Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

Dolittle (2020) Movie Review

In one way or another, the movie Dolittle broke me. Coming home from the theater and sitting down to write this review, my mind still cannot think clearly after witnessing a film that my eyes actively rejected. Robert Downey Jr., coming off of his triumphant tenure as Iron Man in the Marvel films, leads an all star cast—a cast which includes Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes, Jim Broadbent, and Octavia Spencer, among many others—in what can only be described by technical definitions as cinema.

It might be important to note that the 1967 Doctor Dolittle, which starred Rex Harrison and was made with a lofty budget, was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and won in two other categories (despite how atrocious it is). It might be just as important to note that Continue reading Dolittle (2020) Movie Review

1917 (2019) Movie Review

The buzz surrounding 1917, the new film by Sam Mendes in tribute to his grandfather, is its technical achievement of appearing as if it is two extremely long takes. Aside from one pointedly hard cut, the film hides its edits in its pans across surfaces which cover the frame or in tunnels of darkness.

It is a technique reminiscent of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman or Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (Hitchcock would have attempted a completely one-take film if he were not limited by the technical capabilities of the time, which only allowed about seven minutes of footage before the film had to be changed out). The long tracking shots through trenches might also bring to mind Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, whose long takes make the film feel surprisingly modern.

If you are a long take purist, however, you may Continue reading 1917 (2019) Movie Review

The Grudge (2020) Movie Review

Following the huge success of Gore Verbinski’s The Ring in 2002, The J-horror franchise Ju-on was remade in the United States as The Grudge in 2004. It was also a success. In the first weekend of 2020, another remake of Ju-on appeared in theaters to little fanfare. To Sony, it seemed like a good idea. The time gap is big enough. The January market is (while a notorious dumping ground) not a moneyless area for horror.

And the premise of Ju-on, like any good myth, is worth retelling. The concept of a house whose primary tenant is a spiritual curse is (while by no means wholly original) intriguing. The story moves from Continue reading The Grudge (2020) 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

Cats (2019) Movie Review

I am not overly familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feline musical Cats, but I gather that the 2019 film adaptation from Tom Hooper is fairly loyal to the subject matter. Victoria (Francesca Hayward), a young white-haired cat, is thrown violently from a car and finds herself in London streets populated with other cats. She just so happens to be arriving on the day of the Jellicle Ball, an annual event where jellicle cats compete in the Jellicle Choice, which allows one lucky jellicle cat to ascend to a new jellicle life in the “Heaviside Layer.”

I cannot confidently tell you what “jellicle” means.

Cats is, to put it kindly, hard to watch. The humanoid manifestations of these cat characters, rendered in CGI but maintaining the general visages of the performers’ faces, has been Continue reading Cats (2019) Movie Review

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Movie Review

There is something completely understandable and, to  an extent, forgivable about the slapdash, lumpy, and largely hollow pieces that shape the narrative of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. There is a distinct feeling, present from the opening scene of The Rise of Skywalker, that J.J. Abrams started this race a lap behind (Abrams was brought on late to the film after Disney parted ways with Colin Trevorrow).

It is a feeling that some higher power, whether it be Abrams or Kathleen Kennedy or whoever, decided to Continue reading Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Movie Review

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Movie Review

When me meet Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) at the start of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the new Fred Rogers biopic directed by Marielle Heller, he is giving a speech at the National Magazine Awards. Having won the year before for his tough-headed journalism that doesn’t make him many friends, Lloyd is presenting the award to this year’s recipient. Without any vigor or pomp, he delivers his canned address by making appeals to the power of journalism. With magazines, Lloyd and his peers can “change a broken world with [their] words.”

But Lloyd clearly doesn’t believe that. At least, he doesn’t have the Continue reading A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Movie Review