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Weekly Roundup Episode 76: 5 Years of Strictly Films and Sundance Film Festival Wrap Up 2022.

Strictly Films welcomes you back to the conclusion of this years 2022 Sundance Film Festival and another edition of Weekly Roundup!

This will be Strictly Films 5th year anniversary since launching the film review blog, as the platform started off in 2017 by the name of A Movie Minute W/ Mitch Myers. A Movie Minute W/ Mitch Myers was going to deliver film reviews on video, while also displaying written reviews as well. We had about thirty film review videos, our Split review received over one hundred views and we had a fair amount of fun time to time making the videos especially our Valentines Day special. But after awhile: The whole idea of displaying a show while critiquing films just wasn’t for me, I’m much more comfortable being myself while writing my reviews, than playing a character so I ended the whole video ordeal and just stick to writing reviews only.

Surely enough we had to change the name, as behold: Strictly Films was born in 2018. I love the name as that’s exactly what this film review blog was all about: Discussing films and just films only. My whole dream with this film review platform was to hope to secure my dream: Having my own film review website. Ever since I was a small kid as my cousin Tommy introduced me to Roger Ebert’s website, all I ever wanted was to have a film review website of my own. As in spring 2019: I finally achieved that dream, as I finally had my own film review website… To think years before that I was almost ready to give up on life itself and to have accomplished my one dream I’ve always wanted… Makes living worth it after all.

For five years we’ve received a fair amount of traction, whether it being having a small following, readers reading our reviews on a weekly basis, or even people in the film industry liking or taking notice of our work… It’s been everything I hoped for and more.

The thing about critiquing films is there is so much time consuming involved. You watch hundreds of films year in year out that’ll run more than likely an hour and a half to over two hours, you spend a good hour or so depending on the film writing about the film, you spend a another twenty to thirty minutes editing the reviews… A lot of time is spent on each and every review, basically this contributes more than 75% of your time in a year. For those whom want to pursue in this ordeal: If you are not passionate about this art form, it’s best to not take up on it, because this is basically majority of your life and if you don’t love it enough that you are willing to take away a chunk of your time out your own life… Just enjoy being a casual movie goer.

They’ll be moments where I do feel run down or feel some kind of frustration towards not getting reviews out quicker or not having more than I would like to say about some films and such. However: The anticipation and excitement within each and every new film waiting to be watched is what keeps us going, so we brush those emotions to the side and be ever so happy we can enjoy another film to experience. I love film ever since I was a kid, as it helped me cope with the fact I am a bit of misfit in this world… But like most misfits in this world, film leads us to closure and there are tons of misfits telling their own story, hoping to help inspire and connect with misfits as well, life is a whole lot better with film as long as there is films to be seen… I feel I’ll always be talking about films with you all.

These last couple years starting up Weekly Roundup was suppose to help with load management or discuss films in a bunch that really don’t need to have a full review. What I didn’t expect out of Weekly Roundup as it became a concept in which can be treated as a therapy like session. I can discuss on topics I want to discuss whether it be my own life, things going on around the world, or things I like. What’s been awesome with Weekly Roundup especially is I feel completely comfortable and free to be myself with these therapy like discussions, without feeling the need to feel judged or feel like I’m not genuinely cared about as I’m nothing more than a piece of paper. I feel disappointed in those working in Mental Health, I feel they’ve done such a terrible job in actually caring about human beings rather than caring about themselves. Especially in 2020 and so on… All these terrible things happening and they continue to be silent on every single thing, especially when the result of everything has contributed to the Worst Mental Health crisis we’ve ever experience ever… When are you all going to stop caring about yourself and actually help people?! You don’t need money thrown at you to pretend to care about people, get off your asses and go do something, every single person that has actually given a damn about people feel violated that those working in this field are nothing more than con artists and it’s disgusting. My advice: Go find people that genuinely care about you, go listen to the word of Christ, and express your thoughts on paper… That’s the best way to healing in my opinion.

I personally want to thank my brother Mihran Karapetian for making this all happen. Karapetian Reviews on Instagram helped inspire me that one day I could indeed discuss films with my own platform someday, as Mihran’s love for film helped influence me to explore films way beyond my own horizon, extremely grateful for all the memories and discussions we have in film as I cherish our brothership ever so deeply, I wish you nothing but great health and success.

Thank you to all the readers and supporters of Strictly Films these last five years. It’s been an honor, a privilege, and a blessing to discuss our love of film with you all. Who knows what the future holds for Strictly Films, until then we will continue to discuss films and give you a personal experience as well like you are a friend of ours, truth be told you always will have a friend in me. Let’s discuss about the last remaining films I watched at Sundance shall we?!

Sharp Stick Grade: D

Sharp Stick tells a story about a twenty six year old virgin named Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), whom seeks to loose her virginity to the father of a kid shes cares for time to time. Once Sarah Jo loses her V-Card to the father, now she endures a journey in which includes a simple affair, exploring pornogrpahy, as well as researching all about sex.

How ironic: I’m a 26 year old virgin too. I believe the odds of me losing my V-Card this year is 20/1… Well it’s now 30/1 after watching this film.

Sharp Stick does succeed on one comedic moment, where it involves Sarah Jo and the man whom she’s sleeping with Josh (Jon Bernthal). The flat out embarrassment in experiencing a complete loser like Josh, as he cries and begs was just hilarious as it’s honestly the one effective part of this film. You can also make a case with Sharp Stick that could possibly be a film in which reveals the realness of sex in general. Often times in porn or heck when it’s discussed amongst your friends and such: It’s described as this amazing sequence that you just gotta do it, even if there is no emotional ties or having developed a meaningful relationship/connection with a significant other… You know, that was originally the moral purpose of the idea of sex in the first place. But in reality like Sarah Jo losing her virginity or having sex with other men: It doesn’t look great at all, it can be extremely awkward or make you feel disgusted and unsettled. So if Sharp Stick moral intentions were to show the real side of sex and persuade others to maintain your V-Card till the time is right: Then sure this film was a success in that perspective. Oh there’s one animated sequence I liked that includes the stars in the sky.

Sharp Stick reminds me a lot of Flower in a way: Where your experiencing a main character that is extremely unlikable and annoying that’s very hard to sit through. I really don’t understand why Sarah Jo just wants to have sex all of a sudden, the way it’s set up doesn’t feel earned as this mid twenties woman yearns to feel what it’s like to have sex with someone. Sarah Jo following having sex with Josh then takes on a path in which it’s hard to evaluate the mind of Sarah Jo. Like she watches porn and takes down absurd notes, then she has a sex board where she wants to execute all these sex positions and activities… Like what the hell am I watching here?! What exactly is she trying to accomplish in all this?! It’s such an absurd character that not only is she annoying as hell, but her thinking process is just utterly obnoxious as it lacks any kind of logic.

The story is within the lines of Don Jon only it’s executed much poorly. I don’t care for Don Jon but at least I can understand what it was going for and almost succeeded, where as Sharp Stick how it’s executed is just… Strange and not good. Especially the ending with Sarah Jo and her favorite porn star: What exactly was I suppose to get out of all this from that?!

Overall, Sharp Stick is a stupid movie. I don’t recommend this film, Virgins should definitely watch this so you can guarantee maintaining your virginity for another decade.

Tik Tok Boom! Grade: C-

Tik Tok Boom! is a documentary film telling the history of the worst social media app in existence Tik Tok. In this documentary they’ll feature some of your favorite Tik Tokers, as they’ll cheer on their success made from Tik Tok, cry and whine how Tik Tok makes them depressed and suicidal, then cheer on Tik Tok again as being the greatest invention of man kind.

I am one of the rare few people in civilization to have never used Tik Tok, which I can say is a grand accomplishment itself. Tik Tok is literally a Great Value version of Vine: Vine’s purpose was to create entertainment as everyone thoroughly enjoyed Vine. While as Tik Tok… I don’t understand the purpose of Tik Tok at all, other than it’s made for brain dead young adults whom talk out of their ass on subjects they know nothing about, or made for people with no personality and have no value to offer to the world. I know I sound harsh: But it’s true, every single Tik Tok I’ve been tortured by in my Instagram story… Every single person in these videos make me feel embarrassed for people my age and younger, like why couldn’t I be born in the 60’s?!

Tik Tok Boom! felt too similar to The Social Dilemma as far as presentation and such, only The Social Dilemma at least succeeded in being an engaging documentary that teaches us new information, while Tik Tok Boom! pretty much tells us everything we already know.

What kills Tik Tok Boom! for me is the users behind the app they showcase… They are the worst part of this entire film. Like these kids non stop cries about this app, honestly the entire film it feels like. They express the mental toll this app does on them, whether it be comments made on their videos, the app’s response in one of the users political stance that literally banned them for speaking out on a matter, or feeling depressed/suicidal because of their usage of the app. It’s hard to sympathize with these creators: When they go around parading the app, like it’s the greatest invention in the world and pretending like it does so much good in the world… HUH?! I really don’t respect none of these creators except for one female creator that was kind of consistent, it’s like if you’re going to discuss disgust with this app as they go against your views and do a lot of damage towards your mental health… DELETE THE APP and MOVE ON TO SOMETHING BETTER. These creators stand by Tik Tok not because it makes any real difference to society, it’s because they’re following the money and nothing more, all of these people are phonies.

Tik Tok Boom! clearly has a one sided view when it comes to politics, as they dedicated a good thirty minutes against a presidential candidate as one of the creators have a club made for a vice presidential candidate, all due to the fact a presidential candidate was bound to ban Tik Tok from America. Like this whole entire sequence was ever so embarrassing and cringey, that it’s purely painful to sit through… Like the world would be SO MUCH BETTER if Tik Tok was banned. Yet because of these creators and users ignorance they want to jeopardize an entire country (as you can clearly see with all the problems we have at the moment) and not actually go for a candidate for offering good policies that can help better a country… You’re going to decide whom to vote or promote for, all because of banning a worthless social media app?! This is why the voting age needs to be increased: These people can’t be trusted.

Little is discussed as far as an association trying to get rid of Tik Tok, this documentary felt more of Tik Tok propaganda despite show casing the problems of the app, however this documentary just cheers on how wonderful, awesome, and “empowering” this app is… I don’t know this felt very one sided and not much open to others sides differing on the app itself.

Overall, Tik Tok Boom! was mediocre. I don’t recommend this film, watch The Social Dilemma instead and do us all a favor and delete Tik Tok.

Something in the Dirt Grade: B-

Something in the Dirt tells a story about a couple of neighbors, whom discover some kind of unknown rock in ones building, that could be not from this universe. Sit, relax, and enjoy a couple dudes popping cold ones, while a rock does some paranormal type shit while these two dudes discuss conspiracy theories on just about everything.

Something in the Dirt comes from the film makers Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (Both also star in this film too) whom brought us sci-fi gems such as The Endless and Synchronic. What I’ve enjoyed about these film makers in general is they bring a unique voice to the sci-fi genre, where each film is thoroughly engaging that even those whom aren’t into sci-fi can get on board with their films, they’re a solid group of dudes in the sci-fi game as I always look forward to whatever they make.

Something in the Dirt is quite different than their last two films, yes there still is that sci-fi charm however the way the film presents itself visually and on a narrative speaking is quite different than what we’re used to seeing. It sort of plays out as this found footage television documentary style, where they’re discussing the events that occur with this rock and just getting to know the characters and such. I think what’s cool about this presentation is the fact the film makers are trying to play tricks on your mind, to where you’re guessing if this is real or this all fake to make some kind of profit?! So many paranormal shows are clearly fake, as these dudes try to create a narrative in which plays in that same kind of field, only it’s taken really seriously and does a well effective job in not only making your mind determine what is happening is real but also making itself thoroughly engaging within the narrative as well, like one of these shows do on a regular basis.

The Sci-Fi concept is pretty simple yet it’s cool to watch about this rock, I also enjoyed the characters discussing some theories on the rock itself and solving it out like a math problem… Obviously I enjoy math so this worked well with me. The conversations these characters have kind of play off like I’m experiencing a podcast. Whether it be about the rock, their own lives, or talking about life in general… It’s pretty interesting stuff. I liked the whole side plot narrative on one of the characters especially, it works well as a drama piece.

Wish more development was made on one of the characters in the film, some things within the story can at times be confusing some. Something in the Dirt is another cool film from these dudes, as I can’t wait to see what they cook up next.

Overall, Something in the Dirt was a cool film. I recommend checking this one out.

Emily the Criminal Grade: B

Emily the Criminal tells a story about a catering delivery woman named Emily (Aubrey Plaza). Emily hopes to secure a better life for herself, but unfortunately having debt from college and having a criminal record is making it hard to achieve. So one day Emily gets a number from her co-worker, who can offer her a gig that she can make $200 an hour. Turns out: That gig is a credit card fraud type system. Emily easily secures the bag her first try, as the thrill of making a great amount of illegal money gives Emily all the confidence in the world to keep going so she can have a better life for herself, despite being a criminal.

Aubrey Plaza has some pretty intriguing films recent years, as of course was hoping to experience the same thing with this film. I will say Emily the Criminal is much more tamed than the likes of Ingrid Goes West or Black Bear, however this was fun to watch.

I liked the whole concept of a broken down woman whom is drowning in student debt, getting a fair second chance of potentially getting herself out of debt, by doing illegal stuff. Student debt can really make one do just about anything in order to relieve their debt, so this was a fun concept to go with as I like the whole turn Emily goes through to where you know what?! Playing by the rules isn’t getting her anywhere near out of debt, might as well risk it all… YOLO!

The story at hand does unfortunately tire down in the middle and a little bit in the end, however the film at least maintains the audience attention in wondering what is bound to happen with Emily in this situation. There’s some solid intense sequences, especially where Emily gets robbed or with the conclusion with Emily and her partner. There’s one effective sequence to where it showcases just how absurd unpaid internships are, to where the interviewer dares to call one “Spoiled” over not being grateful to work regular 8 hour shifts while they’re struggling to make ends meet… It’s a pretty damn good scene and it really just exposes the whole internship ordeal completely. This film won’t win any awards or anything, although it’s a fun film to watch I will say.

Overall, Emily the Criminal was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, Aubrey Plaza continue on making good low budget films! -Mitch Smietana

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