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matt has written 452 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Waves

    Waves

    ★★½

    Remember, if you've bitten off more than you can chew you can still try to overdirect everything as a distraction.

  • Les Misérables

    Les Misérables

    ★★½

    Eh, I didn't really like LA HAINE all that much either. I'm sorry, you're right, that's reductive. But this does feel almost completely schematic in service of messaging, like, gee, I wonder if that kid's drone is going to record some sort of police malfeasance or something. Worse, it's just to build to an ending that simply isn't the scorcher that almost makes up for all that contrivance.

  • China Moon

    China Moon

    ★★½

    Everyone involved in this settled on "fine".

    Discussed on Episode 32 of The Suspense is Killing Us.

  • The Gentlemen

    The Gentlemen

    ★★½

    "Best not to be glib at this time in the proceedings." or "Wasn't really for me. It's a bit boring, to be honest."

  • Onward

    Onward

    ★★½

    A little bit WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S, a little bit EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE, but with this whole high-concept fantasy backdrop full of arbitrary magic rules to direct the plot, and fueled by Pixar's Adult-Onset Sentiment Disorder. The thing is none of those elements has anything to do with any of the other ones. Still cute.

  • Changing Lanes

    Changing Lanes

    ★★½

    What starts out as a rather thoughtful indictment of white privilege eventually gives way to equivocating "both sides" bullshit as these two guys ramp up their mutual antagonism. There's an attempt to be classy here as opposed to the tantalizing, clueless provocations of, say, LAKEVIEW TERRACE (just to keep it in the Sam Jackson wheelhouse) that ultimately just makes this feel like a safe morality tale instead of something that might actually make anyone uncomfortable.

  • The Hunt

    The Hunt

    ★★½

    Look I'll give this credit for a commitment to cheap thrills and, like everyone else is saying, Betty Gilpin was a lot of fun. But this is mostly just kind of smug in its calling out of what's allegedly dangerous hypocrisy on both sides, and the caricaturing it has to do in order to make that argument, which is exactly the kind of lazy shorthand that generally gets labelled satire these days, is consistently eyeroll-inducing.

  • Emma.

    Emma.

    ★★½

    Fine enough. This one's not one of my favorite of Austen's books anyway, and beyond some formal innovation or fresh take on the material, I'm not really sure what the point of readapting this stuff over and over is. Like, at least Lee's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY really dug into the characters' interiority and had a production design that felt genuinely lived in. This is just standard period stuff, not even really distinguishable from something you'd catch on PBS.

  • The Passion of Darkly Noon

    The Passion of Darkly Noon

    ★★½

    Dark timeline DUDLEY DO-RIGHT

  • The Holcroft Covenant

    The Holcroft Covenant

    ★★½

    Frankenheimer occasionally injects a lot of cheeky gallows humor into his films when he's just trying to keep himself awake (see also REINDEER GAMES or 99 AND 44/100% DEAD), and while there's still a good bit of fun to be had when he does that, the overwhelming odor is one of flop sweat. Thankfully he generally shoots the shit out of everything he touches.

  • A Blade in the Dark

    A Blade in the Dark

    ★★½

    "How are you doing?"
    "Not so well."

    Discussed on Episode 30 of The Suspense is Killing Us.

  • The Last Thing He Wanted

    The Last Thing He Wanted

    ★★½

    The book is already deliberately fractured collection of vignettes and discordant images, but what this can't really capture is Didion's voice, instead using the text verbatim as voice over which is a huge mistake. Moreover this doesn't seem so much ineptly directed as desperately so, as if Rees felt compelled to make as many available choices as possible, figuring that obliqueness would at least make this feel like the paranoid 70's thrillers it obviously wants to mimic (I love those…