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.

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

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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

Vox Lux (2018) Movie Review

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.

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The immediate callousness is the toughest pill to swallow, and it is a callousness that follows through the remainder of the film. If you can stomach the Continue reading Vox Lux (2018) Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Movie Review

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.

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Once free, Grindelwald has two goals: kill Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and create a genocidal cult of wizard supremacists.

The Crimes of Grindelwald wants to be Continue reading Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Movie Review