• The Hunger

    The Hunger

    ★★½

    THE HUNGER is an uneven mix of one great film and one mediocre film. If there is one thing holding Tony Scott's feature debut together, it is the simultaneously grim but dreamy atmosphere that casts its characters in an uncertain haze. The tone is so effective in its first act, with Scott weaving in an erotic vampire story underlined by poignant themes about everlasting life vs. everlasting youth, enhanced by the blue tones that cast much of the film in…

  • Moonage Daydream

    Moonage Daydream

    ★★★★

    "It's as if David Bowie learned to run before he could walk."

    MOONAGE DAYDREAM lives up to being the "cinematic odyssey" that charts the life of David Bowie. If ever a film could truly capture what made Bowie such a unique person--let alone artist--it would be, and is, perfectly in line with Brett Morgan's style of filmmaking. Morgan knows as well as anyone--and perhaps it's the reason why the Bowie estate provided their blessing--that Bowie can't be placed into a…

  • Night of Death!

    Night of Death!

    ★★★

    Hooptober Neun! - Bloodthirsty Old People

    Stretches of this film feel like exactly that: stretches, which don't necessarily add to the increasing tension of the film or the clever mystery at the core of the story. Though I'd have to flip a coin to determine if this is a film that is greater than or less than the sum of its parts. The first act effectively balances horror with camp, and that careful balance of tone is maintained to gauge interest even when the momentum falters. All capped off with an appropriately gnarly ending that ties what seemed like an inconsequential sub-plot into the larger narrative.

  • Luz

    Luz

    ★★★

    Hooptober Neun! - Decades (2/8) - 2010s

    Great atmospheric use of cinematography and sound design as well as a propulsive synth and percussion-driven soundtrack keep LUZ afloat, even when its abstract narrative loses the thread during the final 20-30 minutes; a big dock for a film that otherwise felt relatively contained within its 70-minute runtime and effectively set the stage during the first half. But Tilman Singer's feature film debut is never boring; his staging amidst single locations is captivating and enhances the uncertainty and terror that engulfs its characters.

  • Goatling: Son of Satan

    Goatling: Son of Satan

    ★★

    Hooptober Neun! - Decades (1/8), 2020s

    Hooptober season is back (it’s already been a year?!), but things kick off with a bit of a stumble. This feels like a lesser rip-off The Witch crossed with Hereditary, except with cannibalism, that confuses genuine scares with shallow misery porn, though it is certainly technically sound with some brooding atmosphere and some appropriately nasty sequences.

  • Executioners

    Executioners

    ★★½

    Pretty hard to top something as bonkers and exciting as The Heroic Trio, so Executioners was already at a bit of a disadvantage despite Johnnie To—sharing directorial duties this time with Ching Siu-tung—and the trio of Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, and Maggie Cheung returning to the helm. The attempts at an overall darker tone and the more explicitly post-apocalyptic setting are admirable as a means to refrain from treading familiar territory, yet the story itself is much more unwieldy and…

  • The Heroic Trio

    The Heroic Trio

    ★★★★½

    There is a moment early on where Maggie Cheung’s character sits on an empty barrel, throws a stick of dynamite inside it, and it explodes skyrocketing her and the barrel towards a building to catch several armed robbers. Honestly, this movie could have been a black screen for the remaining hour and it still would have been a masterpiece.

    But this is known; Johnnie To could film paint drying and make it look exciting. Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui, and Cheung…

  • Drug War

    Drug War

    ★★★½

    Leave it to Johnnie To’s typically propulsive style to elevate Drug War and its straightforward screenplay above other crime films of its kind, even when those same conventions—and the relative lack of To’s unique approach to character—keep this from elevating among To’s very best work.

  • Elvis

    Elvis

    ★★★

    Baz Luhrmann can't be accused of giving less than 205% to whatever he does. ELVIS finds the excessively stylish director taking massive swings with what is on paper yet another rote music biopic--another potential WALK HARD without the jokes (this movie is more like the WALK HARD talent show scene where Dewey Cox arouses and outrages his audience members stretched to nearly feature-length)--not the least of which is framing the story around the opportunistic manager Tom Parker, giving America's Dad…

  • The Connection

    The Connection

    ★★

    I wager that PORTRAIT OF JASON should have been my entry point into the work of the overlooked Shirley Clarke, whose filmmaking style in THE CONNECTION feels appropriately loose yet candid for a film that, even now, feels like it takes bold swings with rather curt subject matter. I am eager to dig deeper into Clarke's filmography having viewed her feature-length debut, but that doesn't preclude me from deeming THE CONNECTION itself an overall disappointment as a *film* and an…

  • Jurassic World Dominion

    Jurassic World Dominion

    ★½

    People using the hand thing like it's the Force.

  • Dead Man's Shoes

    Dead Man's Shoes

    ★★

    Felt like a collection of tropes, not a fleshed-out revenge story. While it sets its sights high in its attempts to wrestle with the moral ambiguity of its story, the script—co-written by Paddy Considine, who has plenty of opportunities to showcase raw rage and grief—falls short of thoughtfully exploring them and instead relies on manipulative plot beats. Considine is the ostensible lead, whose character Richard seeks revenge on drug dealers who have abused his mentally disabled brother, but he appears…