Posted in: Review

22 Jump Street

Movies don’t get much more meta than 22 Jump Street. Perhaps The Cabin in the Woods and its terrific takedown of every horror trope of the last 30 years can match it reference for reference, but overall, the buddy comedy and the TV-to-film reboot haven’t seen this much insider schtick since The Brady Bunch went […]

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How to Train Your Dragon 2

It’s the rare sequel that betters the original film. It’s even more unusual in the realm of animation. All Toy Story 2s aside, franchise cartoons are usually created to cater to the very things that warranted a series in the first place. No experimentation. No long-term narrative scope. Just more of what the mainstream mandates. […]

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The Rover

Most post-apocalyptic vengeance stories like The Rover at least flirt with nihilism. But this is normally just window-dressing there to throw a little grit under the wheels of something all too familiar. What makes David Michod’s hot, percussive, jolting film stand out from the after-the-fall pack is its realization of just how far its protagonists […]

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The Signal

The Signal begins, excitingly and promisingly, by pulling together odd little movie subgenres. It’s sort of a road movie, as Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and his best friend Jonah (Beau Knapp) ride along cross-country with Nic’s girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cooke), who is moving from MIT to the west coast; it’s also sort of a hacker thriller, […]

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The World Famous Kid Detective

It’s a common dream among young children to grow up to be detectives. The profession seems so glamorous as a youngster: searching for clues, figuring out puzzles, exposing guilty parties, and so on. Literature has often capitalized on this fantasy. There are reasons why Encyclopedia Brown, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew are household names. […]

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The Immigrant

James Gray’s relentlessly, intoxicatingly melodramatic period love triangle The Immigrant starts on a passenger ship docking at Ellis Island in 1921 and never gets much further than the teeming tenements and seamy fleshpots of Lower East Side. It’s a claustrophobic story, appropriate to the heated-up emotions at play and the specter of a poisoned, dangerous […]

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Ida

When done well, the sparest of films can be almost mesmerizing. Moments of stasis and solitude command attention, pulling in the audience like some meditative medium. When done exceptionally well, a tonally quiet film offers substance that’s every bit equal to its style – Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida does just that, standing as a nearly flawless […]

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Obvious Child

A fresh-faced, faux-messy romantic comedy with a refreshingly economic take on the usual meet-cute / separation crisis / resolution arc, Obvious Child is like many tales birthed in purportedly edgy Brooklyn. Yes, it spends its time mostly in Williamsburg’s creative demimonde and the operative comedic style is layered in irony like so many smothering quilts. […]

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The Sacrament

Ti West has gone from slow burn to no burn. With The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, the writer/director established a deliberate, atypical style for telling typical horror tales. Those films are carefully constructed around classic genre beats, but favor a sustained sense of foreboding before erupting in a frenzied final act. That […]

Posted in: Review

Chef

Chef is one of those jobs that many people dream of but not that many would actually want to do. A few hours on the prep line in August would burn away most foodie fantasies quite nicely. Carl Casper, the chef played by Jon Favreau in his post-Iron Man palate cleanser, however, doesn’t have many […]