Category Archives: All Movie Reviews

An Elephant Sitting Still (2019) Movie Review

In the case of An Elephant Sitting Still, there is tragedy both on- and off-screen. The news of novelist and filmmaker Hu Bo’s suicide has been documented in many reviews for his first feature film, and it is hard not to equate the tragedy to the events unfolding on-screen in his four-hour-long tragi-epic, where the sadness and isolation of the world weighs heavy on every frame.

To mythologize An Elephant Sitting Still as a suicide note, however, would be a disservice, a superficial writing off of what is one of the most fully-realized cinematic visions of the last few years. The film is a swan song, sure, and the song it sings is a solemn symphony showcasing Continue reading An Elephant Sitting Still (2019) Movie Review

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Ford v Ferrari (2019) Movie Review

In Ford v Ferrari, director James Mangold, working from a script by Jez Butterworth; John-Henry Butterworth; and Jason Keller, aims to capture the euphoria found inside the dangerous world of racing. The opening voiceover from Matt Damon’s car-driver-turned-car-dealer Carroll Shelby expresses a longing for that moment when the car peaks at 7,000 revolutions per minutes. At this speed, the car becomes weightless, a non-existent entity, and the driver simply moves along the open air as if carried forth through pure adrenaline alone.

Mangold eventually gets to a place where his film can attempt to distill that euphoric, high-adrenaline feeling. Certainly, there is Continue reading Ford v Ferrari (2019) Movie Review

Motherless Brooklyn (2019) Movie Review

Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) is an assistant private investigator working under a man named Frank (Bruce Willis). Frank is his mentor, his father figure. Lionel was an orphan when he was taken under Frank’s wing. When Frank is murdered, it is only natural that Lionel will do whatever is necessary to uncover the reason behind his death. What he does not expect, though, is how entrenched this mystery is within a conspiracy of political power.

Lionel suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome. He is also OCD and can remember every word a person says. In terms of characterization, it is kind of Continue reading Motherless Brooklyn (2019) Movie Review

The Gallows Act II (2019) Movie Review

I have to admit: I can’t remember a whole lot about The Gallows, the micro-budget horror film from 2015 that found a massive ROI despite strong negative reaction from audiences and critics. What I do remember is being unimpressed. But the film was financially impressive enough, shoring up almost $43 million on a reportedly $100,000 budget. Certainly enough to warrant the greenlight for a sequel.

From what I can tell, there is no plan for a national rollout of this sequel. The Gallows Act II, directed by the same duo as the first film (Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing), is playing in Continue reading The Gallows Act II (2019) Movie Review

Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

There is nothing particularly novel about the setup of Gemini Man. Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, a master assassin with 72 kills under his belt. He is on the verge of retirement, and the government organization that hires him, the Defense Intelligence Agency, sends the next great thing in assassination against him.

The first act is a thorough illustration of Brogan’s unmatched skill. He evades, he eviscerates, he saves. He exposes the young agent who has been tasked with surveilling him (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He looks down the sights of plenty of guns (with the gun cocked at a super cool angle). Long story short, Continue reading Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

Joker (2019) Movie Review

Todd Philips Joker is going to be controversial and divisive (in many ways, it already is). This is to say, it will be needlessly controversial and divisive. This is not to say that Philips is not aiming for provocation, or that those worried about the film’s content are in the wrong for it. But this is also to say that, in the end, Joker is nothing more than a hollow experience meant to be edgy without any true substance. Which is not to say that Philips and co-writer Scott Silver do not attempt at a statement on something beyond the film. It is just that the thin political subtext is almost laughably myopic.

And that is the only laughable thing about the film. This “origin story” of the DC Comics villain has the most Continue reading Joker (2019) Movie Review

Parasite (2019) Movie Review

Much has been made of Bong Joon-ho’s genre hybridity, or rather his “genre unto self” mythos—the director himself has referred to it as an ambiguity of genre. At the risk of belaboring this idea, Parasite is a perfect example of Bong’s ability to elude the walls of genre. The film has flashes of gritty horror and a pervading sense of Hithcockian suspense, as well as tropes of the family drama and social problem film (used in entirely unconventional ways). A premise hinging on gaslighting adds a psychological layer on top. And a somewhat bitter sense of humor provides a dark comedy element.

What makes the film so extraordinary (in part) is the ease by which these diverse genres intersect to create a Continue reading Parasite (2019) Movie Review