Charles has written 16 reviews for films rated ★★★½ .

  • Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

    ★★★½

    Would've loved more time spent with the discovery, recovery, and path to getting this footage to the screen. I hope we get to see as much of those six weekends of concert footage as possible sometime soon.

  • Lake Mungo

    Lake Mungo

    ★★★½

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

    The horror elements here loomed a lot larger than what was actually in the film this second go-round. Instead, it’s a sad, quiet little meditation on grief (and not necessarily getting the closure you need).

  • Avengement

    Avengement

    ★★★½

    Just a mean fucking bastard of a movie.

  • Ad Astra

    Ad Astra

    ★★★½

    Straightforward and exactly the “finding my distant space dad” movie it’s billed as. But Pitt’s narration and sad, lonely face carry the thing.

  • Spider-Man: Far from Home

    Spider-Man: Far from Home

    ★★★½

    Like Homecoming, the balance of the action is on teenaged Peter Parker with Spidey always hovering at the margins. It’s a joy.

  • The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion

    The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion

    ★★★½

    I’m secretly pretending this is a weird half-sequel to Kitamura’s Alive. 

    Your first tip-off that you might not be getting a completely satisfying story is on the Part 1 appended to the title. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its pleasures. I was largely on the movie’s side withholding the major blood and guts beats until the last quarter, focusing instead on letting us observe its lead character (IMDB weirdly doesn’t have a cast listing). 


    What action there is remains quick, dirty, and in need of some clear rules about how the psychic murder teens’ powers work. I suppose that’ll be explored in part 2.

  • If Beale Street Could Talk

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    ★★★½

    An absolutely gorgeous movie from end to end - but it felt a little distant. Like something under glass. Where Moonlight felt contemporary and alive, Beale Street’s 60s setting puts us at a remove. I’m still trying to understand why it impacted me that way. 

    Still. Every moment with Tish’s family have us something we rarely see in film: Black characters embracing and loving one another unconditionally and fiercely. 

    And consider the conversation between Joe and Frank in the bar retroactively one of my favorite scenes of 2018.

  • Never Goin' Back

    Never Goin' Back

    ★★★½

    It’s like a dirtbag companion to The Florida Project. 

    Unabashedly messy teens in a low-stakes series of misadventures. The commitment to their messiness and lack of vision beyond what happens tomorrow works because it always remains empathetic with its leads.

  • Strange Days

    Strange Days

    ★★★½

    The darkest thing about watching Strange Days in 2018 is how far we’ve come. Back in 1995, the murder of an unarmed black man by the police had the power to jolt us. 

    In the week that I’m writing this, it’s been four days since Emantic Bradford was killed by police and it’s hardly the third or even fifth most discussed story in the U.S.

  • The Strangers: Prey at Night

    The Strangers: Prey at Night

    ★★★½

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

    The neon-drenched synth and 80s power ballad schtick might’ve gotten old but the aesthetic commitment is a nice counterpoint to the down and dirty viscerality of the violence. 

    The bridge/flaming truck gag was some bold-ass horror picture imagery.

  • The Endless

    The Endless

    ★★★½

    Small-scale cosmic horror done right. Makes me want to revisit the filmmaker’s previous film, Restoration.

  • Unfriended: Dark Web

    Unfriended: Dark Web

    ★★★½

    On paper, it shouldn’t work - it’s a series of SVU ripped from the headlines keywords made cinematic, and yet... There’s so much care and deliberation in making you care for the cast, making it so much worse when things start going south. 

    “Perfect planning for all human action” as a plot point aside, this is the kind of queasy-making/looking in your rear view mirror kind of horror I respect.