• Passing

    Passing

    ★★★

    Really admire the photography here, it's a divine, serene vision. That, and exploring the concept of passing and how these characters approach a system of racism that oppresses them, do a lot to elevate this fairly calm premise. Ultimately, it's really not my kind of thing – more people talking than anything of substance occurring. I'd be lying if I implied I wasn't highly bored throughout. But for the kind of movie they wanted to make, they accomplished a lot here.

  • The King's Daughter

    The King's Daughter

    I saw the trailer for this a week ago and had a giant "what the fuck?" moment. Is this really a royal romance interspersed with mermaids? What's with this actually good cast? Who greenlit this?

    I started watching this and, preceded by several clearly Chinese production company cards, I presumed this was some weird western play from China (a la Dragon Wars, an English language cryptozoological Los Angeles disaster movie improbably financed out of South Korea). But no, it's even…

  • Running with the Devil

    Running with the Devil

    Lawrence Fishburne has a lot of sex in this.

  • Scream

    Scream

    ★★★

    It's hard to not appreciate the loving irony of the Scream franchise, a series of movies that appears to exist primarily to comment on other movies. For all the "meta" takes movies have been taking lately, Scream deserves credit not just for getting there before all the others, but also for being able to repackage tropes in a way that's critical while still indulging in what it's sending up..

    Did we need another installment? Not really, the gimmick is already…

  • Belle

    Belle

    ★★½

    Highly conflicted on this. The imagination on display with the aesthetic is a real visual joy, and I dig that they're going deep on the idea of telling a story through internet exposition - and it actually works pretty well in those sequences.

    I get why they wanted to pair that in-app story with a real-world drama, but I don't think they every really wring much dramatic product out of either, or the connection between the two. There's the central…

  • Grizzly II: Revenge

    Grizzly II: Revenge

    This got pitched as a long lost movie – with a weirdly strong cast – finally being assembled into the not great campy horror movie they never could finish. Alas, it's not even that.

    It's about forty minutes of footage that's cobbled together between whatever b-roll the modern-day producers could cheaply buy on the internet. I sorta admire the gusto to do something so blatantly bad, but it absolutely crosses the line of intentionally-bad-filmmaking that never works out. Except this…

  • Parallel Mothers

    Parallel Mothers

    ★★★★

    For real, how the hell does Almodóvar always pull this shit off? He conceives of the soapiest premises, paints them in the calmest ways, and it's almost entirely engrossing. It even had the all-too-rare "Gasp" moment for me, when we find out what's become of Anita (I think that was her name?) Pedros barely even plays with the color and it's still an engrossing looking film.

    My only real complaint is the ending - I think including the history lesson…

  • The Lost Daughter

    The Lost Daughter

    ★★★★½

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

    It's all very good, but what makes it sing is the final shot – one that almost totally twists the point of the film upside down by showing us that Leda is clearly a far better person than she can appreciate (and certainly better than that terrible family of douchebag disasters).

    The point is none of us are the worst version of ourselves, and perhaps it's one's ability to be horrified by their worst actions that sets them apart as…

  • The Devil's Advocate

    The Devil's Advocate

    ★★½

    This is the most painfully, obnoxiously unsubtle movie in the world until the climactic scene. And then it becomes actually an entirely entertaining film.

  • The Lawnmower Man

    The Lawnmower Man

    ★★½

    The craziest thing about The Lawnmower Man is that there are about ten good movies inside of it, but it's all wrapped together into a movie so over-the-top it just comes off as some supremely over-confident high school junior's short story he asked his English teacher to read.

    Philosophically, there are some big and interesting ideas at play, but one of the central plot points is that virtual reality somehow gave a dude telekinesis? Also it got him a hot…

  • Nightmare Alley

    Nightmare Alley

    ★★★★

    Funny how I always either under- or over-estimate Guillermo del Toro. I think his dorkier stuff always gets me more excited but winds up being all concept, and his more subtle films (that's a very relative term) just don't catch my interest.

    Fortunately, Nightmare Alley is definitely one of his better films – not that I was terribly excited for it. I still think Bradley Cooper isn't very compelling, but that sort of works for this slimey protagonist. He slots…

  • Drive My Car

    Drive My Car

    ★★★★½

    What a calm, assured observation on humanity. There aren't any big moments and I almost feel like the tone is neutral to a fault, but this is a three-hour-movie of talking that never produces a dull scene and lets you wander patiently to the point of the film - asking the question whether life is best lived safely or unreservedly. Should you embrace your wounds or keep them locked up?

    Could they have gotten their faster? Probably. But I'm glad they took the scenic route.