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  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    ★★★

    This is a very cute movie. 

    It's cute and pretty funny and, all around, kind of adorable... 

    And that's all it is.

    But seriously, I think that it's definitely worth seeing if you have any level of admiration for Sam Neill because this is probably the best he's been in a very long time. The role of a cantankerous coot living in the New Zealand wilderness is probably the richest and most iconic piece of material to land on his…

  • A Monster Calls

    A Monster Calls

    ★★★★

    And here we go with another movie to make grown men cry...

    Marketed as a children's film about a kid and his pet monster, this is ultimately a sober little fable about the grief process when faced with the loss of a loved one. 

    It works because it never pretends to be anything else. It presents its ideas up front and free of bullshit. When the monster tells the kid fables about life and its many layers of ambiguity, he…

  • I.T.

    I.T.

    Wow... What a stupid movie.

    There is a market for "Dad's Worst Fears Porn," as I call it. And, fair enough, more than one aging movie star has tapped into this well on more than one occasion...

    So this is the Pierce Brosnan version. In which he plays a stupid asshole who runs some kind of high tech media company, or maybe it's a charter airline company... I don't know. The point is it's a big company in the Virgin/Apple…

  • Amour

    Amour

    ★★★★★

    The question is: Do you want to watch an old woman die for two hours? And if the answer is yes, have I got one hell of a movie for you!

    But, in all fairness, this is a superb film.

    Michael Haneke, as he is prone, demonstrates a great economy in storytelling and a cold, clinical, meditative approach to this heartbreaking story. It is aptly named, yes, because it is a genuine portrait of a man who deeply loves his…

  • The Good Neighbor

    The Good Neighbor

    ★★★

    So this is actually pretty good, I guess. For some it might be better than "good." Particularly if they are middle aged or elderly and don't much like what today's youth has become.

    Some time ago, James Caan gave his considerable gravitas and prestige to a movie called Bottle Rocket, which then went on to launch the career of its incredibly famous and well liked director - Wes Anderson, as well as its two young stars. Two brothers named Wilson.…

  • Cold in July

    Cold in July

    ★★★★

    And here's one that sneaks up on you... And you have that rare case of a pretty good piece of pulp that may or may not actually be a legitimately great film by the time it gets to the end.

    Jim Mickle adapts a Joe Landsdale novel and, although that novel is unread by me, I have no doubt its air is maintained faithfully... Because this is as potent a true blue Noir Western as you are likely to find.…

  • Intruder

    Intruder

    ★★

    Far as self-contained seat jumpers go, I guess this thing is okay.

    What I mean is director Travis Z watched all the right movies I guess and worked his damndest to emulate them as best he could with an attention to ambience, use of spaces, timing... And, of course, the ever reliable bass punctuation.

    I still say the movie is kinda lousy, though, because it's annoying...and boring.

    Why is it boring? Because it's about a rich bitch who plays cello…

  • Baby Boom

    Baby Boom

    ★★

    Diane Keaton is pretty good in this sort of pretty fucking stupid movie from back when people didn't really notice how stupid movies like this were and they gave them "two thumbs" and then they came out on VHS and they were the hot rentals and then they played on HBO for days on end.

    Nancy Myers and director Charles Shyer wrote the kind of proto-feminist, progressive story in which a career woman hits 40 and is entrusted with a…

  • Bone Tomahawk

    Bone Tomahawk

    ★★★

    I'm going to give this one lots of props for having the balls to go as far as it does. Because it goes as far as it clearly wants to go...and takes you right along with it whether you like it or not...kicking and screaming. And I respect that.

    It's definitely longer than it needs to be, and it feels long, which is always a problem. But I think they're banking on you being taken in by the interesting characters…

  • Elvis & Nixon

    Elvis & Nixon

    ★★★★★

    Taken straight up, at face value, this basically amounts to a long joke with one hell of a terrific punchline.

    It actually becomes an excellent film, however, when you come to the understanding that it really observes powerful truths bubbling beneath the surface.

    Because this isn't really the story of the fateful day in which Elvis met the president of the United States. It is that, in a journalistic sense, but it's also an incisive portrait of two insecure men.…

  • Quigley Down Under

    Quigley Down Under

    ★★★

    Basil Pouledoris' score for this glossy early 90s throwback picture is an interesting symphony that neatly alternates between sounding like Elmer Bernstein's score for The Magnificent Seven and something Mike Post might have cooked up for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, or a small town rednecks episode of Quantum Leap.

    And I think that sort of back-and-forth carries over into the film itself. Because this is very much in the spirit of the classic Hollywood "epic" westerns...and not so much the…

  • Saving Christmas

    Saving Christmas

    Up front, I'll at least concede that this movie is not the aggressively anti-secular treatise promised by its title. Nor is it the goofy adventure comedy starring Kirk Cameron promised by its publicity materials.

    What it is, well... Far as I can tell it's literally Kirk Cameron sitting down in a parked car with his brother in law and telling him why Christmas, as it is mainly celebrated in the modern Western world - with all its "pagan" symbolism and…