Category Archives: All Movie Reviews

The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Movie Review

This is not the elegant, professional way to start a review, but I’ve got to do it. The way that a zombie’s head explodes in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die…boy, that’s something. Why, before now, have I never seen a zombie movie where the zombie’s dried-out corpse body spews purple dust blood? Just clouds of misting blood all over the frame. I love it.

Anyway…I guess I’ve got a review to write.

Jim Jarmusch is an idiosyncratic filmmaker. His previous film, Paterson, was a quiet and reserved meditation on life and art. His follow up to that is…a zombie film? And it has Continue reading The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Movie Review

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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

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

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

Her Smell (2019) Movie Review

The first time we see the punk rockers of Something She perform in Alex Ross Perry’s latest, Her Smell, the lead singer and face of the group, Becky “Something” (Elisabeth Moss) sings: “I always flirt with death / I always flirt with death / I look ill, but I don’t care about it.”

The crowd erupts in applause. This is what they came to see, but they don’t really understand what they’re hearing. The lyrics to the song are truer than they may appear. After the show, Becky is a blur. Her child is brought backstage, but it is her bandmate Ali (Gayle Rankin) who takes her. Before Becky can confront her child, her ex-husband, and her manager she engages with her spiritual guru Ya-ema (Eka Darville), who is seemingly her first line of reasoning in her turbulent life of rock-n-roll vices.

This situation may sound like a same-song-different-chorus scenario, but Perry’s direction and narrative structuring adds Continue reading Her Smell (2019) Movie Review