Kern

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Favorites: Recently loved films.

Favorite films

  • Paper Moon
  • Walden
  • Angel Face
  • The French Dispatch

Recent activity

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  • Ordinary People

    ★★★½

  • Top Gun: Maverick

    ★★½

  • Sleuth

    ★★★

  • The Staircase

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  • Top Gun: Maverick

    Top Gun: Maverick

    ★★½

    I’m pretty impervious to this kind of generic corniness and sentimentality, especially when it's tied to an '80s action flick that almost certainly doesn't hold up—last time I saw it was 20+ years ago and I'm not eager to change that. The plot and characters are paper thin—though unlike the recent Mission: Impossible films, Top Gun: Maverick devotes a lot of time to both—so the major draw is the action sequences and stunts. But even in that regard, I really…

  • The Staircase

    The Staircase

    This one's particularly frustrating, because on one hand it absolutely justifies its existence alongside the riveting documentary—this dramatization recontextualizes the story by incorporating the documentary filmmakers in the narrative and directly questioning the ethical boundaries crossed during production—but its version of events is inherently skewed, ultimately making it far less valuable than the documentary it occasionally criticizes. If the aim is authenticity and transparency, this series is a failure, though the immense talent in front of and behind the camera…

Recent reviews

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  • Ordinary People

    Ordinary People

    ★★★½

    Redford takes material that would be melodramatic and maudlin in any other hands and makes it feel authentic through his focus on naturalism. The characters feel genuine and complex, their faults and fears on full display, and most scenes play out without a heavy hand or emotional score underlining the drama. The subtle direction and performances really make this stand apart from the typical "family grief drama" Oscar-bait mold.

  • Sleuth

    Sleuth

    ★★★

    Though it's not really a whodunnit, this stripped-down murder mystery basically functions as one. And like most whodunnits, it starts losing my interest around the halfway point. There's very little mystery to the story because the plot twists are as predictable as they are ridiculous; everything is telegraphed a mile away. It's entertaining enough just to watch Caine and Olivier try to strategically outdo each other, but, figuratively and literally, there's not much else to the film.

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  • Us

    Us

    ★★½

    Starts off strong, effectively creating tension through fantastic cinematography and notably sharp editing/pacing, but once the table has been properly set, it's a gradual nosedive to the perplexing finale. The acting is undeniably committed and the child actors are pitch-perfect, but the exaggerated, go-for-broke lead performances teeter into overkill and would have been more effective if reigned in a bit. Also, the frequent attempts at humor, though sometimes successful, completely undercut the unnerving tone. It felt like Peele wasn't confident…

  • The Dead Don't Die

    The Dead Don't Die

    ★½

    Jarmusch's work occasionally falls flat for me but with The Dead Don’t Die, he goes beyond anti-comedy and anti-horror, essentially creating an anti-film so lazy and uninspired—the cop car's number is “001”—it’s as if complete apathy is his entire approach. Some may be charmed by the lack of style, substance, character development, purpose, and, well, anything to really latch onto, but to me, Jarmusch's refusal to commit to anything is maddening. The social commentary is so thin, it almost feels…