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  • Alien: Covenant

    Alien: Covenant

    ★★★

    I think we need to accept, right off the bat, that this series peaked with its second installment and leave it at that. Because, let's be fair, there's not much you can do with this concept except several variations of the same story. It's always going to be a team of mercenaries, or marines or scientists or a combination of all three... They always go to that place they probably shouldn't, a monster shows up and kills them. The end.…

  • 52 Pick-Up

    52 Pick-Up

    ★★★

    This Elmore Leonard adaptation is sleazy. But it's directed by John Frankenheimer, which means it's at the very least some very stylish sleaze. But I also don't want to give it too much credit because, being a 1986 motion picture, its particular mix of sleaze and style are not particularly groundbreaking if we're being totally honest. 

    And so... What ends up happening is that - in texture and tone - you have a feature-length, R-rated episode of Miami Vice.

    This…

  • Get Out

    Get Out

    ★★★★★

    This is terrific... It's a great horror film, yes. Though it's also very funny... I guess because dark cynicism is ingrained into the sensibility of Jordan Peele who, it turns out, is a very good filmmaker. 

    But I guess you expect that. For years, Key and Peele made great comedy imbued with social commentary that felt organic, natural.

    The same thing happens here. And it's one of those movies that knows you're going to laugh the more uncomfortable you become...and…

  • The Bride

    The Bride

    ★★★

    I guess Jennifer Beals is miscast in this, I don't know. Or maybe not. Because she's a beautiful woman, and that's all - really - that this picture requires her to be: a beautiful woman. And, if we're being 100% fair, we may as well concede that Sting is miscast too. As Baron Charles Frankenstein. But he does look the part... With his golden locks and very European looks. And he sounds the part: with his soft-spoken, high pitched voice...…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    ★★★★

    There are two basic approaches for the sequel to a big movie. Usually, they opt for a lot of "-er." That is to say: Bigger, Better, Faster... More! It's why you get a sequel to Bad Boys, for instance, that's two-and-a-fucking-half hours long. But James Gunn and company go in another direction... They go inward. Rather than expand, they narrow the scope.

    The result is a refreshingly contained, intimate personal story. And it is because of this that some fans…

  • The Companion

    The Companion

    ★★

    So this is honestly not a very good movie. But it could've been. The pieces are there. And they're fine.

    For one thing, Kathryn Harrold and (especially) Bruce Greenwood are very good, very convincing, in their roles...helping to sell the "near future" sci-fi to the point where you kind of buy into the movie. As much as you can, anyway, what with the cheap-looking production values, cheesy music (by David Shire!) and witless scripting. 

    Witless in the sense that the…

  • The Lift

    The Lift

    ★★

    For what it's worth, this is probably about as interesting as it's going to get for a movie about a killer elevator.

    How do you conceive of such a thing? And then it follows...how do you make such a thing exciting? Interesting? Keep in mind, please, that the villain of this thriller is a fucking elevator. 

    And so, the hero must then be a mechanic played by Huub Stapel.

    Yes. The villain is an elevator and the hero is a…

  • 12:01

    12:01

    ★★★

    Once you get past the unfortunate TV movie chintziness of director Jack Sholder's flat, uninspired execution, what lies at the core of this mostly undiscovered 90s programmer is a witty, well-conceived and consistently entertaining little movie.

    Basically, it's a techno thriller variation on Groundhog Day is what it is. Like: keep the romantic comedy tomfoolery, but replace the slapstick, off-beat humor with car chases, shootings, and villains getting blown to bits... But don't worry because it's still funny, even though…

  • The Fate of the Furious

    The Fate of the Furious

    ★★★

    And the eighth installment of this somehow miraculous action series is just about on a par with the seventh... So you can take that to mean whatever you want it to mean. 

    It's the first one without series star Paul Walker and it's good enough and entertaining enough that you don't really feel his absence in any real way. And, of course, loyalists that they are, the cast and crew are still sure to throw a nod in his direction…

  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    ★★★★

    And so, David Lynch reclaims his celebrated cult TV series from the pop culture zeitgeist of the early 90s and brings it back to its roots as an odd, impenetrable cinematic puzzle.

    The film that results from all this is not necessarily "Twin Peaks," and that is a problem for some, of course. Though it is purely, completely "David Lynch." Even as there is an odd flatness to everything, this is still a film of visuals and esoteric intellectual ideas…

  • The Boy

    The Boy

    ★★★

    If you're a fan of Tales of the Unexpected, chances are you're probably going to like this. Because, even though it's a Chinese-American co-production. Or, an American indie financed with Chinese money, it was shot in England, with a mostly British cast. And that cute girl from The Walking Dead being all spooked out in a creepy old house.

    What I'm saying is it's a low-budget horror film that has the feeling of an old TV show. If you're prepared…

  • The Day the Clown Cried

    The Day the Clown Cried

    ★★★

    You have to give a guy points for trying. To his credit, you can tell Jerry Lewis believes very strongly in the emotional core of this piece.

    That the whole thing doesn't entirely work is not for lack of trying. Because Lewis the filmmaker takes center stage, delivering a "real film" of texture and character...even occasional nuance. Every ounce of effort to wring power and heft out of every conceivable angle is right up there on the screen. 

    And maybe…