All posts by Alex Brannan

Incredibles 2 (2018) Movie Review

Brad Bird’s first contribution to Pixar animation, 2004’s The Incredibles, was a rather prescient film. Using 1960s Silver Age superhero comics as inspiration, The Incredibles foresaw a future of superhero films and cheekily toyed with the tropes before they were firmly established (the modern era of the genre, led by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the formation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was a few years away).

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It commented on a lack of female representation in the world of caped crusaders. Its plot involved complications around fear and distrust over supers, long before Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And how many modern silver screen superheros still Continue reading Incredibles 2 (2018) Movie Review

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Tag (2018) Movie Review

Tag is a movie about tag. The children’s schoolyard game. It is quite sincerely about this, and nothing else. Based on a real-life Wall Street Journal article, the film follows an annual game of tag played by a group of five grown men.

One is a wealthy businessman (Jon Hamm). One is an unemployed stoner (Jake Johnson). One is so dedicated to the game that he gets employed as a janitor just to instigate a tag (Ed Helms). One is a self-professed paranoid man who also happens to take everything that comes at him with the chill demeanor of a Hannibal Buress (Hannibal Buress).

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And one is a fitness guru who has never been tagged in the 30 year history of their game (Jeremy Renner). This year, however, he’s Continue reading Tag (2018) Movie Review

Superfly (2018) Movie Review

From moment one of Superfly, the remake of the 1972 blaxploitation film of the same name, there is over-indulgent bombast. Not to demean the song that kicks off the film. Future curates the original music throughout, which is lush and appealing, if not an impossible comparison to Curtis Mayfield’s scoring of the original film (his “Pusherman,” which is one of the best original songs made for a film, gets reprised in this movie).

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Music, in fact, might be the strongest aspect of Director X’s vision of enigmatic Atlanta drug pusher Youngblood Prince (Trevor Jackson). It makes sense, given the man’s lengthy history as a music video director.

That also likely explains why the plot of the film begins in a highly-active strip club. This sequence is, more or less, a hip-hop music video. And the rest of the film Continue reading Superfly (2018) Movie Review

First Reformed (2018) Movie Review

Paul Schrader first came into prominence with the screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. There are shades of Taxi Driver in Schrader’s latest. The protagonist of First Reformed, Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke), lives a mostly solitary life as the pastor of a small church—funded by a larger televangelist church—in Snowbridge, New York. He has begun a test of self by setting out to write a journal of his thoughts for 12 months.

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We hear journal entries in voiceover, as we hear Travis Bickle’s increasingly violent thoughts in Taxi Driver. Both characters share a Continue reading First Reformed (2018) Movie Review

Ocean’s 8 (2018) Movie Review

Gary Ross’s Ocean’s 8 is an all-female reboot of the wildly popular Ocean’s trilogy from the 2000s (those films directed by Steven Soderbergh). In the film, Danny Ocean’s sister Deborah (Sandra Bullock) gets paroled from prison after almost six years of detention. During those five plus years, Debbie planned an intricate heist of a $150 million Cartier diamond necklace.

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Debbie and her partner (Cate Blanchett) round up a crew of criminal specialists (Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina) to pull off the heist during the Met Gala, where they have arranged Continue reading Ocean’s 8 (2018) Movie Review

Hotel Artemis (2018) Movie Review

Hotel Artemis, the science fiction crime film set on the backdrop of the rioting streets of 2028 Los Angeles, could be described as clunky. Bloated. Over-loaded. An exploitation action film in the clothing of a classier sheep. A lot of slick talk with little substance.

It is all of these things. And quite blatantly. But Drew Pearce’s film is also a helluva lot of entertainment value stuffed into a 93-minute feature.

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The film finds a disparate group of injured criminals taking refuge in the eponymous hotel, a building of antiquity that could be Continue reading Hotel Artemis (2018) Movie Review

Hereditary (2018) Movie Review

There are some horror movies that make you jump. There are some that make you squirm. There are the rare ones that raise questions about the human condition. And there are the few horror movies that do all three and manage to conjure images that stick unshaken in your head long after you’ve left the theater. Hereditary is of this latter breed.

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To be fair, Hereditary does some of these things much more effectively than others. Namely, the questions it raises about the nature of grief and the things we do or do not say about tragedy fall by the wayside when Continue reading Hereditary (2018) Movie Review