• Minions: The Rise of Gru

    Minions: The Rise of Gru

    ★★½

    MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU sure has some cute, funny moments. The amusing vocal work from Steve Carell & Pierre Coffin continues to be the franchise’s highlight. But would it kill these films to put more effort into a compelling story? Mercifully, the runtime is kept short. Kids will still love it regardless.

  • Three Thousand Years of Longing

    Three Thousand Years of Longing

    ★★★

    THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING is a kaleidoscopic mixture of stimulating ideas & wondrous imagery. At its best when Tilda Swinton & Idris Elba are trading intimate feelings on the nature of storytelling, love & desire. I wish I emotionally connected more with George Miller’s latest effort (the endless flashbacks feel plodding & hollow) & but it’s still a fascinating tale worth telling.

  • Thor: Love and Thunder

    Thor: Love and Thunder

    THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER is a rockin’ great time with electrifying action, a kick ass soundtrack, lots of laughs (the screaming goats!) and a profound story on absent gods & our desire for love. Natalie Portman makes a mighty triumphant return to the MCU & Christian Bale slays it as the terrifying Gorr. Taika Waititi has done it again, surpassing “Thor: Ragnarok” to deliver my favorite stand-alone Thor film yet!

  • Elvis

    Elvis

    ★★★

    Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS equally dazzles & exhausts. Austin Butler rises above the glam & noise to provide a truly breathtaking performance while Hanks’ work will go down as some of the most perplexing of his career. Great makeup, sound & costumes. The dizzying editing made me nauseous in the first act (which is almost all done in montages) but it eventually settled down, relatively speaking. Still, an opulent mess.

  • Land of Dreams

    Land of Dreams

    ★★

    LAND OF DREAMS frustratingly didn’t land for me as its screenplay became more impenetrable the longer it went on. The ambitious themes & cinematic style are ultimately undone by the hollow & unfocused nature of the storytelling. Despite it all, Sheila Vand continues to impress.

  • Jerry & Marge Go Large

    Jerry & Marge Go Large

    ★★★

    While there isn’t much necessarily wrong with JERRY & MARGE GO LARGE there isn’t much to make it stand out either. Many beats feel familiar, including Bryan Cranston playing a middle-aged underestimated man who uses his intellect to amass cash & respect. He & Annette Bening end up making it watchable.

  • The Black Phone

    The Black Phone

    ★★★½

    THE BLACK PHONE terrifies the most when its story of discovering inner-strength in the face of real-world horror is grounded in reality. Ethan Hawke’s performance is bone-chilling & Scott Derrickson crafts a tense atmosphere with some really great jump scares. The paranormal bits partially rob the film of its thematic power but I still enjoyed it overall.

  • Acidman

    Acidman

    ★★★

    ACIDMAN is an efficiently affective father-daughter drama with two very good performances from Dianna Agron & Thomas Haden Church. Modest, reflective & beautifully shot. Humbly achieves its goal despite never going deeper into any of its commentary on absent parental figures.

  • The Forgiven

    The Forgiven

    ★★★

    THE FORGIVEN has an intriguing setup in a gorgeous setting but John Michael McDonagh’s screenplay on class, privilege, fate & forgiveness lacks the punch & bite of his previous films. Ralph Fiennes’ story is more compelling than Jessica Chastain’s while Ismael Kanater outshines them both. A slight disappointment considering what this could’ve been.

  • The Drop

    The Drop

    ★★★

    THE DROP is a painfully funny vacation comedy kick-started by a single incident which reveals deeper truths about a bunch of 30-something year olds trying to solidify their messy lives. The actors have a nice grasp of the tone & humor but the filmmaking isn’t as appealing.

  • Corner Office

    Corner Office

    ★★★

    CORNER OFFICE should’ve been a thirty minute short but it’s trapped inside a one hundred minute long feature. Visually clean-cut & darkly funny with a hypnotic Jon Hamm performance but its intriguing surrealism & quirky commentary starts to wear off due to the film’s constant use of voiceover narration & lack of fresh ideas. Still, there’s something oddly compelling about it all which kept me glued to the screen.

  • Space Oddity

    Space Oddity

    ★★

    SPACE ODDITY attempts to tackle heavy subject matter of why people give up on life and the distractions they create for themselves to avoid harsh realities. However, it does so in a manner that’s too cute for its own good as the film is only concerned with providing hallmark moments of good feelings instead of explaining how any of them make sense for these characters.