• Gemini Man

    Gemini Man

    ★★½

    Of course, Ang Lee would focus a high-concept flick about cloning upon regret and redemption.  And yet, like Hulk (2003), despite all the bombast, this whole proceeding feels so inert, passion-less.

  • What Lies Below

    What Lies Below

    ★★½

    Even if her character as written sorta deserved the ending, Ema Horvath didn’t deserve this script.  This Netflix movie of the weekly top 10 feels like a bizarre mashup of The Stepfather (1987) and Humanoids from the Deep (1980), which is like taking two 2.5 / 5 rated movies and hoping to get a 5 / 5 result.  But that’s not really how the math works.

  • Thunder Force

    Thunder Force

    ★½

    To say that Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, and Jason Bateman deserved a WAY better script would be accurate, but would also understate just how uncomfortably pedestrian this odd couple/superhero “comedy” really is.   For proof that the ‘90s were a WAY better decade in film across the board (including A-list-cast superhero spoofs that fail to light the world on fire), compare Mystery Men (1999).

  • My Octopus Teacher

    My Octopus Teacher

    ★★★½

    Every once in a while, I come across a movie entry where the letterboxd reviews almost invariably tell me more about the reviewers than the film itself - in this case, e.g., unmitigated contempt for all middle-aged white males, inclination to see the sexual in just about anything involving touch, use of terms like “manipulative” ...

  • Godzilla vs. Kong

    Godzilla vs. Kong

    ★★

    Not all dumb is fun.

    Yet it has a 3.2 on Letterboxd.  Considering how far this franchise has strayed from the cinematic re-introductions of these two characters in 2014 and 2017—as well as all of this recent love for Zack Snyder’s most recent “vision”—it seems we really have lowered the bar, in terms of fundamental storytelling and competently rendered CGI, when it comes to “live action” franchises.  Remember when we lauded a classic like Jaws (1975) for what it did…

  • The Doors

    The Doors

    ★★★

    I was stoned.  And it seemed like a fun thing to do.

    Perhaps in part due to this film, The Doors’ cultural currency has decreased over the last several decades.  (e.g., From 2000 to 2020, the Doors’ essential debut album dropped from 42 to 86 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest “rock” album list, although all rock records of that era had to make room for their pandering new quota of non-rock entries by women and people of color.)  But even…

  • The United States vs. Billie Holiday

    The United States vs. Billie Holiday

    ★★

    Director Lee Daniels (not surprisingly) delivers hagiography of the dullest order, with dialogue that often left me thinking out loud to myself “wow, someone wrote that line, a producer read it and greenlit the script, an actor said it on camera, and it was not edited out.”  Never underestimate the self-righteousness of—and the blinding myopia it manifests in—filmmakers with a pandering agenda.

  • The Father

    The Father

    ★★★★

    The term “empathy machine” has almost become a cliche for describing affecting cinema, but Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his own play—putting the viewer in the headspace of a man spiraling deeper and deeper into an Alzheimer’s-induced dementia—earns that distinction.  No matter how interesting the concept is and how competent the cinematography and performances are, it’s all got to deliver on an emotional level.  And although this particular 107-minute experience feels a bit tiring at times, there is a scene where…

  • Monster Hunter

    Monster Hunter

    ★★

    Even as the CGI technology gets better, these genre films still get more and more cartoonish.

  • Zack Snyder's Justice League

    Zack Snyder's Justice League

    ★★

    Even with inherently more marketable superheroes and a four-hour run time, the DCEU’s attempt at an Endgame-level epic made on the cheap (with three prior setup films rather than 23) still fails, even on its own terms.  And based on a comparison of both the opening five minutes and the last act, I think I would have preferred to see the Joss Whedon’s extended version.  Indeed, the most fundamental weakness of Patty Jenkins’ compromised Wonder Woman (2017) is how it goes…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★★½

    So what happened to Linda May? :(

  • Greenland

    Greenland

    ★★½

    It’s not exactly Emmerich-meets-Malick, even if it strives to be at times; but I was engaged for the whole runtime, which is more than I can say for virtually every entry that I’ve seen in this genre.