|Directed by:||Kenneth Lonergan|
|Written by:||Kenneth Lonergan|
|Cast:||Casey Affleck, Gretchen Mol, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan|
|Directed by:||Kenneth Lonergan|
|Written by:||Kenneth Lonergan|
|Cast:||Casey Affleck, Gretchen Mol, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan|
|Directed by:||Jeff Nichols|
|Written by:||Jeff Nichols|
|Cast:||Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll, Bill Camp|
Based on the real life Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, that made banning interracial marriage unconstitutional, Loving starts off with an upward battle. I find that many of the movies about the years during and leading up to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s have a hard time juggling the idea that this was just how it used to be without outright vilifying anyone. Not that they shouldn’t be vilified, but Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help, for instance, might as well have been twirling a black mustache and tying damsels to train tracks, she was that cartoonish of an antagonist. It is hard to take seriously when so many of us think of it as being such out-dated ways of thinking (despite the recent evidence of the contrary...[more]...
|Directed by:||Barry Jenkins|
|Written by:||Barry Jenkins|
|Cast:||Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes|
Moonlight is told over the course of three chapters following the character of Chiron (also referred to as “Little” and “Black”) at different moments in his life: childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood. The first two chapters (“Little” and “Chiron”) remind me of Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life, specifically its ambition to mythologize growing up. The weird camera angles and selective replaying of events work like trying to recall memories or dreams. As with our actual youth, we tend to remember things bigger, more unique, and in a more structured narrative than they actually happened. They are the folk tales of our lives...[more]...
|Directed by:||Ti West|
|Written by:||Ti West|
|Cast:||Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan|
Horror and westerns make for strange relatives. John Carpenter, for instance, got into film-making to make westerns but ended up being one of the most influential voices in horror instead. I’m not entirely sure the correlation. Maybe it is the long-silences leading up to bursts of violence and a shared affection for blood and guts. Either way, seeing horror-aficionado and mumblecore-adjacent filmmaker, Ti West, make this particular leap isn’t really surprising...[more]...
|Directed by:||David Mackenzie|
|Written by:||Taylor Sheridan|
|Cast:||Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Kevin Rankin, Dale Dickey|
I honestly didn’t think much of this movie when I first saw the trailers. Just another in a long line of half-baked pieces of pulp fiction that make up for a lack of narrative depth with overwritten dialog intended to be clever, that just so happens to have tied down a few great actors to flog with its’ terribleness. At the time, I didn’t realize the script was written by Taylor Sheridan, scribe of drug cartel thriller, Sicario, nor did I realize it was directed by David Mackenzie, director of British prison drama, Starred Up. That is some fine pedigree when it comes to revitalizing hard-boiled potboilers as something much more compelling...[more]...
|Directed by:||Liza Johnson|
|Written by:||Joey Sagal|
|Cast:||Kevin Spacey, Michael Shannon, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville|
Not much is known of this secret meeting other than Elvis wanting to go undercover for the precursor to the DEA and Nixon started recording every meeting soon after. If that is the case, and they basically just made up everything they said to each other, than I think they could have come up with something more interesting. Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey give some measured impressions that seem respectable but still a little over-the-top. Just enough to still get some laughs out of mocking them and not seem like assholes for it.
|Directed by:||Terrence Malick|
|Written by:||Terrence Malick|
|Cast:||Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett|
The dreamy camerawork of Terrance Malick's 2 previous films (Tree of Life and To The Wonder worked very well in illustrating abstract ideas: Life/Memory/Grief for Tree of Life and Love/Heartbreak for To the Wonder. Knight of Cups is a point of diminishing returns for said style. Knight of Cups seeks to find depth in looking in the wrong places for validation, but that is too universal a truth to analyze. Where Tree of Life nd To the Wonder almost hypnotizes you into feeling the same thing as the characters in the film, Knight of Cups instead feels like it is bored with its own ability. And you feel bored as a result. Malick is never not ambitious though and that alone is too be commended, that and the occasional moments of truth that do work, just not enough to secure the whole movie being a must see.
|Directed by:||Noah Buschel|
|Written by:||Noah Buschel|
|Cast:||Ethan Hawke, Paul Giamatti, Johnny Simmons|
Johnny Simmons does well as a baseball player ready to crack under his own stress, talking out his feelings with a therapist, an uncharacteristically underwhelming Paul Giamatti. Episodic in nature, Simmons bounces from abusive relationship to abusive relationship from vampiric friends and family, especially his father, another decent nuanced performance from Ethan Hawke. It just lacks a sense of cohesion to really knock it out of the park (pun intended)
|Directed by:||David Ayer|
|Written by:||Justin Marks|
|Cast:||Jared Leto, Will Smith, Maggie Grace, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Scott Eastwood, Lonnie Common, David Harbour, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman|
|Genre:||Action, Comic Book|
Suicide Squad looked like it would be a significant tonal shift for the DCEU, but it only barely was. A few more vibrant colors and a couple of livelier performances (especially Will Smith) aren't exactly significant. Instead it steamrolls characterization into sloppy exposition and team chemistry into an unearned theme of family. Jared Leto's much maligned d Joker was decent but struggled to make a lasting mark. Margot Robbie's much hyped Harley Quinn was ultimately waterdowned, Viol Davis' Amanda Waller was underused, and the entire Squad was reduced to crappy stereotypes. But Will Smith rocked it, and somehow Joel Kinnaman just keeps circling the role that will bring him stardom. The more and more I think about it, the more and more I dislike it.
|Directed by:||Richard Linklater|
|Written by:||Richard Linklater|
|Cast:||Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman, Jonathan Breck|
Not the great follow up to Dazed and Confused anyone hoped for. It lacks the universal feeling of the struggles. Actually, it lacks any struggle at all. It works better as a cultural time capsule: the fashion, the music, and the shallow subcultures that followed those things during the 80s. It may have something to say in terms of how all the cast jumps subculture to subculture, a criticism of their shallowness that they were built around pretending to be rebellious. It only works as a comedy about dopey college kids, and even that is not incredibly funny.
|Directed by:||Duncan Jones|
|Written by:||Charles Leavitt|
|Cast:||Ben Foster, Paula Patton, Toby Kebbell, Dominic Cooper, Clancy Brown, Rob Kazinsky, Daniel Wu, Ryan Robbins, Robert Kazinsky|
Warcraft looked like a dry CGI crapfest, a discount Lord of the Rings (which I already am not crazy about), but it was a lot more lively, interesting, and thrilling than I expected it to be. Duncan Jones definitely doesn't forget about the political thought behind the game (or so I've herd the game has), however it is not a very detailed portrayal. It is about as deep as blockbusters ever get. Talent like Travis Fimmell, Dominic Cooper, and Toby Kebbell are able to bring out human lived-in characters, which seems often difficult with pseudo "ye Olde English" dialect. It often gets into stupid fantasy mumbo jumbo (the use of a golem for instance seems forced in due to too much time passing without an action sequence), and it has the shitty YA adaptation "this is only the beginning" type of an ending. Big budget projects I think have given up on endings.
|Directed by:||Daniel Ragussis|
|Written by:||Daniel Ragussis|
|Cast:||Daniel Radcliffe, Toni Collette, Burn Gorman, Sam Trammell|
|Genre:||Crime, Drama, Thriller|
Imperium, first and foremost, will be remembered for being the movie where Harry Potter became a skinhead. The contrast between the two roles is just too great to not make you chuckle at its own ludicrousness. Despite his bold choices in roles in a his post-Potter career, Daniel Radcliffe will have a hard time avoiding recognition as the boy who lived, however, if there was a role that could break that recognition, it is this one as FBI Agent Nate Foster. He delivers some incredible intensity, whether his pulse is literally pounding while fighting alongside the skinheads or he is putting on a brave face trying to make good with some truly despicable individuals. It is our empathy for his character that drives the tone of the movie...[more]...
|Directed by:||Jeremy Saulnier|
|Written by:||Jeremy Saulnier|
|Cast:||Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Anton Yelchin, Mark Webber, Alia Shawkat, Macon Blair, Eric Edelstein|
|Studio:||Broad Green Pictures|
Blue Ruin was a clever and sophisticated thriller that has its thematic arcs continued in this movie, led by Anton Yelchin. Director Jeremy Saulnier depicts people stuck in cycles of violence by depicting it in its most cruel and unapologetic fashion, never to be confused for glorifying it. He creates fear from real, almost tangible stakes and Patrick Stewart, despite popular opinion, is NOT playing against type. His usual likable and intelligent screen presence is put into new context as a true believing white supremacist, which makes him all the more fucking infuriating.
|Directed by:||Steven Brill|
|Written by:||Kevin Barnett|
|Cast:||Adam Sandler, David Spade, Paula Patton, Kathryn Hahn, Nick Swardson|
|Genre:||Action, Adventure, Comedy|
There is a plot here that would actually make for an awesome in over their head type movie of normal schlubs on an insane adventure, which I cannot explain to you without spoiling. That said, when the reality of their situation sets in Sandler and Spade actually do some solid character work. Unfortunately, it is not enough. Sandler's sense of humor has aged like milk. Every joke consists of grossing out he or his supporting actors so that we can laugh at their disgusted faces, usually at the expense of being mistaken for gay. Faces aren't punchlines.
|Directed by:||Yorgos Lanthimos|
|Written by:||Yorgos Lanthimos|
|Cast:||Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly|
|Genre:||Comedy, Romance, Science-Fiction|
So many of the reviews that I have seen for this movie talk about Yorgos Lanthimos previous films which I sadly know nothing about. I am into it though. His skewed look at the world holds up a dirty funhouse mirror to our society. The triviliazing of the dating scene, how and why we meet people, and the obligation we feel to be together. He pairs that with a second half about a rebellious group of single people that holds some dramatic importance but the movie doesn't pivot into it very well. It starts losing the dry satirical elements and goes into more dystopic thriller territory. It lacked narrative punch.
|Directed by:||Dan Trachtenberg|
|Written by:||Damien Chazelle|
|Cast:||Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.|
I thought very little of this movie. Cloverfield was a cool enough movie, but I cared very little about its franchise potential. The cloverfield in the title is sort of a decoy. It has nothing to do with the original movie. If its franchise direction is more anthology and less mytharc I could get behind that more. The marketing really short sells what ends up being a pretty awesome performance reel for everyone involved, especially John Goodman. It doesn't exactly stick the landing though. It all kind of peters out, and it's commitment to ambiguity is tenuous at best. In that regard I think it has something in common with The Invitation but as a failure. There is still a lot to be thrilled by though.
|Directed by:||Shane Black|
|Written by:||Shane Black|
|Cast:||Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Keith David, Beau Knapp|
|Genre:||Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery|
Shane Black makes fun movies. They are just smart enough to seem twisty and keep you guessing, but they still need a leap of faith SPOILER (who cares what a porno has to say about anything) END SPOILER. He also goes over terrain he is familiar with (the "he'll stop doing it" joke from the trailer is also in iron Man 3), but he mixes and matches things with such precision that he makes even the tired old buddy cop scenario feel rejuvenated. It helps when he has too masterclass actors, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, to surprise everyone with their comic chops. And a different time period to play around in. That's always fun. Plus he is one of the few filmmaker who will play up kinetic stunt heavy violence for laughs, specifically good laughs because there are a lot of action movies that try to be funny and fail miserably.
|Directed by:||Tod Williams|
|Written by:||Adam Alleca|
|Cast:||John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Stacey Keach|
he idea of a Stephen King book being made into a movie starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson reminds me of 1408, an underrated horror gem. It stars Cusack as a sort-of-famous paranormal debunker who gets wind of the titular haunted room in a hotel run by Samuel L. Jackson. It turns out it is really haunted, and Cusack goes for a really trippy ride. He even gives a good performance in it. This movie only lives up to it by being an adaptation by THAT writer starring THOSE guys. It is missing everything that makes cinema work as a medium...[more]...
|Directed by:||Alejandro Amenabar|
|Cast:||Emma Watson, David Thewlis, Ethan Hawke|
Ethan Hawke does his best hard-boiled detective, and Emma Watson steps confidently out of her comfort zone. Neither can save the movie from being a paint-by-number thriller though. Like a pretensious episode of Law and Order that tries to energize itself with a feeling of supernatural intervention, but it botches its attempt to fool us into doubting what is real and not real. It may have helped if it had more enlightened views on religion to go with its seriousness. This is probably the most interesting thing about it though. It feels like it was either written by a philosophy student who just learned the definition of atheist or by a devout Christian who has never even reluctantly doubted his own belief. That's a weird thing to feel like.
|Directed by:||Gavin O'Connor|
|Written by:||Brian Duffield|
|Cast:||Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton, Rodrigo Santoro|
The production was plagued with the kind of problems that made most people consider it DOA. They were right. It never truly has any confidence in its actors despite starring some of the more consistent performers. Their histories are written in their behavior, but flashbacks are sloppily inserted to fill in the blanks with obvious events. The actor's quiet moments are undermined by moments of over acting, especially Natalie Portman, who had more than one uncontrollable outburst that never felt authentic. It was all setting up for an "epic" shootout that was too brief to be worth all the previous story.