All posts by Alex Brannan

Climax (2019) Movie Review

Gaspar Noe is nothing if not an indulgent filmmaker. Visceral is a word often associated with his work. But he can go deeper, to the bone, when his work is at its most mature.

With Climax, Noe toes a line of maturity in filmmaking that can be difficult to parse. From one angle, his visual-forward approach to the film hearkens back to notions of a pure cinema. Aspects of colored flood lighting, minimal set dressing, deliberate camera work, and character movement take precedence over dialogue and plotting.

From a different angle, Noe is unable to fully divorce himself from superficial depictions of sensational horrors. The result of this is Continue reading Climax (2019) Movie Review

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Men in Black: International (2019) Movie Review

Men in Black: International is the rare reboot picture that makes me question whether any film in the franchise was any good to begin with. It looks and feels like the preceding trilogy. The setting is a comic book world populated by covert aliens, some of which are hunted by or hunting equally-covert agents of the law donning black shades and slick suits. The appearance of energy comes in the form of quippy Men in Black, distinct alien character designs, and shiny silver weaponry that shoot beams of colored lights.

Perhaps the original Men in Black has more of a narrative backbone than this. But I don’t remember Continue reading Men in Black: International (2019) Movie Review

Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

Dark Phoenix, instead of soaring into theaters with a fiery majesty, landed to roost with an unceremonious whimper. Battered by poor reviews and poorer box office returns on its inaugural weekend, this final (unless The New Mutants ends up finally getting a release) Fox X-Men release is limping its way to the finish line.

But Dark Phoenix is by no means the worst X-Men film of the franchise. In fact, it succeeds in crucial ways at which the previous film Continue reading Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

All Black Mirror Episodes Ranked (UPDATED for Season Five)

Note: this article is updated from an article originally published on Jan. 2, 2018.

Black Mirror is one of the highest rated, most buzzed about shows on Netflix. If you haven’t heard about it by now, you likely don’t have an internet connection…which is to say, you’re not reading this right now…nevermind.

With season five having dropped today, it seems as good a time as any to rank the 23 episodes of the show, from worst to best.

For an episode-by-episode review of season four, click here. For season five, click here.

 

23. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

Taking the often recycled Black Mirror concept of Continue reading All Black Mirror Episodes Ranked (UPDATED for Season Five)

Black Mirror – Season Five (2019) TV Review

Note: Spoilers for Black Mirror ahead.

With Black Mirror season five dropping on Netflix, the internet is adequately abuzz. Following the hit-or-miss experience of Bandersnatch, the new slate of Black Mirror episodes is understandably thin. With only three episodes to feast on, the binge-worthiness of season five is questionable.

But the real question is: how do these three episodes compare to the pantheon of Black Mirror episodes? Do they hold up as engaging, compelling mini-movies, or are they a disappointing lot?

 

Striking Vipers

anthony-mackie-in-black-mirror-season-five-episode-one-striking-vipers

In college, Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) bonded over video games. After a night of drinking, they Continue reading Black Mirror – Season Five (2019) TV Review

Rocketman (2019) Movie Review

Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman flies in the face of other musical biopics. Not because it presents an entirely novel version of such a story, but because it presents the same-old cliched version and makes it a fantasy.

We hear the musician’s story straight from the horse’s mouth, as Elton Hercules John (Taron Egerton) struts into a group therapy session donning an ornate devil costume and heart-shaped glasses. He proceeds to tell his life story to the group. Through this framing, Rocketman sheds any preconceived notions that biopics have anything objective to say about their subjects. In the present, Elton can be an unreliable narrator. In the past, scenes from his life are laced with dreamy, musical bravado.

Fletcher makes clear that Rocketman is a show, not a retelling. In doing so, he Continue reading Rocketman (2019) Movie Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review

Say what you will of kaiju films, the best of them thrill and excite. They combine large-scale, city-devastating set pieces with the ground-level desperation of humanity to prevail in the face of armageddon.

The original Godzilla has in its cast of characters a dramatic blend of family dynamics, romantic interest, and political proliferation. The blend may appear shallow in terms of character depth, but it provides us with names and relationships that we want to see succeed.

All the while, it provides the Continue reading Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review