Sean Baker. A man so humble that when I inaccurately stated the number of films he’s made, he not only didn’t not turn up his nose at me, he actually ran to his hotel room to grab me copies of the films I had missed. So it probably comes as little surprise that this man, a 46-year old New Jersey native, would be behind a film as empathic and compassionate as The Florida Project. Read More
The Snowman, Tomas Alfredson’s (Let the Right One In) adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s Norwegian best-seller of the same name, is an icy cold movie. Frigid to the touch, there is no spark of life to be found in this desolate frozen tundra of a film nor is there anything resembling a mere flicker of intelligence. A detective joint that cannot stand up under the slightest bit of scrutiny, this mindless slog tries to follows in the footsteps of films like Seven or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, what with its random explosions of grizzly violence and salty procedural backbone, though nothing of that sort ever comes to pass. Instead we’re victim to a mopey, faux-edgy, pseudo-gritty, sulking, snow-blasted post-mortem noir impersonating smarter, sexier, more engaging entries from the often beloved genre. To call it freezing cold garbage is only the icing on this frosty cake of shite. Read More
The Florida Project, a.k.a. Someone Call Child Protection Service: The Movie, is a brusquely effecting, blisteringly real portrait of quiet, destitute tragedy, bursting with one of the most authentic child performances I’ve ever seen. A bristly, bruising display of white trash voyuerism that earnestly examines and dissects what occurs behind closed doors in this destitute swatch of Florida slums, Sean Baker’s film manages a stoic, unjudging, curtain-drawn-back quality that escapes most storytellers, even if the narrative propelling the story is often secondary to the characters operating within it.
It’s only right that Happy Death Day, wherein a sorority girl is forced to live the day she is murdered over and over again, takes an entire scene to namecheck Groundhog Day. After all, this film from Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), is a crude combination of that beloved Bill Murray satire, Tina Fey’s hit teen film Mean Girls and any of the various slasher films from 1974 onward, particularly Black Christmas. Read More
The geriatric action movie that has taken Hollywood by storm ever since Liam Neeson’s daughter got taken lives on in The Foreigner, a windy political thriller meets man-on-a-mission actioner. It’s nice to see Jackie Chan, who hasn’t been in a live action Hollywood film since 2010’s The Karate Kid, back in action and unlike Neeson (who by the third iteration of Taken looked as stiff as a log; as arthritic as a 65-year old should be) the venerable martial artist sticks kicks more ass than his 20-year old understudies. Regardless of The Foreigner’s shortcomings, watching Chan take on the mantle of old guy with a special set of skills is the kind of pure movie magic that I didn’t know I needed or wanted. Read More
Every year, the month of October rolls around and with it an opportunity to binge watch all the horror movies that may have slipped under your radar thus far. 2017 has been an outstanding year for horror films with even studio flicks making waves – It became an overnight international smash hit and deservedly so; M. Night Shyamalan’s Split returned the once maligned director to twisty-turny prominence; A Cure For Wellness delivered an eerie ode to gerontophobia and medical centers; and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Jordan Peele’s outstanding Get Out get some Oscar nods thrown its way by the end of the year. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of some of Halloween-season stuff you probably haven’t seen yet, all available at the click of a button for your Netflix streaming pleasure. We threw one from Amazon Prime on there as well, for those who take their streaming packages a little more robust. Watch one, watch them all, just go out and get in the mood for the best holiday of the year.
Let’s get one thing straight, Blade Runner 2049 is superb and stupefying. Dreamlike production design, fiercely thoughtful direction, poetic and often brilliant storytelling, sublime world building and excellent performances across the board all add up to a sequel that fits perfectly into the cinescape that Ridley Scott imagined nearly 30 years ago while carrying its story forward in exciting, imaginative and wholly fulfilling new ways. Expanding on themes of humanity and identity native to Phillip K. Dick’s novella “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, Blade Runner 2049 both expands a world wherein humanoid androids and their homosapien masters co-exist while narrowing it down to a small ensemble of meaningful characters, all who have their part to play. This time the focus is K (Ryan Gosling), a LAPD Blade Runner who struggles with his own identity while hunting down and “retiring” outdated android models. Read More
I was duped. The culprit? The Mountain Between Us. What appeared to be a two-hander survival drama between thespian heavies Kate Winslet and Idris Elba slowly melted into a Nick Sparksian romance meets 90’s Eagles ballad. “Love Will Keep Us Alive” may not play over the credits but it’s the essential thrust of this otherwise admittedly well-performed, handsomely shot feature film and as the material pivots into saccharine territory, it loses both steam and credibility, resulting in a final slog that’ll shatter more suspension of disbelief than bones in Winslet’s ankle. Read More
In 1973, self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs and feminist “libber” Billie Jean King faced off in an exhibition match that changed the world of sports. It was dubbed The Battle of the Sexes and so too is the film from Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The spectacle served up the largest crowd ever to witness a tennis match and not merely for the novelty of man pitted against woman. The contest was the early-70s female liberation movement given a sporting arena and provided a battleground where Title IX, an Educational Amendment guaranteeing equal financial resources to male and female sports, essentially won out. Read More
American Made. What a suiting title for a Tom Cruise vehicle. The 55-year old superstar is, for all intents and purposes, American made as can be. Raised on the nipple of Hollywood, Cruise made his first million at the tender age of 21 before becoming one of the most recognized Americans across the globe. No amount of Oprah couch jumping, public divorces or religious scandals could keep the man down, thing of grit and determination and charm and externalized positivity that he is. Cruise is like a living pep rally, draped in an American flay and showered with atta-boys. Like Barry Seal, the true-to-life pilot turned CIA operative/Cartel drug smuggler he portrays in American Made, he’s a man who, despite innumerable punches, won’t stay down. He always gets the job done. He always delivers. Read More