• Cry Macho

    Cry Macho

    ★★★★½

    85

    Good god, this is charming. Clint is fucking 91 years old, frail as hell, still up on a horse and rocking a cowboy hat and a sly smile. It's almost absurd how kind and pleasant Cry Macho is. Unlike The Mule or Gran Torino, this doesn't entirely operate as a rumination of legacy or icon status. At least not explicitly. Rather, it seems to fully exist in the present, a gentle and genial reminder of simple pleasures and tender…

  • Candyman

    Candyman

    ★★★

    52

    My main issue with Candyman is that it wants to re-ignite a conversation that the original film didn't even offer. The 1992 Bernard Rose classic is not necessarily about race or gentrification in broad strokes like this reboot/sequel is. All of that exists on the fringes. Instead, it examines the limits of White Privilege, how Helen was stripped of her power and authority as an academic and completely enveloped by Candyman - a horror figure with a penetrative hook…

  • Junebug

    Junebug

    ★★½

    45

    It's clear that Amy Adams has been gunning for the Oscar since at least 2005, and now, with her work in Hillbilly Elegy, The Woman in the Window, and Dear Evan Hansen, she seems to be actively pursuing career sabotage. I'm always rooting for Amy though, mostly because she can make a mostly insufferable movie like Junebug tolerable and, in certain moments, really enjoyable and light. She's the center of this simple little dramedy, with the inconsistent success of…

  • Now, Voyager

    Now, Voyager

    ★★★★½

    85

    When you get right down to it, all I need to say about Now, Voyager is that it stars Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, that sentence alone should have you running to rent or buy this, but there's a great deal to admire about the film beyond the strong casting of such a melodramatic trio. For one, it's a 40s romantic drama that is less about a woman's desire to be loved and accepted by men than…

  • The Card Counter

    The Card Counter

    ★★★★

    80

    Let's just get this out of the way: it's pretty wild that a movie about the emotional fallout of personal responsibility involving war-crimes at Abu Ghraib was released on the 20th anniversary weekend of 9/11. Galaxy-brain maneuver. Paul Schrader is back as he digs deep into the contrast of Bressonian elegance and a capacity for violence that resides within his characters. Here we find an inevitable journey towards a self-imposed void, a sculpted existence that is merely a clean…

  • Million Dollar Baby

    Million Dollar Baby

    ★★★★½

    90

    Some may say that the flowery wisdoms of Morgan Freeman's narration is a bit overkill, but to me it only accentuates the layers of darkness in the film's imagery and characterization, the velvety shadows of this nearly black-and-white tragedy. How hope is snuffed out by the reality of our own bodies, dreams and expectations shattered, with a final violent action being one of love. Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman all turn in outstanding performances, and Eastwood's patience behind the camera makes for one of his stronger efforts as a director.

  • Malignant

    Malignant

    ★★★★★

    95

    How lucky are we to exist in a timeline where James Wan goes from directing the gonzo epic Aquaman to spicing up his own Horror resume with something like Malignant? If I had to describe a movie that checks every sort of box to appeal to me personally, it's this. Not only riffing on Gialli, James Wan returns to his terror roots with bone-deep references of splatter horror and 80s grindhouse. Mixes of Dario Argento, Frank Henenlotter, David Cronenberg,…

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    ★★★

    55

    Can't really muster up any excitement for Goblet of Fire, although it's certainly not the worst in the series. Basically 'Homecoming Week' at Hogwarts except it lasts for an entire term. Some exciting and memorable action set-pieces, with an eerie climax with Voldemort at the graveyard. And the Yule Ball is very fun. But it certainly doesn't match up to its predecessor.

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    ★★★★★

    95

    "For in dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own. Let him swim in the deepest ocean or glide over the highest cloud."

    God, it's just brilliant, isn't it? At once a crystallization of the tone found in the first two films, and the basis for the hopelessness of the rest of the series. "Something wicked this way comes" is an excellent tag-line for a movie that seems to capture a quality akin to Ray Bradbury. The…

  • Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

    Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

    ★★★★

    80

    Sidney Lumet directed Before the Devil Knows You're Dead at the wise age of 82. It was his last film, but it feels like he was just getting started. With Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, hell, even Michael Shannon and Amy Ryan - this ensemble cast dives deep into the grime of hopeless family ties and desperate situations going from bad to worse. Singling anyone out would take all day, as this film is all…

  • Excision

    Excision

    ★★★½

    65

    A tragedy written in the blood of those who couldn't find their way. If the world is impossible to endure, the only alternative left is to lash out, to make your own future, by any means necessary. While mostly gratuitous and gnarly in its gore, there's an underbelly of empathy for Pauline, a teenager who doesn't know how to shape her curiosities and instincts into a traditional form. How does one express themselves if there's no outlet? Excision finds…

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    ★★

    40

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was one of my favorite films in the series when I was a kid. It has plenty of creature action (spiders! snakes! mandrakes!) while still attempting to maintain a lighter tone. But Chris Columbus isn't nearly as successful here as he was with Philosopher's Stone. For one, the material is much weaker. For a two hour and forty minute movie, Chamber of Secrets is packed with filler. The narrative isn't sturdy enough…