Reviews, page 3

  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 2017

    Watched 25 February 2018

    Sharp wit, fantastic acting, and all the panache of a big Oscar film. But story-wise, doesn’t seem like a particularly worthwhile exploration of any of the themes it presents — small-town America, anger, hate, blame, redemption — they’re treated heavy-handedly, often sacrificing depth for the sake of being funny or provocative (oh god, the daughter scene). That shallowness might be intentional, but it left no room for me to empathize with any of the characters.

  2. Lady Bird 2017

    Watched 25 February 2018

    Instantly charming, emotionally charged, and flawed in all the right ways. A restrained, impeccably edited 90-minute runtime. I came in optimistic, but I never expected a perfect coming of age film.

  3. Thor: Ragnarok 2017

    Watched 17 February 2018

    I appreciated the charm and levity that Taika Waititi brought to this film, but it wasn’t enough to shake the feeling I get from most Marvel movies: a deep emotional inconsequence and lack of introspection. And when Benedict Cumberbatch’s ridiculous character shows up for a completely unnecessary five minute scene, it’s blindingly obvious why that is — there can be no intimacy when every character has (or potentially will have) their own franchise begging for your attention.

  4. The Cloverfield Paradox 2018

    Watched 5 February 2018

    Damn, what a trainwreck. This felt like a horribly mangled victim of production hell and committee-mandated rewrites. Seems quite obvious that it was dispatched to Netflix because of that, not as some kind of genius marketing ploy.

    I wish they’d just stuck with the Event Horizon-esque horror bits — those were at least fun and unexpected. Here’s hoping they forget this ever happened and get back to the anthology format that worked so well for the other movies.

  5. Black Mirror: Metalhead 2017

    Watched 7 January 2018

    I understand that it might not be to everyone’s tastes, but I loved the simplicity of this one. Tense, cinematic, more grounded than the average Black Mirror episode. Includes what’s probably the best-designed piece of tech in the entire series, and not a single shot of clumsy CGI. Could have done without the boring tree scene, but otherwise one of my favorites.

  6. Black Mirror: Black Museum 2017

    Watched 7 January 2018

    Black Mirror seems to be getting more samey, with ever-less varied stories that rely way too much on lampshading (i.e. the plot acknowledging its own silliness to avoid looking absurdly implausible).

    This episode had some great ideas, but it felt like the biggest manifestation of those problems. Plus, it breaks what I took to be an unwritten rule of Black Mirror: no cross-episode continuity. The idea that all of this weird shit might be taking place in the same universe only detracted from my experience.

  7. The Love Witch 2016

    Watched 27 December 2017

    It’s rare that a film constructed around imitation can feel so original. Instead of using pastiche as a crutch, or as a trope to be subverted in some sort of twist, The Love Witch uses it seriously as a foundation, allowing it to serve a much deeper thematic purpose. It’s what binds everything together instead of being a joke waiting to be made.

    Everything about this film shows unwavering dedication and attention to detail. It’s all brimming with confidence. Casting and costume design are absolutely perfect. Lighting and color work are so well done they feel impossible to pull off in 2017. But my favorite detail has to be the cheekily obvious continuity errors in closeup shots. Lovely.

  8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi 2017

    Watched 20 December 2017

    Wacky and chaotic but always engaging and thematically sharp. Although the plot meanders, there is always something to find wherever it goes. Funnier and more profound than the classic Star Wars tone, but I think it manages to stretch the definition in a good way.

    Force Awakens felt like Same Old Star Wars; this one feels like New and Exciting Star Wars, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

  9. Cars 3 2017

    Watched 12 November 2017

    Works to redeem the series after the soulless Cars 2, but doesn’t go far enough to be something special by itself.

  10. Atomic Blonde 2017

    Watched 8 November 2017

    Not as iconic, consistent, or memorable as John Wick (the comparison is inevitable). Thankfully the amazing Charlize Theron makes up for it, with little help: some mind-bending fight choreography and that silly title.

  11. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 2017

    Watched 3 November 2017

    Like a stuck-in-time sequel to The Fifth Element, keeping all of its bad traits (overt sexism, shallow themes, a messy third act) and none of the good ones (unyielding goofiness, a confident screenplay, Jean Giraud’s iconic designs, Gary Oldman).

  12. The Babysitter 2017

    Watched 22 October 2017

    Some fun moments peppered throughout (guess what, most are in the trailer), but overall a messy jumble of tired tropes and flat meta-jokes. Comes off more as a commoditised product than an authentic movie, showing more concern with being like, soo ironic!? than with actually developing a coherent storyline or characters.

  13. Blade Runner 2049 2017

    Watched 5 October 2017

    Blade Runner "K" walks toward a desolate cityscape.

    Blade Runner is one of my all-time faves. Internet, I have opinions.

    First of all: thank you, Ridley Scott, for realising the reins needed to be handed over. And oh boy were they handed to exactly the right people. Denis Villeneuve one-ups Arrival with sheer ambition, and Roger Deakins turns in some of the most beautiful imagery I have ever seen in a film, period.

    I can see now why Villeneuve took such a risky job, at a time when sequels are so often aggressively received as “ruining the original” — the script is poignant and gracious, breathing even more life into the world of the first film, but standing on its own as a story worth telling. For all it does, it’s surprising how little it relies on the trappings of being a sequel.

    The atmosphere is chilling, sharpening a sense of existential dread and desperation; the original feels more curious and hopeful by comparison. The score handles this transition handsomely, if not as iconically as Vangelis’ 1982 masterpiece. I would love to hear Jóhann Jóhannsson’s take on it.

    As before, the world itself is a central character in the narrative, and it gets its fair share of character development: the art direction is delightfully obsessive in attention to detail, presenting brilliant solutions to retro-futuristic contradictions in design. The ’80s approach to futurism is built upon to read as soulful instead of dated, taking “the future is old” to new heights. I could have done without Jared Leto’s blue LED, though.

    Unfortunately, just like the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, there are a couple of flaws regarding exposition that I suspect come from studio meddling more than anything else. Here’s hoping we once again get a cleaned-up Director’s Cut.

    Like its predecessor, this is an intimate, haunting film, as well as a grandiose cinematic experience. After Ridley Scott’s own meandering Alien prequels, the concept of a new Blade Runner seemed like such a bad idea that this outcome feels nothing short of miraculous.

  14. Baby Driver 2017

    Watched 2 September 2017

    This had exactly what I came to see: Edgar Wright’s meticulous visual storytelling, this time applied to a more full-fledged action film. Hot Fuzz had proved him capable of doing action, but here the amazing attention to detail is directed towards excitement instead of caricature, and it works just as well. The care that went into every single shot is palpable. (I wholeheartedly recommend watching this video if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

    That being said, this film didn’t feel like that much of a revelation — more like a step sideways. It left me really curious to see where Wright goes from here; I’d like to see him bring his skills further outside of his comfort zone.

  15. Focus 2015

    Watched 2 September 2017

    This is a completely uninspired film that turns into even more of a turd if you’ve ever heard of Apollo Robbins. Am I supposed to care for characters just because they’re good-looking?