Category Archives: A Movies

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

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

The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

It may be cliched to refer to beautiful-looking films with the phrase “every frame is a painting,” but in the case of Robert Eggers’ latest, The Lighthouse, many of the shots are picturesque. The introduction of our two characters, lighthouse keepers Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), looks like a stoic portrait. The reverse shot that follows, depicting the lighthouse on the black ocean, looks like a Gothic landscape piece.

The shot compositions in The Lighthouse are the icing on the cake that is this film about the mental disintegration of the two men, who find themselves Continue reading The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

The Rider (2018) Movie Review

Where to begin with Chloe Zhao’s The Rider? We could start by tossing around words like “rare,” “must-see,” “transcendent.” It is, after all, a rare construction that transcends the limits of form to make it a must-see film-going experience. Simple buzz words don’t really do it justice, though, as The Rider is comprised of so many artistic strokes done great.

chloe-zhao-2018-the-rider-movie-review-brady-jandreau-horse

Zhao’s film blends fiction with reality by employing non-actors to play fictional versions of themselves in a story so immensely human that it truly feels at times like Continue reading The Rider (2018) Movie Review

The Shape of Water (2017) Movie Review

Guillermo del Toro, with his latest The Shape of Water, weaves, in effect, a fairy tale monster movie. Imbued with the shadowy lighting and terse patriotism of the Cold War 1950s, in which nationalistic patsies are led by men in trench coats who speak in passwords, the film sets itself in an industrial government building that hides away U.S. military secrets.

shape-of-water-2017-movie-review-guillermo-del-toro

Working in this industrial warehouse, underneath the shadowy government officials and their shills and patsies, is the mute Elisa (Sally Hawkins). With the camaraderie of Zelda (Octavia Spencer), who fills the space where Elisa’s words cannot reach, they clean the facility. This includes cleaning up the blood after a new arrival to the facility causes Continue reading The Shape of Water (2017) Movie Review

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Movie Review

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a title so laborious and specific that it can’t help but get stuck in your head, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) rents out three billboards (they haven’t been used in years, not since the highway went up) and plasters a notice up on them. Black on red. A question aimed at Police Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) asking for justice for Mildred’s dead daughter.

three-billboards-movie-review-2017-frances-mcdormand

A confrontational pitch-black comedy about reactionary culture and life-altering emotional extremity, Three Billboards delivers one of the Continue reading Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Movie Review

The Florida Project (2017) Movie Review

The Florida Project, director Sean Baker’s follow up to the highly acclaimed Tangerine, takes place on the outskirts of Disney world, an Orlando-area that is plagued by poverty. In the Magic Castle—a motel named loosely off of a Disney property, seemingly as a way to drum up more business—children run about in the Summer heat doing whatever they please.

the-florida-project-movie-review-2017

One of these children is Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). We are introduced to her when she and two of her friends decide to run off to a neighboring motel and spit on someone’s car.

It doesn’t feel like a fitting introduction to a child character who we are about to follow for the next two hours, but that’s how it is. There’s no Continue reading The Florida Project (2017) Movie Review