• Dead End

    Dead End

    ★★½

    Campy horror/comedy isn't typically my bag, but the (maybe overly) committed performances make it fun. If this were a 30-minute short, I'd have thoroughly enjoyed it, but there's not enough to the story to sustain the runtime.

  • Oblivion

    Oblivion

    ★★½

    Derivative of so many other films, but most notably one in particular which, to avoid mutual spoilers, I won't name. Starts off strong, but takes a complete nosedive at the halfway point. Not since Source Code have I seen a sci-fi film so cleanly lopsided.

  • Knock at the Cabin

    Knock at the Cabin

    ★★★

    Hot on the heels of absolutely hating Shyamalan's previous two efforts, I'm relieved to see him reign in his worst impulses and apply his always stunning filmmaking to a relatively straightforward narrative. As always, he's subverting expectations in ways that will frustrate many, but I appreciate him avoiding the plethora of exposition that plagued his recent work. Maybe it's just my specific interpretation, but I think this is one of the most thematically coherent and interesting films in his career. The pacing occasionally sags, but it's mostly effective at keeping the tension at a consistent simmer, even if it never quite reaches a full boil.

  • Glengarry Glen Ross

    Glengarry Glen Ross

    ★★★★½

    Foley directs the hell out of this! And by that I mean he gets the fuck out of the way and lets the truly unparalleled cast devour their roles like no other. On the level of 12 Angry Men in terms of punchy writing and outstanding performances coalescing into an endlessly rewatchable classic.

  • Mouchette

    Mouchette

    ★★★

    I think I've started to turn a corner on Bresson's work for whatever reason. Here, I find the naturalism he's aiming for somewhat undermined by the stagey qualities of his filmmaking. The story is undeniably harrowing story and the lead performance is strong, but there's nothing in this that wasn't already better encapsulated by Au Hasard Balthazar the year prior.

  • The Dark and the Wicked

    The Dark and the Wicked

    ★★½

    Solid direction and performances wasted on a fairly generic grief horror drama. Its bleakness is its strength, though it doesn't take it far enough to be really memorable. Some effective scenes, but overall it's too derivative to stand out from the recent deluge of somber horror films.

  • Sharp Stick

    Sharp Stick

    ★★★

    Even though her work often ends up feeling slight, I do appreciate Dunham's sensibilities as a storyteller. This premise has been done before, but the cast does a great job fleshing out their characters and the structure keeps it engaging. Mildly entertaining throughout, until a monologue near the end explicitly states the film's message. Normally, this is where my eyes would roll and I'd sour on the film overall, but it's delivered in such an offhanded casual way which I…

  • Infinity Pool

    Infinity Pool

    ★★½

    To my dismay, I share what appears to be the canonical middling take on this: that it's an incoherent mess on every level—narratively, thematically, structurally, tonally—and even worse, it's not an interesting one. For a film that ostensibly intends to be provocative, it's surprisingly derivative, predictable, and tame. There are no real stakes, no forward momentum, no actual plot/character development, no genuine psychological depth. It's all surface level pleasures, and even in that sense, it's a sizable step down from Brandon Cronenberg's previous film.

  • Beginning

    Beginning

    ★★★½

    The most formally accomplished debut film I've seen since The Tribe. Kulumbegashvili's arresting compositions and brilliant use of offscreen space consistently astounded me, even in the film's second half where it feels like she doesn't know where to take the story. Sukhitashvili's performance and the thought-provoking ending save this from being a frustratingly lopsided near-masterpiece-turned-mediocre work. Definitely worth seeking out for fans of Haneke and similarly patient/meticulous filmmakers, though I completely disagree with criticisms claiming that it's derivative. Kulumbegashvili has skyrocketed on my list of filmmakers to follow.

  • Mute

    Mute

    ★★

    Aside from my typical issues with film noir, this is really a garbled mess of ideas, tones, and plot lines which often doesn't cohere even on a scene-by-scene basis. Everything remotely interesting about it is derivative of other sci-fi films—except for the jarring pedophilia sub plot which the film sometimes seems to play for laughs, yikes. Jones seems to be a filmmaker who really needs limitations in order to flourish.

  • The Devil's Candy

    The Devil's Candy

    ★★½

    Generic "family moves into devil house" business, elevated somewhat by the solid cast and a short runtime which only starts to drag near the end. Doesn't help that the third act is filled literally wall-to-wall with laughably bad CGI fire.

  • Emily the Criminal

    Emily the Criminal

    ★★★

    Does everything it needs to, and with a surprising level of efficiency. A bit more grit would have gone a long way, but it's a solid thriller with a really great lead performance from Plaza.