• Burnt

    Burnt

    ★½

    Normalize Asshole Behavior In The Name Of Achieving Perfection - The Movie. 

    Director John Wells has yet to meet a prickly situation he can’t solve with an inspirational montage and/or speech. 

    What a waste of everyone’s time. Unless you’re looking for a film that idolizes Kitchen Bad Boys. Then this is exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Barbarian

    Barbarian

    ★★★½

    Why couldn’t it end as soon as the “written and directed” credit came up?

    Still, a lot of fun. I’m not sure it ultimately justifies its structural gimmick, but I certainly stopped worrying about it once we got to that final stretch. 

    Hilarious Oscars clip from Justin Long, btw. But I guess that’s the point.

  • Pretty Persuasion

    Pretty Persuasion

    ★½

    Fairly sure we were already aware that sexualizing teenagers was in poor taste back in 2005, but boy does it look even worse in 2023. I get what screenwriter Skander Halim and director Marcos Siega are going for, but I’m not sure they thought it through all the way. Yes, this is a vicious, often funny critique of America’s obsession with salaciousness - but at what cost?

    Evan Rachel Wood is a fantastic actress and she does all that’s asked…

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace

    ★★★★★

    Another one of those “I hate that I missed this when it first came out” movies. LEAVE NO TRACE is a hell of a film, quiet yet powerful, featuring two powerhouse performances from Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie. Honestly, I’m a little mad that none of you out there pushed a little harder to get me to watch it back in 2018. 

    In everyone’s defense, while I liked WINTER’S BONE, I didn’t like it enough to consider a new Debra…

  • The Negotiator

    The Negotiator

    ★★★½

    MCU staple Sam Jackson and disgraced thespian Kevin Spacey back when their stars had started to go supernova. Jackson with Oscar nominations for Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, Spacey with an Oscar win for The Usual Suspects. These are two guys that - I’m guessing - could do whatever they wanted career-wise at this time. THE NEGOTIATOR must have looked like a fun break on the road to taking over the world. Spacey was a year away from winning his…

  • The Northman

    The Northman

    ★★½

    This is 100% on me. Eggers gonna Eggers, and by now I should know better. THE NORTHMAN may be his most accessible narrative, but it’s still very much a Robert Eggers movie: beautifully shot, deathly ponderous, excruciatingly bloated if you’re not into it. 

    I just can’t connect to Eggers’ laborious storytelling. Everybody speaks in speeches, every scene is drowned in unnecessary detail. I can’t find it in me to care about anything that’s going on. Some people can, and that’s great for them, but I’m 3-0 with this guy and I should’ve called it when I was 2-0. 

    Also, LOL Viking Ethan Hawke.

  • The Bone Collector

    The Bone Collector

    ★★

    It’s not SE7EN, but it very much wants to - as was the style at the time. It doesn’t even come close, of course, but there is a sense of fun watching it all these years later that has nothing to do with its grim and gritty story and everything to do with its cast. It’s not just Angelina and Denzel, but also the people surrounding them: Ed O’Neil, Queen Latifah, Luis Guzman, Mike McGlone from all those Edward Burns…

  • Class Action Park

    Class Action Park

    ★★½

    There are two primary ways to approach the story of the infamous Action Park:

    1- You can focus on the suffering brought about by the bone-chilling recklessness of the park’s owner and staff

    2- You can focus on the dark hilarity of the outlandishness that was the park’s existence

    This documentary tries to do both things and the results don’t do justice to the black-as-coal comedy inherent in the Action Park concept nor do they do justice to its victims.…

  • Being John Malkovich

    Being John Malkovich

    ★★★★★

    It’s all about that moment after Lotte “has sex” with Maxine for the first time. She’s on the ground, wide-eyed, smiling, the camera over her, pulls back. Her world has changed. It’s a moment that anchors the movie throughout all its quirky (and extremely entertaining) silliness. 

    Of course, there’s lots to nitpick in BEING JOHN MALKOVICH - if you’re inclined to do so. We tackled it in Episode 173 of The Contrarians, and we talked at length about the story’s inconsistencies and plot holes. Not that any of it matters, in my opinion, other than to laugh about it all a little more.

  • The Whale

    The Whale

    ★★★½

    Amazing performance from Brendan Fraser which, unfortunately, doesn’t find its match in any of his cast mates. Sadie Sink - arguably the second most important character in the story - is stuck playing one note, while Samantha Morton and Hong Chau seem to be having trouble getting comfortable with the text. Ty Simpkins does a little better because his character requires him to be single-minded but, still, I walked away wishing our protagonist had had better sparring partners. 

    Regardless, it’s…

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once

    Everything Everywhere All at Once

    ★★★

    We are starved for original content, aren’t we?

    This kind of kept tripping itself over its own ever-expanding mythology. But it did give us Ke Huy Quan back, and that’s a hell of a lovely thing.

  • A Man Called Otto

    A Man Called Otto

    ★★★½

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

    There’s a version of this story that sticks to reality instead of going fairy tale for the ending, but I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to watch that one. I guess I would’ve liked this version to build up better to the fairy tale turn instead? Look, whatever, Hanks is great, Mariana Treviño is a treasure, and I cried through the whole movie. 

    I just cringed a little when social media saved the day.