Category Archives: Like It

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

Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jojo Rabbit is a tonal minefield. Taking place during the waning months of World War II and featuring a 10-year-old boy’s imaginary friend version of Hitler (played by writer-director Taika Waititi), the film is an anti-hate dramedy with plenty of Third Reich hate being tossed around as jokes of absurdity.

The 10-year-old gives the film its perspective. Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) stands in front of the mirror pumping himself up for Continue reading Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

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Review: Amigo – Fantastic Fest 2019

Oscar Martin’s Amigo, his feature directorial debut, will likely come to be known as Intouchables without the uplift. Both films center on a caretaker and a man who has been rendered paralyzed, and the struggles therein. But the comparison is reductive, as Amigo is quite clearly staking out a space for itself in the psychological thriller genre-space.

Following a car accident that kills his wife and leaves his best friend David (David Pareja) with nothing but a scratch, Javi (Javier Botet) is left Continue reading Review: Amigo – Fantastic Fest 2019

Charlie Says (2019) Movie Review

While it is unfair to compare Mary Harron’s latest film, Charlie Says, to Quentin Tarantino’s latest—and I will try to keep this brief—my exposure to both films came within a close window, making it hard to avoid. But I do think that one illuminates the other, as opposed to one dwarfing the other.

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood makes it a point to limit Charlie Manson’s voice and screentime, choosing instead to focus on his acolytes. This Continue reading Charlie Says (2019) Movie Review

Ready or Not (2019) Movie Review

You’ve never met in-laws like this.

I imagine the pitch to Fox Searchlight for the new horror comedy Ready or Not started somewhere along the lines of that. Writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy may have thrown in some talk of a satire of the 1%, a bloody R-rated horror film with potential mainstream appeal, crossbows, and/or a board game-based “dominion.”

Busick and Murphy’s script begins with a wedding. But there isn’t a lot of champagne and doves at this wedding. Looming under the shadow of the Le Domas mansion, Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are Continue reading Ready or Not (2019) Movie Review

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.

kelvin-harrison-jr-naomi-watts-and-tim-roth-in-luce-movie

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

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