Brian Formo

Brian Formo

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  • Deep Cover

    Deep Cover

    ★★★★½

    “Money doesn't know where it comes from, but I do. If I keep it, I'm a criminal. If I give it to the government, I'm a fool. If I try and do some good with it, maybe it just makes things worse.”

    Deep Cover starts and ends with blood money. Crumpled and ugly, handed over. Director Bill Duke and Laurence Fishburne, who plays an undercover cop, charge head first into a Deep State drug conspiracy. "Follow the money" is not…

  • Morvern Callar

    Morvern Callar

    ★★★★★

    Morvern Callar has one of the bleakest cold opens of any film. We see the titular woman (played by Samantha Morton), as she wakes up with her boyfriend dead from suicide on the floor and a computer screen that says "READ ME." The note instructs her to "be brave" and to send his novel to various publishers he's listed. That's the plot portion of the opening, before we even get there we lay with Morvern on the floor, her fingers…

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  • Center Stage

    Center Stage

    ★★★½

    A death by tabloid drama that shows so much respect for melodrama that the salaciousness is muted and dulled similar to the feeling of a depressive state. Stanley Kwan mixes found interview footage of people who knew the 24-year old Chinese silent film star Ruan Ling‑yu with star Maggie Cheung recreating Ruan's private life, scenes from her lost films, and interview footage with Cheung herself about Ruan's legacy and her view of her own legacy in general. It's an interesting…

  • Juliet of the Spirits

    Juliet of the Spirits

    ★★½

    Federico Fellini's first color feature is, of course, gorgeous. But as a sweeping apology for cheating on his talented wife (Giulietta Masina) it's a wide miss because he has her lead a picture about communing with spirits to discover her husband's obvious infidelity and makes her so incredibly passive. She’s there but she never partakes. What kind of ode is this? There's nothing for Masina to even chew on and in many sequences characters tell her that it's on her…

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  • It Chapter Two

    It Chapter Two

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Stephen King makes a cameo in It: Chapter Two as an antique dealer in Derry, Maine. Although the sequel makes numerous jokes about grown up Bill (James McAvoy) being a popular horror author who can't find the right endings to his books—seemingly an obvious self-aware dig with King's counting-his-money blessing—but it's the antique setting that's actually most appropriate for King. Because It: Chapter Two is a too faithful adaptation of King's work it not only carries the author's excessive busyness,…

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    Bohemian Rhapsody

    ★½

    When rock critics hear Queen’s improbable hit single “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time, Bryan Singer’s film (of the same name) flashes a bunch of dismissive critical quotes. One quote outstretches all the others and ends the sequence, that’s “perfectly adequate” and it perfectly describes the adequate rock biopic of aha musical moments, backstage drama, and 15-year reflections from backstage framing. But the problem is that where it isn't perfectly adequate and vanilla it's actually painfully safe and somewhat erasing,…