Category Archives: Like It

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

She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Movie Review

In Amy Seimetz’s moody genre piece She Dies Tomorrow—her first feature as a director since 2012’s Sun Don’t Shine—death is coming for people. Not necessarily in a Final Destination determinism sort of way, but in an existentialist death-comes-for-us-all sort of way. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is seen wallowing in the wake of what appears to be a volatile breakup with a lover. She has fallen off the wagon, cracking open a bottle of wine as she curls up on the floor in despair.

When her friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes to check on her, it becomes clear that there is more to this depressive episode than merely a breakup. Amy insists that she will die tomorrow, that she knows she will die tomorrow.

While Jane is initially skeptical, it is not long before she understands the plight that Amy is suffering through — a plight which manifests itself to the audience in a Continue reading She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard begins in a relatively familiar place. An elite, covert mercenary group gets hired by an independent party to complete a run-of-the-mill job, only to find that they’ve been set up. It is the standard fare for the genre. To be fair, of course, the opening shot of the film is the leader of this crew, known as Andy (Charlize Theron), apparently lying dead on the ground, her body littered with bullet holes, so it isn’t all generically familiar.

Stills courtesy of Netflix

It turns out that this team of mercenaries has been around longer than Continue reading The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review

In Mr. Jones, the eponymous Gareth Jones (James Norton) is a Welsh freelance journalist who travels to the Soviet Union in 1933 to interview Joseph Stalin. But the film begins outside of this man’s story, instead landscaping a pastoral farm—animals milling about, fields of grain waving with the wind. Jones, in his journalistic pursuit, stumbles upon a nefarious truth behind Stalin’s Five Year Plan—the Holodomor, in which Ukraine’s grain was exported in vast quantities that caused mass, genocidal starvation in the region.

Director Agnieszka Holland directs some great sequences in Mr. Jones—this opening sequence; a woozy, heroin-fueled party; a quiet, haunting interlude on a train. Still, stretches of the film are rather staid. The first act relies on undercurrents of tension stemming from Continue reading Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review

The King of Staten Island (2020) Movie Review

Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is a 24-year-old resident of Staten Island who lives at home with his mother (Marisa Tomei); is still not over his deceased father; suffers from ADD, depression, and Crohns disease; spends his days smoking weed, although it no longer gets him high; and finds it difficult to come to terms with his mother’s new boyfriend (Bill Burr), while also being emotionally incapable of holding a meaningful romantic relationship of his own. His highest aspiration in life is to open a tattoo parlor/restaurant.

The King of Staten Island finds its focus in the Continue reading The King of Staten Island (2020) Movie Review

Tommaso (2020) Movie Review

Willem Dafoe’s title character in Tommaso is conspicuously similar to the film’s writer-director Abel Ferrara. Tommaso is an American of around Ferrara’s age living in Rome with Nikki (Cristina Chiriac), a wife half his age, and their young daughter (played by Ferrara’s real-life wife and young daughter). He is a writer-director trying to crack the code of his next movie, which sounds like a heavily meditative, self-reflexive piece (not unlike Tommaso itself reads).

Dafoe, no stranger to Ferrara after multiple collaborations over the years, is primed to fill this role. In an early scene at an AA meeting, Dafoe monologues expertly about Continue reading Tommaso (2020) Movie Review

Shirley (2020) Movie Review

Josephine Decker’s 2017 film Madeline’s Madeline was fairly electrifying. Armed with a powerhouse performance from Helena Howard, the film resonates with such a unique energy that it is hard to shake. Decker’s latest, an adaptation of a novel about horror author Shirley Jackson, is more subdued in comparison to Madeline’s Madeline. But its energy is similarly unshakeable.

Shirley is initially framed as a biopic, if not a somewhat offbeat one. We enter into the life of Continue reading Shirley (2020) Movie Review

Bull (2020) Movie Review

Annie Silverstein’s feature debut, Bull, follows the intersecting stories of an ex-rodeo star turned bull wrangler named Abe Turner (Rob Morgan) and a teenager named Kris (Amber Havard) whose home life necessitates her independence. The two cross paths when Kris breaks into Abe’s house, stealing his alcohol and hosting a party there in order to impress her peers. Instead of turning her into the police, Abe sets Kris to work on his house. But Kris would have preferred to go to juvenile detention.

It is in this moment, sitting in the back of a police car, when Kris’ character first Continue reading Bull (2020) Movie Review

The Invisible Man (2020) Movie Review

Universal’s 2017 re-interpretation of The Mummy, directed by Alex Kurtzman and starring Tom Cruise, went for a frivolous, action-oriented romp. It appeared to be searching for something akin to yet distinct from the Stephen Sommers-directed The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns—distinguished enough in its choreography to suit Cruise’s devil-may-care persona yet narratively grounded enough to kick off a multi-IP franchise worthy of crossovers and event films.

This latter conceit was dead on arrival. While The Mummy did Continue reading The Invisible Man (2020) Movie Review

The Photograph (2020) Movie Review

While on assignment in Louisiana, journalist Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) interviews a man named Isaac (Rob Morgan). Michael is struck by a photo in Isaac’s home of a woman (Chante Adams) and decides to follow up on the woman’s story when he returns to New York. She is a recently deceased photographer, and she left behind letters to Isaac and her daughter Mae (Issa Rae). It is through this photograph that Mae and Michael collide, and they do so with an immediate sense of romantic connection.

Stella Meghie’s The Photograph oscillates between Michael and Mae’s present day relationship and the story of Continue reading The Photograph (2020) Movie Review

Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

At the start of Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), the latest film from DC, Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) is no longer with her beau the Joker. She is heartbroken and alone, and decides to mend wounds by drinking until belligerent. While in this state, she lets slip that she is no longer associated with the “Clown Prince of Crime,” a figure who strikes fear into the hearts of even Gotham’s most unhinged criminals. Without the Joker keeping them at bay, most everyone in the city wants to get even with Harley Quinn.

Along the way, there is also a MacGuffin involving a priceless diamond being stolen, a diamond whose owner is the megalomaniac Continue reading Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review