Devi’s May 2024 Viewing Roundup

May 7th, 2024

As the rest of the world falls apart, the film world seems to be stepping up after what feels like a long dry spell. Recent trips to our local cinemas have me hopeful that artistic inspiration is prevailing despite the low precedent set by the bulk of Hollywood blockbusters. Of course, not everyone can be a winner, as you’ll see from one glaring exception below, but all in all, in terms of viewing cinematic viewing fare, 2024 is off to a mostly smashing start.


FAREWELL, MR. HAFFMAN (in theaters): Wow. This one’s now in a three-way tie with PERFECT DAYS and LOVE LIES BLEEDING for my favorite movie of the year. Set during World War II, it’s a truly fresh and effective take on the Holocaust — a feat unto itself in such a well-trodden genre – and quite possibly the best. Character-driven yet intricately plotted, it’s a taut thriller that shows how the worst of times brings out the worst in those who are weak and the best in those who are strong – a poignant theme for our times.

CIVIL WAR (in theaters): Another poignant film in our current landscape which came as a surprise to me, because I was put off by the trailer and initial reviews raised some concerns. But as so often happens, I found many reviewers critiques to be way off-base. For one thing, contrary to popular belief, this is absolutely a political film. It’s simply crafted in such a way, that it could just as easily appeal to a radical left-winger as a radical right-winger and anybody in between. That’s because, unlike a heavy-handed Spielberg film that tells us exactly how to think and film in every freakin’ frame, CIVIL WAR gives the audience enough credit to watch a variety of characters in a range of situations and draw our own conclusions. The result is far more impactful, and if this one doesn’t snag a bunch of Oscars (including a best actress nominee for Kirsten Dunst), well then the Academy is even more absurd than I thought.

CHALLENGERS (in theaters): I’d describe this one as a character study wrapped inside a sports movie that lies somewhere between a thriller, a buddy film and Truffaut’s JULES ET JIM (though, alasm the multitude of sex scenes feel straight out of a Shonda Rhimes show.) Surprisingly, cheesy sex scenes aside, it works — primarily thanks to the fabulous chemistry of the cast who create such compelling relationship dynamics. The real standout is actor/singer Zendaya, known for more mainstream, less cerebral fare, but hopefully this film will earn her the meatier roles she clearly deserves.


ABIGAIL (in theaters): A horror movie about a young ballerina girl who happens to be a sadistic bloodthirsty vampire is bound to be silly, and it is, but in the best possible way. This fun, popcorn flick delivers excellent gore and a more original, engaging and cohesive plot than most silly horror films of late. Perhaps because it knows not to take itself too seriously and aims to offer the audience a fun ride. As an added perk, the two female protagonist and antagonist are both cunning, flawed and multifaceted, and offer a fresh take on the final girl that creates a pleasing, and, yes, I’d even say feminist dynamic. Horror fans who like to laugh are in for a treat.


UNFROSTED (Netflix): I actually saw an unfinished cut of this film a number of months back as part of an audience focus group and marveled at how so many great comedians could deliver such a mindless, unfunny and ultimately boring film. I should add that this was well before I’d heard how Seinfeld has joined the ranks of old white dudes who use “wokeness” as an alibi for the fact that he no longer knows how to make people laugh. Perhaps somebody should inform him that “woke” and “incompetence” are not the same thing.

until next time,




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