Category Archives: Like It

Movies I liked but likely won’t watch again. Something was off that I wish had been done differently.

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) Movie Review

In Lake Tahoe, 1969, four guests arrive at the El Royale, a motel that sits at the borderline between Nevada and California. A painted line divides the parking lot and the motel interior in half. “You can choose to stay in the great state of California,” desk clerk Miles (Lewis Pullman) explains, with a practiced sweep of his arm. “Or you can choose to stay in the great state of Nevada.”

Miles seems to be the sole employee in the establishment. He does the housekeeping. He tends the bar. He doles out the keys. And he watches who management tells him to watch.

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The El Royale hasn’t seen much business since the place lost its gambling license the year prior, according to the all-talk vacuum cleaner salesman Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm) waiting for service at the counter. But on this particular night Continue reading Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) Movie Review

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Mandy (2018) Movie Review

Should I start with “Cheddar Goblin”? Or does that warrant its own article?

Mandy is the second film from writer-director Panos Cosmatos, his follow up to the 2010 film Beyond the Black Rainbow. It is a hazy dream of a film—a dream or a nightmare, depending on your perspective. At times, it spins inside an LSD vision alongside its drug-addled characters. Other times, it is a ’70s-inspired exploitation splatter flick. On both accounts, Cosmatos imbues the rural forest landscape with a fantasy quality. Even as fantastical elements are granted real-world explanations, the characters feel as if they are trapped in a psychedelic snowglobe of cosmic mayhem.

It’s pretty badass.

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The eponymous Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) lives with her partner Red (Nicolas Cage), a grizzled lumberjack with a penchant for terrible jokes, in a cottage deep within the forests near the Shadow Mountains. She sketches drawings, reads fantasy novels, and is fascinated by astronomy. Together, the couple lounges through their nights watching B-movies.

Their isolated existence, though, is shattered by a Continue reading Mandy (2018) Movie Review

A Star is Born (2018) Movie Review

About 10 minutes into A Star is Born—that is to say, the 2018 Bradley Cooper-directed A Star is Born—country rock superstar Jackson Maine (Cooper) explains to his love-at-first-sight (and soon to be muse) date Ally (Lady Gaga) something very important. Drunk, but conjuring up a moment of lucidity, he points around at the patrons of the bar. “Everyone in this bar is talented at one thing or another,” he says. But Ally. Ally has something to say. And that means something. That’s bigger than just being talented.

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With this line, Cooper both encapsulates the entire film and reveals its biggest flaw. A Star is Born is certainly talented at one thing or another. But I don’t know if Continue reading A Star is Born (2018) Movie Review

Blaze (2018) Movie Review

Ethan Hawke’s debut as director comes in the form of a biopic of country-blues musician Blaze Foley. According to Rolling Stone, Michael David Fuller aka “Depty Dog” aka Blaze Foley was a “quintessential American artist before such a thing existed.” He didn’t want to be a star, because stars burn out shining for themselves. No, he was going to be a legend.

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That’s how Ben Dickey explains it, embodying Blaze in the back of a pickup to his muse Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat). Cool as a cucumber, as if Continue reading Blaze (2018) Movie Review

Assassination Nation (2018) Movie Review

Fear of shattered privacy. Aggression and bigotry stemming from deep-seated insecurities. The fetishization of the female figure, leading to the suppression of the artistic expression of the naked female form. The potential outcome of arming oneself, literally, against the patriarchy. The depiction of the inability for modern punitive powers from preventing internet trolls. And, more or less, a The Purge scenario.

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This is only a handful of the disparate ideas tackled in Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation, a film about four teenage girls (Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, and Abra) stuck in Continue reading Assassination Nation (2018) Movie Review

The Wife (2018) Movie Review

The Wife is written by Jane Anderson, based off the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer. It is written with superb eloquence. It stars Glenn Close as the eponymous wife, Joan Castleman, whose husband Joseph (Jonathan Pryce) has just won the Nobel Prize in literature, although it becomes clear that Joe is not quite deserving of the award. Close presents us with an Oscar-worthy performance whose understatement is matched only by the brief flashes of ferocity.

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The writing and acting are top notch. As a film, however, The Wife is Continue reading The Wife (2018) Movie Review

A Simple Favor (2018) Movie Review

A Simple Favor is a mystery film with a sleek aesthetic and a windy plot saturated with plot twists that charge forward to a cat-on-mouse-on-mouse game of a final act. With Paul Feig behind the wheel, it cannot help but also be a riotously overt dark comedy with full on laugh lines punctuating most moments of purported tension. It is a film that aims to be both thrilling and funny, which turns out to not be entirely either.

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And I kinda like it…

A Simple Favor is a film that revels in its sheer messiness, like a child who spills his milk with a smile on his face just to get attention. The plot begins fairly simply. Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) is Continue reading A Simple Favor (2018) Movie Review