• Bad Boys

    Bad Boys

    Bad Boys is painfully 90s and painfully Michael Bay in some of the worst ways.

    Now, I have nothing against the 90s, or Michael Bay. However, this being Bay's first movie he hadn't quite figured out how to film an engaging action scene yet. When you strip that away and leave the rest of his style... it doesn't come out to too much here. To call this script thin would be an understatement. It feels like a sequel, as though…

  • Hail, Caesar!

    Hail, Caesar!

    Interestingly, this is a film who's plot occasionally gets in the way of the real appeal here. Though the film is ostensibly about the kidnapping of a major star during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, the real appeal is in viewing the Coen Brothers' recreation of the world and films of the era. They find the perfect blend of accurate recreation, modern hindsight and no small amount of dramatic irony. The film also benefits greatly from a deliberately…

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    ★★★★★

    Man, this is truly one of the best films of the last few years, and honestly a perfect example of how to do an anthology film. All six of the short films presented here share some themes and a western setting, but they all tackle these themes in a different way. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a looney tunes esque broad comedy. Near Algodones is a more restrained comedy of errors. Meal Ticket is a misanthropic tragedy. All Gold…

  • Sinister

    Sinister

    Sinister is something of a mixed bag. There's a lot of really good stuff in this film, but it's met by some really significant issues.

    The best part about this film is the atmosphere. Director Scott Derrickson and Cinematographer Chris Norr make brilliant use of light, shadow and framing to constantly suggest a sense of menace. Negative space is used very well to suggest something else being in the shots, putting the viewer in a constant sense of anticipation and…

  • Extraction

    Extraction

    Extraction is something of a frustrating experience. On the one hand, everybody involved clearly gave it their all. The performances are strong, the action is very well staged and choreographed, and the film generally looks good. Unfortunately, it all falls apart with the story.

    Now, not every action movie needs to have a good story to be good. In fact, some amazing action films have stories that are just there. However, the story needs to fit the film. Extraction never…

  • The Last Samurai

    The Last Samurai

    A good old fashioned historical epic, The Last Samurai is bolstered by a refreshingly old-school approach to most of its storytelling. The film's look at samurai culture may be "rose tinted," but it still comes together to tell a great story about respecting the past as you move forward. The film's greatest asset is Ken Watanabe. His performance as the head of the samurai absolutely makes the film, and Tom Cruise is no slouch either. Though the white savior elements hold the film back, the film is still focused enough on its samurai leads to function as a solid piece of historical storytelling.

  • Mandy

    Mandy

    Mandy is a weird film in a very beautiful way. There is a sense of true artistry, a product of a filmmaker who doesn't feel the need to constantly explain himself. As odd as it is, it's difficult to look away from. Though disturbing, the film is very evocative. Interesting cinematography and a very strong performance from Nicolas Cage make this one very worth checking out.

  • Wendy

    Wendy

    I'd be lying if i said I wasn't a little disappointed with Wendy. Beasts of the Southern Wild was my favorite film of 2012, so perhaps I simply set my expectations too high. While it wasn't a bad film by any means, the film's lack of character work means that it's difficult to connect to on an emotional level. None of the kids really stand out that much, aside from Peter and Wendy, and even Peter feels underdeveloped as a…

  • The Invisible Man

    The Invisible Man

    The Invisible man is a perfect example of how to properly ground a horror concept in the real world. By focusing on domestic abuse and gaslighting, The Invisible Man makes its ridiculous concept seem terrifyingly real and present. There's an unnerving sense of paranoia that the film perfectly captures, spending most of it's first half slowly building up its concept and protagonists vulnerabilities. This culminates in a mid-film set piece that is one of the most tense and frightening of…

  • Sonic the Hedgehog

    Sonic the Hedgehog

    Sonic the Hedgehog is a bit of a mixed bag. The film is pretty oddly paced, with some scenes flying by while others seem to drag on far past their logical endpoint. The same is somewhat true of the main character. Ben Schwartz is a great fit for the character, but the character's truly nonstop chatter has a tendency to get annoying. Enough of it works to keep the film entertaining, but there's a LOT that doesn't really land.

    The…

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a film of beautiful minimalism and stark emotion. The film finds its romance not in big gestures and sweeping orchestra, but rather in looks and brief moments. These small moments are very effective at setting up the emotional connection between the characters, an speak to the unexplainable nature of love.

    The artistry of the film is absolutely fantastic. Barely any score music is used, instead the film revels in silence. The sound design…

  • 1917

    1917

    ★★★★★

    1917 is an incredibly powerful war adventure film that doesn’t forget to incorporate a human element into its carnage. The films focus is far less on battles, and more on the general horror war brings, and the determination required to survive it. The long unbroken takes add a sense of immersion, and prevent the audience from resting easy. The lack of cuts puts us right next to the characters, having to keep moving right along with them. Overall, it’s a brilliant example of pseudo-experimental filmmaking, and making a gimmick not feel like a gimmick.