Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Pain and Glory - Review

Pain and Glory. Two words that conjure two very different reactions, almost opposites even, yet director and writer Pedro Almodóvar shows how each feeling needs the other. In a film that isn’t totally autobiographical, just auto-fiction, a fact brought up by the film itself even, Almodóvar holds up a mirror to his life and spills the reflection out for the world to see in the form of Pain and Glory.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Last Christmas - Review

For those that start the Christmas music on November 1st, Universal has your back. Last Christmas is here to continue the trend of starting the holidays way too early, with a story about a down on her luck woman who sees the benefits of kindness around Christmas thanks to a mysterious man. What a crazy, original concept for a Christmas movie right?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Doctor Sleep - Review

Returning to a traumatic nightmare can sometimes be the most opportune way to heal. In the world of Stephen King, that likely entails venturing back to a twisted hotel, desperate to pull the soul from your body or shatter your mind into a million pieces, all while running from a group of vampire-like creatures attempting to feast on your unique abilities. And while on the surface that sounds a jumbled mess of tones and ideas, director-writer Mike Flanagan manage to maintain a solid through line.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Parasite - Review

Every so often, a film comes along that feels different, that feels special, that feels important. For 2019, no film earns that distinction more than Parasite. From the second the film starts to the moment the credits start to roll, the beautifully blended mix of commentary, humor, and dread crafted by director Bong Joon-ho is as entertaining as it is insightful in a near infinite number of ways.

Harriet - Review

The fact that a Harriet Tubman biopic hasn’t existed before the year 2019 is astounding. Her story is remarkable, she remains a celebrated figure, even getting a spot on the $20 bill at some point, yet no movie with Harriet Tubman as the central character exists. Part of the issue lies in Hollywood’s resistance to not only female led ventures, but to black female led ventures almost entirely. But something has changed, and now the world has Harriet, the long-overdue look at the life of one of America’s most important and influential women.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Jojo Rabbit - Review

An anti-hate satire. A tagline that seeks to alleviate the potential backlash before it ever starts, a strategy that’s only been slightly successful in the lead up to its release. The concerns are certainly valid, as in the wrong hands, Jojo Rabbit could go south very fast. Fortunately, Taika Waititi is at the helm. And a Taika Waititi helmed satire is a must see, but a Taika Waititi satire that makes fun of Nazis just might be the thing that 2019 needs.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Lighthouse - Review

When Robert Eggers unleashed The VVitch on the world in 2015, it marked the introduction of a fresh, weird, and historically accurate voice to horror. Where that film found its terror in the historical implications of a witch in the 1600s New England setting, The Lighthouse focuses in on fear of isolation and the psychosis of superstitious men on a rock in the middle of the sea. And boy, does it get bizarre in all the best ways.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Zombieland: Double Tap - Review

Zombieland, much to everyone’s shock in 2009, somehow managed to not be a complete disaster in the face of such overwhelming odds. An original, funny, and clever zomcom came from something that had no business working, and now ten years later, the sequel looks to do the exact same thing. The cast returns for a new adventure in the world of flesh eating undead, and the results are not quite as impressive as before.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dolemite Is My Name - Review

It’s been a long time since Eddie Murphy has been at the center of a successful endeavor. Outside of a handful of voice acting gigs related to the Shrek franchise, Murphy’s filmography since 2006 is full of misfires and ill-advised attempts at comedy. But now he’s back, in every sense of the word, to bring audiences the tale of Rudy Ray Moore, and with any luck, get back into the awards conversation.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil - Review

Five years after Maleficent became a bona fide hit at the box office, along with mixed reception from critics, the sequel is finally hitting theaters. Of all the Disney live-action remakes, Maleficent took the most risks, challenged the shortcomings of the original, and tried something relatively new with an established property, leaving the sequel plenty of room to grow. However, just having a fascinating central figure hardly makes a great sequel, and unfortunately, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil doesn’t recognize this simple fact.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Joker - Review

Since the film debuted a few short weeks ago across the Atlantic, Joker has been the subject of numerous debates and conversations about the insensitive nature of the film, or the oversensitive modern viewers, depending on which side you fall on. Questions of message and real life implications are not new to films with evil characters at the forefront, it might as well be a guarantee these days, but in those instances, the films actually felt like they had something worthwhile to say.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Judy - Review

The biopic and awards season, two things that go together like peanut butter and jelly. Less in an enjoyable way, more in the repeatedly eaten for every meal kind of way until you’re sick of it. However there are exceptions, days where a biopic actually connects and accomplishes its goal, and the results can be magnificent. Judy may not reach those heights, but it sure is a heck of a lot better than most.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Ad Astra - Review

Here it is. The annual space film about an individual who has to go to the vastness of space to find out who they truly are. Many have tried, and many have failed, to tell a sweeping narrative amongst the stars that gets to the root of humanity, but none have been quite as brilliant as James Gray’s Ad Astra. While those seeking a fast-paced thrill ride may not find what they’re looking for, but for those willing to look beneath the surface, they’ll find an exploration of what it means to be human.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Downton Abbey - Review

The cultural impact of a TV series always, or at least usually, becomes more clear after the show has actually finished its run. There are exceptions, no one would deny the immediate impact something like Game of Thrones had on popular culture, but as something ages and new fans are brought in that watch it in syndication or streaming these days, a show can take on a new life. Downton Abbey had plenty of impact when it aired from 2011 to 2016, but even still, three years later, the show’s fanbase is just as big as it ever was.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Hustlers - Review

Everyone is hustling in Hustlers. Based on the title, that may seem fairly obvious, but the film is about far more than just these women turned criminals and what they do to survive. From the strippers to the club managers to the bankers, everyone treats money and commodities as the ultimate prize. The premise of the whole film is summed up best by a line near the end of the film: this whole country is a strip club, some people are throwing the money and others are doing the dance. A Fitting conclusion to a fascinating and fantastic film.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Brittany Runs a Marathon - Review

More and more, roles keeping finding people that have deserved a showcase for their talents long before they actually get to. For Jillian Bell, that role is Brittany Forgler, a late 20-something who desperately needs to get her life together, a relatable character if there ever was one. Of course if you know anything about Bell’s sensibilities, then you should also know that the film just so happens to be one of the funniest of the year as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tigers Are Not Afraid - Review

In 2019, the number of female directors making their mark on filmmaking from the director’s chair is still far too low. But it’s far from a lack of talent or ability, and nothing proves that more than the one genre that seems to afford these women an opportunity: horror. Much like The Babadook introduced the world to Jennifer Kent or Raw introduced us all to Julia Ducournau, Tigers Are Not Afraid brings us Issa López, another exciting new voice for horror and filmmaking alike.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

It: Chapter Two - Review

Sequels often fall into the trap of supersizing the elements of the original to make the follow up bigger and better. Being a Part 2, or in this case Chapter Two, doesn’t make that general rule any different. Where the first Chapter in 2017 was a fantastically crafted and atmospheric horror film with a sizable budget, the follow up, It: Chapter Two, misses the mark and bloats to a near three hour runtime that it just cannot justify in the slightest.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Luce - Review

With enough nuance and mystery to keep even the most observant viewer in the dark, Luce may just be the most fascinating film of 2019. The world is full of problems, social issues that are subjects of endless debate, and this is a film that’s interested in exploring as many as it can.  It plays with these themes in a very compelling and thought provoking manner, and examines how far a person would go to confirm a narrative they already believe.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Ready or Not - Review

Horror and comedy always wind up meeting from time to time, more so than any other two major genres at least. To be fair, they do share some similar characteristics. They rely almost entirely on timing and build up to effectively get a reaction from the audience, the premises or setups are often key to the entire affair working, and they remain pigeon-holed by people constantly trapped in what the genre should be rather than what it actually can do. That’s not even mentioning the complete lack of respect they receive from awards bodies either. The two genres are intertwined so often because they work so well together, and Ready or Not is the newest example of what can happen when horror and comedy are perfectly utilized.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Good Boys - Review

The titular good boys of this raunchy, coming of age comedy are trying, with all their might, to be cool, bad, or popular, any of the three could fit at any given point. The film itself, unfortunately, falls into the same pattern, trying so hard to be like similar films that have come before that made this inappropriate sub-genre of comedy a financial opportunity for Hollywood. It matches some comedic beats that are wholly necessary when creating a 90-minute comedy, delivering on a lot of laughs, or at the very least light chuckles.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Farewell - Review

To love, laugh, and cry with family is nearly a universal experience. The familial dynamics that can be equal parts complex, infuriating, and wonderful all at the same are recognizable qualities that so many can relate to, regardless of the setting or language they’re portrayed in. In Lulu Wang’s beautifully realized, semi-autobiographical film The Farewell, the writer-director captures the realities of a family that remains family no matter the circumstances or distance in their lives, and it all comes together for one of the year’s best films.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Review

A horror anthology comprised of campfire style scary stories is ripe with potential if done properly. It can live in this interesting place where the atmosphere and creepy designs of each new ghastly creature can carry the load of a film tied together only be a loose narrative string. However, where the source material harms Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is its inherent status as slightly too scary for the tweens, but far too tame for the horror aficionados all at the same time.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Review

In a world full of baffling news and choices made on multiple fronts in the movie business, a live action Dora the Explorer the movie that involves her as a teenager, forced to move to the city just might make a top ten list. However, the results are not nearly as bad as the premise might suggest on the surface. The filmmakers behind this odd project actually produced something that’s sort of….fun?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw - Review

The Fast and the Furious franchise increasingly ups the ante from entry to entry, revving its metaphorical engine louder and louder in hopes of exciting an audience that yearns for more. Since a rather lowly beginning back in 2001 and the few lackluster entries that followed, the former street racing series has been a decent to great franchise, both critically and financially, due in large part to the introduction of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Fast Five. Eight years later, and a spat with the other franchise front man, and Johnson finally gets a spin-off film.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood - Review

The idea of making movies that lovingly gaze at the movies is not a new concept. Quentin Tarantino hasn’t quite dipped into the well in an overt way, but the influence of film’s past on his work has always been evident. With Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, however, Tarantino gets to showcase his seemingly endless knowledge of film history for a fairy tale unlike any other.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Lion King - Review

What happens when Disney runs out of renaissance era animated films to adapt into the “live-action” remakes? Is Pixar next? Are we looking at small ants taking on a grasshopper in 2022’s remake of a A Bug’s Life? How about the perilous journey of Marlin as he searches for his son in Finding Nemo? While the prospects of this actually seem far-fetched, to a degree, The Lion King feels like a demonstration of how realistic they can make these classics without changing an ounce of the story.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Crawl - Review

A house full of Alligators. A category five hurricane. Both are equally terrifying in their own right, but a combo of the two would is dreadful and gruesome in all the worst (or best) ways. Putting characters in the path of  disasters or various natural predators is not a new idea, but the perils of sloshing through a Florida swamp comes with its own bits of outlandish entertainment.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home - Review (NO SPOILERS)

Just barely two months have passed since the release of Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of everything that had come before and set up for things to come after. If Endgame was the final chapter, Spider-Man: Far From Home is the epilogue, a look at a world after Thanos and the Avengers, and a glimpse of what’s to come for everyone’s favorite web-head.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Midsommar - Review

It’s official: Ari Aster would be the world’s worst grief counselor. The director once again takes the inherent melodrama of a human event and mixes it into his own brand of horror: an exquisitely crafted and atmospheric affair unlike anything else in 2019. It may not be as nightmarish of an endeavor as Hereditary was, but Midsommar is an experience that’s sure to leave most people at an absolute loss for words.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Yesterday - Review

A recent uptick in nostalgia for the music of yesteryear can probably be traced to two potential sources. One: Hollywood had one big success and immediately saw the potential in more. Two: Living in a world of wonderful music that reminds everyone of a different time may be the simplest form of escapism in movies today. Either way, Yesterday capitalizes on that nostalgia, but in a surprisingly different manner.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Annabelle Comes Home - Review

An introduction scene for the Warrens back in 2013’s The Conjuring has now spawned three different films, all with different settings and characters, but still centered on the hauntings of the creepiest doll in existence: Annabelle. After a less than ideal first entry in 2014, the sequel, Annabelle: Creation was a major improvement, but where exactly does the third entry in this franchise within a franchise fall? Somewhere right in the middle.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Child's Play (2019) - Review

How in the world is this the eighth Chucky film in existence? Starting over three decades ago now with the original Child’s Play in 1988, the chronicles of the creepy, possessed doll with a knack for stabbing hapless humans have continued largely due to the work of creator Don Mancini. Yet his name is nowhere to be found in the creation of this modern adaptation, a film that breaks from endless sequels to actually try and present new ideas.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Toy Story 4 - Review

After a near perfect conclusion to a near perfect trilogy, it seemed greedy of Pixar to even contemplate a Toy Story 4. The studio’s identity as a hotbed for originality has been fading over the years, seven of the last eleven films from the animation giant have been either a sequel or prequel, and bringing back characters that had such an emotional sendoff is very ill-advised on paper. But Pixar is Pixar, and somehow, someway, they manage to knock it out of the park once again.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Men in Black: International - Review

Another day, another belated sequel. And though Men in Black International only comes seven years after the last entry, it makes the disastrous mistake of not including a mainstay that made the original three films work: Will Smith. Without the likable character of Agent J at the forefront, and a severe lack of originality, or any reason to exist for that matter, the summer of mediocre blockbusters continues.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Dark Phoenix - Review

On paper, adapting the Phoenix Saga for the big screen makes sense. However, when attempting to do so, it might be in the studios best interest to build it up a bit more than they have on two separate occasions now. After a half-hearted attempt back in 2006 with X-Men: The Last Stand, Simon Kinberg returns to once again rush to an end goal without putting in any effort to get there.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Rocketman - Review

The music biopic has been long labeled as formulaic, basic, and altogether tired. That is until Bohemian Rhapsody somehow won multiple Academy Awards despite fitting each of those descriptors. Now it seems as though the music biopic may never die, and if it wasn’t the case before, Dexter Fletcher insures it with the surprisingly creative and wildly energetic Rocketman.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters - Review

Hollywood produced Godzilla films are not exactly a solid bet for quality. Granted there have been only two prior attempts, but the less said about the 1998 version, the better, and the 2014 version, while praised in some regard, is still very divisive amongst audiences. It’s hard to have faith in American adaptations of the Japanese icon when it has never been rewarded, and still hasn’t been with Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Brightburn - Review

With an increasing number of superhero films out with each passing year, experimentation with the sub-genre was bound to happen. Horror seems like the next logical step to attempt to integrate into the superhero world. And what better way to do that than with the inverse of the superhero that started it all, Superman, just with some add gore and violence.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Booksmart - Review

It seems as though lately, every new coming of age film is faced with numerous comparisons to the last great coming of age film, based solely on a single similarity. For Booksmart, outside of being in conversation with Lady Bird or Eighth Grade recently, has been likened to a female Superbad. While the premises share some vaguely familiar beats, they could not be further from the same thing outside of being truly fantastic comedies.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Aladdin - Review

Of Disney’s renaissance era animated films, Aladdin might be the most difficult sell as a live action remake. And not due to any complex themes or narrative choices, but the task of replicating the magic of a classic without completely mimicking the delightful performance of Robin Williams in an iconic role. Yet, somehow, the results are not nearly as bad as the trailers would make it seem.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum - Review

As a franchise, John Wick just may be the most improbable success in recent memory. From a practical standpoint, a film directed by a former stuntman about a stoic assassin all set in motion by stealing a car and killing a puppy sounds like an odd B-movie one might find late at night on cable television. And yet, audiences are now being given the third entry in said franchise (with talk of more on the horizon), and the bonkers elements only get bigger, the visuals more striking, and the action more insane.