Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

There is nothing particularly novel about the setup of Gemini Man. Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, a master assassin with 72 kills under his belt. He is on the verge of retirement, and the government organization that hires him, the Defense Intelligence Agency, sends the next great thing in assassination against him.

The first act is a thorough illustration of Brogan’s unmatched skill. He evades, he eviscerates, he saves. He exposes the young agent who has been tasked with surveilling him (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He looks down the sights of plenty of guns (with the gun cocked at a super cool angle). Long story short, Continue reading Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

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Joker (2019) Movie Review

Todd Philips Joker is going to be controversial and divisive (in many ways, it already is). This is to say, it will be needlessly controversial and divisive. This is not to say that Philips is not aiming for provocation, or that those worried about the film’s content are in the wrong for it. But this is also to say that, in the end, Joker is nothing more than a hollow experience meant to be edgy without any true substance. Which is not to say that Philips and co-writer Scott Silver do not attempt at a statement on something beyond the film. It is just that the thin political subtext is almost laughably myopic.

And that is the only laughable thing about the film. This “origin story” of the DC Comics villain has the most Continue reading Joker (2019) Movie Review

Parasite (2019) Movie Review

Much has been made of Bong Joon-ho’s genre hybridity, or rather his “genre unto self” mythos—the director himself has referred to it as an ambiguity of genre. At the risk of belaboring this idea, Parasite is a perfect example of Bong’s ability to elude the walls of genre. The film has flashes of gritty horror and a pervading sense of Hithcockian suspense, as well as tropes of the family drama and social problem film (used in entirely unconventional ways). A premise hinging on gaslighting adds a psychological layer on top. And a somewhat bitter sense of humor provides a dark comedy element.

What makes the film so extraordinary (in part) is the ease by which these diverse genres intersect to create a Continue reading Parasite (2019) Movie Review

The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

It may be cliched to refer to beautiful-looking films with the phrase “every frame is a painting,” but in the case of Robert Eggers’ latest, The Lighthouse, many of the shots are picturesque. The introduction of our two characters, lighthouse keepers Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), looks like a stoic portrait. The reverse shot that follows, depicting the lighthouse on the black ocean, looks like a Gothic landscape piece.

The shot compositions in The Lighthouse are the icing on the cake that is this film about the mental disintegration of the two men, who find themselves Continue reading The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

Review: The Platform (El Hoyo) – Fantastic Fest 2019

Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform concerns not so much the platform as it does the pit, a pit descending hundreds of stories down through a concrete prison established by “The Administration.” Two people are housed on each level of this enclosure. Some are volunteers, others are criminals, but they are all prisoners. Each day, a platform descends housing a bounty of food and drink. The people at the top can eat as much as they want; those down below get what’s left, if anything. And every month the prisoners switch floors.

Goren (Ivan Massague) wakes on his floor—47, not too shabby all things considered—not knowing what Continue reading Review: The Platform (El Hoyo) – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Die Kinder Der Toten – Fantastic Fest 2019

Die Kinder der Toten is a zombie movie, technically. But fewer scripts with the word “zombie” in it stray this far from what we consider standard operating procedure for a “zombie film.”

In Styria (not to be confused with Syria), a car wreck sets off a chain of events that disrupts the entire town (eventually). Call it experimental or avant garde or surrealism; it certainly is not Continue reading Review: Die Kinder Der Toten – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jack Henry Robbins’ VHYes begins straightforward enough. On Christmas morning, 1987, young Ralph (Mason McNulty)—he can’t be older than 13—is gifted a VHS camcorder by his parents (Christian Drerup and Jake Head). With this gift, the film buzzes to life, as Ralph finishes scrambling to find a tape on which to record—his father asks if the tape is blank, and the footage promptly cuts to the answer: Ralph is recording over his parents’ wedding footage.

Ralph learns that he can use his new toy to directly record programs off of the television set, prompting him and his friend Josh (Rahm Braslaw) to spend holiday season late nights banking these various programs. As we are housed explicitly within the world of this tape, this television footage becomes an increasingly Continue reading Review: VHYes – Fantastic Fest 2019