• Black Panther

    Black Panther

    ★★★★

    Every frame of this means so much more with each viewing. Wakanda, my heart beats with thee.

  • A Quiet Place

    A Quiet Place

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    There’s so much craft here: Krasinski and his cast build a world that feels hollowed out and at all times ominous. 

    Just... don’t pick at the mechanics of it too hard (or, the “Daredevil Offense,” where the best move is to surround yourself with noise, thereby rendering yourself invisible).

  • The Death of Stalin

    The Death of Stalin

    ★★★½

    Just a warning: The Death of Stalin is a drama with jokes, not a (strictly) comedy. 

    Observing the sycophants, survivors, and would-be successors in the day’s following Stalin’s 1953 death, it’s all about the bloody repercussions and jockeying for power. 

    In a way, it’s Russian secret police head Lavrenti Beria’s (Simon Russell Beale’s) story. He’s a slippery, cruel, and ambitious little man determined to reinvent himself as a reformer. 

    Beria’s the film’s nasty, beating heart and once you resolve yourself to that, The Death of Stalin works.

  • Kill Zone 2

    Kill Zone 2

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    What can you say about a movie that starts with an undercover cop-turned-junkie bring stashed in a Thai prison and ends on a direwolf attack? 

    It’s pretty great and the way the camera seems to be chasing after the combatants in its fight scenes, the kineticism of the fights, and unabashed schmaltz/weirdness make it one of the most impressive action movies of the last 15 years.

  • Isle of Dogs

    Isle of Dogs

    ★★½

    Anytime a dog is onscreen, the movie is a wonder. Anytime Anderson creates this “Japanese-y” fantasia populated with signifiers instead of people (except white Tracy - Tracy gets to be people), I felt deeply embarrassed to be watching it.

  • The Girl with All the Gifts

    The Girl with All the Gifts

    ★★★★

    Post-apocalyptic horror with an emphasis on the “post.” I love how it’s concern with what comes after, in a way that’s neither showy, nor messy. 

    Well, except for all the grue and gore, but that’s a feature, not a bug.

  • Ouija: Origin of Evil

    Ouija: Origin of Evil

    ★★½

    Look at that opening scene: all soft-lit and intimate - spooky goings-on at a suburban seance. 

    If only the rest of the rest of this Ouija (2014) prequel followed suit. 

    Hewing closely to the “family’s youngest encounters spooky goings-on, then the haintin’ starts,” it does the thing the first Conjuring did so well, which is make us care for its lead, grieving trio. But leaning so heavily on CG-out detachable jaws and a mythology dump in the last 30 minutes, it’s hard to reconcile the movie as a whole, giving it the impression of a movie discovered in reshoots.

  • Divines

    Divines

    ★★½

    What started out as a funny, dark, and heartfelt movie about about brown girls in trouble succumbs to a mess of last act colorism.

  • Pacific Rim: Uprising

    Pacific Rim: Uprising

    ★★★

    Take the first Pacific Rim, beef up the cast, and make it 30% more anime (Tian Jing’s wardrobe alone). 

    While it doesn’t have that breath of fresh air weirdness of the first film, John Boyega’s charisma goes a long way, along with some well-staged (albeit less inventive than the first) action setpieces - plus it had a heel turn so real I chuckled out loud when it happened.

  • Unsane

    Unsane

    ★★½

    Putting the shot-on-iPhone gimmick aside, Unsane is a collection of half-measures; an interesting critique on involuntary commitment as a profit tool for capitalized medicine; a comment on the trauma that victims of stalking/sexual and emotional violence endure; it's even a cool showcase for Claire Foy's talent.

    Unfortunately, it's also saddled with a cartoon character of a villain, whose arrival and methods require you to shrug and roll with it one too many times.

    Maybe it wasn't high-minded enough or trashy enough, but trapped in some dull middle ground where I kept waiting for it to just end already.

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★★★

    Lived in and familiar as hell to this Florida native. It never stops to poverty porn or treating its characters like anything less than complicated, sometimes difficult people.

  • Thoroughbreds

    Thoroughbreds

    ★★★★

    There’s something cold, off, and insectile about knocking around with the two girls at the heart of Thoroughbreds. 

    I love it.