Guillermo del Toro, with his latest The Shape of Water, weaves, in effect, a fairy tale monster movie. Imbued with the shadowy lighting and terse patriotism of the Cold War 1950s, in which nationalistic patsies are led by men in trench coats who speak in passwords, the film sets itself in an industrial government building that hides away U.S. military secrets.
Working in this industrial warehouse, underneath the shadowy government officials and their shills and patsies, is the mute Elisa (Sally Hawkins). With the camaraderie of Zelda (Octavia Spencer), who fills the space where Elisa’s words cannot reach, they clean the facility. This includes cleaning up the blood after a new arrival to the facility causes Continue reading The Shape of Water (2017) Movie Review
In The Big Sick, comedian Kumail Nanjiani plays comedian Kumail Nanjiani. He works the Chicago comedy club scene despite his parents’ wishes for him to become a lawyer or a doctor. Kumail has his own path to follow, differing with his parents’ Pakistani cultural beliefs on arranged marriages and Muslim prayer practices.
However, he still lies to them in order to keep them happy, knowing that the possibility of being disowned from the family is all too real if he chooses to Continue reading The Big Sick (2017) Movie Review
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver. He works under Kevin Spacey’s Doc, a heist mastermind who never works with the same crew twice but who considers Baby his lucky charm. A lucky charm that he has under his thumb thanks to a juvenile mistake that Baby pulled on him at a young age.
Baby is the eccentric protagonist and your archetypal “mysterious quiet type” character. After an accident left him both orphaned and ailed by tinnitus, Baby lives Continue reading Baby Driver (2017) Movie Review
Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut as a feature director came in the form of the genre-bending vampire romance film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The film, shot in supple black and white over a soundtrack of trance-inducing electronica and angsty punk, was a beautiful piece about maintaining relationships in an environment rife with isolation.
On paper, Amirpour’s second film The Bad Batch exists in a similar world. Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is released from “Bad Batch” prison into the desert wilderness of the Texas-Mexico border.
A dystopian world in which cannibalism is a viable form of survivable (viable to the point of being morally questionable as opposed to morally intolerable), isolation is all Arlen has. Especially after she is captured by a family of cannibals and Continue reading The Bad Batch (2017) Movie Review
Let me get the positives of Fifty Shades Darker out of the way so we can start making jokes. 1) Star lighting showcases our “steamy” talent quite adequately. 2) As with its predecessor, the production design is well-conceived. 3) Academy Award-winner Kim Basinger appears, and should be in a better movie than this.
BDSM is still viewed in this film as a Continue reading Fifty Shades Darker (2017) Movie Review
The opening number of La La Land, the new musical from Whiplash director Damien Chazelle, is the appropriate first impression of Los Angeles: a gridlocked freeway of cars sitting idle. Only, instead of the frustration and cynicism that would arise from this situation, people burst into hopeful song and dance among the stalled cars. In a rush of agile choreography, a rainbow color scheme, and immense depth staging, a flurry of people dance on hoods and sing of the wonder of Hollywood sunshine.
At the culmination of this tune, we are introduced to Mia (Emma Stone), another hopeful going over audition sides in her car as she waits, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who honks aggressively at her when she refuses to move once the congestion breaks up.
With the first few scenes, La La Land presents itself as a
Continue reading La La Land (2016) Movie Review
In an instant, Rules Don’t Apply flings us into 1950s Hollywood under the reclusive control of Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty, who also directs), a Hollywood on the verge change. Hughes hires a bevy of young and hopeful starlets and precocious Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) to drive them around the city. Forbes and Hughes both fall into fascination over one of the actresses, Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), a virginal and devout Virginian who chose to forego a college education for stardom.
The film’s style begins equally in-your-face as the narrative. Cuts between reaction shots are rapid, disorienting. Sudden flourishes of period appropriate music intrude and then disappear before a meaningful tone can be established from it. The lighting is invasive in its brightness. Everything about the film has Continue reading Rules Don’t Apply (2016) Movie Review