Posted in: Review

The Predator

The Predator spends too much of its time hunting for ways to bring several uninteresting plot strings together and not nearly enough indulging in its throwback action swagger. Director Shane Black, who co-starred in the original Predator, and his co-writer Fred Dekker occasionally flash that renegade ‘80s attitude found in their beloved projects of yore […]

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The Endless

The fringe abstractions and inherent creepiness of cults make them a popular hook for genre thrills. We’ve seen many horror and suspense films with cults as the backdrop, either on-site at a commune or pulling strings in some shadowy or supernatural way, but there’s never been one quite like The Endless from directing duo Justin […]

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Flower

About halfway through Flower, 17-year-old Erica (Zoey Deutch) tells another character, “As you can tell, I have major daddy issues.” We can certainly tell from the opening scene, in which her friends record her fellating a police officer, the latest in a string of blackmail targets used to raise funds to bail her absentee father […]

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Mayhem (2017)

Office politics get gory in Mayhem, an action/comedy/horror concoction in which coworkers engage in bloody combat. The setup is similar to this year’s The Belko Experiment, which is more mean-spirited and less perceptive of the office environment as related to its high concept. Mayhem does a much better job of maintaining its tone while pivoting […]

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Princess Cyd

Princess Cyd uses quiet grace and astute observation to transcend dramatic tropes we’ve seen countless times. Typically, a story about two very different people from disparate generations thrown together and learning from each other is easily-mapped-out mawkishness. It’s refreshing here because of a penetrating focus on character instead of merely what each character represents. These […]

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Tragedy Girls

It’s tough for horror-comedies to sustain a sharp wit with cutting commentary on genre and what it represents. Tragedy Girls maintains its edge and incisiveness throughout. Simply, it’s a smart mixture of Clueless and Scream for the social media age, but there’s also depth to the slickness. The grins of the teen psychos at the […]

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The Florida Project

Sean Baker shot one of the best films of 2015, Tangerine, on an iPhone. His follow-up, The Florida Project, was made somewhat more conventionally but it still has an outsider spirit and a rarely captured brand of humanity. It’s also one of the best films of 2017. Following impoverished single-parent families living in a depressing […]

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Goon: Last of the Enforcers

While hockey comedy Goon, released in 2011, didn’t completely transcend sports movie standards, it was a fresh mix of vulgarity and brutality with genuine wit and heart. Sean William Scott was great as the tough on-ice enforcer and loveable halfwit, finding a purity in the thuggery that extended far beyond the rink. Goon: Last of […]

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Patti Cake$

Patricia Dumbrowski doesn’t look like the prototypical rapper, but Patti Cake$ only poses like a different kind of underdog story. The heart and pluckiness, and credible rapping talent, of its lead only carry the film so far before spirit is replaced by genre demands. This mixtape is full of over-sampled cover tracks that may give […]

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Wind River

Taylor Sheridan, writer of Sicaro and Hell or High Water, shifts the desolate setting from the dusty American Southwest to a snowy Wyoming Native American reservation for Wind River, the filmmaker’s first go-round at directing one of his stark screenplays. The frigid, unforgiving landscape fits the search for cold hard truths – not just of […]

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Brigsby Bear

Brigsby Bear opens with footage of a children’s show about a bear who travels around the galaxy fighting evil while preaching life lessons. Through the VHS tracking lines, teachings include advanced mathematics with proverbs like “Curiosity is an unnatural emotion” thrown into the low-budget action. It’s ridiculous and charming. Those are also two primary aims […]

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Wish Upon

Wish Upon isn’t just a tired horror retread, it’s been tranquilized and sleepwalks through every lame development. None of its recycled ideas are explored in a unique or interesting way, the scares are sanitized, and the cautionary tale aspects of the familiar story are buried by superficiality. The film is like a mixture of a […]

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The Little Hours

The Little Hours sources a story from “The Decameron” and puts it through a Monty Python/Mel Brooks filter, using modern (and very foul) language to expose the goings-on at a 14th century Italian convent. While not as punchline-heavy as its most apparent comedic influences, writer/director Jeff Baena’s film works as a layered farce that doesn’t […]

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Baby Driver

Edgar Wright has always used carefully calculated technique to create a sense of effortless whimsy in his films. Whether utilizing crash zooms, persistent soundtrack cues, or cultivated genre tropes to play with, the writer/director has an immediately identifiable style with an exuberant cadence. The auteur’s latest, Baby Driver, is a toe-tapping, pedal-to-the-medal blast that melds […]

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Cars 3

The Cars movies have always been outliers in Pixar’s filmography. They’re missing that combination of wit and dramatic themes that appeal to both kids and adults. The world where sentient cars are the only form of life is an unusual alternate reality, though not a complex one. And the addition of an espionage plot in […]

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47 Meters Down

“How deep are we?!” “47 meters.” The above is an exchange from 47 Meters Down, the latest entry in the ever-expanding subgenre of sharksploitation. The film, sadly, doesn’t exploit its gigantic, credibly CGI-ed beasts for harrowing thrills, survivalist desperation, or character catharsis. They’re just kind of there to swim by and occasionally take a chomp […]

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The Mummy (2017)

The “Dark Universe” has begun with a big dud. The Mummy, the first building block in Universal’s new cinematic world inhabited by the studio’s classic movie monsters, is a mess. Wandering aimlessly between tame horror, cutesy comedy, and world-building with little context, the film is a murky, shapeless mass of marketing materials. There are big […]

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Alien: Covenant

With 2012’s Prometheus Ridley Scott returned to a franchise he began, shifting the focus from alien-wrought (with the help of corporate greed) carnage to more contemplative sci-fi. Though firmly entrenched in the Alien universe, the prequel largely did its own thing and did it very well. Alien: Covenant doesn’t really have a thing. Set between […]