• Knives Out

    Knives Out

    A second viewing of Knives Out only reminded me of what bugged me about it in the first place. It’s not just that it’s populated solely by smug caricatures, or that the plot is so contorted that it wrings any drip of personality from the script. It’s Johnson’s naive belief in meritocracy that sticks deepest in my craw. Knives Out hangs on the idea that men like Thrombey and Blanc are as benevolent as they are powerful, inclined to recognize and reward purity…

  • Tom Clancy's Without Remorse

    Tom Clancy's Without Remorse

    A passable action flick that substitutes the militaristic bravado of other Tom Clancy properties for muddled anti-war ambivalence. Hard as he tries, Jordan’s clenched posture and head-rubbing affectations don’t give his John Kelly much personality, which this movie, equipped with a journeyman director and an inconsistent writer, could definitely use.

  • Demolition Man

    Demolition Man

    ★★★

    If Demolition Man is any indication, Sylvester Stallone probably had a better mid-life crisis than most men of his generation. The movie’s depiction of a futuristic Los Angeles could feel like cribbed from the grousings of an over-the-hill action star: sanitized, weak-willed and politically correct to the point of absurdity. But it’s hard to take seriously when everything is so broad and exaggerated. Rather than conveying anxiety about a world that’s passed him by, Stallone’s John Spartan seems in on the joke, pantomiming his disdain at every opportunity. He can’t live up to Wesley Snipes’s Simon Phoenix, but then, who can?

  • The Little Things

    The Little Things

    Denzel Washington shouldn’t be in this movie because he’s too good for it. Rami Malek shouldn’t be in this movie because he’s completely out of place. Jared Leto should be in this movie, if only because he plays a character as weird and annoying as he is.

  • Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

    Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

    ★★★

    Not entirely convinced this is some secret anti-capitalist masterpiece. Still, everyone needs their own Pink Flamingoes, even weird-looking dads in Dockers and golf shirts.

  • Spider-Man

    Spider-Man

    ★★★½

    Sam Raimi’s exaggerated style may seem kitschy today, but it’s aged like a fine wine compared early entries in the MCU.

  • Godzilla vs. Kong

    Godzilla vs. Kong

    ★★★

    I liked it when the monkey punched the lizard

  • Valley of the Dolls

    Valley of the Dolls

    Was Valley of the Dolls ever on the cutting edge? With the Hays Code in decline, the film certainly had more licence to depict its characters' descents into drugs and sexual degradation. So why does it feel so oddly out of time, even when compared to earlier addiction dramas?

    Released on the eve of the New Hollywood, Valley is devoid of contemporary culture. Its New York is exclusively tony and uppercrust; its Los Angeles is devoid of hippies and bohemians.…

  • The Astrologer

    The Astrologer

    “You’re not an astrologer; you’re an asshole!”

  • Blue Collar

    Blue Collar

    ★★★★

    Saying that Blue Collar is a polarizing film is hardly an exaggeration. Pauline Kael called writer/director/ex-Paulette Paul Schrader a "jukebox Marxist"; Robin Wood branded him a "quasi-fascist" responsible for a "put-down of unionisation." When critics assign such wildly varying political motivations with equal intensity, you have to wonder whether everyone's watching the same movie or just bringing different baggage to it.

    To be fair, Schrader doesn't exactly have a simplistic point of view. Zeke, Jerry and Smokey hardly resemble ideal working class…

  • Out of the Past

    Out of the Past

    ★★★★

    “That’s no way to play.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because it isn’t a way to win”

    “Is there a way to win?”

    “There’s a way to lose more slowly.”

  • A New Leaf

    A New Leaf

    ★★★★½

    The premise of A New Leaf is so jaundiced that even a little excess bile could kill the whole thing. So it’s astonishing that Elaine May not only wrings black humour from the scenario, but also makes its players enjoyable, if not entirely sympathetic. That’s partially down to a career-best performance in Walter Matthau’s not-so-gentlemanly gentleman of leisure. May’s turn as Henrietta is just as remarkable, though, for the generosity and warmth she brings to a character a lesser comedian would’ve derided…