Category Archives: Like It

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

Luce (2019) Movie Review

Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a specimen of excellence, a future model citizen. A high schooler on his way to a prominent career in whatever he pleases, Luce is charismatic, intelligent, athletic, a quiet leader, and an ace debater. He has the ability to convince others that what he is saying is correct. The audience included, perhaps.

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When history teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer) presents to Luce’s parents (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) a paper Luce wrote in the voice of Frantz Fanon, an anti-colonial revolutionary that argued for the necessity of violence to fight colonialization, his ideal character comes into question.

To Harriet, Luce may be Continue reading Luce (2019) Movie Review

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) Movie Review

The short story series created by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, which begins with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, is beloved by some, infamous to others. Ostensibly a children’s book of campfire folk tales retold, the book often received criticism for Gammell’s illustrations, these shaded sketches of wispy, gangly, grotesque creatures and corpses.

As a child, these illustrations fascinated me, and they still hold up for me today as being some of the best art in children’s books. (Also high on that list would be Brett Helquist’s cover art for the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Interestingly enough, Helquist went on to do illustrations for the re-release edition of Scary Stories in 2011. People were understandably unhappy with the changes, but the art is still good in its own right).

A film adaptation of Schwartz’ books had been in the works for some time. Guillermo del Toro worked on Continue reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) Movie Review

The Souvenir (2019) Movie Review

Honor Swinton Byrne is phenomenal in The Souvenir. The film from Joanna Hogg presents a coming of age story for Swinton Byrne’s Julie, who is in the process of making a feature for film school. If you don’t recognize Swinton Byrne’s talent by this late juncture of the film, then you will see it when she looks directly at you, through the camera, following filming a take of her own. It is a shot that really shouldn’t be this powerful. It is too reflexive, too direct. But Swinton Byrne carries the weight of the film that has played out before her, and she puts that weight on you when she goes direct-to-camera.

Julie’s relationship to the audience may be as fraught as her romantic relationship with Anthony (Tom Burke) is. For one, it becomes increasingly hard for Continue reading The Souvenir (2019) Movie Review

Blinded by the Light (2019) Movie Review

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real” reads the epigraph that begins Blinded by the Light. It is a lyric from Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands:” “I don’t give a damn for the same old played out scenes. I don’t give a damn for just the in-betweens. Honey I want the heart. I want the soul. I want control right now … Spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come. Well, don’t waste your time waiting.”

When me meet Javed (Viveik Kalra) in Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light, he has not yet heard these lyrics. But they describe the Continue reading Blinded by the Light (2019) Movie Review

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Movie Review

Look. I could begin this review by telling you that Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is a former low level criminal who left a life of crime to become a former government agent who left a life of government work to aid in a heist, thereby putting him back on a life of crime, until those criminals decide to mainly just save the world, thus putting Hobbs back into government work.

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I could tell you that Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is a lifelong criminal who killed a friend of the aforementioned criminal heisters and proceeded to Continue reading Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Movie Review

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019) Movie Review

If the late ’60s were a freewheeling time in America, and its Hollywood filled with lounging hippies and the dimly glinting stars of an ending Golden Age of film, then Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a complete tonal recreation of this period of time.

In February 1969, former television cowboy Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) has lost his luster in La La Land, resorting to Continue reading Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019) Movie Review

The Art of Self Defense (2019) Movie Review

Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pushover. I guess. That or he’s just polite and socially awkward. Either way, he desires to be more of a “man.” When a motorcycle gang violently mugs him, he looks into protection. A gun? No. Too volatile and dangerous. Karate? That makes sense to Casey.

He is brought under the wing of “Sensei” (Alessandro Nivola), who leads an intense martial arts dojo. When Casey joins, he finds Continue reading The Art of Self Defense (2019) Movie Review