• The Meddler

    The Meddler

    ★★½

    Too slight and cliche to really work, though Sarandon and Byrne do what they can with the material and elevate it somewhat.

    I’d like to see a return to the ‘80s version of this genre that’s bit more cinematic and well-constructed. Scafaria’s script/directing are so loose and jokey, it’s missing the scalpel-sharp humor and heart of dramedy classics like TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. Sarandon is playing an overbearing Jewish mother caricature and I wish the character had a more specific personality.

    Watchable, inoffensive, bland.

  • Leprechaun

    Leprechaun

    ★★½

    Not particularly scary and a little too kooky for its own good even before the series went full camp.

    Warwick Davis is having a blast, the makeup and gore are decent, and there are just enough cheap laughs (plus a short runtime) to make it worth watching.

    I’d love to see what a genuine horror movie could do with this character. As fun schlock though, it works.

  • Coming Home in the Dark

    Coming Home in the Dark

    ★★½

    Well made with strong intentions but also strangely empty and unsatisfying. 

    I’m just not a big fan of cold, spare, masochistically brutal thrillers. They’re too detached with not enough context, flavor, or emotion. There’s a full display of craft here but it’s in service of a bare bones narrative and characters who don’t say much (there’s supposed to be weight in the silence; for me it felt hollow).

    Daniel Gillies is terrific and I loved hearing him speak in the…

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Dear Evan Hansen

    ★★

    A historic first (I’m dead serious): an actor who actually erases the impact of their acclaimed stage performance by recreating it on film. Think of this as the anti-Robert Preston in THE MUSIC MAN or Joel Grey in CABARET. By going back to his earnest Tony-winning Evan Hansen, Ben Platt turns his star-making triumph into a bizarre vanity project that’s ill-conceived in just about every way.

    It’s not quite the biggest debacle ever. The plot is ick, the songs sound…

  • Housekeeping

    Housekeeping

    ★★★★★

    The specter of the past haunts us always, whether it’s the long dead relatives we never knew or 200 lost souls at the bottom of an icy river.

    Like Sylvie, I like to take aimless walks, I don’t know why I stopped reading as much, and I enjoy collecting worthless things.

    This has perhaps the most singular tone I’ve ever experienced. Bewitching, ghost-like, warmly funny yet filled with bone deep sadness.

    The first half is intriguing and once you’re drawn…

  • Terms of Endearment

    Terms of Endearment

    ★★★★★

    An unimpeachable all-time top 5 favorite for me.

    I have a theory that TERMS acquired its unsavory reputation as a cheap tearjerker because of the many films that imitated it later - Bette Midler’s hokey BEACHES for one. Its massive box office success and Oscar domination kicked off a trend of dramedies for grown-ups that continued throughout the ‘80s. Can you imagine that happening today?

    The triumph of this film is how the dialogue consists of PERFECT movie lines that…

  • Don't Say a Word

    Don't Say a Word

    ★★★

    Stupidly entertaining! What a throwback.

    Best if you go in with zero expectations. This is a grimy, overbudget ($50 million!) studio throwaway from the pre-9/11 era that came out two weeks after 9/11. Somehow it took me 20 years to see it.

    It’s the kind of cheeseball potboiler I’d rent from the local mom & pop video store on DVD back when DVD was a thing. You can tell because the disc has Criterion-level extras for what’s basically a dumb programmer…

  • The Starling

    The Starling

    Good God. Execrable script, which has somehow been kicking around for 15+ years (it was on the very first Black List in 2005 alongside CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR and JUNO). Originally written for a man, director Ted Melfi suggested a gender switch and gave it to Melissa McCarthy.

    Every single beat is so prescribed, manipulative, and emotionally false - with some of the worst score cues and needle drops I’ve heard in a while. A treacly feel-good about getting over the…

  • Joe Versus the Volcano

    Joe Versus the Volcano

    ★★★★★

    “Been a long time coming here to meet you… A long time on a crooked road.”

    Nearly peerless. A wild combo of Terry Gilliam, Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, and Powell & Pressburger. One of the greatest screenplays ever.

  • Everybody's Talking About Jamie

    Everybody's Talking About Jamie

    ★★★

    Sweet, formulaic, inoffensive. Reminded me of KINKY BOOTS and similar British fish-out-of-water comedies. There are too few original musicals out there and lead Max Harwood has a ton of presence.

    I wish it wasn’t so incredibly predictable and by the numbers - as LGBTQ films go, it almost makes LOVE, SIMON look edgy. But that’s not the point. For poppy PG-13 feel-good musical comedy, it works well enough.

    The musical numbers are nicely staged, though can we please outlaw every…

  • What They Had

    What They Had

    ★★

    How do these generic indie family dramas get made?

    WHAT THEY HAD isn’t a terrible movie, just a very blah, humorless, cliche one. Of course an elderly parent is dealing with dementia. Of course the adult daughter doesn’t have her life together. Of course she doesn’t get along with her brother. Of course there’s a sulky college kid along for the ride. Of course a character will die in the third act (and this one pulls a cheap bait and…

  • Reminiscence

    Reminiscence

    Adding an extra half star as charity because I zoned out after 10 minutes and could barely pay attention.

    Much as I want to support original material, there’s very little originality in REMINISCENCE. The concept of people paying to relive their memories has promise, but it’s buried in a dour, bland attempt at sci-fi noir, overbudget yet visually ugly (those muddy greens and browns!) with a sleepytime lead performance from Hugh Jackman. Even Rebecca Ferguson is going through the motions.…