Oliver has written 36 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2019.

  • Cape Fear

    Cape Fear

    ★★★½

    Although a few scenes go on for too long, and there are some questionable events that take place, this smartly scripted and stylish thriller marks a zestfully helmed mainstream turn for Scorsese and features a terrific performance by Robert De Niro in a role unlike any other he’s played.

  • The Lighthouse

    The Lighthouse

    ★★★½

    Crafted to near-perfection and boasting two outstanding performances from Pattinson and Dafoe, this abstruse Lovecraftian horror tale works best as an exercise in building atmosphere and claustrophobia, especially with the help of a 1.19:1 aspect ratio, yet its abundance of perceptive symbolism, subtext, and striking imagery can’t overcome a lack of emotional investment.

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ★★★½

    I’m not sure if Jesse was as hopelessly flawed to the point where he would make as many stupid decisions as he did, and some burning questions about Walt’s family situation are left unanswered, but this is still a tense, engaging, and satisfying, if inessential, conclusion to one of the most important characters in Breaking Bad.

  • Psycho

    Psycho

    ★★★½

    The cinematography, score, and Anthony Perkins’ performance are all wonderful, the script is detailed, the dialogue is revealing, and there’s no denying how innovative the film was for its time, especially with its iconic shower sequence, even if it is not as suspenseful or mysterious as some of Hitchcock’s other works.

  • Bone Tomahawk

    Bone Tomahawk

    ★★★½

    This strange Western makes a great use of intimidation and apprehension by not showing us the cave dwellers until later on and relies on an effective slow-burn pace to build to a bone-rattling crescendo of horror, suspense, and brutality.

  • Mean Streets

    Mean Streets

    ★★★½

    Kinetic and frenetic storytelling follows belligerent characters in the lower echelon of the New York crime scene, and Mean Streets is an overrated entry into Martin Scorsese’s early filmography but, despite some choppy editing and an abrupt ending, still shines thanks to Keitel’s and De Niro’s terrific performances.

  • Boyz n the Hood

    Boyz n the Hood

    ★★★½

    As sappy as its score can be at times, this is still a groundbreaking achievement from director John Singleton and an engaging, well-paced, authentic, and unpretentious look into an unlucky slice of American society burdened by police brutality, class struggle, neighborhood violence, and misogyny—all while keeping a tense atmosphere of dread centered around its lead characters and ending quietly and simply on a somber note.

  • Too Old to Die Young

    Too Old to Die Young

    ★★★½

    Nicolas Winding Refn proves once again that he is a better director than he is a writer with Too Old to Die Young, a gorgeous, dark, brooding, provocative, and intense, but flawed and highly self-indulgent neon-bathed noir—tedious at times but gripping, novel, and downright hypnotic at others. It also makes some interesting statements on society while featuring excellent performances, marvelous cinematography, and a phenomenal score by Cliff Martinez. My main problems are that its pacing can be unbearably slow at times, the narrative is uneven and faulty, and the ending consequently leaves much to be desired.

  • Harold and Maude

    Harold and Maude

    ★★★½

    A quirky, amusing, and strangely endearing tale of friendship and romance between two distinctly different characters with disparate beliefs, keeping us occupied with its blatant use of satire, humor, and melancholy centered around its apathetic protagonist but never quite investing us emotionally as a result. Still, Cat Stevens’ songs help make the experience wholesome.

  • The Maltese Falcon

    The Maltese Falcon

    ★★★½

    However well-constructed the plot is, its intricacy threw me off and made the storyline as confusing as I could imagine, but the exquisite cinematography and Humphrey Bogart’s superb performance as a smug detective are impressive enough to make The Maltese Falcon a solid film and a notable milestone for the noir genre.

  • The Host

    The Host

    ★★★½

    Despite some moderately dated CGI and a few narrative hiccups, this is an enjoyable monster movie with political undertones of negligence, incompetent authorities, the power of the media, and class struggle as well as their ramifications in modern society—also complemented by an effective amount of melodrama and both slapstick and satirical humor.

  • Memories of Murder

    Memories of Murder

    ★★★½

    I found most of the film to be monotonous and struggled to care for any of the characters despite always being interested in how the story would play out and wanting to find out who the murderer was, but I admire the inclusion of slapstick humor and satire to accentuate the story’s political allegory as well as the use of deep focus and shadow. Additionally, one cannot forget the haunting ending whose meaning becomes much more profound when further examined.