Category Archives: Drama

Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more

Superfly (2018) Movie Review

From moment one of Superfly, the remake of the 1972 blaxploitation film of the same name, there is over-indulgent bombast. Not to demean the song that kicks off the film. Future curates the original music throughout, which is lush and appealing, if not an impossible comparison to Curtis Mayfield’s scoring of the original film (his “Pusherman,” which is one of the best original songs made for a film, gets reprised in this movie).

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Music, in fact, might be the strongest aspect of Director X’s vision of enigmatic Atlanta drug pusher Youngblood Prince (Trevor Jackson). It makes sense, given the man’s lengthy history as a music video director.

That also likely explains why the plot of the film begins in a highly-active strip club. This sequence is, more or less, a hip-hop music video. And the rest of the film Continue reading Superfly (2018) Movie Review

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First Reformed (2018) Movie Review

Paul Schrader first came into prominence with the screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. There are shades of Taxi Driver in Schrader’s latest. The protagonist of First Reformed, Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke), lives a mostly solitary life as the pastor of a small church—funded by a larger televangelist church—in Snowbridge, New York. He has begun a test of self by setting out to write a journal of his thoughts for 12 months.

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We hear journal entries in voiceover, as we hear Travis Bickle’s increasingly violent thoughts in Taxi Driver. Both characters share a Continue reading First Reformed (2018) Movie Review

Hereditary (2018) Movie Review

There are some horror movies that make you jump. There are some that make you squirm. There are the rare ones that raise questions about the human condition. And there are the few horror movies that do all three and manage to conjure images that stick unshaken in your head long after you’ve left the theater. Hereditary is of this latter breed.

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To be fair, Hereditary does some of these things much more effectively than others. Namely, the questions it raises about the nature of grief and the things we do or do not say about tragedy fall by the wayside when Continue reading Hereditary (2018) Movie Review

The Rider (2018) Movie Review

Where to begin with Chloe Zhao’s The Rider? We could start by tossing around words like “rare,” “must-see,” “transcendent.” It is, after all, a rare construction that transcends the limits of form to make it a must-see film-going experience. Simple buzz words don’t really do it justice, though, as The Rider is comprised of so many artistic strokes done great.

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Zhao’s film blends fiction with reality by employing non-actors to play fictional versions of themselves in a story so immensely human that it truly feels at times like Continue reading The Rider (2018) Movie Review

Adrift (2018) Movie Review

Adrift tells the true story of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley), who, while sailing a yacht to San Diego with her boyfriend Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), gets caught in a storm that leaves the boat in tatters. With a search area too large for anyone to conceivably find the yacht, Tami uses her tact and pure force of will to navigate the boat toward Hawaii, a target small enough that any miscalculation could mean missing landfall and, thus, certain death.

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The five minutes of screentime after Woodley’s Tami comes to and takes stock of her situation, where she kicks herself into gear and Jerry-rigs the half-destroyed boat into a functioning machine, is Continue reading Adrift (2018) Movie Review

Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Movie Review

The HBO film Fahrenheit 451, adapted from the book by Ray Bradbury, begins with a quote attributed to the Bill of Rights: “It is better to be happy than free.” The attribute is erroneous. It’s fake news. (See what they’re doing here?)

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Ramin Bahrani adapts the Bradbury novel to address new media, and this fake quote encapsulates the central mission statement of the vague government body in the film. This is a government who tasks fire fighters with burning books instead of putting out fires, the aim being to Continue reading Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Movie Review

Lean on Pete (2018) Movie Review

Andrew Haigh’s 2015 film 45 Years is a fantastic film. Quietly fascinating, it dissects a seemingly mundane 45-year marriage at a pivotal point of fracture. His latest film, Lean on Pete, has shades of this. It travels with a 16-year old boy named Charley (Charlie Plummer) at a crucial period of adversity.

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Both Pete and Years watch as the notion of quaint compassion becomes strained to the point of near collapse. Both have a genuine sense of Continue reading Lean on Pete (2018) Movie Review