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.
Vox Lux appears to be a scathing commentary on the cynical pop music industry (and the cynical nature of fame in contemporary culture) while simultaneously being a sympathetic endorsement of the pop star as a burdening position of symbolic courage and confidence. These two narrative aims clash throughout Brady Corbet’s film, causing both tension and befuddlement.
It is 1927. Imprisoned wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is being transferred from New York to London to be tried for his crimes (in case you forgot Grindelwald was a criminal, see title). Known to be a silver tongue, conning others into doing his bidding Charles Manson-style, we are informed that the Magical Congress of America has removed his tongue (we learn later, inexplicably, that this is untrue). When Grindelwald is set out on flying carriage, it is revealed that he used his seductive trickery to coax a Congress employee into springing him free.
Once free, Grindelwald has two goals: kill Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and create a genocidal cult of wizard supremacists.
Venom is a notable part of Marvel’s Spider-Man universe, acting as both a part of the web-swinger’s rogue’s gallery and an occasional anti-hero. Comprised of an alien “symbiote” that needs a host to achieve a full physical form, Venom initially bonded with Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) before finding Parker’s enemy Eddie Brock.
Ruben Fleischer’s 2018 Venom has plenty of alien symbiotes bonding with hosts. It has an Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), the rueful journalist hungry to bring down the corrupt Life Foundation. But beyond that, it is Continue reading Venom (2018) Movie Review→
“This guy keeps following me around. It’s so creepy.” This is, more or less, the opening line of Hell Fest, delivered in voiceover over the opening credits. With this first line, the entire plot of Hell Fest is described. This guy, in a mask, keeps following around the group of people that we are asked to suffer through for 90 minutes. And it is, purportedly, creepy.
Hell Fest is Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse by way of The Houses October Built (note: neither films alluded to are very good). Using a horror-themed amusement park as its setting, people are harassed by Continue reading Hell Fest (2018) Movie Review→
Michael Moore is more of a provocateur than a documentarian. He wants to spur conversation and cares more about that than outlining a fact-driven narrative. He likes being flashy, even if it means being fallacious. He likes being a figurehead of radical liberal reform.
This doesn’t mean that he’s a radical. He isn’t a hack. He isn’t a showman, per se. He clearly has a passion for everything he sets his eyes on—with Fahrenheit 11/9 this passion comes in the form of intense frustration. I’ll admit, I agree with some of his political agenda as outlined in this film. And yet, Fahrenheit 11/9 is Continue reading Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018) Movie Review→
Lizzie Borden was a notorious figure. She was a news sensation long before the 24-hour news cycle was a germ in Ted Turner’s head. In 1892, Borden’s parents were murdered with an ax, and she was the prime suspect. It was a big deal. I mean, you know you’ve struck a cultural nerve when children skip rope to rhymes of your homicidal exploits.
Congratulations, Lizzie. You made it. They even made a movie dramatizing your life. Again.
Craig William Macneill’s version of events in Lizzie is intended as a pot-boiler, tension simmering amid a terse domestic drama that boils over rapidly in the climax. On both accounts—simmering and boiling—things feel Continue reading Lizzie (2018) Movie Review→
In The House with a Clock in Its Walls, poor man’s Jacob Tremblay, Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) moves into his Uncle Jonathan’s (Jack Black) house in Michigan following the untimely death of his parents. The house, decorated at the gate with year-round pumpkins, is filled with clocks. One of these clocks resides within the walls.
Jonathan is a bearded man who wears kimonos and top hats, aka a warlock. He eats enough cookies (and nothing else) that he is, optimistically, pre-diabetic. His platonic roommate Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) is defined by her love of purple. And his nephew, Young Sheldon, is precocious beyond what is healthy for a child. He quotes dictionary entries for fun. That’s what we’re working with here.