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  • Kick-Ass

    Kick-Ass

    ★★½

    Not nearly as enamored with this as I was originally.

    Partly because it doesn't hold up as much on re-watches or a near-decade later.

    Partly because the tone is all over the place.

    Partly because our protagonist is boring as hell.

    Aaron Tyler-Johnson does a pretty good job with what he has, but he has nothing. His character is Lame. His lines are Lame. His costume is Lame.

    Cage is more fun on-screen, but he's not on screen much. Ditto…

  • Next Friday

    Next Friday

    Straight trash.

    I've seen Friday and the third in this "series," Friday After Next, several times each. The first is a genuinely well-done film. Friday After Next is kinda stupid and definitely has some red flags, but it's funny enough for me to enjoy it anyway.

    This is just terrible. At times, it feels like it's pandering to an exclusively and stereotypically black audience. Other times, it feels like it's pandering to 10 year olds.

    Neither works at all. The…

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

    Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

    ★★

    Unencumbered by expectations, but nonetheless box-checking and surface-level, this is a film with a lot more for kids than adults.

    The characters are mostly thin, the humor is mostly low-effort, the animation is well below the bar set by Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks, et al, and the didactic lessons are mildly murky and fairly worthless.

    Things move forward pretty quickly, but it's still a bit boring thanks to the obviousness of the story and the relative lack of interest we have in the…

  • ¡Three Amigos!

    ¡Three Amigos!

    ★★½

    Fun little comedy from John Landis.

    Not much else really, but fun.

    It's Seven Samurai but the samurai are pompous silent film stars who don't realize what they signed up for. Cool.

    All the cast does a great job with chemistry and delivery. Things feel pretty balanced, even if there isn't a whole lot of characterization.

    The plot is extremely straightforward, but it's paced well, at a tidy 104 minutes.

    Visually, this is not so great. There are some decent…

  • Kiki's Delivery Service

    Kiki's Delivery Service

    ★★★½

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

    Kiki's Delivery Service is a beautiful family film that just manages to walk the line between understated and underdeveloped.

    It's true that you won't find herein the indelible characters, creatures, or jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas in say, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, or Princess Mononoke.

    What you will find is a (deliberately) contained and nonetheless whimsical, pretty picture of a young witch learning to fly both literally and metaphorically. Its closed-in, curious tone is closer to My Neighbor Totoro than the…

  • Midnight Cowboy

    Midnight Cowboy

    ★★★

    The 60's give way to the 70's.

    Optimism gives way to cynicism.

    Fantasy gives way to cold, crushing reality.

    Midnight Cowboy is dirty and hopeless and unloved.

    Voight and Hoffman conspire to elevate a relatively thin and unfocused script with intensely human performances that lend their unlikeable characters quite a large bit of sympathy.

    The soundtrack, repetitive though it may be, adds a needed sense of whimsy and comfort to an otherwise smotheringly somber affair.

    The editing is trippy and…

  • The Ritual

    The Ritual

    ★★

    Let's play a little game called "How to Tell If the Movie You're Watching Is The Descent":


    Do a group of friends go on regular adventures?

    Yes.

    Are two of them a little bit closer than everyone else?

    Yes.

    Does one of those two die tragically?

    Yep.

    And it really kinda hangs over the other person?

    Oh yeah.

    So then the remainder of the group goes on another trip?

    Yes.

    But this one's a little intense because they want something…

  • Goldfinger

    Goldfinger

    ★★★½

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

    Part of a series of reviews on every single James bond film in order

    In serious contention for the title of Best Bond Movie.

    Also probably where I have the biggest beef of the series.

    Let's begin with the good! (There's lots.)

    Iconic.

    From the name to the larger-than-life (and just generally large) villains to the gold body paint to theme, this is a Package™.

    The theme especially is nice, including its quieter, orchestral variant, which gets used amply, but…

  • A Simple Favor

    A Simple Favor

    ★★½

    A fun romp, and not much else.

    A Simple Favor features a cavalcade of twists and turns that keep the viewer interested and off balance, but the rapidity with which the story switches its facts and focus comes at the cost of emotional and thematic grounding.

    Kendrick and Lively mitigate this to some extent, particularly the former. Though Stephanie Smothers isn't a particularly sympathetic or well drawn character, she is someone we are interested in following thanks to Kendrick's impressive…

  • Moana

    Moana

    ★★

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

    Me while watching this film: "This feels a lot like a mish-mash of The Little Mermaid and Hercules"

    Me when finding out the guys who made The Little Mermaid and Hercules also made this: "Ah, right."

    Is it too much to ask for something new?

    Congrats guys, you paid tribute to Polynesian culture...with a formula-dependent, uber-predictable movie.

    There are basically two characters here, and neither one is particularly deep or memorable, though Moana is at least thankfully a resourceful and…

  • Coco

    Coco

    ★★½

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

    A very vibrantly colored and emotionally effective work that is nonetheless mostly empty and unoriginal.

    This is a tried-and-true, check-all-boxes, see-every-single-thing-coming story with bland, throwaway characters filtered through admittedly eye-popping and true-to-the-culture (at least from what I understand and have read from more knowledgeable persons) aesthetic.

    And for a movie ostensibly revolving around music, the music is very, very unimpressive.

    I wonder if I wouldn't like this more had I watched the Spanish version instead. The voice acting is just…

  • Dirty Dancing

    Dirty Dancing

    ★★★½

    "...before JFK got shot..."

    And there it is.

    Beneath what should be just another in a long line of ostensibly cheesy, irrefutably predictable in their ultimate broad strokes, relatively shallow 80's dance-fluff movies, there in the opening voiceover is the sad undercurrent of honest-to-God, historical-and-lived broken shards of hope's former glass transformed into defiant joy borne of itself and unto itself.

    When Jackie started trying to scoop those brains off the back of the trunk, it was already over. And…