[A-B]  [C-D]  [E-F]  [G-H]  [I-J]  [K-L]  [M-N]  [O-P]  [Q-R]  [S-T]  [U-V]  [W-X] [Y-Z] 

[ four star reviews ]  [ CrAiGeR's Worst[ 3D Review Archives ]  [ Netflix Original Films ]

 

 

POSTED JANUARY 6, 2022 

 

 

POSTED JANUARY 18, 2022 

 
 

 

 
     
 

Total number of print reviews in archive:

2116

 

 

FOLLOW ME

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT jjjj  

GOOD jjj  

FAIR jj  

POOR j 

CRAP zero stars

 

 

CrAiGeR's REVIEW ARCHIVES

All of CrAiGeR's full-length reviews of contemporary films since Jan 2004

 

 

CrAiGeR's FOUR STAR REVIEWS

Listing of every FOUR STAR review that CrAiGeR has ever written (excludes retro-reviews)

 

 

CrAiGeR's WORST REVIEWS

Listing of every one and a half star or lower review that CrAiGeR has ever written

 

 

CrAiGeR's RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW ARCHIVES

CrAiGeR revisits classic films from

the past

 

 

CrAiGeR's YEARLY BEST/WORST LISTS

CrAiGeR dishes out his TEN BEST and TEN WORST films for every year since 2000

 

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST OVER-RATED FILMS OF ALL-TIME

CrAiGeR unleashes his list of ten films that he felt did not deserve universal fan accolades and critical praise.

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN MOST INFLUENTIAL FILMS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS 

CrAiGeR ruminates on ten films he feels most directly influenced the business and making of movies since 1986.

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 2010's

[NEW]

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 2000's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1990's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1980's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1970's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1960's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1950's

 

 

CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1940's

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH

(R) jjj1/2

No country for king murdering men

What an absolutely audacious move for director Joel Coen to adapt one of William Shakespeare's most legendary plays to mark his solo feature film directorial debut.  And, yes, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH does in fact mark first filmmaking venture behind the camera without his equally famous and revered sibling, which alone makes this film worthy of event film status. At first glance, one of the Coen Brothers deciding to branch out on his own and adapt this Scotland set historical tragedy seems peculiar...

Posted January 18, 2022

THE TENDER BAR (R) jjj

Where everybody knows your name

If you want to witness how a single performance can help to greatly elevate a relatively middling drama then look no further than THE TENDER BAR, the new Amazon Prime original film based on the 2005 memoir of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and writer J.R. Moehringer.  The film tells an obligatory, dime-a-dozen themed coming of age tale that seems cherry picked from better elements from so many other finer examples of the genre...

Posted January 14, 2022

SPENCER (R) jj

A dysfunctional film about a dysfunctional royal

Pablo Larrain's SPENCER is a fact based inspired drama that tells a fictionalized account of Princess Diana's choice to finally break things off with her equally famous husband back in the early 1990s during a psychologically hellish three-day period for her.  This seems like a fitting companion piece to Larrain's own 2016 film JACKIE, which chronicled another famous woman of influence in Jacqueline Kennedy during the post-JFK assassination era, a time when she too was battling enormous stresses from all possible angles...

Posted January 14, 2022

THE FRENCH DISPATCH 

(R) jjj

An Andersonian piece mostly worth subscribing to

Wes Anderson's THE FRENCH DISPATCH - his tenth film - has been self-described by him as a "love letter to journalists."  I would also add that its a love letter to his uniquely idiosyncratic style and probably represents the writer/director at the height of his power for making meticulously rendered hand crafted visuals.  It's been an awfully long time since Anderson returned to the world of live action...

Posted January 14, 2022

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME 

(PG-13) jj1/2 

Spider-Man and too many of his amazing friends

The fundamental problem with the MCU's handling of their SPIDER-MAN films is definitely not with the man behind the wall crawler's bug eyed mask.  I'll be the first to concede that Tom Holland has made for a splendid version of the iconic Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Marvel Comics hero.  Alongside his two main co-stars, Holland and company have infused a considerable amount of dramatic heart and soul into the proceedings...

Posted January 5, 2022

DON'T LOOK UP 

(R) jj1/2

The truth is out there...honestly...it's right there!

DON'T LOOK UP contains moments of ultra macabre high hilarity as a scathing (and frequently on point and unnerving) socio-political satire about the absolute worst aspects of science denial culture.  It's just a bloody shame that it's way too self-indulgently longwinded, unwieldy, and undisciplined for its own good. The title of this film is derived from its core premise...

Posted January 5, 2022

 

BEING THE RICARDOS (R) jjj

I love Sorkin

At the very height of the pioneering TV sitcom's popularity in the 1950s, I LOVE LUCY was the most watched program in the United States with an estimated 60 million viewers each week.  To put it bluntly, nearly 40 per cent of all Americans tuned in for this program back in the day.  That's pretty astounding.  Clearly, the heart, soul, and creative epicenter of the show was Lucille Ball, who was a definite trailblazing feminist for the Golden Age of television that paved the way for the sitcom format and other small screen stars to come...

Posted January 5, 2022

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS 

(R) jjj

What happened happened and couldnít have happened any other way...

It's simply impossible to overstate what an incalculable impact that THE MATRIX had on the film industry when it was modestly released back in 1999.  The Wachowskis' lavishly mounted and thoughtfully scripted sci-fi opus mixed in such divergent elements as Eastern Philosophy, Biblical overtones, cyberpunk culture, dystopian and post-apocalyptic sci-fi, Japanese anime, Hong Kong-esque martial arts mayhem, and guns (lots of guns) and uploaded it to the moviegoer zeitgeist...

Posted December 28, 2021

BELFAST (PG-13) jjjj

Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart

Coming off the qualitative drudgery of last year's truly wrongheaded young adult sci-fi adventure ARTEMIS FOWL, Kenneth Branagh's BELFAST represents a masterful return to form for the acclaimed British filmmaker.  This is also  arguably his most deeply personal film to date.  Drawn from the actor/director's own experiences living as a child during the worst stages of the ethno-nationalist conflict that gripped Northern Ireland for three decades...

Posted December 28, 2021

WEST SIDE STORY 

(PG-13) jjj1/2

Somehow, someday, somewhere...

Even though I loathe remakes in general, itís really hard for me to overlook Steven Spielbergís WEST SIDE STORY as a robustly made triumph, which is as confident of a stylistic showcase reel for the 75-year-old Oscar winning filmmaker as any as of late.  Of course, this is a musical romance period drama based on the 1961 Robert Wise iteration of the 1957 stage musical by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by the recently passed on Stephen Sondheim (which, in turn, was loosely inspired by Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET)...

Posted December 24, 2021

ROCKY IV: ROCKY VS. DRAGO -  ULTIMATE DIRECTOR'S CUT 

(PG-13) jj1/2

Yo, Adrian!  I did it...AGAIN!!!

I know what you're all thinking...Wait a tick...didn't ROCKY IV come out 36 years ago?  The answer is yes, but you have a right to do a double take when looking at the promotional material for the somewhat unnecessarily longwinded titled ROCK IV: ROCKY VS. DRAGO - THE ULTIMATE DIRECTOR'S CUT, which - based on that last part - is indeed a newly minted version of the decades old sequel that featured everyone's favorite punchy southpaw pugilist from Philadelphia square off against an impossibly steroided up and seemingly indestructible Russian brute...

Posted December 24, 2021

THE POWER OF THE DOG 

(PG-13) jjjj

The potency of Campion

 

The best advice that I could possibly give to you regarding viewing the new Netflix produced THE POWER OF THE DOG is to go into it as cold and as soon as possible, as I surely did.  This early 20th Century neo-Western - directed with great passion and a keenly observant eye by Jane Campion, her first film in over a decade - is a most unusual genre effort (unlike most period westerns of the late 1900s, this one takes place in 1925 Montana) that fascinatingly plays out as a masterful game of bait and switch with audiences...

Posted December 16, 2021

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

(PG-13) j

I don't want this film to write to me ever again

I fully believe that the makers behind the new musical drama DEAR EVAN HANSEN had nothing but the most noble hearted of intentions.  The film is, after all, based on the musical of the same name that won six Tony Awards and is directed by Stephen Chbosky, whom previously made one of the best youth oriented films of recent memory in THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.  Having said all of that, within the first few minutes of DEAR EVAN HANSEN I just knew that something was just really, really off about this film...

Posted December 16, 2021

HOUSE OF GUCCI (R) jj1/2

House of Gaga

On paper, HOUSE OF GUCCI should have been a cinematic home run.  It boasts the typically authoritative and acclaimed veteran director in Ridley Scott (coming off of a recent career high with THE LAST DUEL) at the helm, and flanking him is a relative smorgasbord of decorated Oscar nominated talent.  And on top of that, this true life crime drama focuses on one of the seminal and most recognizable families in the fashion industry in Gucci and the power play struggles that existed between its members that tragically led to one of them being murdered in cold blood and another being sent to prison for it...

Posted December 8, 2021

tick...tick...BOOM! 

(PG-13) jjj

Time is of the essence

TICK...TICK...BOOM is a new musical biography that's equal parts uplifting, inspirational, and tragic.  Marking the feature film directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda (who has made a huge cinematic splash as of late with big screen adaptations of his HAMILTON last year and IN THE HEIGHTS this year), this Netflix produced effort chronicles the all-too-brief life and career of Jonathan Larson, a musical playwright that's perhaps best known for penning RENT and never being able to bask in its glow...

Posted December 8, 2021

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE

(PG-13) jjj

Stranger things are afoot with these young spirits

The original 1984 GHOSTBUSTERS remains one of the most cherished comedies of its decade, if not of all time.  I'd also label it as a surprise blockbuster smash considering the relative simplicity of its premise (get a group of comedians to play disgraced paranormal scientists that go into business for themselves as ghost-hunters/trappers for hire), which, no doubt, inspired a sequel (the not as bad as everyone remembers, but mostly so-so one from 1989)...

Posted December 3, 2021

HALLOWEEN KILLS (R) j1/2

Please...die...already...

HALLOWEEN KILLS is a most strange cinematic beast.  It's the direct sequel to 2018's HALLOWEEN, which was, in turn, a direct sequel and soft reboot to John Carpenter's pioneering slasher effort of the exact same name from 1978 (it should be noted that David Gordon Green's film all but threw up the finger wag of shame to all of the HALLOWEEN sequels that we've received over the last several decades and  ignored them...continuity be damned!)...

Posted December 3, 2021

RED NOTICE 

(PG-13) j

Raiders of the lost...Cleopatra's eggs

There's a moment in Netflix's new action comedy RED NOTICE that had me incredulously rolling my eyes so much that I thought they were going to be blasted out of the back of my skull. During the scene in question, Ryan Reynolds' character is being confronted by a squad of Interpol agents that are looking to arrest this most wanted thief.  We see this guy guzzling down on what appears to be gin...but it's not just any gin...

Posted November 24, 2021

PASSING 

(PG-13) jjj1/2

A tale of Prohibition era duality

 

PASSING marks the directorial debut of Rebecca Hall (whose work as an actress I've admired for many years, in films as far ranging as THE TOWN to THE PRESTIGE to VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA).  This Netflix produced period drama - based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen - has been Hall's passion project for quite some time, not to mention a deeply personal one (she learned that her own grandfather was a black man that tried to live as white)...

Posted November 24, 2021

THE ETERNALS (PG-13) jj

Celestials v Deviants: Dawn of Justice

There's just so damn much to take in and admire in THE ETERNALS, the 26th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It has one of the most ethnically diverse casts of any super hero film of recent memory as well as containing ambitious ideas and endlessly sumptuous visuals.  That, and it has Oscar winning director in Chloe Zhao (who just this year became the only woman of color and just the second woman ever to win a Best Director Oscar for her work on NOMADLAND) leading the charge...

Posted November 16, 2021

THE HARDER THEY FALL (R) jjj1/2

How to jump start an aging genre back to newfound life

 

The Western genre is as old as the proverbial hills and has been literally done to death over the years, but what Netflix's THE HARDER THEY FALL does with it is pretty thankless.  It's a sensationally realized western that plays into its troupes, to be sure, but like a hypodermic needle to the genre's heart it injects some much needed stylistic freshness and innovation into the proceedings on top of boasting one of the finest ensemble casts of this past year.  It's a mishmash of multiple influences...

Posted November 16, 2021

FINCH (PG-13) 

jjj1/2

Post-apocalyptic comfort food

Is it possible to make a good feel-good post-apocalyptic movie?  After watching the new AppleTV+ original film FINCH I'm inclined to say yesThis film is set in a horribly inhospitable post-apocalyptic future that just so happens to star one of our most likeable and dependable of actors in Tom Hanks, who - believe it or not - is making just his second sci-fi film appearance here of his career (after 2012's CLOUD ATLAS).  FINCH is a weird piece of hybrid cinema, to say the least...

Posted November 18, 2021

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (R) jj1/2

It's my happening, baby, but it doesn't really freak me out

Let it be stated that I've been a staunch admirer and supporter of Edgar Wright's films since the beginning of his career.  His work hardly needs any introduction whatsoever, but everything from his landmark zombie apocalypse comedy in SHAUN OF THE DEAD through his comic book adaptation of SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD to, most recently, his crime caper thriller BABY DRIVER has shown him as a virtuoso cinematic stylist of incomparable gusto...

Posted November 9, 2021

ARMY OF THIEVES

(R) jjj

Ludwig Dieter Begins

If you're going into Netflix's newest heist comedy thriller ARMY OF THIEVES asking yourself "Why does this title sound so awfully familiar?" then, don't worry, because you won't be alone.  This is actually a prequel film to the Zack Snyder zombie apocalypse heist thriller ARMY OF THE DEAD from a few months back, which, as far as my knowledge of cinema history goes, represents the first time that a film and its prequel have been released in the same year and just six months apart...

Posted November 9, 2021

DUNE (PG-13) jjj

The sleeper has mostly awakened

What a bold and thankless task it was for French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (or any filmmaker, for that matter) to helm a silver screen adaptation of the legendarily unfilmable 1965 Frank Herbert sci-fi novel DUNE.  Largely considered to be alone in the upper echelon of the genre (and a series of novels whose influence on countless other sci-fi/fantasy properties - including STAR WARS - cannot be understated)...

Posted November 1, 2021

DON'T BREATHE 2 (R) jj1/2

Don't invade Stephen Lang's home...twice!!!

Sequels don't come any more fascinating and problematic than DON'T BREATHE 2, which comes out five long years after the first spectacularly effective nerve wracking home invasion horror thriller.  2016's DON'T BREATHE from director Fede Alvarez - who returns here as co-writer - featured a group of selfish thieves that broke into the absolutely wrong home at the wrong time, which was occupied by an elderly former Navy SEAL that, yes, was blind, but was still a ruthlessly effective killing machine...

Posted November 1, 2021

THE LAST DUEL (R) jjj1/2

When chivalry was truly dead

The Ridley Scott directed and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon co-scripted THE LAST DUEL is an intoxicating and compellingly told RASHOMON styled medieval historical drama that ambitiously and intricately tells a multi-perspective take on a horrible wrong.  Scott is absolutely no stranger to these types of lavish and epic productions that tap into the distant past (see his Oscar winning GLADIATOR and his terribly underrated KINGDOM OF HEAVEN), which makes his overall approach in adapting Eric Jager's non-fiction book all the more thankless...

Posted October 28, 2021

ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS (PG-13) j

Does this series come with a 'game over' switch?

I like movies that are good dumb fun as much as the rest of you out there, but - to quote its full title - ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS is easily one of the most hilariously preposterous and nonsensical sequels that I've ever seen (and, yes, I've seen HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING).  It's one of those efforts that unintentionally comes off like one of those SCARY MOVIE-esque genre spoofs...except...this isn't a spoof...and it takes itself as seriously as a heart attack...

Posted October 28, 2021

NO TIME TO DIE (PG-13) jj1/2

A shaken and stirred franchise

It's almost hard to imagine, in pure hindsight, what a relative unknown commodity Daniel Craig was way, way back in the mid-2000s when he was cast as Pierce Brosnan's replacement to play James Bond.   Just the sixth actor to fill the tuxedo of Ian Fleming's iconic creation, Craig defied all of his critics and became - at least for my money - one of the very finest 007s to ever occupy the silver screen.  Mixing no-nonsense toughness, a steely eyed bravado, and a joyously liberating lack of campy frivolity, Craig's Bond was like no other and perhaps the closest to the literary Bond...

Posted October 19, 2021

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS

(PG-13) j

Silent, but deadly in the wrong ways

The awkwardly titled SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS might be one of the dullest films about a super sweet action figure that I can ever recall.  It comes after two previous silver screen adaptations of one of the most popular toy lines of the 1980s (of inconsistent worth) in 2009's goofy and just-okay G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and the fairly terrible sort-of-sequel, sort-of-soft-reboot G.I. JOE: RETALIATION from 2013.  Both of those militaristic Hasbro toyetic films featured every kid's favorite mute assassin in Snake Eyes, and now  comes his very own film here...

Posted October 19, 2021

VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE (PG-13) j1/2

Let there be garbage

I found myself in an awfully considerate mood when I reviewed the first VENOM film from 2018, which was a somewhat committed, by mostly problematic live action treatment of one of Spider-Man's most famous villains from the pages of Marvel Comics.  Though not approaching the head shaking levels of disposability of the character's lackluster cinematic introduction and appearance in the last chapter of Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN trilogy, the alien symbiote cursed Eddie Brock was sort of a darkly funny Jekyll and Hyde creation in VENOM...

Posted October 13, 2021

THE CARD COUNTER

(R) jjjj

Schrader's all in here

Writer/director Paul Schrader has spent a majority of his career focusing on the darker underbelly of his characters that  - in some form or another - try to find personal salvation that seems hopelessly out of reach for them.   He seems attracted to these doomed people, and all you have to do is look at his earlier career penning some of Martin Scorsese's greatest films like TAXI DRIVER and RAGING BULL to see proof positive of that...

Posted October 13, 2021

THE GUILTY (R)

jjj1/2

The verdict is out: this is Fuqua's comeback

After this year's truly terrible sci-fi thriller INFINITE, director Antoine Fuqua has returned to solid form with the intensely gripping THE GUILTY (a remake of the 2018 Danish film of the same name), and it's easily the filmmaker's finest and most assured work in many a moon.  The film's minimalist premise is deceptively simple: A disgraced and demoted LAPD officer works a night shift as a 911 operator...and hell breaks loose (literally) in the Hollywood Hills and with one life and death emergency situation in particular...

Posted October 6, 2021

THE FOREVER PURGE (R) jj1/2

This series needs a cleansing

THE FOREVER PURGE is the fifth film in THE PURGE Cinematic Universe (if one could call it that) and a direct sequel to 2016's insanely enjoyable THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR, which I thought was the series' ludicrous high point on a level of pure retrograde trashiness.  You may remember that in ELECTION YEAR a new political party beat the New Founding Fathers of America and pledged to end the annual Purge in America...indefinitely...

Posted October 6, 2021

TIL DEATH (R) jjj

Dealing with the old ball and chain...the hard way

The new psychological thriller TIL DEATH is a real piece of sucker punch cinema.  It starts off as a pretty routine and paint-by-numbers erotic thriller about marital infidelity and then quickly - and thankfully - simmers into one of the more nimble footed, cleverly macabre, and fiendishly creative and suspenseful cat and mouse home invasion thrillers in quite some time.  The genre bait and switch approach here from director S.K. Dale (making his feature film debut) is welcoming...

Posted October 6, 2021

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND

(R) jj1/2

Welcome to the Cage-ian apocalypse

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND is weird.  Like, really weird.  Like, Nicolas Cage journeying through a post apocalyptic wasteland while wearing a booby trapped outfit that can blast his nut sack off at the slightest moment of arousal...weird.  Oh, and the wasteland in question contains a town set in a region of Japan that was quarantined from the world and has amalgamated samurai and wild west cultures in a freakishly outlandish hybrid.  Yeah.  This is weird...

Posted September 27, 2021

IN THE HEIGHTS (PG-13) jjj1/2

These streets were made for music

HAMILTON may have cemented its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in the public eye, but it was his other stage musical that came out before it with IN THE HEIGHTS that put him on the map.  Long delayed because of our current and ongoing pandemic woes, this Jon M. Chu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS) directed silver screen adaptation of Miranda's critically and audience adored 2002 work is an undeniably vibrant, colorful, and toe tapping song and dance delight.  Beyond its musical trappings, IN THE HEIGHTS largely succeeds because of its densely layered thematic undercurrents...

Posted September 27, 2021

SHANG CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (PG-13) jjj

Ten rings to rule them all

Very much like BLACK PANTHER before it, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS - the 25th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - is a bold and rousing step forward for inclusiveness for the MCU, not to mention that it places prominent faith in its characters/world by telling a satisfyingly solid standalone effort that doesn't feel slavish to become a glorified MCU cameo-athon or a placeholder vehicle to expand AVENGERS storylines...

Posted September 21, 2021

THE COLONY (PG-13) jjj

After Earth

THE COLONY is a new German-Swiss post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that contains ambitious amounts of atmosphere and world building on what I'm assuming is a limited budget.  It's an interesting cinematic cocktail, to be sure (think WATERWORLD meets MAD MAX meets CHILDREN OF MEN) and has a central narrative that involves humanity leaving the climate change ravaged Earth of the distant future to find a new home on a different planet, only to then return back to Earth 150 years later to see what has become of their former home...

Posted September 21, 2021

KATE (PG-13) jj

Not enough quality gunpowder in this milkshake

One of the curses of being a film critic and seeing as much of what comes out as possible is that I'm exposed to the same material being dragged out and recycled over and over...and over again.  Netflix's latest action thriller KATE feels likes its ripping off the streaming giant's own properties at times.  Here's a film about a lethal, steely eyed, and ravenously driven assassin for hire with a traumatized backstory that ends up on the run and also has to care for an innocent young girl while fending off the constant barrage of male thugs...

Posted September 13, 2021

INFINITE (PG-13) j1/2

To infinitely terrible...and beyond!

You know that hilarious GIF that's been circulating online for years that features Mark Wahlberg's character from THE HAPPENING looking utterly confused as to what's happening to the world around him?  You know the one I'm talking about.  Just Google search "Mark Wahlberg GIFS" and it will literally be among the top 4 or 5 that generate. Anyhoo', now that you know what I'm talking about, you'll understand me when I say that I had the exact same reaction while watching INFINITE...

Posted September 13, 2021

DEMONIC (R) j1/2

A hellish turn for Blomkamp

DEMONIC is a new low budget, high concept supernatural horror thriller that's so wrongheaded that it constantly makes you question the proven credentials of its maker.  It's the first film from writer/director Neill Blomkamp in over half a decade, and just his fourth feature of his career.  But, my oh my, how strongly his career began with his Oscar nominated, game changing alien invasion sci-fi thriller DISTRICT 9, which he later followed up with the criminally underrated ELYSIUM a few years later.  After both of those films came his most recent in 2015's CHAPPIE...

Posted September 13, 2021

CRUELLA (PG-13) jj

A cruelly unnecessary origin tale

I was struck with three overwhelming thoughts while watching CRUELLA: 1) The production/set/costume design of this film is sensational. 2) This film rarely, if ever, makes a compelling case study that this titular character - first seeing the light of day in Disney's own 1961 animated classic 101 DALMATIANS - requires a live action origin story at all. 3) This film is a tremendous waste of director Craig Gillespie's sizeable talent...

Posted September 8, 2021

SWEET GIRL

(PG-13) jj

This revenge thriller fails to hit the sweet spot

The new Netflix action thriller SWEET GIRL has a lot of things it wants to say about its subject matter, but doesn't really have the scripting smarts to follow through on its lofty aims.  It wants to be a revenge style thriller involving a struggling everyman (well, in this film's case, AQUAMAN star Jason Momoa is the everyman...more on that in a bit) who takes aim at the corporate greed of a pharmaceutical company that denies his wife life saving medication, leading to her untimely and preventable death...

Posted September 8, 2021

THE GREEN KNIGHT (R) jjjj

Not your grandfather's tale o Camelot

Very few medieval fantasies have such a hauntingly dreamlike aura like David Lowery's masterfully revisionist take on Camelot, THE GREEN KNIGHT.  Loosely based on the 14th Century story poem SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT - but remaining honorable to the source text while carving out a deconstructivist slant to it - Lowery has made a dazzling and hallucinogenic trip of a movie here, and one that continues to show the startling evolution of a mature filmmaking talent...

Posted August 31, 2021

HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD

(R) 1/2j

I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE YELLING ABOUT!!!

Three things overwhelmed my thoughts all throughout my screening of HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD: 1. Why doesn't this film have a THE at the beginning of its title?  HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD seems odd and grammatically incorrect.  It simply doesn't roll off of the tongue very well.  Now, try saying THE HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD.  See the difference? 2. Is this the only film in history to have back-to-back apostrophe S words in its title?  I think so...

Posted August 31, 2021

THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD 

(R) jj

Where the hell is the high water?

I was utterly floored when I discovered during my screening of THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD that this thriller was directed by Taylor Sheridan, the same man that has written some of the best films of recent memory in SICARIO and HELL OR HIGH WATER on top of penning and directing one of the most overlooked gems of the last several years in WIND RIVER.  Those films were textbook and masterful exercises in nail biting tension and thoughtfully intricate character development, which, at the very least, should have translated well to this wilderness survival thriller...

Posted August 31, 2021

FREE GUY (PG-13) jj

This video game satire requires a firmware update

FREE GUY thinks it's funnier and smarter than it actual is as both an offbeat romantic comedy and satire of video game lore and culture.  Baring a striking amount of almost plagiaristic similarities (at least in its opening sections) to THE LEGO MOVIE, this Shawn Levy (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM) directed affair imagines the vast and unimaginably huge world within a video game that's played by people the world over and shows us what life is like for a NPC (or nonplayer character) when he becomes self aware of his reality...

Posted August 24, 2021

CODA (PG-13) 

jjj1/2

An American ASL idol

When I finished watching the new Apple TV+ original movie CODA I was quite convinced that I've seen its story told - in one form or another - countless times before: A young and talented teenage girl trapped in a small town with lofty educational/career ambitions, but feels trapped by her responsibilities to her eccentric and tightly knit family unit to keep their heads financially above water...

Posted August 24, 2021

BECKETT (R) jj

My big fat horrible Greek vacation

I don't have a fundamental problem with new films trying to emulate the genre masters of old, but far too much of the Netflix produced BECKETT came off like Hitchcock for Dummies.  Sure, it boasts a highly competent lead star and director in John David Washington and Ferdinando Cito Filomarino respectively (the latter making his English language feature film debut) and the film's core setup contains modest interest.  But, yikes, this a total poser thriller if there ever was one...

Posted August 24, 2021

SUICIDE SQUAD (R) jjj

Task Force X redux!

THE SUICIDE SQUAD (heavy emphasis on THE) is the tenth entry in the DC Extended Universe of super hero based films and can be best further described as a sort of sequel, sort of reboot, sort of overhauled redo of what came before it, specifically 2016's critical maligned SUICIDE SQUAD (that one lacked the...THE).  Although I was in the clear minority for liking some of what director David Ayer brought to the table with his attempt at the material...

Posted August 15, 2021

VAL (R) jjj1/2

He's still a huckleberry

Is Val Kilmer one of the greatest actors to have never been nominated for an Oscar? I would argue yes, especially when one considers the superlative range that this former Juilliard trained prodigy has demonstrated for decades in terms of his roles.  His work playing Doc Holiday in TOMBSTONE and his more iconic turn as Jim Morrison in THE DOORS should have at least solidified Academy Award consideration, but he was egregiously snubbed.  Apart from that, he's occupied seemingly every type of movie genre with relative ease...

Posted August 15, 2021

JUNGLE CRUISE (PG-13) jj1/2

I feel like I've been on this ride before...

 

JUNGLE CRUISE is the ultimate distillation of Disney's recent aggressive minded creative policy framework: If it worked before, why not repackage it again for a new audience? Of course, I'm referring not only to the House of Mouse's insistence on remaking their large catalogue of animated classics into live action form, but also their churning out of popular Disneyland theme park rides/attractions into silver screen adventures...

Posted August 9, 2021

F9 (PG-13) jj1/2

Too fast, too ludicrous

Pretty remarkable to think that when the first FAST AND THE FURIOUS film was released twenty years ago it was a relatively grounded POINT BREAK knock-off that explored the underground world of Corona beer drinking and tank top shirt adored street racers that stole high end VCRs and DVD players. Yeah.  Good times. I keep sounding those nostalgic bells in my reviews for these films, but it's hard not to.  Watching the evolution - if one could call it that - of this cinematic universe - if one could also call it that - makes for a fascinating case study...

Posted August 9, 2021

PIG (R) jjjj

Hell's kitchen

Writer/director Michael Sarnoski's simply titled PIG is like the ultimate cinematic Rorschach test. Upon initial scrutiny it seems like it's one type of film, but the more that you allow yourself to become deeply immersed in the story and characters then it becomes a whole different kind of experience altogether. And at a very cursory read of its premise, PIG certainly does come off like just another embarrassing paycheck grabbing effort for Nicolas Cage: A hermit seeks revenge against crooks that have kidnapped his truffle-hunting pet pig.  It all sounds utterly daft...

Posted August 9, 2021

JOLT 

(R) j1/2

Self-help/anger management therapy taken to a whole new level

I was just ten mere minutes into the new Amazon Prime action thriller comedy JOLT when I realized that I didn't think any ten more minutes of it would be required viewing.  This...this is some kind of movie, alright.  Beneath its bat-shit crazy premise lurks a fairly paint-by-numbers and cheaply forgettable genre exercise...but...that premise!  Oh boy.  Let's just say it involves Kate Beckinsale (who deserves a committed participation medal, if they were awarded to movie actresses)...

Posted July 31, 2021

OLD (PG-13) j

Life's a beach, then you die

I felt like Max Cady from the CAPE FEAR remake while watching OLD - I just started uncontrollably laughing at everything, often to the annoyance of the other few filmgoers in my cinema.  This is unquestionably one of the funniest films that I've seen in many a moon.  The fact that it was intended (I think) to be a TWILIGHT ZONE-esque horror thriller is ultimately telling...

Posted July 31, 2021

GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE  (R) jj

All sugar rush and no substance 

The preposterously titled new Netflix action thriller GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE is - to take a page out of the PULP FICTION vernacular playbook - not quite five dollar shake good.  More like a cheaper, less flavourful, and forgettable discount beverage way down on the genre menu.  This Navot Papushado directed affair is kind of like a hodgepodge of JOHN WICK meets THE KINGSMAN, but with a squadron of kick-ass women leading the murder-death-kill charge...

Posted July 27, 2021

NO SUDDEN MOVE

(R) jjj

Strange and vile things are afoot in the Motor City

I usually lament when a proven veteran director goes back to the genre well, so to speak, but when your name is Steven Soderbergh and (a) you have nothing to prove to cement your stature in the industry and (b) you're so damn confident in the genre in question that it's really hard to argue with the choice.  I vividly remember when the Academy Award winner announced his retirement (yeah...right) way back in 2013 after releasing SIDE EFFECTS...

Posted July 27, 2021

BLACK WIDOW (PG-13) jj

We're in the long overdue end game now, Natasha...

There's a single scene in BLACK WIDOW - the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first of its fourth phase of films - that unfortunately sums up everything that's frustratingly wrong with it. During it a family member (so to speak, more on that in a bit) relays to her sort-of father (again, more on that in a bit) about how a particularly brutal part of her time as a brainwashed agent involved having her reproductive organs removed, rendering her completely incapable of ever having children in her life...

Posted July 19, 2021

A QUIET PLACE: PART 2

(PG-13) jjj1/2

Sssssshhhhhh

The original A QUIET PLACE was not only one of the most masterfully executed high concept horror thrillers of recent memory, but it also was one of the most memorable filmgoing experiences of my adult life.  It's highly ironic, then, that this 2018 John Krasinski directed affair did the unthinkable and unattainable of teaching audiences to keep their collective mouths shut while watching it in a cinema...but then its inevitable sequel was essentially silenced and put on hold by the shuttering of cinemas worldwide during the early stages of a global pandemic...

Posted July 19, 2021

THE TOMORROW WAR j1/2

A wasted trip back back to the future 

Amazon Prime's carelessly brainless THE TOMORROW WAR is so inexplicably generic, uninspired, and easily forgettable as far as alien invasion/time travel thrillers go that I doubt that I'll remember it in a day or so after posting this review.  Originally set for theatrical release, but then postponed because of the pandemic and later bought for a whopping $200 million by the streaming and online retail giant, this Chris McKay directed affair has a promising premise that's undone by fairly idiotic scripting...

Posted July 8, 2021

THE ICE ROAD (PG-13) j

This frigid road isn't worth taking

THE ICE ROAD is the single worst Liam Neeson as a Manitoban semi-truck driver thriller I've ever seen.  It just has to be.  This film has to be seen to be believed.  Seemingly everything but the kitchen sink has been thrown in by writer/director Jonathon Hensleigh (THE PUNISHER and KILL THE IRISHMAN, making his first foray behind the camera in a decade): We got, yes, big rig trucks...we got ice roads...we got Manitoban snow covered vistas...we got trapped diamond miners whose lives are in danger...we got PTSD riddled soldiers trying to acclimate to a life on the outside...

Posted July 8, 2021

WRATH OF MAN (R) jjj1/2

A Statham/Ritchie one-two punch revenge knuckle sandwich

There's no questioning right now that writer/director Guy Ritchie has definitely got his creative groove back.  After wallowing in such mediocre fare as the live action ALADDIN remake or the thoroughly disposable KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, the British filmmaker made a solid return to form with last year's THE GENTLEMEN, which was a crime caper cut from a very Ritchie-esque cloth, to be sure.  He now follows up that solid piece of crime fiction with WRATH OF MAN, a remake of the 2004 French film CASH TRUCK...

Posted July 8, 2021

THE COURIER (PG-13) jjj

The Cumberpackage

All while watching THE COURIER it dawned on me that there have been so very few spy thrillers - historical or not - that have focused on common, ordinary people being called upon to do extraordinary things.  One of the simple pleasures of Dominic Cooke's film is that it places less emphasis on action and more on suspense and character dynamics, and more importantly it abandons any political sermonizing and instead hones in on themes of loyalty and how personal action can have a ripple effect on millions of others...

Posted June 30, 2021

NOBODY (R) jjj1/2

Don't mess with this everyman

It's very telling that NOBODY comes from JOHN WICK screenwriter Derek Kolstad and producer David Leitch.  That 2014 action thriller featured a murder spree by a lethal assassin that was spawned by the killing of his cute puppy (never forget!) and in NOBODY a similar orgy of murder-death-killing is launched because of a stolen kitty cat bracelet that belongs to the hero's daughter.  There's something about taken and/or murdered property that drives these once reclusive action heroes back into the limelight in these films...

Posted June 30, 2021

AWAKE (R) j1/2

A slumber inducing apocalyptic thriller 

It's highly ironic that AWAKE is a post-apocalyptic thriller that features a premise that shows a world where no one on the planet can sleep after a cataclysmic event...because this Netflix original is an easy cure for insomnia.  This Mark Raso written/directed end-of-the-world affair reminded me a lot of those many high concept driven, but idiotically scripted and executed M. Night Shyamalan efforts that thinks they were a hell of lot more clever than they actually are...

Posted June 25, 2021

SKATER GIRL

(PG) jjj

Gleaming the Indian cube

The inspirational/overcoming all odds sports genre has been done so literally to death that I've frankly become numb to the prospects of seeing yet another example of it.  I was pleasantly surprised, though, but Netflix's SKATER GIRL, which changes things up considerably based on its character and geographical focus.  Marking the feature film directorial debut of Manjari Makijany (who previously worked on multiple high prestige projects as a second unit director...

Posted June 25, 2021

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

(PG) jj1/2

How to train your Disney dragon

Disney's latest computer animated fantasy adventure RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON - their 59th animated outing - has all of the requisite elements that we've come to expect from the House of Mouse: Sumptuous imagery and meticulously rendered spectacle, a plucky heroine of a decidedly different brand of "Disney princess," solidly invested voice performances, and worthwhile themes that speak towards audiences young and old...

Posted June 15, 2021

RUN (R) jjj

Confessions of a terrorized and wheelchair bound/home schooled teenager

RUN (which premiered last fall on Hulu before hitting Netflix internationally weeks ago) comes from writer/director Aneesh Chaganty, whom previously made the very topical genre effort in 2018's SEARCHING, which proved that you can tell an old school exercise in paranoia and terror in refreshing new ways.  At a super tight, lean and mean 89 minutes, the filmmaker's latest effort continues to show his willingness to go against the grain of audience expectations...

Posted June 15, 2021

THE DRY (R) jjj

A tale of multiple murders in the heart of the Aussie outback

Very few mystery thrillers as of late use their environment as a character of importance in their own right as well as Robert Connelly's THE DRY, which takes its name from a particular area of scorched dry land in Kiewarra, a farming community outside of Melbourne, Australia.  The film contains eerie echoes of the very recent and real wildfires that ravaged the nation, and its the environmental desolation presented here that bares down heavily on already troubled souls that figure heavily into the multiple generations spanning narrative...

Posted June 10, 2021

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

(R) jjj

Confessions of a Black Panther Party crasher

Is there a better actor working today at evoking teeth and fist clenched paranoia than LaKeith Stanfield?  Just look at his fever pitched performances in movies like GET OUT or SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and you'll kind of get the idea, or perhaps just seek out JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, the biographical historical drama that has him playing titular backstabber William O' Neal, who in 1960s Chicago worked as an undercover informant for the FBI within that city's chapter of the Black Panthers...

Posted June 10, 2021

IN THE EARTH (R) jjj

This island Earth

IN THE EARTH is a new psychological horror thriller that works disturbingly well on two distinct fronts.  Firstly, it tells a highly timely tale of a world of the not too distant future that has been ravaged by a deadly and unstoppable virus (sound eerily familiar?).  Secondly, the film taps into well worn horror genre troupes - characters venture off into the untamed woods and wild, during which time supernatural and unexplained occurrences threaten their livelihoods - and does something refreshingly sinister and chillingly atmospheric with them...

Posted June 10, 2021

ARMY OF THE DEAD (R) jjj

What dies in Vegas becomes undead in Vegas

I've always admired Zack Snyder as a director of fearless ambition.  He began his career by remaking one of the most cherished horror films of all time in DAWN OF THE DEAD (no easy feat, but he pulled it off superbly).  He then followed that up by helming some of the most thanklessly faithful and finely executed comic book adaptations in 300 and WATCHMEN.  From there, Snyder decided to embark on a fresh reboot of the most iconic super hero of all time with MAN OF STEEL, which kicked off the DCEU and culminated with him releasing a four-hour long team up film with ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE...

Posted May 31, 2021

RIDERS OF JUSTICE (R) jjj1/2

Revenge of the Danish nerds

Anders Thomas Jensen's RIDERS OF JUSTICE is one stealthy movie.  It makes viewers think they're getting one type of obligatory and predictable genre picture, only to sneakily pull the rugs out from under our feet and give us something wholly different and unique.  It tells a tale that seems like it's been regurgitated from countless other films - mentally scarred war hero returns home to a wife that's just recently been killed by nefarious means, leading him to seeking bloody vengeance on the perpetrators...

Posted May 31, 2021

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW 

(R) j1/2

Panic room

The new Netflix psychological thriller THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is proof positive that having an acclaimed and highly competent director at the helm alongside a relative smorgasbord of Oscar nominated and winning actors can still produce a stunningly wrongheaded final end product.  This film contains a fairly intriguing premise (a chronic agoraphobic suffering child psychologist that spends all of her waking moments inside thinks she witnesses a murder next door)...

Posted May 25, 2021

LAND (R) jjj

Into the wild

LAND tells a story that initially seems to be painted with familiar genre strokes, only to slowly and surely reveal itself to be uncommonly authentic and raw in the manner that it deals with isolation, grief, and ultimately salvation.  It tells the tale of a big city middle aged woman that is devastated by gut wrenching personal tragedy and subsequent depression, so much so that she decides to completely abandon her life and flees into the wilderness to a remote cabin to spend her days fending for herself and away from humanity in general...

Posted May 25, 2021

OXYGEN 

(R) jjj1/2

In a cryogenic pod, no one can hear you scream

OXYGEN (now streaming on Netflix) is an unnervingly effective sci-fi thriller that does relative miracles with its extremely claustrophobic, mostly one setting premise (even though it was done better with the very similar BURIED years ago).  Directed with maximum efficiency and innovation by Alexandre Aja (who previously made a very different kind of tight spaced nerve jangler in 2019's alligators/hurricane versus a basement trapped woman thriller CRAWL)...

Posted May 19, 2021

TOM CLANCY'S WITHOUT REMORSE jj

A franchise starter without merit 

Ever since the release of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER over three decades ago the name Tom Clancy has become a recognizable and bankable brand in itself, which has spawned an espionage themed multi-media empire that has permeated novels, films, and video games (a pretty rare triple crown threat, if you ask me).  Whereas most of the cinematic Clancy inspired films have focused on CIA analyst Jack Ryan (in various forms via multiple actors)...

Posted May 14, 2021

STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET (PG) jjj1/2

An educational and endearing journey into a familiar neighborhood

There were two reassuring and beloved constants in my childhood life that I always could escape to: STAR WARS in the cinemas and SESAME STREET on TV.  It's almost impossible to overstate what a profound influence that this pioneering children's educational program has had on multiple generations of children since it first aired on November 10, 1969 and went on to spawn well over 4000 episodes since.  Produced by the Children's Television Workshop and created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett..

Posted May 14, 2021

PERCY (PG-13) jj1/2

Who has seen the seeds in the wind?

The new semi-biographical/environmental drama PERCY (aka PERCY VS. GOLIATH, depending on your location of release) details the plight of Saskatchewan based farmer and businessman Percy Schmeiser, who became a relative celebrity and spokesperson for independent agricultural rights when he waged a multi-tier legal battle against a corporation that accused him of using its own patented seeds without their permission...

Posted May 14, 2021

MORTAL KOMBAT (R) jj

Hardly a flawless victory

I cannot understate how popular, important, and controversial the original 1992 MORTAL KOMBAT video game was back upon its original release.  It ushered in a new era of shocking (well, for then) graphic violence for the medium, which made players around the world gather around the Midway produced arcade cabinets.  It spawned legions of imitators and also spawned the creation of the ESRB - Entertainment Software Rating Board - after concerned parents and politicians had their heads turned...

Posted May 5, 2021

STOWAWAY (Unrated) jj1/2

For all mankind...minus one sacrifice

Brazilian director Joe Penna made a big splash with his feature film debut in 2019's ARCTIC, which was a brutally efficient man versus nature outdoor survival thriller that portrayed an ultimate nightmare scenario of a lone man trying to stave off death from the frigidly hostile Arctic Circle environments.  Not only was that film a one-man performance showcase reel for star Mads Mikkelsen, but it also introduced us to a confident new filmmaking talent in Penna...

Posted May 5, 2021

CHAOS WALKING (PG-13) 1/2j  

Dead movie walking

CHAOS WALKING is a colossally wrongheaded and bewilderingly awful sci-fi thriller that kind of has to be seen - make that endured ≠- to be believed.  Beyond wasting the established talents of stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley and containing absolutely D.O.A. world building, this film is proof positive that a novel's premise - no matter how intriguing - can indeed still translate horribly to the silver screen and simply not work...at all...

Posted May 5, 2021

BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR (PG-13) jjj1/2

Like a woman named Trish, this is a movie to count on

BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is like a perpetually weird and unimaginable hodgepodge of THE GOLDEN GIRLS meets any random Elvis Presley travelogue musical meets AUSTIN POWERS.  If it's not one of the silliest films that I've seen as of late then I don't know what is.  Buuuuuuuuuut.....this is also one of the funniest films I've seen in an awfully long time...

Posted April 28, 2021

THE MARKSMAN (PG-13) j1/2

Failing to land the genre kill shot

I'm usually a staunch apologist for the sub-genre of action films that would be best described as the Aging Liam Neeson takes names and kicks ass series.  I'm a sucker for old and grizzled stars getting their second wind late in their careers in genres that they never once fully occupied, and Neeson is arguably the poster boy for this.  Having said all of that, his latest action thriller in THE MARKSMAN - which features the 68-year-old star play a rancher and guardian of sorts for a Mexican child that's forced to defend him against a vile drug cartel - is an awfully hard one for even me to swallow...

Posted April 28, 2021

CONCRETE COWBOY 

(R) jjj

Home, home on the urban range...

Netlfix's CONCRETE COWBOY is a modern day urban western that taps into and utilizes familiar genre conventions while also subverting them to their core.  Showcasing the directorial debut of Ricky Staub and adapted from the novel GHETTO COWBOY by Greg Neri, the film and source material find inspiration in the real life Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a group comprised of African American horse riders in Philadelphia...

Posted April 28, 2021

THUNDER FORCE  

(PG-13) j

An abysmal super hero satire that's not a force of nature

Melissa McCarthy is a great actress. A movie like CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME is proof positive of that. However, she really needs to stop making movies with her writer/director husband in Ben Falcone, and their past collaborations have resulted in some of the most aggressively unfunny comedies of recent memory like THE BOSS, LIFE OF A PARTY, TAMMY, and now, yes, Netflix's THUNDER FORCE, a new would-be hysterical super hero action comedy-satire that, for me at least, became borderline unwatchable just a mere 30 minutes in...

Posted April 19, 2021

NOMADLAND (R) jjjj

How the have nots live

Chloe Zhao's NOMADLAND is one of those rare human dramas that's small and unassuming in scale, but one that nevertheless speaks volumes towards how certain forgotten segments of society - the poor, desperate, and downtrodden - try to eek out a living and provide for themselves.  It's a modestly scaled, but wholeheartedly powerful and authentically rendered movie about ordinary people stuck in painful ruts that are trying to pull themselves out to achieve a piece of the American dream, but face nearly insurmountable odds in the process...

Posted April 19, 2021

GODZILLA VS KONG

(PG-13) jj

Remember the titans

I've screened and reviewed a lot of films during my sixteen years doing this, but GODZILLA VS KONG is arguably the only one that I've seen during that time that features a sequence involving a 350 foot tall gorilla being defibrillated back to life. True story. It's moments like this - and many, many more - scattered throughout this fourth film in the so-called Monsterverse that help to establish a baseline of the preposterous silliness that permeates it...

Posted April 13, 2021

THE WORLD TO COME 

(R) jjj1/2

Forbidden love on the American frontier

Romance tales of two lost souls being trapped by circumstance and time embracing forbidden love are as old as time, making the core premise of the period drama THE WORLD TO COME seem like it's made up from highly familiar genre ingredients...but it's what the film does with those ingredients that makes it special.  This Mona Fastvold directed and Ron Hansen and Jim Shepard scripted affair chronicles two neighboring frontier households in mid-19th Century America..

Posted April 13, 2021

THE FATHER (R) jjjj

Processing dementia from the inside out

Florian Zeller's THE FATHER - adapted to the screen from his own critically acclaimed 2012 play LE PERE - is the third drama in this very young year alongside FALLING and SUPERNOVA that has tackled families desperately struggling to deal with loved ones facing crippling dementia, but this one is undeniably the most unflinchingly raw, intimate, and powerfully told...

Posted April 6, 2021

MINARI (PG-13) jjjj

The uniqueness and universality of the immigrant experience

I don't profess to know much of anything about what it's like to be a farmer, let alone a Korean one living in Arkansas, but the new autobiographical period drama MINARI attempts to enlighten and educate viewers on those very matters.  The film does indeed tell a tale of a Korean American family trying to the best of their abilities to acclimate to rural Americana while sustaining their farm.  Writer/director Lee Isaac Chung (who just recently became just the fourth East Asian filmmaker to even be Oscar nominated for Best Director) bases his film on his own personal upbringing...

Posted April 6, 2021

MY SALINGER YEAR (R) jjj1/2

My time with J.D.

he title of this film is just a tad deceptive.  MY SALINGER YEAR is not, as some would expect, a biopic about the infamously reclusive author of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE in J.D. Salinger, but rather is based on the memoir by Joanna Rakoff about her very brief time in the 1990s working for a literary agency in New York that just so happened to represent - you guessed it! - Mr. Salinger.  Obviously, the whole aura of mystery surrounding this legendary author casts a rather large shadow over the characters in this film...

Posted April 6, 2021

ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE

(R) jjj1/2

Consider these Justice

Leaguers...ASSEMBLED

George Lucas once famously stated that movies are never finished, they're abandoned by their makers.  I think that has an awful lot to do with the financial and bureaucratic motivations of the corporate studios that fund and release said films.  By hook or by crook, major tentpole blockbusters have production timelines and release dates that need to be met in order to turn hefty profits, even if that means compromising a director's vision...

Posted March 25, 2021

CHERRY 

(R) j1/2

Definitely not the best post-MCU dessert film from the Russos

CHERRY is one of those rare kind of films that contains a virtuous performance that's completely capsized by unchecked directorial hubris run afoul.  This Apple Original Film comes from directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who have spent much of their recent filmmaking career helming some of the biggest blockbusters of all time in the last two AVENGERS and CAPTAIN AMERICA sequels (with THE WINTER SOLDIER still remaining for me to be one of the finest MCU efforts to date)...

Posted March 23, 2021

YES DAY  

(PG) jj

Just say NO to this disposable family comedy

Question to all parents out there: How many times do you say " no" to your children on a daily basis?  My prediction would be a lot.  The new Netflix comedy YES DAY feels like the love child of the similarly premised YES MAN and HALL PASS, albeit engineered for a family friendly audience.  This Miguel Arteta effort hinges itself on a fairly intriguing premise: Two parents allow their kids to have a fantasy day that allows for them to do anything they want (within safe reason, of course) that they ask for...and the parents can't decline them...

Posted March 23, 2021

BOSS LEVEL (R) jjj

It's game over, man...again...and again...and again!

At one point in the new time looping sci-fi action comedy BOSS LEVEL the protagonist that's stuck re-living the same day over and over again comments that his fate is "like being stuck in a video game at a level you can't beat.." That's extremely on the nose.  Probably the best way I would accurately describe this film is that it plays like GROUNDHOG DAY, but Arnold Schwarzenegger-ized on a level of gleefully barbaric  action and over the top violence.  It comes from writer/director Joe Carnahan...

Posted March 23, 2021

COMING 2 AMERICA (PG-13) jj

A return trip not altogether worth taking

The best compliment that I'll give COMING 2 AMERICA is that I enjoyed being in the company of its characters again after a very long thirty-plus year absence.  I only wished, though, that the film built around these people was more engaging and enjoyable.  This long gestating sequel to the Eddie Murphy starring, John Landis directed 1988 original features a return trip back to the colorful and eclectic world of Zamunda, and it's not without its modest charms...

Posted March 18, 2021

THE MAURITANIAN (R) jj1/2

Putting a face on the darker side of the War on Terror

THE MAURITANIAN is one of those obvious kind of Oscar bait wanna-be prestige pictures that, in all fairness, tells a story that absolutely needs to be told.  Based on the 2015 memoir by Mohamedou Ould Salahi, the film chronicles his true story of being held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp post-9/11 for a period of fourteen years...and all without having been formally charge with any type of crime...

Posted March 18, 2021

COWBOYS (R) jjj1/2

Show me the way to go home...

In the early stages, COWBOYS makes audiences think they're getting one kind of film, but then it slowly, but surely  changes course and radically becomes about something else entirely, thusly defying our expectations.  What initially begins as what appears to be a story about a father plagued with mental health issues and his snatching away of his young daughter from his estranged wife becomes an LGBT themed tale of the liberation of said transgender child, a girl that desires to live as a boy...or cowboy in this story's case...

Posted March 9, 2021

PSYCHO GOREMAN (R) jjj

Psycho Goreman...Qu'est-ce que c'est

I'll be frank right upfront in this review: You'll either be willing and game to take the plunge into the insanely madcap and schlocky rabbit hole that is PSYCHO GOREMAN...or...you simply won't.  It's just that simple. I took the leap, and I'm glad I did so. This Canadian made indie is a ludicrous cocktail of a weird B-grade horror fantasy and a family/coming of age comedy, and it's all made by writer/director Steven Kostanski with maximum cheesy, retrograde exuberance and a never-look-back cheeky audacity...

Posted March 9, 2021

I CARE A LOT (R)jjj1/2

The care home con game from hell

The ultra black comedy/satire thriller (and ironically titled) I CARE A LOT (streaming either on Amazon Prime or Netflix, depending on your region) begs an often asked question of me: Can a film be truly entertaining if it contains a cavalcade of toxically reprehensible people? I would answer yes, and this film from English director J. Blakeson (THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED) is no exception. And, man, are the characters that populate I CARE A LOT ever toxically reprehensible...

Posted February 28, 2021

SUPERNOVA (R) jjj

Making the most of the time that is left

There's nothing in life more emotionally deflating than knowing that a loved one is slowly dying and there's little you can do to prevent it or numb their pain.  SUPERNOVA makes for a compelling companion film to this year's FALLING in the sense that both deal with the debilitating effects that dementia has not only on the sufferer, but also on those caring and concerned family members that try to tend to the needs of the afflicted on a daily basis...

Posted February 28, 2021

BLISS 

(PG-13) jj1/2 

A glitch on the matrix...

BLISS is the kind of high concept sci-fi drama that has an awful lot on its mind and some ambitious concepts that it wishes to explore, but lacks a thorough and satisfying follow-through on them.  This latest Amazon Prime original film comes from Mike Cahilll, the director of the terribly underrated ANOTHER EARTH, another genre brain teaser containing a killer premise that was, in its case, compellingly explored...

Posted February 23, 2021

  

 

 

 

THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS

(PG-13) jjj

 

PALMER 

(R) jjj

 

LITTLE THINGS

(R) jjj

 

FALLING

(R) jjj1/2

 

MALCOLM & MARIE 

(R) j1/2

 

PENGUIN BLOOM

(Unrated) jjj 

 

THE DIG

(PG-13) jjj  

 

OUTSIDE THE WIRE 

(R) jj1/2 

 

NEWS OF THE WORLD

(PG-13) jjj

 

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

(R) jjj1/2

 

LOCKED DOWN 

(R) j1/2

 

SHADOW IN THE CLOUD 

(R) jjj

 

ANOTHER ROUND 

(R) jjjj

 

WOLFWALKERS 

(PG) jjjj

 

SOUL  

(PG) jjj

 

MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

(R) jjj1/2 

 

THE MIDNIGHT SKY

(PG-13) jjj

 

WONDER WOMAN 1984

(PG-13) jjj

 

PALM SPRINGS  

(R) jjj

 

THE GODFATHER CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE

(R) jjj1/2

 

SOUND OF METAL 

(R) jjjj

 

FREAKY 

(R) jj1/2

 

MANK 

(R) jjj

 

MULAN 

(PG-13) jj

 

HILLBILLY ELEGY 

(R) jj

 

UNHINGED 

(R) zero stars

 

LET HIM GO 

(R) jjj1/2

 

THE SECRET GARDEN

(PG) jjj

 

MORTAL 

(R) jj

 

I USED TO GO HERE

(R) jjj

 

REBECCA 

(PG-13) jj

 

BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIE FILM 

(R) jjj1/2

 

ON THE ROCKS 

(R) jj1/2

 

THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW

(R) jjj1/2

 

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

(R) jjjj

 

SPONTANEOUS

(R) jjj

 

2067

(Unrated)

jj1/2

 

THE GLORIAS 

(R) jjj1/2

 

AVA

(R) jj1/2

 

VAMPIRES VS THE BRONX

(PG-13) jjj

 

ANTEBELLUM

(R) jjj

 

ENOLA HOLMES

(PG-13) jjj

 

TESLA

(PG-13) jj

 

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME

(R) jjj

 

UNPREGNANT

(PG-13) jj

 

THE TAX COLLECTOR

(R) j

 

GET DUKED!

(R) jjj1/2

 

I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS

(R) jjj

 

TENET 

(PG-13) jjj

 

BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC

(PG-13) jjj1/2

 

THE NEW MUTANTS

(PG-13) jj1/2

 

PROJECT POWER

(PG-13) jjj

 

CHEMICAL HEARTS

(R) jjj

 

SPUTNIK

(R) jjjj

 

AN AMERICAN PICKLE

(PG-13) jjj

 

MADE IN ITALY

(R) jjj

 

THE OUTPOST

(R) jjj

 

GHOSTS OF WAR

(R) jj1/2

 

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA

(PG-13) jj1/2

 

GUNS AKIMBO

(R) jj

 

GREYHOUND

(PG-13) jjj

 

ARCHIVE 

(R) jjj

 

YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT

(R) jj

 

THE OLD GUARD 

(R) jjj

 

FORCE OF NATURE 

(R) 1/2j

 

IRRESISTIBLE 

(R) jjj

 

7500 (R)

jjj1/2

 

INFAMOUS 

(No MPAA Rating) jj

 

DA 5 BLOODS

(R) jjjj

 

ARTEMIS FOWL

(PG) j

 

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND

(R) jj

 

BECKY (R) 1/2j

 

VAST OF NIGHT 

(PG-13) jjj1/2

 

THE TRIP TO GREECE

(R) jjj

 

THE LOVEBIRDS

(R) jj1/2

 

VALLEY GIRL

(PG-13) jjj

 

CAPONE 

(No MPAA Rating) j1/2

 

ORDINARY LOVE

(R) jjj1/2

 

SPACESHIP EARTH (R) jjj

 

MY SPY 

(PG-13) jjj