• Melancholia

    Melancholia

    ★★★

    I guess I’m one of the freaks who prefers the first half to the last half. The tug of war between a wedding reception and crippling depression is much more fascinating than another one of Lars’ surface level concepts. The man confounds me. One of the great directors of our time and his films sometimes approach the depths of a CSI: Miami episode.

  • Bullet Train

    Bullet Train

    ★★

    Has its moments, but ultimately a loose jumble of ideas with the only throughline being that they’re all irritating. Far too much plot, the film piles on flashbacks and twists and backstories to the point where I just gave up by the final act. If you give me too much to carry then sometimes I’ll just choose to drop everything instead. Reddit humor, they make Brad Pitt say “shitballs” in this three times. I’m sure they’d insist it’s ironic, but…

  • Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas

    ★★★

    George Sidney once again hijacks a project out of infatuation with Ann-Margaret, and once again she’s too good for us to blame him. They work well together, their campy energies meld perfectly. She’s such a physical performer, which helps because she sounds dubbed in like an Italian production. It’s remarkable how little of Elvis’s charisma translates to the big screen, luckily Ann is there to bounce herself off the rock until sparks begrudgingly fly.

  • The Taming of the Shrew

    The Taming of the Shrew

    ★★★

    Does about as well as you can with the story. Forgetting the usual objections, this is a lesser Shakespeare comedy, grandfathered in with the bard’s wider canonization. Zeffirelli keeps things cluttered with frenzy, which isn’t that bad a strategy. Real attraction is the chemistry between Burton and Taylor. The latter really nails the part, finds the proper oscillation between presence and tender interiority.

  • The Way Way Back

    The Way Way Back

    ★★★★

    Not an ounce of it original, but it pitches a perfect game playing just the hits. I appreciate that the movie knows the power of random kindness. You could change someone’s life just by treating them with basic human decency. Moving shit!

  • Old School

    Old School

    ★★★

    Considering the pedigree, it’s ironically something of an underachiever. A series of scenes stitched together without the worry of connective tissue. The scenes happen to be very funny though, I dare you not to laugh when Will Ferrell says “I see Blue! He looks glorious!” Ferrell drags this kicking and screaming into hilarity, pun intended.

  • My Donkey, My Lover & I

    My Donkey, My Lover & I

    ★★★½

    I’m a sucker for broad French comedies. It might be their most lasting impact on 21st century cinema, seeing as the reigning best picture is an American remake of another broad French comedy. Picturesque locales, a friendly donkey; what do you need, a roadmap? Laure Calamy does a good job as a delightful sociopath. All French women are sociopaths, the only difference is the amount of intention in their destruction.

  • The Gray Man

    The Gray Man

    ★★

    I am routinely baffled by these new movies with massive budgets and stacked casts that don’t even have the decency to be terrible. If you can’t achieve disaster, you could at least sleepwalk your way to good movie with Gosling and Armas. The chemistry there has already been established, you don’t have to do any real work get it. But what we see here is a lot of sweat and strain for mediocrity. 

    The plot is all shuffled, so motivations…

  • Nope

    Nope

    ★★★

    A lot to admire, but I feel like its different strands never quite come together. I appreciate that Poole is also freaked out by animals, it’s a relief after so many sentimental depictions that someone gets to the real alien brain of the animal kingdom. The threat itself doesn’t quite capture that feeling. Points for ambition, if not completion.

  • The Ninth Gate

    The Ninth Gate

    ★★

    Huh

  • Bill Burr: Live at Red Rocks

    Bill Burr: Live at Red Rocks

    ★★★

    Bill right now is at like season seven of a sitcom, where the characters have all paired off and started having kids. It’s all the same material about early bedtimes and getting into private schools, but you like the characters so much that you don’t mind that they’ve lost their fast ball, you just like hanging out with them. You can’t bring that season two heat all the time, you’ll burn out.

  • Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

    Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

    ★½

    Pamela Springsteen still charming, but there isn’t a trace of the wit from the previous sequel. Odd, because this this from the same team and was filmed immediately after that movie. Just ran out of steam I suppose.