REVIEW: It Chapter Two [2019]

We all need to remember. When last we left Derry, Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård) had fallen to his presumed death after a brawl with the Losers Club in his sewer lair. What we didn’t see as he slipped out of view were the Deadlights extinguishing—those bright beacons of insanity that caused countless children to “float” as this centuries old evil fed upon their fear. In the moment, however, these seven brave kids couldn’t think that far. To them this victory meant survival and the final time they’d be…

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REVIEW: Dark Phoenix [2019]

What did you do to her? Hollywood franchise filmmaking really is a frustrating system insofar as allowing good source material room to breathe. That’s not to say it doesn’t sometimes work too, though. Look at Twentieth Century Fox’s cinematic X-Men saga for instance. After hitting a comic book high with X2, the desire for more bombast coupled by a much blunter director (Brett Ratner replaced Bryan Singer, who jumped ship from Marvel to DC) saw X-Men: The Last Stand seemingly destroy all hope of ever seeing this iteration of these…

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REVIEW: Molly’s Game [2017]

I’ll bet heavy on the favorite. There’s a common theme throughout much of Aaron Sorkin‘s work the past few years of focusing on the unlikely redeemable qualities of figures easily reduced and reviled by a general public quick to judge without all the facts. You see it in The Social Network and its quest to humanize the abrasive wunderkind at the back of Facebook. It’s there in “The Newsroom” and its desire to show what a media network with integrity in the face of ratings wars can look like. And…

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REVIEW: The Huntsman: Winter’s War [2016]

“Do not love. It’s a sin and I will not forgive it.” They tricked me. Yes, the deflective, vague, and completely false marketing campaign had me believing—no matter how slim the chances were considering my lack of feeling anything for Snow White and the Huntsman—that The Huntsman: Winter’s War had something special under its sleeves. It did away with the least interesting character of the first movie (thank you Kristen Stewart/Rupert Sanders sex scandal), decided to go prequel on us with the Huntsman’s back story (Eric is his name), and…

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REVIEW: The Martian [2015]

“Mars will come to fear my botany powers” Sometimes we need a good old-fashioned feel good tale that doesn’t talk down to us for smiles to unabashedly form at the movies. Ridley Scott‘s The Martian provides exactly that. You have a healthy dose of infectious humor, life and death suspense, space exploration to an uncharted planet, and Earth coming together for hope. It’s easy to find a depressing film putting utilitarian principles to work so one man can die for the many to live, so seeing a piece that throws…

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REVIEW: Crimson Peak [2015]

“Beautiful things are fragile” If you truly want to know what to expect from Crimson Peak you should ignore the trailers—save their ability to highlight the gorgeous aesthetic—and instead read director Guillermo del Toro‘s mission statement. In it you’ll discover that this isn’t your usual horror story. Yes it has some jarringly gruesome visuals and is rife with skeletal ghosts, but his main goal was to pay homage to the “old-fashioned, grand Hollywood production in the Gothic romance genre.” This means a melodramatic tone that earns its laughs as intentional…

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Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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REVIEW: A Most Violent Year [2014]

“You’ll never do anything harder than staring someone in the eye and telling them the truth” I remember being surprised when Margin Call—the little movie that could—came out. Writer/director J.C. Chandor earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay before heading to virtual silence with his harrowing sophomore effort, the Robert Redford-starring All is Lost, a film deemed one of the biggest Academy Awards snubs of 2013. Now that’s a lot of pressure for a young guy who just burst onto the scene and yet he decided to push the envelope…

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REVIEW: The Color of Time [2014]

“I have things I want to do” I wonder if James Franco showed his NYU class Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life because it appears the twelve students he handpicked to write and direct what became the C.K. Williams biography The Color of Time saw it and sought to remake it. Instead of musings on the world with one boy/man serving as a metaphor for the whole of existence, however, they’ve centered their love for elegiac interludes of the mundane on a series of poems serving as a metaphor for…

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REVIEW: Interstellar [2014]

“Who’s they?” Say what you will about Christopher Nolan, the man knows how to make resonate blockbusters. He knows movies—plain and simple. There has always been a power in cinema that hits us at an emotionally deep level, a window into our souls through the characters onscreen we have learned to cherish as though extensions of ourselves. Nolan appreciates this truth and has proven to possess an uncanny ability to tap into that universal consciousness despite using inherently obtuse stories rooted in scientific fantasy and actual theoretical physics the layperson…

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