The Pale Blue Eye, Scott Cooper’s latest, sees a homicide detective (Christian Bale) teaming up with a young Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling) to solve a series of murders at West Point in 1830. Based on a novel by Louis Bayard, the film is something of a fictionalized origin story for Poe’s writing career while also serving as a gothic murder mystery in its own right.
Bayard’s Poe believes himself to be haunted by his mother’s ghost, and his pedantic nature sets him in opposition to other cadets at the military academy. His alienation relative to his peers eventually puts him in suspicion as the body count around the academy stacks up.
Hustle opens in Serbia. Stanley Sugarman (Adam Sandler) is being led through dark back hallways to a gym. There, he finds a bona fide big man, a 7-footer who doesn’t just block a shot, he palms the basketball and slams it on the other end. For Sugarman, talent scout of the Philadelphia 76ers, this is a good sight. Unfortunately, this prospect is too old to qualify for the draft. Sugarman crosses him off the list and moves on to a series of other not-quite-good-enough international players.
The 7′ 4″ Serbian prospect from that opening scene is real-life NBA player Boban Marjanovic (the player also appeared in a memorable cameo in John Wick: Chapter Three). Hustle is populated with numerous NBA figures, from Continue reading Hustle (2022) Movie Review→
The Old Guard begins in a relatively familiar place. An elite, covert mercenary group gets hired by an independent party to complete a run-of-the-mill job, only to find that they’ve been set up. It is the standard fare for the genre. To be fair, of course, the opening shot of the film is the leader of this crew, known as Andy (Charlize Theron), apparently lying dead on the ground, her body littered with bullet holes, so it isn’t all generically familiar.
SpaceForce, the new comedy series from Steve Carrell and Greg Daniels, is the second television show with inaugural seasons in 2020 to feature a fictionalized space program run by professionals whose expertise range from semi-competent to entirely incompetent. The Armando Iannucci-created Avenue 5 deals in, with a farcical flavor, the struggle to maintain civil stability when people are essentially stripped of civil society and placed in an insulated environment.
Space Force, on the other hand, is about a fictionalized version of America’s Space Force (the President wants “boots on the moon”). Newly promoted four-star General Mark Naird (Carrell) is appointed to head Space Force, and he soon learns Continue reading Space Force (2020) Season One Review→
Michael Showalter’s previous film, The Big Sick, was the surprise indie darling of 2017. That film, co-written and starring Kumail Nanjiani, turned the romantic comedy formula on its head. The Lovebirds, also co-starring Nanjiani, attempts a similar formulaic subversion, but screenwriters Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall prove less savvy in this pursuit.
Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) meet at a party and really hit it off. We watch as their relationship flourishes, and seemingly nothing could go wrong. These two were meant to be together forever. Cut to a few years later, and Continue reading The Lovebirds (2020) Movie Review→
Note: this article is updated from an article originally published on Jan. 2, 2018.
Black Mirror is one of the highest rated, most buzzed about shows on Netflix. If you haven’t heard about it by now, you likely don’t have an internet connection…which is to say, you’re not reading this right now…nevermind.
With season five having dropped today, it seems as good a time as any to rank the 23 episodes of the show, from worst to best.
For an episode-by-episode review of season four, click here. For season five, click here.
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?
Michael (Mark Duplass) sits in a doctor’s office listening to his diagnosis. Andy (Ray Romano) stands at his side. They’re friends, of a sort, though their go-to descriptor for the relationship is “neighbor.” As Andy tries to wrap his head around Michael’s diagnosis—cancer, most likely of the terminal variety—he stammers. Flustered, he tries to get a straight answer out of the doctor, who has nothing to offer.
Then, Michael and Andy go about their regular day. They play a racquetball variation called “Paddleton.” They watch the same kung-fu movies on VHS. They do puzzles together. They say little and share a lot.
Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne)—it’s like “Volvo,” but “with more letters and dyslexic”—wants little to do with her own birthday party. With a sigh, she exits her friend Maxine’s (Greta Lee) bathroom and enters the party. She does not mingle with her guests or accept any attention. She just smokes a joint with Maxine and picks up some schlubby academic type named Mike (Jeremy Bobb) for a one-night stand.
David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King, dictating a semi-historical retelling of the leg of the Scottish War for Independence led by Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine), presents itself as a modern update of Braveheart. Picking up the thread where William Wallace’s uprising ends (we see a limb of Wallace’s quartered body hanging as an instigator for Robert the Bruce’s rebellion), Mackenzie commits to a similar level of visceral bloodshed that Gibson did in his 1995 film.