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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)

 

 

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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

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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

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CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 2000's

 

 

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CrAiGeR's TEN BEST FILMS of the 1980's

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Haven't we met somewhere before?

Is it just me or is the time loop genre becoming the next big genre? Also, is it just me or is the time looping genre becoming the next big genre? Obvious sarcasm aside, the new Amazon Prime original film THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS has the unenviable position of coming out after the critically adored PALM SPRINGS from last year, and both films bare a striking similarity to one another...

Posted February 23, 2021

PALMER 

(R) jjj

Mr. Mom

Justin Timberlake has had a relatively shaky career as far as the movies go.  He has certainly been effectively in supporting roles in the past, as was the case in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, ALPHA DOG, and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, but for every one one of those there's a RUNNER RUNNER, SOUTHLAND TALES, or BAD TEACHER.  I still concede, though, that the pop star can be decent when given just the right movie role, and he's quite stellar in the new Apple TV+ original film PALMER, playing an ex-con that's trying to get a new lease on life outside of the slammer...

Posted February 15, 2021

MALCOLM & MARIE (R) j1/2

Couples therapy...the hard way

If the makers behind MALCOLM & MARIE were aiming to make viewers feel like they were trapped in the same home with a dislikeable couple that's venomously arguing with each other for nearly two hours...then...mission accomplished.  For the most part, this new minimalist, two actor Netflix drama (shot with a skeletal crew and limited resources during the current COVID-19 pandemic) featuring an up-and-coming film director that's on the brink of superstardom having a protracted spat with his girlfriend (that's essentially the plot) is pretentious to the core...

Posted February 15, 2021

FALLING (R) jjj1/2

Of fathers and sons

FALLING is a very difficult film to watch based on its subject matter.  It dives headfirst into the challenges that families have to endure while dealing with an elderly member with dementia, in its case between a son and his ailing father.  This multi-generational drama marks the feature film directorial debut of Viggo Mortensen, and he certainly maintains an assured eye and confident hand in dealing with this problematic and challenging material...

Posted February 15, 2021

LITTLE THINGS (R) jjj

90s detective noir with familiar genre beats

THE LITTLE THINGS comes off as a throwback serial killer/police procedural thriller with definitive echoes of past efforts like SEVEN.  It should come as no surprise, then, that this is John Lee Hancock written and directed effort has been a self proclaimed passion project for him for over thirty years and was actually penned in the early 1990s (with hopes of Steven Spielberg helming it).  With Hancock having a reasonable amount of industry clout now ...

Posted February 9, 2021

PENGUIN BLOOM

(Unrated) jjj 

March of the magpie penguin

If the new Australian-American Netflix produced drama PENGUIN BLOOM wasn't based on a true story then I would have had an awfully hard time swallowing it.  Adapted from the 2016 photography book of the same name by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Grieve, the film chronicles the reality based tale a family from Down Under whose wife/mother suffers from a tragic accident that causes partial paralysis...

Posted February 9, 2021

THE DIG (PG-13) jjj  

A tale of unearthing the past in the past

NETFLIX's new historical drama THE DIG concerns one of the most famous archaeological finds of all time that occurred in Suffolk, England in the late 1930s.  The so-called "Sutton Hoo" treasure that was unearthed at the time included the astounding discovery of an undisturbed ship burial from the 6th to 7th Century and all of the wealth of astonishing artifacts of the era entombed within it.  Often considered to be the most important dig sites and finds in UK history, the items excavated helped to re-shape what historians thought of Anglo-Saxons of the distant past...

Posted February 9, 2021

OUTSIDE THE WIRE (R) jj1/2  

More human than human

The new Netflix produced futuristic sci-fi military themed thriller OUTSIDE THE WIRE definitely has some compelling themes about the nature of mechanized warfare and the relationship between man and machine A.I., but it simply seems more disappointingly interested in delivering bombastic action and spectacle.  That, and its whole approach makes it come off like some low rent Neill Blomkamp wannabe, minus the thoughtful follow-through...

Posted January 31, 2021

NEWS OF THE WORLD (PG-13) jjj

On the range with Hanks and Greengrass

The very thought of Paul Greengrass shaking his career up by making a period western - and with his CAPTAIN PHILLIPS star in Tom Hanks no less (in his very first western of his career, almost impossible to believe) is beyond intriguing.  Coming after huge critical and audience successes like the last two entries in the original JASON BOURNE trilogy...

Posted January 25, 2021

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

(R) jjj1/2

A MeToo revenge thriller with a scathing satiric bite

Actor turned director Emerald Fennell's rookie effort in PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN just might be one of the most audacious filmmaking debuts of 2020.  As a ultra black comedy and utterly uncompromising MeToo revenge thriller, it displays uncommon levels of patience in terms of not laying all of its narrative cards on the table too early in terms of its many revelations.  In this respect, the film almost becomes a jigsaw puzzle that needs to be put together, and it respects audiences' attentions spans as a result...

Posted January 25, 2021

LOCKED DOWN (R) j1/2

Get us all out of this pandemic themed film!!!

LOCKED DOWN is not only a very early contender for one of the worst films of our very young year, but it's also unquestionably a surefire cure for anyone that suffers from insomnia.  I was just twenty minutes into this COVID-19 pandemic themed romantic comedy heist film (yeah, let that settle in quickly...and more on that in a bit) and found it to be almost insufferably dull and lacking in any type of forward momentum...

Posted January 25, 2021

SHADOW IN THE CLOUD (R) jjj

Gremlins: The WWII Batch

SHADOW IN THE CLOUD is the kind of film that knows precisely what it is and frequently winks at its audience throughout to let them know that it's in on the gag.  The film is a spectacularly inane hodgepodge of divergent genres, like the creature feature, the World War II men-on-a-mission thriller, and the female empowerment action picture...and with equal parts of TWILIGHT ZONE mixed in for good measure.  It's the type of lurid grindhouse fare that might have had an audience back in the day for midnight drive-in screenings...

Posted January 19, 2021

ANOTHER ROUND (R) jjjj

Having one for the road...but on the way to school

ANOTHER ROUND marks a rather triumphant re-teaming of Danish director Thomas Vinterberg and star Mads Mikkelsen (who last partnered up on 2012's THE HUNT) and it features arguably the most deliriously - ahem! - intoxicating premise of any movie from the year that was.  There have been countless films about teachers, people suffering from mid-life crisis, and those afflicted with alcoholism, but this film manages to cover all three of those elements and blends them together into something that emerges as both darkly funny and touchingly dramatic all the same...

Posted January 19, 2021

WOLFWALKERS (PG) jjjj

Like a storybook fable come lovingly to life

Pixar's SOUL has been dominating the recent conversation as of late about animated film releases - and it is indeed quite good - but I personally think that the wonderful WOLFWALKERS is the better offering that's getting lost in the limelight.  This latest animated fantasy adventure is from the pioneering director tandem Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart via their studio Cartoon Saloon...

Posted January 14, 2021

SOUL (PG) jjj

Defending your life

Pixar's SOUL is one of their weirdest animated films, but that's precisely what makes it one of their finest of their recent crop of offerings.  It not only represents an audaciously strange change of pace for the Oscar winning studio, but it also emerges as a most refreshing kind of innovative change up after their mediocre and easily forgettable ONWARD from earlier this year.  SOUL tells an intriguing tale of a jazz pianist that dies (sort of) and then gets whisked to the afterlife and remains stuck there (yeah, not the most light hearted of fare)...

Posted January 14, 2021

MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

(R) jjj1/2 

All they want is my voice

Netflix's MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM  - based on the 1982 August Wilson play - is set in Chicago of the Roaring Twenties and deals with black musicians trying to make names for themselves in a largely white controlled industry that wanted to use their music to make quick cash, even if it meant crudely exploiting them.  There's definitely something disturbing at play here when it comes to how these businessman yearned to claim an essential part of African American culture - Jazz and Blues - as their own...

Posted January 3, 2020

WONDER WOMAN 1984

(PG-13) jjj

Fighting for truth, justice and the Themysciran way

There is a sly moment in WONDER WOMAN 1984 that thoroughly captures the titular character's power, grace, charm and inherent goodness. It's set in a packed shopping mall during the neon colored Regan-era in question and features a squad robbers trying to make a getaway, with one of them nearly harming a young girl.  The most powerful Themysciran herself swoops in and quickly dispatches of the evil doers with lightning speed and ease...

Posted December 31, 2020

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (PG-13) jjj

Staring into the apocalyptic abyss

To say that George Clooney the director has had a problematic and inconsistent career would be apt.  Nearly twenty years ago I thought he made one of the best films of 2002 in his rookie filmmaking debut with the biographical spy thriller CONFESSIONS OF THE DANGEROUS MIND and followed that up with the fine newsroom historical drama GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK...

Posted December 31, 2020

PALM SPRINGS (R) jjj

I want tomorrow to be tomorrow

Wait a tick...there's something awfully familiar about this film.  Haven't I seen it some place before?  Not only that...but there's something awfully familiar about this film.  Haven't I see it some place before?  Meta sarcasm aside, the new indie comedy PALM SPRINGS does indeed bare a striking resemblance to the iconic time looping comedy GROUNDHOG DAY, which featured a then highly novel premise of a disgruntled weatherman re-living the same day over and over again in a town he despises on an endless, purgatory-like replay...

Posted December 31, 2020

THE GODFATHER CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE (R) jjj1/2

Coppola takes a re-edit offer he couldn't refuse

Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER: PART III opened in cinemas 30 years ago this month, which, in turn, came several years after the landmark success of the first two multiple Academy Award winning entries in the series that adapted author Mario Puzo's original novels.  The initial GODFATHER film was a massive audience and critical darling effort that put Coppola on the cinematic map, and its follow-up - just as praised, if not more so - solidified the director as one of the pre-eminent artists of his generation...

Posted December 22, 2020

SOUND OF METAL 

(R) jjjj

Learning to live with the sound of silence

I remember something that the late Roger Ebert once said about the truly great movies being like empathy machines: They allow for us to live vicariously through the lives of different people and grown to understand where they come from, what drives them, and what forces either propel them forward or hold them back.   I could think of no other movie from this past year that fit this description more perfectly than Darius Marder's intoxicating and masterful SOUND OF METAL...

Posted December 22, 2020

FREAKY (R) jj1/2

Freaky Friday the 13th

The new Blumhouse produced horror comedy FREAKY is a wicked combination of FRIDAY THE 13TH and FREAKY FRIDAY, with the former being a mad slasher flick and the latter being a body swap comedy.  It comes from director Christopher Landon, who previously helmed the very funny and underrated HAPPY DEATH DAY, which was a fairly novel GROUNDHOG DAY copycat, albeit with horror film trappings.  Although FREAKY scores some laughs when it needs to and will definitely appease those of the slasher genre...

Posted December 22, 2020

MANK (R) 

jjj

A bed ridden screenwriter versus the boy wonder of Hollywood

I've been thinking an awful lot about David Fincher's new fact based Netflix period drama MANK, which takes its name from the famous American screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who's perhaps best known in cinema circles for co-winning an Oscar for the screenplay to what's largely considered the greatest film of all time in CITIZEN KANE.  Mankiewicz's collaboration with Orson Welles has been the stuff of contentious legend...

Posted December 11, 2020

HILLBILLY ELEGY 

(R) jj

Kentucky, we have a problem

Ron Howard's HILLBILLY ELEGY - streaming now on Netflix - is attempting, I think, to be an inspirational fact based coming of age drama about a young man growing up in abject poverty and strife that tries as best as he can to elevate himself above it without forgetting his roots.  Based on the memoir by J.D Vance that chronicled his troubled upbringing in the Deep South and his attempts to empower and better himself, the film contains so many superficially good performances by multiple Hollywood A-listers...

Posted December 11, 2020

MULAN (PG-13) jj

An uninspired Disney retread lacking in creative chi

Disney's MULAN - their umpteenth live action remake of an animated classic - is a real double dipper offender in terms of being wastefully unnecessary and a missed creative opportunity all the same.  Of course, this is based and adapted from the 1998 animated film of the same name, which, in turn, was taken from the Chinese folklore THE BALLAD OF MULAN.  I'll positively concede that it's unlike the studio's previous and near scene for scene remakes...

Posted December 11, 2020

UNHINGED (R) zero stars

Unbearable to sit through

UNHINGED is not only a putrid film, but it also lowers itself to the level of the worst kind of indefensible trash.  On paper, it's a hellishly violent road rage thriller that wants to be lurid, sensationalistic B-grade grindhouse fare and a thoughtful commentary piece about sensitive societal issues.  You simply can't have it both ways.  You can't offer up a portrait of toxically dangerous masculinity run amok and then revel in the bloodshed and carnage contained within while attempting to say something meaningful about what triggers psychopaths in the first place...

Posted November 30, 2020

LET HIM GO (R) jjj1/2

No country for old men and women

LET HIM GO is a thoroughly involving and sometimes positively chilling period thriller that's a welcome throwback to the types of slow-burn, character driven genre efforts of yesteryear that we frankly don't get in abundance anymore.  It's the kind of the thriller that places great respect in honoring the patience of filmgoers in letting its narrative play out slowly and methodically, so much so that when violence does permeate the picture it does so with a shockingly effective immediacy...

Posted November 30, 2020

  

 

 

 

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

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MADE IN ITALY

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THE OUTPOST

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GHOSTS OF WAR

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EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA

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GUNS AKIMBO

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GREYHOUND

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ARCHIVE 

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YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT

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THE OLD GUARD 

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FORCE OF NATURE 

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IRRESISTIBLE 

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7500 (R)

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INFAMOUS 

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DA 5 BLOODS

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ARTEMIS FOWL

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THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND

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BECKY (R) 1/2j

 

VAST OF NIGHT 

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THE TRIP TO GREECE

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THE LOVEBIRDS

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VALLEY GIRL

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CAPONE 

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ORDINARY LOVE

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SPACESHIP EARTH (R) jjj

 

MY SPY 

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ORDINARY LOVE

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SPACESHIP EARTH

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MY SPY

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BLOODSHOT

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THE ASSISTANT

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EXTRACTION 

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BAD EDUCATION

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NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS

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THE LAST FULL MEASURE  

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LIKE A BOSS

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DOWNHILL

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COFFEE & KAREEM

(No MPAA Rating)

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ONWARD

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INTERNATIONAL FALLS

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VIVARIUM 

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BLOW THE MAN DOWN

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BANANA SPLIT

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THE HUNT

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THE JESUS ROLLS

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EMMA  

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LOST GIRLS

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