post

Angry Cop Heist ‘DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE’ is Criminally Long ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Redux

Mel Gibson steps back into the limelight after what seemed like an eternity in Hollywood jail to embody Brett Ridgeman, a salty cop peddling on both sides of the law in S. Craig Zahler’s crime-drama Dragged Across Cement. Sure, Gibson’s popped up in a few higher profile studio releases over the past decade but it’s been since the 2011 Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver that he’s been in the pole position leading a film. And, unfortunately, Dragged Across Concrete hardly gives us a chance to celebrate the return of the veteran actor with a troubled history. Read More

post

‘US’ a Superfly Flurry of Inventive Horror-Comedy World Building

Comedy and horror exist in harmonious marriage to one another. Even the grimmest horror exploits regularly squeeze uncomfortable laughs from packed crowds, too hopped up on their own nerves not to giggle with anticipation or great relief after a big scare. Screams and laughs are the wine and cheese of any good horror movie, a perfect pairing, and Jordan Peele’s uncompromisingly cool Us comes boasting a delicious vintage of both.  Read More

post

The Steep Price of Legacy in ‘THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT’

Commerce is a wheel beneath which much is crushed. And once that wheel is in motion, there is no stopping it. Not for epistemological discourse. Not for environmental factors. Not even for late-stage stomach cancer. In Kim Nguyen’s unorthodox The Hummingbird Project, there simply ain’t no mountain high enough, no river wide enough to keep the Zaleski cousins from installing a direct line of high-speed fiber cable from New York City to Kansas. The wheels of commerce roll on and they intend to be its primary highway.  Read More

post

Julianne Moore Discovers Inner Strength in A24’s Humanist Romance ‘GLORIA BELL’

Come for Julianne Moore’s effortlessly jubilant performance, stay for the complicated middle-aged tryst in Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria Bell. A remake of the director’s own 2013 Spanish-language film Gloria, Chile’s submission for Best Foreign Language film at the 2014 Academy Awards, the film is distributed by indie giant A24 and carries the mark of quality that is commonly associated with their auteur brand, though it would be hard to mistake the competent, if hard to swoon for, drama for one of the distribution company’s finest outputs.  Read More

post

Gaspar Noé Hosts World’s Worst Acid Dance Party in ‘CLIMAX’

Climax is a movie only Gaspar Noé could – and would – make. The French provocateur has long embedded hallucinatory imagery into his pictures – his 2009 feature Enter the Void is a literal out-of-body experience adopting the POV of a slain drug dealer – but takes his flirtation with on-screen drug use to new levels with his latest experimental feature, which follows an acid-dosed troop of dancers over the events of an increasingly unhinged night. The journey is a dark and delirious jaw-dropping mindfuck for sure, but one of horrifying technical marksmanship that is sure to burrow under your skin and peck at one’s brain. Like blood in the carpet, these psychological stains won’t wash out easily.  Read More

post

‘HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD’ Doesn’t Manage to Fly Higher

If looks could kill, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World would engulf audiences in a deathly conflagration of dragon fire. The animated second sequel looks absolutely brilliant on the big screen, roaring to life in luscious detail. From the crystal-clear scale of its big set pieces to the minutia of the movement of sand and water, Dreamwork’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World splashes every penny of its 129 million dollar budget up on the screen for audiences to behold. If only they could have dumped equally as much energy and effort into the story mechanics, which are far and away the weakest of the three HTTYD films.  Read More

post

All’s Quiet on the Front in Brutally Hard-Fought Survival Saga ‘ARCTIC’

A marooned man’s survival in the Arctic gets much more complicated when a helicopter crashes attempting to rescue him. He decides to save the lone survivor, taking her life into his hands and, in doing so, igniting anew his purpose to live. The measured survivalist story Arctic is as cold and quiet as the frigid tundra for which it is named, its protagonist Overgård (played with silent ferocity of will by the ever-reliable Mads Mikkelsen) is a man of few words but powerful convictions, convictions which bleed through the veteran actor’s pores, adding soul and pathos to this testament of the human spirit in times of great adversity. Read More

post

Exploitative Metal Thriller ‘LORDS OF CHAOS’ Pushes Sacrilegious Buttons  

Ye of purer form, be warned! There’s a moment early on in Jonas Åkerlund’s Norwegian black metal exploitation film Lords of Chaos that’ll determine your ability to stick around for the rest of the two-hour true crime feature. 22-year old singer “Dead” takes a kitchen knife and vertically slashes both his wrists. He then takes the knife to his own throat. Blood pouring from the self-inflicted wounds, “Dead” puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. Making permanent good on his extreme namesake. Read More

post

Generic ’MISS BALA’ An Anti-Feminist Female-Led Actioner

It’s hard to consider Miss Bala with anything but startling disappointment. A Hollywood actioner led by a young Latina starlet, retooling a Mexican critical darling for American audiences, in a coming out party for Gina Rodriguez. If all these were working in harmony, this could have worked out very, very well. In the hands of Catherine Hardwicke, it does not. Like, at all. The Twilight director shaves Miss Bala down to the most generic premise and skates around the very thing that could have made it a powerful feminist action film – empowering the woman at the center of the film, tinkering with the best-laid plans of mice and men that seek to dominate her. Instead, Rodriguez’s Gloria is passive eye candy, consistently strong-armed (physically and mentally) by the men around her, and only taking agency at the very last moment possible.  Read More

post

Stylish, Surreal ‘PIERCING’ A Tempestuous Cat and Mouse Murder Game

A husband and father’s scheme to kill a prostitute goes wrong when she stabs herself first in Nicolas Pesce’s devilish Piercing. Pesce’s bloody adaptation of Ryū Murakami’s short Japanese novel of the same name is deeply sardonic in nature, a clever two-person play on that age-old “desperate man kills sex worker” trope that flips the script in deliciously dark manner. Picture American Psycho for millennials, with less business card panic attacks and more feminist subversion, and you’ll be somewhere in the right ballpark.  Read More