Chris has written 11 reviews for films rated ★★ .

  • Rebel Without a Cause

    Rebel Without a Cause

    ★★

    Sorry to say it but this is one of the classics that I think is rather weak overall. There's no denying the natural magnetism of James Dean and he convincingly depicts his character's struggles, but nothing else leaves much of an impact.

    It attempts to capture that excessively emotional phase of adolescence where small issues seem gargantuan, wayward feelings are natural and generational discontent is escalating but leans so heavily into bland melodrama that it can't offer the cutting insights…

  • I Care a Lot

    I Care a Lot

    ★★

    Despite Rosamund Pike's spot on portrayal of a stone cold sociopath, I found this vibrant blending of crime thriller and black comedy to be extremely unfocused. For all it's attempting to do it ends up landing in a prosaic middle ground; the decided lack of depth, wit and darkness means it doesn't leave much of an impression. I do like how energetic it is thanks to the snappy editing and spirited direction, while the performances are all good with Pike…

  • Promising Young Woman

    Promising Young Woman

    ★★

    Carey Mulligan gives a typically excellent performance but I haven't a clue what the film around her is trying to achieve. A revenge thriller without the thrills, a satire that lacks any astuteness, a character study which offers barely any insight; it's striving for some kind of pathos but the whole thing feels superficial. It's just throwing out vague statements without bothering to examine them; deep down all men are degenerates, grief is a burden, the police are absolutely useless…

  • Motherless Brooklyn

    Motherless Brooklyn

    ★★

    For a noir mystery I'm surpised by how devoid of personality this is. It's not dark or complex or even comedic, it's just middle-of-the-road banality. There's so much potential to make this story visually interesting and instead it's shot like a made for TV movie (even more baffling when you have Dick Pope as cinematographer); the extremely smooth visual style does not suit the material at all, whilst the compositions and editing are decidedly insipid. There is an engaging premise…

  • Babyteeth

    Babyteeth

    ★★

    Tries to be naturalistic, heartfelt and broadly quirky all at once which results in it feeling like a hodgepodge of random scenes instead of a coherent narrative. It often seems to be solely concerned with ticking off the young adult genre checklist; we get the ill main character, oddball romantic interest, troubled parents, totally unnecessary title cards, whimsical use of music and absurd situations. The performances are all good and the visuals are appealing, but the lack of dramatic heft and dearth of effective humour means it doesn't really work.

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★

    Another play adaptation that suffers from the same problems that usually plague these transitions to the silver screen; lacklustre direction, thin characterisation, clunky editing and stilted dialogue. This does boast some good music as well as solid performances from Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis who try their best with the limited material. Still, nothing here convinces me that this ever needed to leave the stage.

  • Frozen II

    Frozen II

    ★★

    Frozen II is yet another belated sequel that struggles to justify its existence. It has some positives as the animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy and I will give it props that it builds on the world that was previously established.

    However, the narrative structure is messy and so much of the storytelling involves bland fantasy rigmarole that gets tiresome quickly. Elsa is the only character to get any development as everyone else is reduced to one trait only…

  • Batman Returns

    Batman Returns

    ★★

    Batman Returns sees Tim Burton dive head first into gothic expressionism to craft a sequel that is much more to his sensibilities. But that is the main problem. This film is supposed to be about Batman, his name is in the title, yet he's barely the focus and the whole thing comes off more like a pity party for a bunch of grotesque caricatures.

    I can understand the appeal. This kind of bizarre mainstream film rarely gets made, especially in…

  • Batman

    Batman

    ★★

    The cultural influence of Tim Burton's Batman cannot be denied, but it is an ideal example of style over substance. Both plot and character are thrown out the window in favour of things that look 'cool' but serve no purpose beyond that.

    The problems start with the flat screenplay by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren (did your name have to rhyme to write on this?). I'm willing to give comic book movies leeway in this area, but the film's lack…

  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

    The Trial of the Chicago 7

    ★★

    A timely but lacklustre effort from Aaron Sorkin. Directing clearly isn't his strong suit given how bland this is visually with flat editing and dull compositions. Even his typically sharp writing style doesn't really work here. The drama feels very sensationalised with all the tropes of the courtroom drama ticked off one by one and the film as a whole ends up feeling weirdly centrist considering the subject matter.

    The performances range from good (Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Yahya Abdul-Mateen…

  • The Devil All the Time

    The Devil All the Time

    ★★

    A grim southern gothic that bites off more than it can chew. The story itself is messy and feels like a number of different stories awkwardly mashed together. There is little narrative focus which results in plotlines starting then stoping with little rhyme or reason, making it difficult to get invested. It tries to craft some thoughts on the repercussions of violence and religious corruption but it doesn't appear to have anything to say beyond surface-level statements.

    The cast is…