Oliver has written 202 reviews for films during 2018.

  • Die Hard

    Die Hard

    ★★★★½

    Despite a few silly bits and a bafflingly stupid deputy police chief, Die Hard stands the test of time as an ultimate holiday classic that defies viewers’ expectations with an exciting plot, awesome stunts, and a memorable villain as well as a hero we can root for in his human constraints and unflinching tenacity and wit in the face of death.

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    ★★★½

    The cartoon sidekick appearances feel forced, and the hyperactive narrative doesn’t give enough room for emotions to breathe in a story structure that isn’t quite as refreshing as its ambitious concept when it reaches formulaic territory, but Into the Spider-Verse is nonetheless a visually splendid thrill ride with amazing action blocking, an irresistible style, and most notably spectacular animation.

  • Crazy Rich Asians

    Crazy Rich Asians

    ★★★½

    Albeit a tad predictable and not quite exceptional, this is still entertaining for what it’s worth and contains a nice story with plenty of conviction and heart as well as an excellent eye for Asian cultural details and with some likable characters to make the experience more enjoyable. Also, the ending song could not have been more fitting.

  • Under the Silver Lake

    Under the Silver Lake

    ★★½

    With a heavy dose of Lynchian surrealism and Hitchcockian suspense, Under the Silver Lake eventually makes itself to be less interesting than when it started. It’s a stylish but pretentious and vapid neo-noir that neither pays homage to early Hollywood films of its genre nor did it leave an impact on me. It contains an uninspired narrative that is unfocused in its meaning, an unlikable protagonist, an inappropriate use of over-the-top noir music, and a needless use of surrealism and objectification of…

  • The House That Jack Built

    The House That Jack Built

    ★★★★½

    Lars von Trier’s remarkable character study and relentless self-critique follows a sociopathic serial killer played incredibly well by Matt Dillon in a series of “random” incidents that delve deep into his psyche and challenge us in its extremely raw moments and rigorous commentary that conjure intelligent ideas about the nature of our humanity and the meaning of art.

  • Badlands

    Badlands

    ★★★★

    Despite Spacek’s rather unsuitably apathetic performance, Martin Sheen is truly exceptional here, and Malick shows early signs of brilliance in his magnificent cinematography and singular musical choices that have influenced other works, such as Moonrise Kingdom—making for a short and bittersweet little gem of classic cinema that is always engaging to watch.

  • The Favourite

    The Favourite

    ★★★½

    Lanthimos does a great job portraying a gloomy English setting during the time of war with France, when two sycophants compete for the frail Queen Anne’s favor in a battle that leads to envy, lust, and bitterness. But even if it is hard to relate to any of the characters, and the humor doesn’t always work, there is still plenty to admire, as The Favourite is indeed a monstrous extravagance in itself—boasting a gorgeous production design with Oscar-worthy costumes and excellent leading performances.

  • Oldboy

    Oldboy

    ★★★

    The problem with Oldboy is that instead of being an exciting or emotionally gratifying revenge thriller, it becomes cumbersome when it tries to be profound and philosophical—containing a confusing, ineffective narrative that does not translate its ideas well into film. It is also morally unsound, and while its story does not seem to be justified for the film’s message, even the excellent performances are overshadowed by a confusing plot and an unsurprising twist, which is a crucial mistake in a film that relies so heavily on its reveal.

  • Deliverance

    Deliverance

    ★★★½

    An intriguing whitewater thriller on a canoe trip gone awry that makes up for its somewhat simplistic narrative with some strong lead performances while packing in a heavy punch in its intense sequences.

  • Barry Lyndon

    Barry Lyndon

    ★★★★½

    At times alluring and others emotionally distant, Stanley Kubrick’s lavish, solemn, and satirical period piece follows its hapless protagonist in a picaresque plot of cynicism and tragedy; presents an interesting parable on the folly of an impermeable high society; and features an exquisite, groundbreaking cinematography including backward zooms and splendid, picturesque wide shots with a beautiful use of natural light.

  • Carrie

    Carrie

    ★★★★½

    Stephen King’s bestselling novel is brought to life by Brian De Palma with his assured direction featuring splendiferous camerawork and zany editing. Even today, Carrie is just as uncompromising and devastating in the end, as it soars to horrifying heights when least desired.

  • Paths of Glory

    Paths of Glory

    ★★★½

    Though not entirely gripping, this is still a poignant war piece that examines the dehumanization of oppressive austerity on men and the absurdity of war and is elevated by a strong performance by Kirk Douglas.