Gus Van Sant is a bold filmmaker. Hyper-restrained, brutal meditation on teenage violence in Elephant. Shakespearean adaptation populated by post-beatnik prostitutes and street rats in My Own Private Idaho. Prescient commentary on a dangerous media landscape in To Die For. Ill-advised and ultimately disastrous remake of a classic in Psycho. Even when they don’t work as intended, his films offer something unique and often refreshing.
Following what is arguably his biggest achievement in Milk, Van Sant fell into a slump with the flat, uninteresting Promised Land and the critically-panned, audience-ignored The Sea of Trees. Now he’s back with a return-to-form film, for better and worse.
Susanna Fogel’s The Spy Who Dumped Me reminds me of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but it probably shouldn’t. Both are two-hander action comedies. Both feature comic characters journeying across European countries toward a singular goal. Both were released in August, the dying-end of the Summer movie season.
Otherwise, comparison doesn’t seem warranted. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is incompetently shot and flat. The Spy Who Dumped Me exhibits a level of competency in its action filmmaking that exceeds what is required for an action comedy. In most respects, the action is Continue reading The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) Movie Review→
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies begins with a reel of comic book panels flipping rapidly. It appears like a title card from a Marvel film. However, the camera pulls out to reveal a person flipping through a comic. After dispatching (sort of) a giant bubble supervillain, the Teen Titans—Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes)—sneak into a movie premiere, where the film “Batman Again” is screening. The auditorium is jam-packed with DC comics superheros, some attending in order to watch themselves on screen.
Sorry to Bother You is the sort of film that wants to do so much, and delights so much in each thing that it attempts to do, that it is hard not to get caught up in the manic world and unique artistic voice. On the other hand, the further you go into unpacking the densely-packed funhouse of oddities in the film, the harder it is to wrap your head around why you enjoyed the viewing experience in the first place.
To be clear, it is difficult to explore this funhouse without delving into crucial plot details that are better experienced untarnished, as predictability is a word that holds no meaning in the final third of the film. But there is something that Continue reading Sorry to Bother You (2018) Movie Review→
San Francisco. It is a bleak, ash-covered world. Lost and devoid of hope, survivors futilely search for meaning after a battle at Wakanda changed the universe with a single snap.
Just kidding! Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, the sequel to Peyton Reed’s 2015 film Ant-Man, is set weeks prior to the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), aka Ant-Man, is at the tail-end of his house arrest, which he landed after helping out Captain America during the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Uncle Drew. A feature length, wide-release Hollywood film based off of those Pepsi commercials I don’t remember. On paper, it sounds like a corporate scheme. Let’s round up a couple basketball stars, some hot-right-now comedians, and throw them into a sports movie template with enough empty space in the set dressing for product placement.
It could have been a cynical business move. Surprisingly, though, Uncle Drew shows more integrity than that. There isn’t a blinding amount of corporate sponsorship on display. There are some Pepsi and Gatorade logos, and Aleve is both name-checked and on prominent display in the film’s climactic location. Still, it is no Continue reading Uncle Drew (2018) Movie Review→
Brad Bird’s first contribution to Pixar animation, 2004’s The Incredibles, was a rather prescient film. Using 1960s Silver Age superhero comics as inspiration, The Incredibles foresaw a future of superhero films and cheekily toyed with the tropes before they were firmly established (the modern era of the genre, led by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the formation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was a few years away).
It commented on a lack of female representation in the world of caped crusaders. Its plot involved complications around fear and distrust over supers, long before Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And how many modern silver screen superheros still Continue reading Incredibles 2 (2018) Movie Review→