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Out in Theaters: ‘BLACK PANTHER’

Heavy hangs the crown in Black Panther, a Marvel movie whose real-life cultural and societal implications overshadow its storytelling prowess. The import and impact of Black Panther as a chapter in film history cannot be overstated. Although this isn’t Hollywood’s first attempt to turn a historically black superhero into the main event, headlining their own tentpole film – consider Wesley Snipes run as the vampire-hunter Blade, Halle Berry’s turn as Catwoman, Will Smith’s alcoholic anti-hero Hancock or even Shaquille O’Neal’s turn as Steel – this feels like a first in part because of how much effort has been poured into its making and, more importantly, how readily it embraces its fundamental blackness, from its colorful African settings to its tribally-influenced makeup, hairstyle, and costumes to its predominately black cast and crew, a verifiable assemblage of talent that’ll turn even the most skeptical of heads. Read More

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Sundance ’18 Review: ‘TIME SHARE’

Hell is a timeshare. A designated parcel of property allocated to your family for one immobile week each year. A curated escape, one characterized by pool floaties, crawfish-colored sunburns and frozen cocktails melting in plastic hurricane cups, that lives in a state of semi-stasis. There’s a kind of “Twilight Zone” quality to the whole notion of the billion dollar industry – this turnstile of the self-safe experience, pocked with undulating regret for much of its clientele. Anyone who’s ever attended one know that the only thing worse than being padlocked to an eternal timeshare is facing a sales rep at a timeshare pitch and Sebastián Hofmann’s film, the aptly named Time Share (Tiempo Compartido), captures the sheer horror of that corporate jockeying for one’s undying commitment. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ’12 STRONG’

12 Strong calls in the cavalry on Al-Qaeda in Nicolai Fuglsig’s “declassified true story of the horse soldiers”. Spurred by the 9/11 terror attacks, Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) leaves behind a safe, cushy military desk job to lead a team of special forces to the sandy front lines of the War on Terror. There, he must earn the trust of an Afghan warlord to take down a critical Taliban position. We’re told repeatedly that the fate of the War rests on this mission’s success and, well, we all know how that one turned out. Generic on most accounts, 12 Strong is an inoffensive American war movie relying on offensive war-mongering tactics. The semi-sturdy if mostly unremarkable acting and blasé set pieces lack the praise-worthy or memorable accents to set 12 Strong aside from the harras.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PHANTOM THREAD’ 

Merriam Webster defines sumptuous as something that is “rich, luxurious, or magnificent” and I cannot think of a better application of the word than to describe Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest feature, Phantom Thread. A marvel of filmmaking, Phantom Thread as a piece of modern art is absolutely decadent – from the luscious cinematography to the snide and sneakily funny script, the nerve-racking sound design to the rich, textured performances.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HOSTILES’

I absolutely loathed Hostiles, the new Western film from Scott Cooper that proves once and for all why Westerns are so out of vogue. Starring Christian Bale as a dangerous and notorious Army captain who is forced to escort a dying Cheyenne chief, a former foe on the battlefield, equally notorious, through hostile territory back to his homeland as if on a mission from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The film is terrible; boring as sin, casually regressive, and perfectly pointless; a manifestation of why audiences have turned on the Western genre at large and a fine example of its backwards thinking mannerisms.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD’ 

I’ll never quite understand the arbitrary changes tacked onto movies that are “Based on a True Story”, a trend that is particularly odd in All the Money in the World. This true-to-life horror story about J. Paul Getty and the dastardly kidnapping of his grandson focuses on Getty’s uncooperativeness in hostage negotiations but jumbles the real life numbers in order to gain what I must assume to be added dramatic mileage. It’s an odd lie (hence my paragraph-long nitpick), one that’s not fundamentally different from a teenage boy inflating how many women he’s slept with,  that’s effectively there to emphasize just how much a misery bastard the infamous “Richest Man in the History of the World” truly was. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘CALL ME BY YOUR NAME’ 

Call Me By Your Name is that annual run-away critical darling that far too many are quick to call a modern “masterpiece” that has good odds to bore most general audiences to tears. Clocking in at 132 minutes, the film from Italian Luca Guadagnino is long-winded indeed, emphasizing its European cinematic roots by having its characters spend a good chunk of their screen time staring into the distance, ruminating internally, sighing deeply and smoking cigarettes. After all, what’s more European than smoking cigarettes and staring off into the great beyond?  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘DOWNSIZING’

The reach of possibilities that could unfurl within the world that director Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor have imagined in Downsizing – one where a small population of citizens have opted to shrink themselves to live a bigger, better life – is near limitless. At a microscopic size, everything fundmentally changes. You can get hammered off a thimble-full of wine. When traveling at sea in a tiny vessel, the threat of the most minor whitecap would pose tsunami-sized peril. A mosquito would be a winged monstrosity. And a daring cinematic spectacle. Even the humans who have not opted to go the way of the Shrinky Dink could wield awesome power over their minuscule counterparts, the most average citizen having the ability to go on a Godzilla-like rampage throughout the wee one’s shrunken cities if ever they decided to.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘DARKEST HOUR’

Darkest Hour is built like an antique grandfather clock. Each element a carefully placed necessity, working dutifully towards a larger schema; every cog, screw and dial essential to its almost impossibly precise workmanship. Ticking and tocking in a grand manner, Darkest Hour is an expertly paced and admirably assembled sample of good old fashion filmmaking gifted with a lead performance from Gary Oldman that will almost certainly not just be remembered come next year’s award’s season but is sure to be a well-endowed frontrunner. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SHAPE OF WATER’

Far and away the best of Guillermo del Toro’s English language features, The Shape of Water, like Dr. Frankenstein stitching together disparate appendages, conjoins the romanticism of the 1930s Classic Universal Monsters Movies, the conspiratorial grit of the 70s  Hammer Films and a splash of Max, Mon Amour to craft a truly one-of-a-kind, genre-bending splat of modern monster cinema. Breathtaking, adorable and fundamentally weird as hell, The Shape of Water is a slice of well-germinated fan fiction that’s so much more than its leaflet thin description of Deaf Girl falls for Fish Man could possibly describe. Read More