief, Spoiler-free Synopsis

Nick Offerman, of Parks and Rec fame, plays Frank, a single dad in Brooklyn. Frank tries to use music to connect with his incoming college-freshman daughter, Sam, played by Kiersey Clemons.

Frank convinces Sam to write and record some music with him, and the best scenes are the two of them collaborating and performing each song.

Thoughts

The music in this film is good enough that I want to buy the soundtrack. What’s really amazing is that Clemons and Offerman actually perform their songs, and they’re both great. Clemons in particular is fantastic in this film, both as an actor and a singer.

This film is pretty easy to fall into with a cozy, predictable storyline and some great side characters played by the likes of Toni Collette and Ted Danson. Together, and with some great music, they take a lighthearted, poignant, and enjoyable story. I think the real achievement of this film is that it doesn’t try to inflate its content or its message.

It’s just a dad and his daughter making music.

Any Recommendations

That does it for today. I actually had four movies to review, but ended up splitting them for length. Anyway, movies have been one way for me to cope with not leaving my house.

We’ve dropped Netflix for the time being, but still have Hulu and Amazon Prime. Got any recommendations for me?

Steve D

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