Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

Climax (2019) Movie Review

Gaspar Noe is nothing if not an indulgent filmmaker. Visceral is a word often associated with his work. But he can go deeper, to the bone, when his work is at its most mature.

With Climax, Noe toes a line of maturity in filmmaking that can be difficult to parse. From one angle, his visual-forward approach to the film hearkens back to notions of a pure cinema. Aspects of colored flood lighting, minimal set dressing, deliberate camera work, and character movement take precedence over dialogue and plotting.

From a different angle, Noe is unable to fully divorce himself from superficial depictions of sensational horrors. The result of this is Continue reading Climax (2019) Movie Review

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Men in Black: International (2019) Movie Review

Men in Black: International is the rare reboot picture that makes me question whether any film in the franchise was any good to begin with. It looks and feels like the preceding trilogy. The setting is a comic book world populated by covert aliens, some of which are hunted by or hunting equally-covert agents of the law donning black shades and slick suits. The appearance of energy comes in the form of quippy Men in Black, distinct alien character designs, and shiny silver weaponry that shoot beams of colored lights.

Perhaps the original Men in Black has more of a narrative backbone than this. But I don’t remember Continue reading Men in Black: International (2019) Movie Review

Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

Dark Phoenix, instead of soaring into theaters with a fiery majesty, landed to roost with an unceremonious whimper. Battered by poor reviews and poorer box office returns on its inaugural weekend, this final (unless The New Mutants ends up finally getting a release) Fox X-Men release is limping its way to the finish line.

But Dark Phoenix is by no means the worst X-Men film of the franchise. In fact, it succeeds in crucial ways at which the previous film Continue reading Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

Black Mirror – Season Five (2019) TV Review

Note: Spoilers for Black Mirror ahead.

With Black Mirror season five dropping on Netflix, the internet is adequately abuzz. Following the hit-or-miss experience of Bandersnatch, the new slate of Black Mirror episodes is understandably thin. With only three episodes to feast on, the binge-worthiness of season five is questionable.

But the real question is: how do these three episodes compare to the pantheon of Black Mirror episodes? Do they hold up as engaging, compelling mini-movies, or are they a disappointing lot?

 

Striking Vipers

anthony-mackie-in-black-mirror-season-five-episode-one-striking-vipers

In college, Danny (Anthony Mackie) and Karl (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) bonded over video games. After a night of drinking, they Continue reading Black Mirror – Season Five (2019) TV Review

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review

Say what you will of kaiju films, the best of them thrill and excite. They combine large-scale, city-devastating set pieces with the ground-level desperation of humanity to prevail in the face of armageddon.

The original Godzilla has in its cast of characters a dramatic blend of family dynamics, romantic interest, and political proliferation. The blend may appear shallow in terms of character depth, but it provides us with names and relationships that we want to see succeed.

All the while, it provides the Continue reading Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Movie Review

Her Smell (2019) Movie Review

The first time we see the punk rockers of Something She perform in Alex Ross Perry’s latest, Her Smell, the lead singer and face of the group, Becky “Something” (Elisabeth Moss) sings: “I always flirt with death / I always flirt with death / I look ill, but I don’t care about it.”

The crowd erupts in applause. This is what they came to see, but they don’t really understand what they’re hearing. The lyrics to the song are truer than they may appear. After the show, Becky is a blur. Her child is brought backstage, but it is her bandmate Ali (Gayle Rankin) who takes her. Before Becky can confront her child, her ex-husband, and her manager she engages with her spiritual guru Ya-ema (Eka Darville), who is seemingly her first line of reasoning in her turbulent life of rock-n-roll vices.

This situation may sound like a same-song-different-chorus scenario, but Perry’s direction and narrative structuring adds Continue reading Her Smell (2019) Movie Review

Brightburn (2019) Movie Review

Think about Superman for a minute. He is an unnatural, unstoppable alien force. Sure, he is a force for good. But what if this near-omnipotent being chose to serve a different master: himself.

Brian and Mark Gunn’s script for Brightburn aims to envision what that “what if” comic would look like. It is speculative fiction, like how 50 Shades of Grey is its own story but everyone knows it started as Twilight fan fiction. The child who crashes to Earth in a spaceship is not Continue reading Brightburn (2019) Movie Review