Posted in: Review

Burning Dog

Video games are not movies, but a lot of movie makers haven’t gotten the message. Every so often, directors still try to turn at-home entertainment into an in-theater event. Problem is, they’re different things meant for different audiences. Film fans love movies that tell them a story. Gamers like to tell the story themselves. Burning […]

Posted in: Review

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

The Eurovision Song Contest is inherently goofy, which proves to be a problem for the attempt to parody it in Netflix original movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The annual event features countries across Europe (and beyond) competing with original songs performed in over-the-top production numbers, and it’s a celebration of unabashedly […]

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In Bright Axiom

It’s entirely possible (and even likely) that quite a lot of the material in Spencer McCall’s documentary In Bright Axiom is complete hokum. The movie itself is a chronicle of hokum, documenting the performance art project and alternate reality game known as Latitude, created by Bay Area artist and entrepreneur Jeff Hull. Hull’s work was […]

Posted in: Commentary

Interview: Soundwave Director Dylan Narang

Writer-director Dylan Narang came to the film business by way of a stint in military counter-intelligence and an MBA from Georgetown, before attending film school at Chapman University and making his feature debut with the 2016 horror movie All I Need. His latest film is the sci-fi thriller Soundwave, starring Hunter Doohan as Ben Boyles, […]

Posted in: Review

How to Build a Girl

British writer Caitlin Moran has mined her family background for multiple projects, and she returns to that well again for How to Build a Girl, the film adaptation of her 2014 semi-autobiographical novel. Inspired both by Moran’s chaotic upbringing and by her brief stint in the ’90s as a teenage music journalist for Melody Maker, […]

Posted in: Review

Chameleon

Almost anyone is capable of anything, and in noir, they’re always capable of much worse. More of a mood than a genre, film noir is filled with sadistic husbands, femme fatales and poor jerks who always get left holding the bag. There are no happy endings. Sometimes there’s barely an ending at all. The tight, […]

Posted in: Review

Soundwave

Movie characters should know by now not to invent world-changing devices in their home workshops, because it’s only going to lead to them being chased by nefarious government or corporate agents. That’s exactly what happens to Ben Boyles (Hunter Doohan) in the scrappy low-budget sci-fi movie Soundwave, which makes the most of its simple premise […]

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Bad Education

Cory Finley’s 2017 debut feature Thoroughbreds was a strikingly original vision from the playwright-turned-filmmaker, but for his follow-up, Finley steps back a bit, working from someone else’s screenplay adapting a magazine article about real-life events. Bad Education is clever and funny and very well-acted, but it’s not the kind of bold artistic statement that puts […]

Posted in: Review

Trolls World Tour

Although 2016’s DreamWorks animated hit Trolls was based on the perennial line of long-haired troll dolls, its main appeal to audiences was its hyperactive pop-music soundtrack, led by the Justin Timberlake hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” So the new sequel Trolls World Tour overloads on the slickly produced music, to go along with its more-is-more […]

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The Dalai Lama: Scientist

“Scientist” is not a word typically used to describe religious leaders, but Dawn Gifford Engle’s documentary The Dalai Lama: Scientist makes a convincing case that it’s an apt label for the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. The film chronicles the many years of work that the current Dalai Lama has put into collaborating with renowned […]

Posted in: Review

Dolphin Reef

Since 2009, Disney’s nature-documentary label Disneynature has generally celebrated Earth Day by releasing a new movie in theaters, and while nearly all movie theaters are shut down this year, that hasn’t stopped the tradition from continuing. Dolphin Reef is one of two new Disneynature movies premiering on Disney+ to commemorate Earth Day (Elephant is the […]

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What We Started

The upbeat, high energy documentary, What We Started, does what any good EDM (electronic dance music) DJ does—it shares a love of music. This entertaining film chronicles this subculture in a way that is often infectious; even viewers who are unfamiliar with this scene, which has become a global phenomenon, will appreciate the guided tour. […]

Posted in: Review

Champs

It’s the only sport that matters. Feverish fans of hockey, football, baseball and basketball can argue all they want, of course. But  boxing is fundamentally different. Two warriors enter a ring. One walks out victorious. The other may not walk out at all. It’s stakes like that which give the sport its savage excitement, a […]

Posted in: Review

The Hunt (2020)

When The Hunt was pulled from Universal’s release schedule in September of last year, none of the various outraged parties had seen a single minute of the film they were so harshly judging. If they had, they might not have been so upset about the movie’s release, not because it’s an intelligent or sensitive political […]

Posted in: Review

Onward

If Onward were produced by any other major CG-animation studio (DreamWorks, Illumination, Blue Sky, etc.), it would be a major achievement. It’s sweet and funny and gorgeously animated, full of clever details in a richly imagined world. But from the geniuses at Pixar, Onward feels like a bit of a step down, especially coming less […]

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The Invisible Man (2020)

After Universal’s Dark Universe initiative failed spectacularly with 2017’s big-budget action dud The Mummy, the studio stepped back from trying to launch a cinematic universe around its classic monster characters and instead shifted to making smaller-scale, standalone films reimagining those characters in a modern context. That strategy is off to a good start with The […]

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Sonic the Hedgehog

Yes, they fixed Sonic’s teeth. The biggest outrage when the original trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog was released last April was that the furry blue video-game character had disturbingly human-looking teeth, and the movie’s release date was ultimately pushed back three months so that the filmmakers could make various adjustments to the CGI character. So at […]

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Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

DC’s uneven approach to its film slate continues with the extravagantly titled Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which carries vestiges of the largely abandoned shared-universe approach (it is, at least nominally, a spin-off of 2016’s Suicide Squad) but also works hard to forge its own identity. It’s a chaotic […]

Posted in: Review

Love Is Not Love

Writer/director/star Stephen Keep Mills seems to have a lot on his mind in Love Is Not Love, but the largely abstract movie remains pretty much impenetrable, whatever it’s trying to say about love getting lost in scenes that come off like mannered, self-conscious acting-class exercises, the kind of thing that Bill Hader’s character would struggle […]