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Flicks With Nicki – Year in review

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Flicks With Nicki – Year in review

Nicki Salcedo. Photo by Fox Gradin.

The year 2021 could be best summarized in a line from the movie “Palm Springs” starring Andy Samberg. “It’s one of those infinite time loop situations you might have heard about.” 2021 felt a lot like 2020. And I’m betting 2022 will be the same. Death and misinformation. Isolation and disagreement. Fear, lies, and anger. We sometimes overlook the beauty of the world. Unity, laughter, and happiness. The joy of kittens and falling in love. It is the same thing over and over again. The good and the bad. Time is meaningless

Movies and television to help me break out of the cycle of sameness. Here is a recap of the movies and shows I saw 2021 to help me see the world through different eyes.

“Black Widow” – Action with comedy. Not awful. Not great. Too little, too late for Scarlett Johansson and Marvel. Grade C+

Bridgerton – Season 1. Grade B

Chaos Walking” – Grade D+

“Don’t Look Up” – If critics hate a movie, I’m likely to love it. And so it is with Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. The last movie of the year for me. Full disclosure, I was a teen with pictures of teen Leo on my walls. But the past decade of his gritty, depressing films has been exhausting. This movie is about the total annihilation of planet earth, and I didn’t find it a bit depressing. DiCaprio is in turns anxious, awkward, nerdy, sexy, loving. His best acting for me in a long time. The support cast is immense, and they each stay true to their characters. Rob Morgan, Tyler Perry, Meryl Streep. If you don’t like satire or want the earth saved at the end of your movies, skip this one. I like seeing the choices and mistakes people make. I like how faith or capitalism can serve or destroy us. I like how love and friendships take center stage at the end. Strange, heartbreaking, and very funny. Grade B+

“Dave Chappelle: The Closer” – Controversial comedy special on Netflix that begs the question of who has the right to tell what jokes? Humor should be personal, revealing of our own experiences while illuminating truths about broader society. Humor shouldn’t be about other people. I have enjoyed Chappelle in the past, and I suspect I will enjoy him again in the future. Unfortunately, The Closer relies too much on jokes about Asians, Jewish people, and the LGBTQ+ community. The jokes fall flat. They aren’t funny or evocative. These aren’t his jokes to tell. The tragedy is that there are important social insights behind the jokes, but those insights are often lost and muddle. Viewers may be uncomfortable because some parts of the special are true and other parts are hurtful. I don’t think Dave Chappelle hates anyone, but his past two specials feel sloppy and uninspired. Grade C-

“Encanto” – Mirabel Madrigal is the only one without magic in her magical family. There will be singing and crying because it is Disney with a dash of Lin Manuel Miranda. Better than I expected. I love a movie that highlights the complexities of a big family and the power of reconciliation. It helps that I believe in magic. Grade B-

Eternals – Grade C-

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” – Nostalgic romp that’s true to the spirit of the original. A story where nerds rule and ghosts are more goofy than ghoulish. Grade B-

“The Harder They Fall” – Gritty reimagining of a traditional Spaghetti Western. Despite the fine actors, there is very little plot or character development. Fabulous costumes, set designs, and cinematography. Unfortunately, the story cliché from beginning to end. C+

Fast & Furious 9 – Outlandish to the point of farcical. And still, I enjoyed it. Grade B

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Grade B+

In the Heights – Grade B

Invincible – Season 1. Dan gave a full review. I watched it. For me, it was innovative, but the pacing was unbearably slow. Grade B-

“Jungle Cruise” – I did not hate this movie as I expected. Grade B-

Loki – Season 1. Grade A+ start with C+ finish.

“Matrix: Resurrection” – They made an entire fourth movie to talk about how great the first movie was. This can not be happening. And yet, it did. Do not see this. Worst movie of 2021. And I adore Keanu Reeves, but I should’ve taken the blue pill. Grade D-

Minari – Grade B+

Nine Days – Grade A

“No Time to Die” – Typical James Bond. I can’t complain about the ridiculous villains or insipid love interest when the whole point is the insipid love interest and the ridiculous villain. Amazing new 00 and great side characters. It played more like an ensemble than other versions of Bond. Action was fun. At the end I felt blah. Grade C-

A Promising Young Woman – This one wasn’t for me. Grade C-

A Quiet Place Part II – Grade B+

“Raya and the Last Dragon” – Awkwafina as a dragon. Grade B-

Shang-Chi Awkwafina as a sidekick. Grade C+

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” – After the atrocity of Spider-Man European Vacation (“Spider-Man: Far From Home”), I’d almost given up on my favorite Marvel superhero. We find redemption in the third installment starring Tom Holland where the multiverse splinters and the universe must be saved again. This one was written by someone who loves Spidey the way I do. Fun, nostalgic, and emotion. I almost cried, it was so good. There’s a reason this movie is the number one draw for 2021. Loved it! Grade B+

Squid Game – Season 1. Grade C+

“Sweet Tooth” – Season 1. Hope coming out of every pore. For those of us who like Ted Lasso, but also like a dystopian fantasy. In the aftermath of a global plague, a deer-boy hybrid must find the truth about his origins, his family, and his new-found friends. I really loved this show. Grade A-

Ted Lasso – Season 2. Oi! Grade A

WandaVision– Grade A-

“Zola” – Zola meets her frenemy Stefani. Stefani is a white girl who likes to act Black. She gets Zola to go to Florida to make some money. Dance means strip. Trap means prostitute. I get that this world exists far away from my Target and poke bowl life. But wow. Interesting view into women’s bodies as a commodity and how we view male nudity with disgust. No full naked women, but several penis close-ups meant to highlight gender and power differentials. We watch the way men can be sinister and hapless. Zola is not a fool. Strangest movie I saw all year. Probably because it was all true. Grade B+

There are lots of things to be thankful for from the old year and a new year of movies and shows ahead of us. You can scroll through everything I’ve reviewed here: https://decaturish.com/category/flicks-with-nicki/. I hope you find something on the screen that makes you smile. Have a wonderful New Year!

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.

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