Category Archives: Long Reviews (>400 Words)

The Mustang (2019) Movie Review

My favorite film of 2018 was Chloe Zhao’s The Rider. It is, in my mind, a transcendent experience of intimacy and empathy whose connection to reality enhances its visceral, heartfelt case study of cowboyism.

While watching Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s The Mustang, I couldn’t shake the memory of watching The Rider for the first time. Both involve plot mechanics involving horse training and thematic notions of disillusioned masculinity. They both attempt to take a quiet, restrained look at one man’s emotional growth, as well.

When it comes to analysis, a comparison of the two films will Continue reading The Mustang (2019) Movie Review

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Transit (2019) Movie Review

Christian Petzold’s Transit explores fleeting moments of humanity within intensely oppressive fascism. Then, it explores the tragedy of hanging any semblance of hope on such moments of humanity, as the moments are infinitesimally small against a backdrop that is increasingly bleak.

The film progresses like a prequel to 1984. Paris is under siege, and the fascist occupation is spreading rapidly. It happens so fast that Continue reading Transit (2019) Movie Review

Pet Sematary (2019) Movie Review

The 1989 Pet Sematary film is insane. By today’s standards, it is a dated horror aesthetic, and its scare factor is minimal. But its climax is a circus act of violent hilarity.

It makes for a good campy half of a Stephen King double feature, which is how I first came upon the film. Juxtaposing it with Kubrick’s The Shining may have caused some tonal whiplash, but that only amplified the enjoyment of seeing an undead child prey upon a rural family and their neighbor, played by the often imitated yet inimitable (sorry John Lithgow) Fred Gwynne.

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Confusion washed over me when I first saw the trailer for Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary remake. What tone could this film possibly strike that would grant it success? The original was not Continue reading Pet Sematary (2019) Movie Review

Dumbo (2019) Movie Review

Tim Burton’s live action Dumbo film begins by tracing, whimsically, the path of traveling Medici Bros. Circus. Burton flourishes this ride, particularly as the train passes through a tunnel that morphs into the twirling red and white of a circus tent.

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As energetic as this opening trek is, the Medici Bros. (“Bros.,” it bears noting, is a misnomer. A single Medici (Danny Devito) serves both roles), the circus has Continue reading Dumbo (2019) Movie Review

The Beach Bum (2019) Movie Review

In The Beach Bum, Matthew McConaughey is the most Matthew McConaughey that McConaughey has ever McConaugheyed.

Armed with scraggled, hay-colored hair; flip-up shades; psychedelic Hawaiian print shirts; and constant PBR tallboys, Moondog (McConaughey) has the outer appearance of a grizzled, careless sea dog. But in reality, Moondog is “the most prolific poet in all of Key West, Florida.” This according to a dive bar musician, who allows Moondog on stage to sing along and then riff an unformed piece of poetry.

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Moondog made his riches early, both through his poetry and through his marriage. But he largely ignores the money (until Continue reading The Beach Bum (2019) Movie Review

Us (2019) Movie Review

Jordan Peele understands the horror movie industry. Given he came out of the Blumhouse label with his directorial debut, the massively successful Get Out, this is no controversial statement. But his adept understanding of what works and doesn’t work about a horror film does not end at Jason Blum’s low-risk, high-reward model.

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Peele has been transparent about his horror influences, and it is clear with Get Out and Us that he knows how to Continue reading Us (2019) Movie Review

Captive State (2019) Movie Review

Rupert Wyatt’s Captive State begins with the trope of the ominous, overlapping news audio playing over black screens and production logos. The newscasters speak of an “apocalyptic” state. Then, we see a city of Chicago in chaos. From the vantage of noxious, tight handheld closeups inside of a car, we witness civilians trying to evacuate and being contained by the military. The car we occupy gets through the blockade, just barely, but is stopped by an elusive, pitch-colored, form-shifting alien.

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We are then transported to a computer screen being fed an outgoing message, and with it comes a Continue reading Captive State (2019) Movie Review