Category Archives: Like It

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

First Man (2018) Movie Review

Damien Chazelle’s follow up to the highly successful and almost Best Picture winner La La Land is a biopic about the first man who walked on the moon, Neil Armstrong (played here by Ryan Gosling). Sounds like a conventional route to go down after directing two films that broke the contemporary Hollywood mold. But leave it to Chazelle to take a unique approach to the conventional.

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Armstrong is a pensive man. On the surface, emotionally slight. Rarely speaking more than he needs to, he relies more on Continue reading First Man (2018) Movie Review

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Halloween (2018) Movie Review

The Halloween property is one of the longest-running slasher franchises in American history. That’s what happens when your film sits on the forefront of a nascent subgenre, ultimately becoming the prototype for what will flood the horror market in the subsequent two decades. The creation of John Carpenter and Debra Hill has seen a 40-year career of continuity-shifting sequels and reboots.

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Predominantly, and subjectively, the Halloween franchise has more duds than successes. Following the restrained, moody eeriness of Halloween, the series slipped into sequels that Continue reading Halloween (2018) Movie Review

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

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