Friday, December 3, 2021

C'mon C'mon - Review

 

Imagine the most comfortable, warm blanket on a cool night you can think of. Now, find a way to apply that to film and you might have something comparable to what Mike Mills has done with C’mon C’mon. A masterful display of small, unforced intimacy and emotion and the wisdom of children that can only come from ones not yet burdened with life’s many experiences. It’s a comforting, joyous film that’s just as emotional for the audience as its characters. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

House of Gucci - Review

Debates are had almost constantly about the preferred length of films. Some prefer shorter, tighter narratives of a 90 minute film, some like the long, epic storytelling of the two and a half to three hour long films, but no one likes an overlong, directionless, slog of a film. House of Gucci falls into that last one if that wasn’t clear, and no amount of over-the-top performances can save it from being what it truly is: boring.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Encanto - Review


The latest outing from Walt Disney Animation Studios marks the 60th feature length entry in the studio’s filmography. It continues the relative winning streak that the animation department (and Disney overall) have been on now for quite some time. Much has been made about Hollywood’s reliance on IP’s and franchises to get audiences in seats, but time and time again, animation proves that originality still has a place amidst the nostalgia and sequels. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

tick, tick...Boom! - Review

 

“We made it for the fans” is a phrase that so often is used when the newest franchise film is met with resistance from critics. While there may not be a lot of criticism being hurled at tick, tick…BOOM!, the phrase feels wholly applicable. This film is for Broadway nerds, packed with cameos and references to the successes and failures of musicals throughout history. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

King Richard - Review

 

It’s very easy to be skeptical, almost cynical, about King Richard. From one angle, the biopic during awards season is overplayed to the point of becoming a joke at this point. From another, to take the story of two of the most successful female athletes and focus on their father is certainly a bold choice. However, it’s a credit to director Reinaldo Marcus Green and actor Will Smith that the film makes its case for the questionable focal point. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Power of the Dog - Review


Since 1993, when Jane Campion became just the second woman every nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, the director has made very few films in comparison to her male counterparts. After viewing her filmmaking style, it’s really no surprise that Campion prefers to take her time. And while the films in the last 28 years are few and far between, this outing was well worth the wait. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Belfast - Review

 

Northern Ireland in the late 1960s is not exactly a subject you’d expect to be at the center of one of the more crowd pleasing films on 2021. And yet, at the heart of Belfast is the tale of a family just trying their best to hold it all together, creating an inviting and even warm film amidst all the turmoil. An effortlessly poignant film, it’s more than just the semi-autobiographical story at the forefront, but a tribute to a resilient community in which its set. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Passing - Review

As each year passes, we get more and more actors turned director making their debuts. Next up: Rebecca Hall, a performer that carries such poise and grace, moves those talents behind the camera for this adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella. A compelling story on its own, it draws even more power from the talents of its director, the instinct for restraint from top to bottom, and the two commanding performances at its center. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Spencer - Review

When historical figures are elevated to cultural icons, people often wonder: what’s their life like? For Princess Diana, that seems even more true than ever. The fascination surrounding the life of the late princess has never ceased and, if anything, has grown. Naturally, someone was going to take another crack at showcasing her life to audiences, and this time it’s Pablo LarraĆ­n, who took the life of Jackie Kennedy and crafted a gorgeous and enthralling look at the former First Lady back in 2016, and looks to do the same with Spencer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Eternals - Review

 

13 years into the huge endeavor that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a long time to go before reaching your first truly divisive film. And it’s odd, the film that had the most going for it of the early Phase Four slate, is the one to earn that crown. Eternals has the ensemble cast to rival any ensemble cast, an academy award winning director, and a lore steeped source material tailor-made for an epic superhero flick, and yet, it’s the lofty expectations that ultimately effect it’s reception. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Mass - Review

There are no flashes of panic, no sounds of gunfire nor sights of victims fallen, but make no mistake, Mass is born from violence. It’s the story of tragedy, just many years down the line, and how the immense and irreparable pain permeates and seeps into the lives of all those connected to the event. It’s not flashy in any way shape or form, but it sure does pack an emotional haymaker into its simple setup.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The French Dispatch - Review

 

Everyone generally knows what they’re getting when name Wes Anderson appears on screen. The classic elements are all there: some colorful production design, a handful of charming characters, and enough quirkiness to rival just about anything throughout history. However, this time things are a bit different. It’s an anthology film this time, connecting each subsequent sequence of whimsy with one thread and essentially throwing any emotional involvement in the process. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Last Night in Soho - Review

 

Every director has a style. Yes, even ones that may not be flashy or overtly visible, have a style to their films. Edgar Wright just happens to be on of the flashiest. Throughout his filmography, the quick editing and visual humor of his directorial outings have made his profile soar, and Last Night in Soho was perhaps his most anticipated film to date. A return to horror, two fantastic women leading the performances, and a glimpse into Wright’s neon soaked vision of the 60s, what more could you ask for?

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Dune - Review

 
A few have attempted (and failed) to successfully adapt this epic science fiction story. From the proposed 14 hour epic by Alejandro Jodorowsky that stalled out in the 70s to the less than stellar adaptation in 1984 by David Lynch, Dune has often been considered impossible to film. While that was once the thought, Denis Villeneuve proves that just isn’t true, crafting a film with such ambition and scope that it’s truly astounding no one thought to give this man the reigns to this story long ago. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Harder They Fall - Review

 

While the story of this stylish western may not have actually happened, the opening texts reiterates ‘These. People. Existed.’ And though it may tick many of the classic western boxes, the energy that pulses throughout the film makes it a whole lot of fun in the end. Through the blending of real-life outlaws with a fictional tale of revenge, director Jeymes Samuel has announced his presence on the scene with flair and confidence.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Last Duel - Review

 

As far as historical, epic dramas go, no director has ventured to that well quite as often as Ridley Scott. Whether it’s the Crusades in Jerusalem or the bloody arenas of Ancient Rome, the battlefields of history call out to him every few years or so. And while the title of The Last Duel suggests more glimpses into the world’s sword filled past, it’s surprising how little of the film is actually focused on the last duel to the death in France’s history. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

No Time to Die - Review

 

From the beginning, this film has been surrounded by question marks. When will it finally be released? Who gets to direct this outing? Will the star of the franchise even be back for a fifth time? Eventually, we got answers to all of those, and many more (except who gets to pick up the mantle next), and get a final result that’s an emotional, albeit flawed, conclusion to the story of Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Venom: Let There Be Carnage - Review

 

Back in 2018, the original Venom was released to mixed reactions to say the least. Very few people would try and argue its the masterclass of moviemaking, but its ridiculously silly premise and equally silly execution had an odd charm. Don’t worry, it’s definitely a bad movie, but it’s one that finds a way to be fun, something the sequel matches, and to some extent, even plays into this time around. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Dear Evan Hansen - Review

 

Many an opinion were expressed at the thought of casting twenty-seven year old Ben Platt as a high schooler. Some were fine, most were bad. It’s hard to deny that the sheer appearance of an actor who does not look even close to young enough for high school could absolutely tank a film before it ever releases, however, with Dear Evan Hansen that’s just not the case. Having a twenty-seven year old play an eighteen year old is the least of this film’s issues. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blue Bayou - Review

The issue-driven drama can be tricky. When effective, it can shine a light on a community facing continuous injustice through the power of storytelling on the biggest screen possible. When handled poorly, the results can be damaging instead, turning a real-life tragedy into a set of events that seemingly could only happen with a camera there to capture it. In many ways, Blue Bayou falls into both categories, as the heartfelt attempts to portray this story are commendable, but it often gets bogged down in its own melodrama. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Eyes of Tammy Faye - Review

 

Many awards vehicles have come and gone, each more stale than the last. Continually propping up a stellar leading performance that rises above a dull and tired story that audiences have seen a million times. Lately, those have seemed even more plentiful in the realm of Best Actress, where someone finds the tale of a famous woman from history and an actress due for awards recognition, slaps them together, and hopes for the best. However, The Eyes of Tammy Faye surprisingly isn’t that, offering more than just its actress to talk about.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Suicide Squad - Review

 

Five years and a few missteps ago, Warner Brothers and DC release Suicide Squad. A film that took a lesser comic property and propelled them to the big screen with less than ideal results. Now, we get a new version, with a few familiar faces from that first incarnation, and a brand new creative at the helm in James Gunn. With a bright new outlook and the embracing of comic book weirdness finally a priority, DC might just have produced their best film in years.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Annette - Review

 

The film opens with a few requests, including the proclamation that “breathing will not be tolerated.” And while a bizarre, acid-trip of a rock opera should leave you breathless at certain times out the sheer audacity of its ambition, Annette leaves you short of words most of the time. A sense of bewilderment as to how this whole thing is supposed to fit, and how its own trove of ideas often gets in the way.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nine Days - Review

 Every once in a while, a film comes along that feels impossible to write about. Not in ways that would hamper attempts to praise its creative risks or complex storytelling, but capturing the beautiful experience that is Nine Days with just around a few hundred words unfeasible. It’s a film that scratches a creative itch, an original, moving story that explores life, death, and the existentialism that comes along with it.

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Green Knight - Review

 

Hollywood is no stranger to the occasional Arthurian legend, though they mostly result in lackluster affairs when all is said in done. But for anyone expecting a sword clashing adventure akin to those that have come before, The Green Knight will surely not meet those expectations. What director David Lowery gives audiences instead is an otherworldly  vision with an extremely measured pace, an exceptional visual identity, and no simple answers to its very complex ideas and questions. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins - Review

 Over a decade ago, way back in 2009, an attempt was made to bring the long standing toy line of G.I. Joe to the big screen. That film did not work, so much so that not even Dwayne Johnson could save its eventual “sequel”. But here we are, twelve years later, for a new attempt, this time starting with just one character, Snake Eyes, the character who famously doesn’t speak or have much of a backstory, and giving him an origin film to spark this new franchise.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fear Street - Part Three: 1666 - Review

 

Three weeks. Three films. And one shockingly effective and good horror trilogy seemingly out of nowhere for Netflix. Crafting a cohesive story across three films is no easy task, especially in horror franchises, yet Leigh Janiak and crew have developed something that improves with each subsequent entry, even making the previous films better in the process. The third film is no exception, taking the story back to 1666 and getting a little supernatural before the whole mystery of Shadyside comes all together.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Black Widow - Review

 

Nearly two years after the last cinematic release by Marvel Studios, audiences finally get to see the long overdue Black Widow. After her introduction in 2010’s Iron Man 2, fans have asked and wondered when a story revolving around the famed assassin would release. For years, no headway was made as every other character had their franchise and Natasha Romanoff was doomed to be a supporting hero in ensemble casts. That is until this week, when she gets a film all to herself, and thankfully, it's pretty solid.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Fear Street - Part One: 1994 - Review

 Everyone knows R.L. Stine for “Goosebumps”, and rightfully so. The series has been around since the early 90s, with off and on stints since, and just about everyone has read at least one in their time. But little do some know that the famed author penned novels for the young adult bracket, a fare more gory and mature series titled “Fear Street”, and someone, somewhere, finally realized just how brilliant an adaptation of said series could be.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Summer of Soul - Review

Over 50 years ago, in the summer of 1969, thousands of people gathered for a festival that celebrated music, love, and culture. And no it’s not the festival you’re thinking of. About 100 miles south of the famed Woodstock was another gathering in Harlem, the Harlem Cultural Festival. Taking place over 6 weeks that summer, and filmed almost in its entirety, the footage had been lost for decades. That is until Questlove got his hands on it and transformed it into one of the best music documentaries in years.

Friday, June 25, 2021

F9: The Fast Saga - Review

 

It’s difficult to say that the “Fast and the Furious” series has lost its way when it never really had a clear way to begin with. It’s re-invented itself on multiple occasions, with the most successful change coming with the fifth entry. From there, the entries have at minimum been fun, albeit mindless, action flicks, with enjoyable humor and a bit of heart. However, they’ve extended themselves beyond a very clear ending point with 2015’s Furious 7, seemingly determined to run said franchise into a wall at 100 mph.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Luca - Review

After years and years of pulling on emotional heartstrings, it’s almost expected that Pixar will have some deep-seeded message buried in each film about life and its meaning. No where was this more true than their last outing, Soul. So to say Luca is a switch-up on that model is an understatement by comparison. Sure, it still has its message, friendship and acceptance of one’s self are littered throughout, but the film as a whole, the studio’s shortest since Toy Story in 1995, comes across as a much lighter and charming watch.

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It - Review

Third entries are difficult. Hell, horror sequels are near impossible, let alone a third entry. But The Conjuring franchise, at least the main two films, have been a benchmark in studio horror over the last decade. Logically, the third film will have a slightly better chance than most to be at least decent, if not great. That is until the captain of the ship, director James Wan, decides to take a backseat this go around, and let someone else steer the solid series straight into the jagged rocks named mediocrity.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Quiet Place Part II - Review

Ironically, the first film back in theaters for a lot of people this week is the last film people were actually gearing up to see in theaters nearly 15 months ago. And what a film to return with. The original film released in 2018 to surprising praise from all corners, making a sequel almost inevitable. While everyone knows the sequel game is tough, especially in the horror genre, A Quiet Place Part II manages the impossible and turns out a film that surpasses the first in nearly every way.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Cruella - Review

Disney’s live action remakes have been a roller coaster of quality from the surprising success of 2015’s Cinderella to the creatively bankrupt production of 2019’s The Lion King. Thankfully, Cruella falls somewhere in the middle, not falling into the traps that made some outings feel like blatant cash grabs, but also not fully committing to the weirdness that the director is striving for.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Army of the Dead - Review

 After months and months of Zack Snyder hearing his name in the news with the long sought after debut of the famed Snydercut, the director returns to the world of the undead with Army of the Dead. His first venture into the zombie world came 17 years ago, with a remake of George Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, but instead of adapting someone else’s work into his own style, Snyder takes an original, over the top approach to his newest film.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Mitchells vs the Machines - Review

The duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have quickly made a name for themselves by taking what sounds like an odd, or even bad, idea on paper and turning it into absolute gold. They made the Jump Street and LEGO films work despite everything going against them, and their role in producing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse makes them a tandem to always pay attention to. In 2021, the pair have brought us the Mitchells, a dysfunctional family smack dab in the middle of the robot apocalypse.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon - Review

Disney and fairytales. A tradition dating back to 1937 with the first animated film released under the name Walt Disney hit theaters. However, the past decade (and some change) has seen the typical love stricken, damsel in distress heroines melt away to more independent, confident, and general adventure focused leads. All which comes to head with their newest film, Raya and the Last Dragon.