• Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    ★★★½

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

    Quality all over the place, but enough good stuff that I left happy.

    The good: Brisk first act, consistently great fight scenes, and incredible work from God Leung, all sex and intellect and menace. Awkwafina's cute and funny as the Lewis to Liu's Martin. Ramps up and up until the goofiest and most "fuck it" creature battle we've seen since "Aquaman." Shaun/Shang has a "Kung Fu Hustle" poster on his wall and by the time he's flying from dragon to…

  • Flower

    Flower

    ★½

    Fifty percent movie, fifty percent incredibly specific fetish service. The cast is terrific and it’s not fun to watch them grind through that third act twist.

  • The BFG

    The BFG

    Incredibly faithful adaptation of what was never my favorite Dahl story. Sure, I appreciated Dahl taking a "gentle giant" tale and asking "what would happen if the human he befriended convinced the Queen to invade the giant kingdom at zero dark thirty?" But I didn't appreciate it that much, and the charm of Quentin Blake's art is lost in the hyper-realistic CGI. Mark Rylance does that wonderful Mark Rylance stuff but I alternated between saying "oh, I remember this" and "when will this end?"

  • Annette

    Annette

    ★★★★½

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

    UPDATE: Two days later the movie's really sticking with me and I've revised my rating upward. I'll leave my initial take below, but here was my thinking, informed by the annoyed guy behind me who hated the plot.

    "Annette" is a melodramatic tragedy, the kind we're more familiar reading in a short story or watching in some old play. An artist, Henry, becomes successful by channeling his smugness and anger into comedy. He marries an opera singer, Anne, who, as…

  • The Suicide Squad

    The Suicide Squad

    ★★★½

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

    When I watched Margot Robbie jump from a rooftop to plunge Flula Borg's javelin into the vitreous humour of Starro the Conquerer, and when I then watched CGI rats jump behind her to gnaw the beast to death from inside, I thought: Good for James Gunn. Dude co-writes the script for "Tromeo and Juliet" and 25 years later he gets DC Films to pay for the most disgusting climactic battle since Lionel killed his mother in "Dead Alive." They had…

  • In the Heights

    In the Heights

    ★★★

    The Abuela song is a knockout. The rest is very good, with the okay-ness of the songs elevated by the adoring cinematography of the neighborhood; I fully support Miranda’s effort to make the water ice guy and the bodega guy into magical realist characters. Also, I appreciated how it erased and refused to represent Afro-Latinx people.

  • My Octopus Teacher

    My Octopus Teacher

    Perfectly okay nature film, like the ones I'd escape into Cape Henlopen's museum to watch if the beach got too hot. Not the worst Oscar-winning documentary, but the one with the most schlocky, overpowering soundtrack.

  • F9

    F9

    These movies are just not for me, no matter how much I try to appreciate them as kitsch. Yes, the “Fast Saga” universe is hilariously complex, and that’s funny to think about on its own. But this movie feels like a DLC, inserting new backstory and bringing back playable characters, without giving them much to do.

    The action scenes are disappointing until about the half-way mark, when a powerful electromagnet (more powerful, says Ludicrus, than the ones he’s seen on…

  • The Sparks Brothers

    The Sparks Brothers

    ★★★★½

    Saw this twice, once via a Sundance preview and once as my first post-pandemic theater trip. DIsclosure: I was interviewed for the movie, and appear very briefly as a fan. So I'm not an objective viewer, though the fact that I didn't give this a full five stars should tell you how honest I am.

    Wright is perfect for this material, as jokey about the cliches of his medium that Sparks are for theirs. He puts himself into the Interrotron…

  • Stiv

    Stiv

    A complete mess. Audio quality varies from interview to interview, and the interviews are stitched together poorly, with cheap b-roll (the Los Angeles skyline isn't even rendered properly).

  • Zack Snyder's Justice League

    Zack Snyder's Justice League

    ★★★½

    The epilogues are awful, but the movie itself succeeds on Snyder’s insane terms — slow-mo images that look like splash panels, metahumans with great abs, and so on. As an amateur critic experience, it’s fantastic. I have rarely had as much fun *thinking* about movie-making as I did while learning what was cut and what was added once the movie was handed to Whedon. (Hard to pick a WORST tweak, but Whedon adding some goofy getting-to-know you dialogue to the Steppenwolf scientist torture scene is up there — in Snyder’s version the heroes don’t just banter as people get killed.)

  • Godzilla vs. Kong

    Godzilla vs. Kong

    ★★½

    I liked it when the big monkey hit the big lizard in his face and he fell down.