Monday, April 9, 2018

In a world where farts are against the law, one woman rises


A QUIET PLACE

It's a piece of crap that's better-looking than most pieces of crap, but that doesn't change its fundamental nature, and how anyone deigns to call this piece of crap "innovative," or even merely "scary," rather than "frustrating" and "unbelievably contemptuous"—not to mention "almost worryingly inhumane"—is beyond my ability to understand.

2018
Directed by John Krasinski
Written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski
With Emily Blunt (Evelyn Abbott), John Krasinski (Lee Abbott), Millicent Simmonds (Regan Abbott), Noah Jupe (Marcus Abbott), and Cade Woodward (Beau Abbott)

Spoiler alert: high

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Steven Spielberg, part XXXVIII: Pop has finished eating itself, and now it's after you


READY PLAYER ONE

The dumbassed pop culture stew and incredible visuals make it a great time at the movies, but the tension between what it says it is and what it actually is makes it more interesting than it ever had any right to be.

2018
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline (based on the novel by Ernest Cline)
With Tye Sheridan (Wade "Parzival" Watts), Olvia Cooke (Samantha "Art3mis" Cook), Win Morisaki (Toshiro "Daito" Yoshiaki), Philip Zhao (Akihide "Shoto" Karatsu), Mark Rylance (James "Anorak" Halliday), T.J. Miller ("I-R0k"), Ben Mendelsohn (Nolan "Nolan Sorrento" Sorrento), and another actor whose name and face is in the marketing materials, but whose identity I won't spoil because it probably would've been a mild but nice surprise if I had not already known it ("Aech")

Spoiler alert: moderate

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The wound may be where the light enters you, but isn't that kind of gross?



A WRINKLE IN TIME

Not the complete misfire it's been reported as, it's not exactly the best possible version of itself, either.

2018
Directed by Ava DuVernay
Written by Jeff Stockwell and Jennifer Lee (based on the novel by Madeleine L'Engle)
With Storm Reid (Meg Murry), Deric McCabe (Charles Wallace Murry), Levi Miller (Calvin O'Keefe), Chris Pine (Dr. Alex Murry), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Kate Murry), Oprah Winfrey (Mrs. Which), Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who), Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), Zach Galifianakis (the Happy Medium), Michael Pena (Red), and David Oyelowo (the IT)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Duncan Jones, part II: Stranger on a train


SOURCE CODE

As it's hardly worth reviewing a twist-heavy film that's almost seven years old now without going into the twists and how well they play, I'm not going to hesitate to spoil Source Code, at least in its broader strokes.  And yet if you've somehow not seen it (and, while it was a modest hit, I suppose that's not even that unlikely), or, better yet, if you've never even heard of it, take this advice: don't read another word about it, and just watch it.  Whatever problems its third act embodies, and whatever cautious, pointless discussions of its strengths we might've had otherwise, Source Code remains a trippy, mindfucky blast, deserving of a much higher profile than it seems to have.  And that's as good a short review as any.

2011
Directed by Duncan Jones
Written by Ben Ripley
With Jake Gyllenhaal (Capt. Coulter Stevens), Michelle Monaghan (Christina Warren), Vera Farmiga (Capt. Colleen Goodwin), and Jeffrey Wright (Dr. Rutledge)

Spoiler alert: high

Monday, March 5, 2018

No cure for cancer


ANNIHILATION

No, I've never seen Stalker.  It is very long and Russian, and what makes you think these are selling points?  Annihilation, meanwhile, is frustrating, deeply so, but in some respects it is amazing, and it is just two hours long.

2018
Written and directed by Alex Garland (based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer)
With Natalie Portman (Lena), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr. Ventress), Tessa Thompson (Josie), Tuva Novotny (Cass), Gina Rodriguez (Anya), and Oscar Isaac (Kane)

Spoiler alert: mild

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Duncan Jones, part I: Three year stretch


MOON

Fundamentally perfect sci-fi delivered in a gorgeous package that never quite belies either its pittance of a budget or the inexperience of its director, Moon is a movie for the ages.

2009
Directed by Duncan Jones
Written by Nathan Parker and Duncan Jones
With Sam Rockwell (Sam Bell), Kevin Spacey (GERTY), and Sam Rockwell (Sam Bell)

Spoiler alert: high, in the sense that I describe the basic dynamic of a decade old film's plot, anyway

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stupid Lives Matter


THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Enormously strong central performances and occasional bouts of directorial excellence manage to weld together a bunch of mismatched parts into something that sometimes almost feels like a coherent whole; and, as easy as it is to talk shit about everything wrong about it (for there's a lot, and, boy, is it easy to talk about it), it's not possible to quite deny its finer qualities, either.

2017
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh
With Frances McDormand (Mildred Hayes), Caleb Landry Jones (Red Welby), Abbie Cornish (Anne Willoughby), Sam Rockwell (Officer Jason Dixon), and Woody Harrelson (Chief Bill Willoughby)

Spoiler alert: moderate