• Luce

    Luce

    ★½

    From the people who brought you that really poorly produced off off broadway play you were dragged too once. It’s utter trash. Incoherent plot wise, exploitative, and pretentious. Does one of the worst things a film can do which is to throw a fire grenade (or fireworks) in the middle of the room in the form of “hot topics” and do little to nothing with them. None of the actors come out of this unscathed, maybe with the exception of…

  • The Other Story

    The Other Story

    ★★½

    Ends up being more an occasionally insightful depiction of child-parent relationships than anything else. Unfortunately, it’s all over the place tonally and it betrays its female characters in one of the more baffling endings I’ve seen in recent memory. I was with it enough until the final twenty or so minutes when it gives into the patriarchal tendencies it purports to critique earlier in the film. The performances, especially a wonderfully sly Maya Dagan as Tali are uniformly solid but they’re stuck in an uneven mess.

  • I Lost My Body

    I Lost My Body

    ★★★½

    The romance storyline is a bit jarring/bordering on tone deaf at times, and largely isn’t effective. That said the animation itself is gorgeous and the severed hand storyline (I can’t believe I’m writing this) is downright thrilling and inventive. The score is great and despite the unevenness of the central romance there is emotional resonance to be had in this film. Overall there are more positives than negatives here, and I’m happy this is getting a Netflix release so it’ll be available to a wide audience.

  • 17 Blocks

    17 Blocks

    ★★★

    Was of mixed minds about this movie. It’s undeniably powerful, moving, and immersive. It’s almost too intimate at points, and the intimacy it forms mutates into exploitation on multiple occasions. Fascinatingly the director Davy Rothbart didn’t shoot all the footage that makes it into the movie. This eases some of the queasiness associated with some of the exploitation on display, but ultimately whether he shot the scenes or not it is Rothbart’s responsibility to use what he had at his…

  • Happy Death Day 2U

    Happy Death Day 2U

    ★★

    Rothe is super game. She’s great as she was in the first film, but ultimately this is pretty pointless. One of the more contrived sequels in recent memory. The firs movie was pretty flawed but at least it didn’t feel quite as stale, nor did it have a thick layer of sentimentality which here feels so hollow.

  • The Perfection

    The Perfection

    ★★★½

    It’s likely a movie that will illicit strong reactions one way or another. There’s really no way to describe this except for bonkers. It’s a throwback psycho thriller that forgoes sensitive filmmaking for something much broader. As the story gets less contained, the movie flies off the rails a little bit too much in the third act, but overall I appreciated Director Richard Shepard’s ambition and his willingness to embrace the absurd. This film is campy and over the top,…

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★★

    I think this will be a film that’s easy to overhype, so it’s important to know that it’s a modest, contained story. That said, I found it to be exquisite, moving, and often downright beautiful. A lot of the force behind the picture comes from Lulu Wang’s specificity in telling her own story. That said, the crucial thing the film portrays masterfully is a story that is also universal. Another thing Wang does so well, better than any filmmaker in…

  • The Art of Self-Defense

    The Art of Self-Defense

    ★★★★½

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

    This is sure to be a divisive movie, but I found it to be excellent. A pitch black skewering of toxic masculinity and the systemic problems that contribute towards it. There are obvious comparisons here to Jody Hill a filmmaker I’ve never cared for, or to Yorgos Lanthimos (who I adore). That said, Riley Stearns has a vision all of his own, and he swings for the fences here. For the most part it works quite well. Jesse Eisenberg leaning…

  • Brittany Runs a Marathon

    Brittany Runs a Marathon

    ★★★

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

    Overall it’s a mixed bag and can’t help but feeling like a bit of a disappointment because it squanders a lot of its potential. That said, I’d recommend it primarily for Jillian Bell who is doing fine work and is able to perform enough heavily lifting to make up for the script which is  inconsistent and the filmmaking which is straightforward at best, scattershot at worst. The film for most of its running time feels like it is trying to…

  • Rafiki

    Rafiki

    ★★★★

    The complexity of the characters and the use of color are among the things to admire here. In addition the performances notably from the two lead actors are deeply felt, credible, and often moving. Wanuri Kahiu’s film contains elements of both universality and specificity. It’s queer characters are allowed pleasure, unabashedly so, but they are often still looking over their shoulder. The film is painfully tapping into a reality that is present for many across the world. While a few…

  • Booksmart

    Booksmart

    ★★★★½

    Fantastic. So much to love here. Dever and Feldstein knock it out of the park. They’ve got fantastic chemistry and this is the best work that they’ve ever done. Olivia Wilde’s film hits the sweet spot between hilarity and poignancy. Wilde’s direction is slick but not exclusionary. There is flair when needed but it never feels gratuitous. This is an exceptional start behind the camera for her. Futhermore, the script is which is penned by four co-writers never feels jumbled…

  • Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

    Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

    ★½

    An early candidate for worst film of the year. The film never justifies its existence and comes across as morally questionable. While it doesn’t glorify Bundy’s acts with scenes of violence (for the most part) it does glorify him as a person by forcing the audience to spend so much time within Bundy’s perspective. If the point of the film was to try to reclaim the film from the perspective of a crucial female presence within his life, then this…