REVIEW: The Night Clerk [2020]

Loneliness makes us do things. There’s a scene in Michael Cristofer‘s The Night Clerk where lead character Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan) misreads a situation and kisses a woman. His Asperger’s kicks into overdrive, merging a contrite apology with verbal self-flagellation before promising to never do anything so misguided and potentially damaging again. Impulse conquered conditioning for a split second and he’s ready to retreat so far within himself that he’ll never go out in public again thanks to shame—something that wouldn’t be too difficult since he’s already exiled himself to…

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REVIEW: Nancy [2018]

We have to appreciate what we have now. To look at Nancy Freeman (Andrea Riseborough) is to see a defeated woman. Her single moment of hope throughout the day is the chance of opening mail to check whether her latest writing submission was accepted for publication—a hope perpetually dashed by the fact her oppressive mother (Ann Dowd‘s Betty) already ripped the envelope seams to find rejection letters inside. Relegated to temp work since her hours must always revolve around Mom’s Parkinson’s needs, her life becomes forever isolated from friendship, joy,…

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REVIEW: Poison [1991]

“I’ve just captured the sex drive” Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Todd Haynes‘ directorial debut Poison is a wild, outside-the-box ride. It reminded me of David Lynch‘s Eraserhead with a surreally experimental aesthetic and odd relationships sparked between over-the-top and perhaps parodied “freaks” standing-in as metaphors for humanity’s intolerance towards the “different”. It’s three unrelated stories about sexuality told in three different styles: “Hero” as a garish TV docu-mystery; “Homo” as a gritty thriller intercut with vibrant, warped fantasy flashbacks; and “Horror” as a B-movie sci-fi flick…

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REVIEW: Experimenter [2015]

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” As Peter Sarsgaard‘s Stanley Milgram posthumously states at the conclusion of Michael Almereyda‘s Experimenter, his work compiled in Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View continues to come up in conversation whenever a new atrocity occurs in the news. Milgram’s impetus, as explained in one of many fourth wall-breaking instances throughout the film, stemmed from World War II and how seemingly ordinary people became complicit in the murder of millions. What made them ignore their humanity and morality to…

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REVIEW: American Ultra [2015]

“We fired the ugly one” When there are only seven basic plots—as the saying goes—to implicitly choose from as a screenwriter, genre-bending homage becomes the sole path towards creativity. So while Max Landis‘ script for American Ultra is The Bourne Identity meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith through a Pineapple Express filter, it’s a damn good ride regardless. He’s throwing common tropes on their head by making a government-trained agent into a paranoid stoner filled to the brim with anxiety. He’s creating laughs out of dramatic convention while director Nima Nourizadeh…

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REVIEW: John Wick [2014]

“I’d like a dinner reservation for twelve” If ever there was a film you truly cannot judge by its cover, John Wick is it. We’re talking an action flick about a retired assassin played with stoic Zen by Keanu Reeves (the titular Wick) going on a killing spree against Viggo Tarasov’s (Michael Nyqvist) Russian mob syndicate because the crime boss’ son Iosef (Alfie Allen) stole his car and killed his dog. Sure there’s more emotional heft to this catalyzing event to not think Wick is entirely off his rocker with…

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REVIEW: Chef [2014]

“You’re trending, bro” I have to say it. A guy clueless about Twitter—who doesn’t understand tweets are public—knows what a meme is less than forty-eight hours later? Not only knows but smugly acts smarter than a woman who’s obviously his junior by legitimately asking whether she knows? It shouldn’t irk me so much, but the movie hinges a lot of its plot progression on the concept of social media paired with the internet savvy of a ten year-old boy. Save that meme joke for the end if you absolutely need…

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REVIEW: Ride Along [2014]

“Congratulations. They know we have a dirty household.” Are you a fan of Kevin Hart? Saying yes means you’ll probably be satisfied with Ride Along if only to enjoy the antics he’s saturated Hollywood with these past couple years. It’s a run-of-the-mill buddy cop comedy that hits every note in the formula book thanks to two sets of rewrites over a four-year gestation, but none of it truly matters when Hart is there to amp up the funny each time he opens his mouth and ceases to shut it. The…

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REVIEW: The Counselor [2013]

“You are a glory” If I were to compareThe Counselor to any other movie I’ve seen of late it would have to be Andrew Dominik‘s Killing Them Softly. Both possess a darkly violent subject matter tempered by a series of off-putting, somewhat out-of-place comedic sequences with a bunch of familiar faces seemingly happy to go along for the ride without worrying about how much screen time they’ve actually accrued. While they could be cousins in tone and overall head-scratching befuddlement where meaning is concerned, however, they are far from the…

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REVIEW: The Lincoln Lawyer [2011]

“There’s no client scarier than an innocent man” Just when I thought The Lincoln Lawyer would be another run-of-the-mill courtroom drama with behind the scenes evidence gathering to either acquit Mick Haller’s (Matthew McConaughey) client or show he was guilty after all, a case from the past is remembered with eerily similar details. Everything Haller believed to be true about his career choice is brought into question; the fact he defends criminals he knows are guilty due to the corruption on the side of police and DAs trying to pin…

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REVIEW: Miracle at St. Anna [2008]

“I know who the sleeping man is” Spike Lee has left me confused after viewing his new WWII epic Miracle at St. Anna. This film is a jumbled mess of great sequences, surreal moments, and short bridge scenes thrown in to advanced a contrived plot and then left on the floor to possibly come back to at the end. I give the marketing people credit for keeping a veil of intrigue over the movie, never really delving into what the plot truly is. At the heart of the story is…

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