• Soul

    Soul

    ★★★★½

    2020 Ranked

    Pixar's films have always been at the crossroads between children's and adult's films. Delving into timeless themes such as hope, destiny, trust, and loss, their films appeal to children from a visual standpoint and often linger with adults through their storytelling. Soul is no exception, yet is perhaps bleaker than any other film Pixar has released in the past- mortality and purpose is what Pete Doctor chooses to hone in on in this adventure. If Coco and Upwards…

  • Run

    Run

    ★★

    2020 Ranked

    Sufficient genre-fare, but films with similar horror constructs such as this year's The Invisible Man and 2016's Hush play to them more effectively, providing greater thrill.

  • Cooley High

    Cooley High

    ★★★★

    A carefree look at youth and friendship that at first seems almost eternal is slowly dismantled in Michael Schultz’s Cooley High. Preach (Glynn Turman), Cochise (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Stone (Sherman Smith), and Robert (Norman Gibson) are four close friends at the center of Cooley High’s climax, a grand theft auto that culminates in a police chase and crash into a parked vehicle. After successfully fleeing from the police, one might get the impression that the friends may have ‘gotten away with…

  • Woman Thou Art Loosed

    Woman Thou Art Loosed

    ★★★½

    From the very first moments of Woman Thou Art Loosed, the influence that religion and church makes on Schultz’s characters is felt immediately. Each of them is flawed and seeks a catharsis- or ‘loosening’- from the guilt and shame associated with wrongdoing, and to progress with healing. Michelle Jordan (Kimberly Elise) is on death row for murdering her “uncle” Reggie (Clifton Powell) who sexually abused her during her childhood. Michelle’s mother Cassey (Loretta Devine) was faced with the decision whether…

  • Minding the Gap

    Minding the Gap

    ★★★★½

    2018 Ranked

    I’m drawn to documentaries like Minding the Gap & Stories We Tell. When welcomed into the lives of filmmakers and their inner circle through personal documentaries, there’s something immensely humanistic in seeing these journeys unfold. In Liu’s case, Minding the Gap examines the hardships and challenges that form when interpersonal relationships become fractured. Liu observes the difficult decisions - and arguably mistakes - that his mother and close friends have to make in attempts of self-preservation. Minding the Gap…

  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    I'm Thinking of Ending Things

    ★★★★½

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

    2020 Ranked

    Seemingly half of this movie takes place in a car and rather than induce boredom, Charlie Kaufman induces tension. Immense tension. The two car rides are bookends to an equally unnerving meet-the-parents of a young couple who are supposed to be in the honeymoon stage of a new relationship but are clearly not. The woman, played by Jessie Buckley, shares the titular words in the first minutes of the movie setting a very obvious tone for the rest…

  • Tenet

    Tenet

    ★★★½

    2020 Ranked

    At times, Tenet felt like a caricature of Nolan with bass-thumping, distortion of time, and muffled voices, but still couldn't help but enjoy this loud, thrilling film. Pattinson absolutely disappears into his role and it's a pleasure seeing John David Washington join his father as a Hollywood leading man.

  • Adaptation.

    Adaptation.

    ★★

    Almost Malick-like in its intense introspection and use of voiceover. Didn't quite match my expectations of a Kaufman-written film, but the familiar thematic choices in his work are certainly there.

  • Up in the Air

    Up in the Air

    ★★★★½

    A love story without love. A fitting double feature with Anomalisa. Jason Reitman deconstructs the glamor of placelessness and commitmentless, showing that what keeps us grounded is the people and memories that we keep.

  • The Cabin in the Woods

    The Cabin in the Woods

    ★★★½

    Seeing this after Bad Times at the El Royale, I definitely see a strong directorial presence from Drew Goddard in his films. Hoping he signs on to direct again, sooner rather than later. Inventive, tense, and full of spectacle, The Cabin in the Woods is a nightmarish delight even if a little lacking in tying it all together at the film's close.

  • Instant Family

    Instant Family

    ★★★

    2018 Ranked

    Instant Family knows how to generate laughs, the heartwarming drama-comedy illustrating the warmth that fostering/adopting can bring to a family. The film underplays the difficulty and hardships that can occur to children who need a home and those who foster/adopt, but it's hard not to be charmed by the film's story. Myself especially, given the fondness I have of memories from earlier this year when I fostered dogs and cats.

  • Rebels of the Neon God

    Rebels of the Neon God

    ★★★½

    Though released almost three decades ago in 1992, Tsai Ming-liang’s depiction of urban poverty and loneliness would have you think Rebels of the Neon God is contemporary. At the center of his film is Hsiao-kang (Kang-sheng Lee), a student who struggles to find anything of meaning in his life. He lives with his mother and father, the former of which believes him to be a reincarnation of the deity Nezha- the ‘Neon God’ of the title- and the latter of…