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  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle

    ½

    Absolute drivel from one of the worst in the game. Witless comedy, overstuffed but pedestrian action, and dead-end satire that, like its predecessor, steers away from a potentially fun catastrophe of neoliberal villainy in favor of pointless parody. Oh, and Channing is basically a cameo in this, in case he was influencing you to go. Can't believe mother! got topped for grotesque misogyny only 24 hours after I saw it.

  • mother!

    mother!

    An intensely stupid movie, an allegory for the trials of being spouse to a Great Artist made by a shitty one whose single-mindedness makes the film guilty of sexist myopia it exaggerates. Oppressive sound design, infuriating descents into madness and, above all, an unforgivable waste of Michelle Pfeiffer.

  • It

    It

    ★★

    As a work of maximal blast-scare horror, it's the most forceful movie of its type since Drag Me to Hell, a nearly non-stop series of absurdly loud jolts that lose their impact due to sheer repetition. Truth be told the subtler scares are more effective, like the charred arms reaching out from a locked abattoir leading to a glimpse of a dangling figure with glowing eyes and waving, or Eddie turning around from being chased by a leper to see…

  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    ★★★★½

    A shocking achievement from a director I was ready to write off, Bresson remade in the shadow of a world so corrupted by capitalism that it may be headed toward an extinction event. Faith as either commerce or artifact preservation, if any difference even exists between the two (Hawke's priest's charge is a historic church that people call "the gift shop"). Schrader never suggests that Hawke's asceticism is pure, nor that Cedric the Entertainer's mega-pastor is just a grifter, but…

  • Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

    Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

    ★★★

    In my excitement for this I think I forgot that French metal is terrible. Repetitive structure mutes the impact of its wild conception, though the livening element of the dancing uncle and the incessant bleats of sheep got me back in. Much more Straublike than I would have anticipated, with stark but quasi-Fordian vistas suggesting a history well beneath their surfaces. Wish I could see this again in a more alert state, or perhaps its hypnotizing effect is more pointed than I thought.

  • PROTOTYPE

    PROTOTYPE

    ★★★★½

    The only film at TIFF I saw that I could point to and say definitively, "I have never seen anything like this before and I will almost certainly never see anything like it again." Converted 3D footage of old photographs adds stereoscopic depth to the dirt and lines of the photos themselves, creating strange voids hovering over images of hurricane devastation. The film itself is not so much about a hurricane as a rhapsody of living within the storm cloud…

  • Zama

    Zama

    ★★★★½

    Colonialism as a closed loop. The faces of the generals and the enemies change but the names seem to stay the same, all the while the once proud official slowly deteriorates, his clothes rotting and his mind melting. Martel's rapturous compositions manage to feel cramped even at their most expansive, using intersecting planar blocking to add to the general sense of confusion, of not knowing where to look or what to do. The last third, which leaps ludicrously far away from the preceding material, somehow sharpens the entire feature, bringing its nightmarish logic into crystalline focus.

  • Mom and Dad

    Mom and Dad

    ★★★½

    Skeletally thin plot works perfectly to set up the most demented and best Cage showcase in possibly two decades. Slot it with Vampire's Kiss for the best time of your life.

  • Suburbicon

    Suburbicon

    ½

    Worst movie I've ever seen at TIFF.

  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    ★★½

    A fine cast and a gorgeously fluid seafoam palette cannot prevent the film from feeling completely closed off, hermetically sealed in a giant tank that lacks the same intricate bricolage as the dollhouse fun of Crimson Peak. Like watching a kid play with action figures in a bathtub, cute but aimless.

  • The Seventh Curse

    The Seventh Curse

    ★★★★

    Absolutely goddamn wild, with an outstanding opening sequence that promises a police procedural before it abruptly lurches into supernatural kung-fu comic horror with maybe 10 total minutes of downtime in an otherwise endless progression of elaborately designed and choreographed setpieces. Like Temple of Doom if made with actual Asian influence instead of racist/nostalgic projection. One of the most fun things I've seen in a long, long time.

  • The Day After

    The Day After

    ★★★★½

    The manner in which Hong continues to mine new avenues with his elemental setups speaks both to his clever facility as a filmmaker and the myriad ways that men's cowardice and self-martyring narcissism can manifest in a system designed to give them every benefit of the doubt. Still mining the fallout of his own extramarital affair, Hong crafts one of his bleakest works, in which initial comedy of errors gives way to a somber rumination on ideas of trust and…