Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

Downhill (2020) Movie Review

“Force majeure” refers to unforeseen acts that can prevent the fulfillment of a legal contract. In the case of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 film of that name, it refers to the unpredictable behavior of a man—a husband, a father—in the face of unexpected danger that could threaten to completely overturn his marriage and his own perception of himself. In Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s 2020 film Downhill, the title is a pun on downhill skiing and a marriage on the decline.

Downhill is “inspired,” as the credits tell us, by Force Majeure, and it takes what is a Continue reading Downhill (2020) Movie Review

The Photograph (2020) Movie Review

While on assignment in Louisiana, journalist Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) interviews a man named Isaac (Rob Morgan). Michael is struck by a photo in Isaac’s home of a woman (Chante Adams) and decides to follow up on the woman’s story when he returns to New York. She is a recently deceased photographer, and she left behind letters to Isaac and her daughter Mae (Issa Rae). It is through this photograph that Mae and Michael collide, and they do so with an immediate sense of romantic connection.

Stella Meghie’s The Photograph oscillates between Michael and Mae’s present day relationship and the story of Continue reading The Photograph (2020) Movie Review

Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

At the start of Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), the latest film from DC, Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) is no longer with her beau the Joker. She is heartbroken and alone, and decides to mend wounds by drinking until belligerent. While in this state, she lets slip that she is no longer associated with the “Clown Prince of Crime,” a figure who strikes fear into the hearts of even Gotham’s most unhinged criminals. Without the Joker keeping them at bay, most everyone in the city wants to get even with Harley Quinn.

Along the way, there is also a MacGuffin involving a priceless diamond being stolen, a diamond whose owner is the megalomaniac Continue reading Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

The Neighbors’ Window — 2020 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Film Review

Alli (Maria Dizzia) and Jacob (Greg Keller) are married with two children with another on the way. They live a fairly humdrum life until they notice a young couple move into an adjacent building. The pair of 20-somethings (Juliana Canfield and Bret Lada) don’t like the idea of blinds, even when they have wild, free-spirited sex.

Alli and Jacob’s vantage point to this couple begins shifting their views on their own relationship, and these shifts continue even after they have their next child.

The first glaring issue with The Neighbors’ Window, the short film from Marshall Curry which has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film, is that Continue reading The Neighbors’ Window — 2020 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Film Review

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Review

Osgood Perkins’ Gretel & Hansel, produced by Orion Pictures and Bron Studios, reverses the names in the title of the classic Grimm’s fairy tale. This is an intentional choice. Not only is Gretel arguably the protagonist of every major iteration of this story, but this version makes a concerted effort to address the gender differences between its title characters.

It is an interesting direction to take a familiar fairy tale, one that could bear rich thematic fruit. Unfortunately, Rob Hayes’ script makes statements toward this theme without much elaboration and with only a cursory connection to the fairy tale text. The film begins with Continue reading Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Review

The Gentlemen (2020) Movie Review

In 2019, Guy Ritchie’s live action Disney adaptation of Aladdin was released. It is a film with no discernible trace of Ritchie’s authorial stamp. He follows Aladdin up with The Gentlemen, a film that is so readily a return to Ritchie’s crime film origins that it almost appears as a parody.

The film is framed by a somewhat fidgety, gift of gab private eye named Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who has Continue reading The Gentlemen (2020) Movie Review

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