Category Archives: Leave it

Movies I wish I had skipped. This could be for any number of reasons: the film was made sloppily, the narrative didn’t engage me, or I simply could not connect with the film in any way for whatever reason.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Movie Review

Centuries in the future, Earth has been ravaged by a vague war known as “The Fall.” Most people live in squalor, while the elite live in a sky city named Zalem. A doctor who performs cyber-prosthetic surgery, Ido (Christoph Waltz), discovers in a junkyard of scrap metal the remains of a cyborg. He rebuilds her, calls her Alita (Rosa Salazar), and explains the world to her for our benefit.

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She doesn’t remember anything of her past, but soon enough everyone in the city’s underbelly (and a select few from the city above) want her dead. Funnily enough, Alita just happens to be Continue reading Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Movie Review

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Cold Pursuit (2019) Movie Review

There is a fundamental disconnect in Cold Pursuit that, while being the film’s largest flaw, is oddly charming. To say that the film does not know what it is would be false, but it does not know how to fully achieve what it wants to be.

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The film begins with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

Frankly, I can’t figure out for the life of me why Continue reading Cold Pursuit (2019) Movie Review

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Movie Review

“Velvet Buzzsaw” refers to the former punk band of art manager Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), a music group that became outmoded and slipped into what former street artist Damrish (Daveed Diggs) calls “self-parody.”

Velvet Buzzsaw, the latest from Dan Gilroy, has similar punk rock ambitions that bleed easily into self-parody. Or maybe it’s just parody.

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In its opening gambit, Buzzsaw sees a swirl of well-to-do art types at a Miami gallery exhibition. Manager Jon Dondon (Tom Sturridge) is trying to poach veteran artist Piers (John Malkovich) from Rhodora, while Rhodora courts Damrish. Critic Morf Vanderwalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) pauses from making passing critiques at pieces to stare agog at Continue reading Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Movie Review

Miss Bala (2019) Movie Review

Miss Bala is a story of an innocent bystander caught between two sides of a war. Unwittingly working for both the drug kingpin (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and the DEA, Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), must take her fate into her own hands to save herself and her friend.

And it’s a fairly bland experience.

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Gloria travels to Tijuana to see her friend, Suzu (Cristina Rodlo), who is about to compete in the Miss Baja California pageant. After a night club shooting, Suzu disappears and Gloria is Continue reading Miss Bala (2019) Movie Review

Glass (2019) Movie Review

M. Night Shyamalan has created a comic book world completely divorced from real-world comic books, yet all he wants to do in Glass is fit into the canon of superhero comics. The exposition often harps on, among many other things, comics—their origins, their narrative formulae, their character construction.

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Glass is a superhero film, in that it recenters Shyamalan’s Split into a superhero versus arch-villain plotline, in which James McAvoy’s multiple personality super villain “The Horde” is Continue reading Glass (2019) Movie Review

The Upside (2019) Movie Review

The Upside is a remake of the 2011 French film Intouchables, a facile yet hugely crowd-pleasing story about a white wealthy quadriplegic who hires a black ex-con to be his live-in caregiver. In the American iteration, the two roles are fulfilled by Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, with the role of Philip Lacasse’s (Cranston) uptight executive Yvonne being played by Nicole Kidman.

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Neil Burger’s film is just as facile, and likely just as crowd-pleasing, as Intouchables.

Dell Scott (Hart) is on the hunt for a job—something he does not want, but something required to Continue reading The Upside (2019) Movie Review

Vice (2018) Movie Review

Adam McKay likes to show. And show. And show.

As he moves further from straight comedy and more toward a dark comedy examination of political America, McKay’s showy style becomes more apparent. In a way, it is more permissible to have a broad comedy film be brash and in-your-face. While such a style is not destined to fail in a more dramatic setting, it is harder to grapple with tone in that setting.

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McKay’s The Big Short shows some signs of this tonal problem. Largely a depressing subject, the comedy flourishes in that retelling of the housing crisis don’t translate well. The non sequitur cutaways to celebrities are jarring and ineffective. What shines in that film are the performances, showing that the director understands the import of Continue reading Vice (2018) Movie Review