Quick Catch-ups: Pig, Reminiscence, & Sweet Girl

I don’t always get the chance to review a movie as soon as it comes out, so here are some brief reviews for three movies released earlier in 2021: “Pig,” “Reminiscence,” and “Sweet Girl.” One of which is great, one of which is mediocre, and one of which is an abomination.

Quick Review #1: “Pig”

Nicolas Cage Seeks Swine in First Trailer for Pig

“Pig” was written & directed by Michael Sarnoski and stars Nicolas Cage as Rob, a truffle hunter and former chef who lives with his truffle pig in the Oregon wilderness. After his pig gets stolen he, alongside his buyer Amir, go on a journey to find the pig.

Nicolas Cage gives possibly his best performance of his career as Rob. Cage is subtle and quiet but maintains such a strong screen presence which can’t be delivered by most actors. Alex Wolff’s performance as Amir was also terrific. He was extremely sympathetic and relatable in the role of an ultimately pathetic individual who builds independence and confidence in himself through interacting with Rob. There wasn’t a single scene in which at least one of the two actors was present, and that’s a positive. Both actors are worthy of Oscar nominations and gave the best performances of the year thus far.

Sarnoski screenplay was phenomenal as well. All the dialogue felt extremely realistic. Instead of having excessive profanity or cheesy Hollywood dialogue that many films suffer from, all the characters speak like real people and have conversations that we’ve all had in life. His direction was fantastic as well, especially considering that this is his directorial debut. The scenery and environments are gorgeous and he maintains the somber tone throughout the entire runtime.

The best aspect of this film, however, is that it uses its premise as a tool for character development and emotional storytelling rather than action set pieces or artsy, drawn-out scenes. This is an indie film made for general audiences; it never becomes pretentious, rather focusing on its themes of the importance of family and valuing yourself & your life goals. Although Rob is quite a rugged and distant person, his self-confidence and values affect those around him, specifically Amir.

My only complaint with the film is extremely minor, but I think it would have an even more emotional punch if it had an extra five minutes to explore the characters a little longer.

“Pig” is a great film that uses its premise to provide an emotional story which all people can relate to. It’s an example of what movies can do when made by competent filmmakers with a vision and why movies became so popular in the first place. We get very few films like this currently, and I adore “Pig” for that.

Grade: A

Quick Review #2: “Reminiscence”

Reminiscence's Lisa Joy and Charlie Jane Anders talk 'nightmare' of  nostalgia - Polygon

“Reminiscence” was written & directed by Lisa Joy, the co-creator of HBO’s “Westworld.” It stars Hugh Jackman as Nick Bannister, a private investigator in a post-apocalyptic future who can navigate people’s memories through a reminiscence machine. Bannister uncovers a conspiracy as he investigates the disappearance of a mysterious woman named Mae (played by Rebecca Ferguson).

Lisa Joy created an incredibly compelling setting for the film, not only through the premise, but also through the worldbuilding. In this movie, the Earth underwent massive flooding which sank several countries, and cities like Miami are almost completely submerged under water. Due to the heat, the people of Miami became nocturnal (since night is colder than day).However, the problem with this film is that it wastes its setting’s massive potential by focusing on a boring romance/neo-noir story with underdeveloped characters. The film never takes the time to pause and let the audience absorb the world of “Reminiscence,” and instead concentrates on a generic, uninteresting love story with bland characters.

“Reminiscence” was in desperate need of more character development and/or action sequences, as it quickly became boring to watch Bannister talk about Mae to other people for 2 hours. There aren’t any elements to this film which stand out, making for an ultimately forgettable film.

“Reminiscence” has breathtaking visuals, a brilliant post-apocalyptic concept, and a powerhouse performance by Hugh Jackman, but it spends too much of its runtime on a boring mystery/love story that doesn’t properly showcase the world Lisa Joy created. This is the most “meh” film of 2021 thus far.

Grade: C+

Quick Review #3: Sweet Girl

Sweet Girl' Netflix Movie Soundtrack: Full Song Listing - What's on Netflix

This film is essentially the exact opposite of “Pig.” Rather than having an emotional story with likeable & memorable characters, “Sweet Girl” is a terribly titled, generic, and boring action film with very few redeeming qualities.

Starting positively, I thought Jason Momoa gave the best performance of his career. He actually acted in this film, which I’m not used to seeing from him. He elevated the material to a high degree and gave it his all.

Besides Momoa, I didn’t like anything about the movie.The direction of this film is just abysmal. “Sweet Girl” looks like a made-for-television movie and has little to no personality behind the camera. In addition, the action was impossible to follow due to the heavy usage of shaky cam, quick-cut-editing, and awkward camera placement. To add insult to injury, the daughter character was incredibly annoying for most of the film and almost always made her scenes worse.

The script for “Sweet Girl” is another horrible aspect. Firstly, it was never explained how Momoa or his daughter were able to fight off assassins (they had no training besides boxing a few times), which is a major problem for an action film. The movie also has FOUR time jumps in just the first twenty minutes, which made the plot overly difficult to follow during the first act. The film also tried to have a message about the corruption in Big Pharma, but since the movie was written by incompetent people, the message was executed in an unintentionally hilarious way. For example, the villainous Big Pharma company was literally called “BioPrime,” and they actually hired professional assassins to kill two people just because they made negative comments concerning the company.

“Sweet Girl” is a boring and incompetently made movie with terrible action & a ridiculous plot that has a fantastic lead performance by Jason Momoa, even though the film was a waste of his talent.

Grade: D-

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