Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

Summer means a chance to relax and catch up on what we missed in the hustle and bustle of life, especially the last few years. This week, we look back on five films from the last five years that would make for an enjoyable viewing experience at home. These are films that didn’t have a splashy blockbuster release and may have flown under your radar.

“Darkest Hour”

2018’s “Darkest Hour” stars Gary Oldman and tells the tale of the election of Winston Churchill after the onset of World War II. Set in a fascinating recreation of 1940’s London, this drama centers around Churchill’s rise, which is intrinsically linked to the wider British decision of whether to fight on against the Nazi’s or sue for peace through appeasement. Oldman is amazing, and the drama of the film make this an arresting watch, despite being a World War II film with virtually no action.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon”

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” stars Shai LeBeouf and Zack Gottsagen. When Gottsagen’s character Zak, a 22-year-old pro wrestling fan with Down Syndrome decides to escape the state run nursing home he’s housed in to attend wresting school, a chance encounter with LaBeouf’s Tyler leads to a fast friendship, as the two “fugitives” head south along the coast as each seeks his new life. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a wonderful story of journey and friendship. It’s heartwarming and a clear homage to the American works of authors like Mark Twain and the best surprise of 2019.

“Ford v Ferrari”

Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in this “based on a true story” picture about the rivalry that developed between Ford and Ferrari after a failed acquisition. After Henry Ford II is spurned and insulted by the Italian car maker, he commissions Damon and Bale to beat Ferrari at their own game by winning the 24 hour race at Le Mons. This is a great car movie, and an even better movie about friendship, perseverance, and struggling with personal demons.


January of 2020 saw the release of “1917,” an amazing film from Sam Mendes about two young soldiers tasked with crossing the horrors of World War I’s “no-man’s land” to deliver a message that could save the lives of 1,600 men. The film is pure art. It’ amazingly shot to place the audience in the same position as the protagonists. The full horrors and bravery of the human experience are on display in this tour-de-force. It’s an amazing film that not enough people have seen.

“Wrath of Man”

Guy Ritchie’s 2021 action-crime film “Wrath of Man” is possibly the coolest movie of the last five years. Starring Jason Statham, the film is so far inside Ritchie’s wheelhouse he can’t help but crush it out of the park. Full of great clothes, machismo, witty dialogue, and amazing action set-pieces, “Wrath of Man” in unabashedly a “guys” movie and it delivers the goods. Statham is perfect in the role, and the whole film oozes the testosterone of its leading man.

Each of these films is worth a first and even second look. If you didn’t make it out to see them, you can find them on one of many streaming platforms to give them a watch. Don’t forget to also make time to get out to the Fridley Palms Theater to check out “Maverick,” “The Rise of Gru,” or the just released “Thor: Love and Thunder!”

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