Category Archives: Love It

Movies I absolutely loved. Love, of course, is a subjective term. For me, loving a film means being wholly drawn into it or being intrigued into watching the film again. If I left a movie with my mouth agape or nodding my head contently, chances are “Love It.” is my short-form review.

Review: Please Baby Please — Fantasia Festival 2022

Please Baby Please is screening as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs from July 14 – August 3.

Newlyweds Suze (Andrea Riseborough) and Arthur (Harry Melling) witness a murder outside of their apartment building. The culprits, a greaser gang called the Young Gents, then turn their attention to the couple, initiating a series of events that change the two people forever.

Please Baby Please is a noir-tinged send-up of the biker gang movies of the 1950s, but that description does not come close to identifying what the film is accomplishing. Amanda Kramer’s film is an articulate examination of Continue reading Review: Please Baby Please — Fantasia Festival 2022

The Northman (2022) Movie Review

I think Robert Eggers is one of the most fascinating American filmmakers working today. The Witch is my favorite horror movie of the 2010s. It was an accomplished debut. Instead of going down the road of the “horror auteur,” though, Eggers turned to something more experimental in The Lighthouse, a film which sits unsteadily on the boundaries of multiple genres (I would call it a psychological horror fantasy dramedy sea shanty fever dream, maybe).

Now, with The Northman, Eggers forays into a Viking action adventure film which mixes revenge drama with Continue reading The Northman (2022) Movie Review

After Yang (2022) Movie Review

After Yang premiered as part of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

Kogonada’s After Yang is a magic trick of a film. The title refers to a “techno-sapien” sibling (Justin H. Min), an android who serves as a caretaker and mentor for Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja), the adopted child of Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith). While Jake and Kyra are too busy in their working lives, Mika has Yang, and she has grown very attached to him. The film takes place, largely, “after” Yang, in that he malfunctions early on and Jake spends most of the film attempting to get him repaired.

The magic trick comes to fruition roughly 45 minutes in, when Jake is able to watch a series of “memories” Yang stored in a small hard drive chip. They are all-too-brief snapshots of Continue reading After Yang (2022) Movie Review

No Sudden Move (2021) Movie Review

Somewhere in my preteen years, when I was taking in film so voraciously that I may have grown allergic to the sun, I stumbled upon Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. I was hooked. It was probably my favorite movie for years, until some other hyper-masculine auteur thing took its spot. And, while it makes me feel like a dorm-room film nerd to admit it, I still love Reservoir Dogs (I can at least say I never had a Pulp Fiction poster hung up in my dorm room).

Reservoir Dogs belongs to a specific type of modern crime film. These films have a sizable ensemble cast, flashy dialogue, a winding narrative chock full of backstabbing and secrets, and the outcome generally goes badly for every character involved. Stakes matter, because the script is not beholden to the safety of the principal cast of characters. Death is treated as superfluous, a mere hazard of the profession. Cynicism reigns as supreme as in the bleakest of film noir, yet the generic elements of the film hew closer to baseline exploitation cinema.

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Nothing in this equation sounds bad to me. On the contrary, I am drawn to it. Which isn’t to say Continue reading No Sudden Move (2021) Movie Review

Uncut Gems (2019) Movie Review

Harold (Adam Sandler) always thinks he is one step away from hitting big. A compulsive sports gambler who runs a dubious gem store, Harold is firmly placed within the seedy underbelly of New York City. And he likes it there. He thrives in the mire of it. He smiles as he schemes his way around town, placing bets with money he should be using to pay back his debts.

Harold’s Sisyphean journey of self-destruction centers on an Ethiopian stone embedded with black opals. It is a stone he claims is worth about $3,000 a carat, totaling to an approximately $1 million value. Through Harold’s partner Demany (LaKeith Stanfield), the stone winds up in the hands of Continue reading Uncut Gems (2019) Movie Review

An Elephant Sitting Still (2019) Movie Review

In the case of An Elephant Sitting Still, there is tragedy both on- and off-screen. The news of novelist and filmmaker Hu Bo’s suicide has been documented in many reviews for his first feature film, and it is hard not to equate the tragedy to the events unfolding on-screen in his four-hour-long tragi-epic, where the sadness and isolation of the world weighs heavy on every frame.

To mythologize An Elephant Sitting Still as a suicide note, however, would be a disservice, a superficial writing off of what is one of the most fully-realized cinematic visions of the last few years. The film is a swan song, sure, and the song it sings is a solemn symphony showcasing Continue reading An Elephant Sitting Still (2019) Movie Review

Parasite (2019) Movie Review

Much has been made of Bong Joon-ho’s genre hybridity, or rather his “genre unto self” mythos—the director himself has referred to it as an ambiguity of genre. At the risk of belaboring this idea, Parasite is a perfect example of Bong’s ability to elude the walls of genre. The film has flashes of gritty horror and a pervading sense of Hithcockian suspense, as well as tropes of the family drama and social problem film (used in entirely unconventional ways). A premise hinging on gaslighting adds a psychological layer on top. And a somewhat bitter sense of humor provides a dark comedy element.

What makes the film so extraordinary (in part) is the ease by which these diverse genres intersect to create a Continue reading Parasite (2019) Movie Review

The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

It may be cliched to refer to beautiful-looking films with the phrase “every frame is a painting,” but in the case of Robert Eggers’ latest, The Lighthouse, many of the shots are picturesque. The introduction of our two characters, lighthouse keepers Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), looks like a stoic portrait. The reverse shot that follows, depicting the lighthouse on the black ocean, looks like a Gothic landscape piece.

The shot compositions in The Lighthouse are the icing on the cake that is this film about the mental disintegration of the two men, who find themselves Continue reading The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jack Henry Robbins’ VHYes begins straightforward enough. On Christmas morning, 1987, young Ralph (Mason McNulty)—he can’t be older than 13—is gifted a VHS camcorder by his parents (Christian Drerup and Jake Head). With this gift, the film buzzes to life, as Ralph finishes scrambling to find a tape on which to record—his father asks if the tape is blank, and the footage promptly cuts to the answer: Ralph is recording over his parents’ wedding footage.

Ralph learns that he can use his new toy to directly record programs off of the television set, prompting him and his friend Josh (Rahm Braslaw) to spend holiday season late nights banking these various programs. As we are housed explicitly within the world of this tape, this television footage becomes an increasingly Continue reading Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review

The opening scene to Joe Talbot’s directorial feature debut, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, based on a story by the film’s lead performer Jimmie Fails, packs in a lot. So much so that it can be off-putting. It starts on a child walking down the street, who finds blocking her path a sanitation worker in a hazmat suit. They are cleaning the heavily contaminated water of the San Francisco Bay. The camera keeps on her for a time, then pivots to a man on a soapbox decrying the poor current state of the city—“whole blocks half in the past, half in the future.”

We then settle on our protagonists, who sit at a bus stop watching the man preach. Jimmie Fails (played by Fails) and Montgomery “Mont” Allen (Jonathan Majors) get impatient of the bus (which never seems to come when they want it to) and decide to skateboard to their destination instead. The pair stand on one skateboard and coast across the city. Where they land is Continue reading The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review