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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SNOWMAN

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE FLORIDA PROJECT’ 

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. 
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Out in Theaters: ‘HAPPY DEATH DAY’

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 ChristmasRead More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE FOREIGNER’ 

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘BLADE RUNNER 2049’ 

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US’

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘BATTLE OF THE SEXES’ 

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘AMERICAN MADE’ 

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘STRONGER’

Outside of the inclusion of a deadbeat protagonist, there’s not much to distinguish Stronger as a David Gordon Green effort. The director behind such mumblecore indie fare as Prince Avalanche and Joe (the former of which I detested, the later proved a borderline-excellent showcase for Nic Cage)  and comedy zingers the likes of Pineapple Express and the Kenny Powers-led Eastbound and Down (I’m a big enough fan of both) has decided to lens the Boston Marathon Bombing through the eyes of one of its victims and the result, though finely acted, is a mixed bag of emotional highs and lows at best and opportunistic at worst. Surely it’s not the shmuck bait of Charlie Sheen’s 9/11 but there is very little to justify its existence beyond Hollywood capitalizing on tragedy and you feel that in almost every second of Stronger.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE’ 

Decidedly less fun than its predecessor, Kingsman: The Golden Circle proves an all-around inferior sequel. Director Matthew Vaughn, responsible for fanboy favorites the likes of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, doubles down on the less successful elements of the first installment, championing poorly rendered CG over practical effects and eyebrow-raising one-liners over earnest emotion. What’s missing is the joy, replaced by shallow humor and hollow spectacle, as Vaughn delivers a super spy adventure that loads up on juvenile jokes and stylishly shot set pieces to the detriment of what made the first one so shamelessly good – a keen sense of heart and self.    Read More