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.
Michael Showalter’s previous film, The Big Sick, was the surprise indie darling of 2017. That film, co-written and starring Kumail Nanjiani, turned the romantic comedy formula on its head. The Lovebirds, also co-starring Nanjiani, attempts a similar formulaic subversion, but screenwriters Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall prove less savvy in this pursuit.
Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) meet at a party and really hit it off. We watch as their relationship flourishes, and seemingly nothing could go wrong. These two were meant to be together forever. Cut to a few years later, and Continue reading The Lovebirds (2020) Movie Review→
Contemporary crime films are often compared to the defining antecedents to contemporary crime—critical hits from the 1990s like Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction. Generally, these are sites of contention in which it becomes easy to tear down a new film by being too directly inspired by previous, successful films. There is something to these comparisons, given a film like Pulp Fiction, which helped ring in a golden age of independent films in the 1990s, directly influenced a number of films. But this form of criticism by comparison—I’m guilty of doing it often—can come across as limiting and exclusionary in an unproductive way.
“Force majeure” refers to unforeseen acts that can prevent the fulfillment of a legal contract. In the case of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 film of that name, it refers to the unpredictable behavior of a man—a husband, a father—in the face of unexpected danger that could threaten to completely overturn his marriage and his own perception of himself. In Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s 2020 film Downhill, the title is a pun on downhill skiing and a marriage on the decline.
Alli (Maria Dizzia) and Jacob (Greg Keller) are married with two children with another on the way. They live a fairly humdrum life until they notice a young couple move into an adjacent building. The pair of 20-somethings (Juliana Canfield and Bret Lada) don’t like the idea of blinds, even when they have wild, free-spirited sex.
Alli and Jacob’s vantage point to this couple begins shifting their views on their own relationship, and these shifts continue even after they have their next child.
In 2019, Guy Ritchie’s live action Disney adaptation of Aladdin was released. It is a film with no discernible trace of Ritchie’s authorial stamp. He follows Aladdin up with The Gentlemen, a film that is so readily a return to Ritchie’s crime film origins that it almost appears as a parody.
Following the huge success of Gore Verbinski’s The Ring in 2002, The J-horror franchise Ju-on was remade in the United States as The Grudge in 2004. It was also a success. In the first weekend of 2020, another remake of Ju-on appeared in theaters to little fanfare. To Sony, it seemed like a good idea. The time gap is big enough. The January market is (while a notorious dumping ground) not a moneyless area for horror.
And the premise of Ju-on, like any good myth, is worth retelling. The concept of a house whose primary tenant is a spiritual curse is (while by no means wholly original) intriguing. The story moves from Continue reading The Grudge (2020) Movie Review→
I am not overly familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feline musical Cats, but I gather that the 2019 film adaptation from Tom Hooper is fairly loyal to the subject matter. Victoria (Francesca Hayward), a young white-haired cat, is thrown violently from a car and finds herself in London streets populated with other cats. She just so happens to be arriving on the day of the Jellicle Ball, an annual event where jellicle cats compete in the Jellicle Choice, which allows one lucky jellicle cat to ascend to a new jellicle life in the “Heaviside Layer.”
I cannot confidently tell you what “jellicle” means.
Cats is, to put it kindly, hard to watch. The humanoid manifestations of these cat characters, rendered in CGI but maintaining the general visages of the performers’ faces, has been Continue reading Cats (2019) Movie Review→