RSS feed for Ryan
  • Bisbee '17

    Bisbee '17

    ★★★★

    Past and present collide as the small border town of Bisbee Arizona commemorates an all but forgotten incident 100 years prior in which predominately immigrant pro-Union copper miners were deported from town, told never to return upon penalty of death. The non-actor residents play the union miners and deputized militia, with current residents still disputing which side was right. The act of making the film is the film in this effective, although perhaps overly long meta-documentary.

  • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    ★★★★

    Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Love Story Between one Harley Quinn and a Breakfast Sandwich) is a beautifully composed, lushly colored, delightfully profane, comically violent, genuinely funny and perfectly self aware comic book movie. While I was initially afraid it was going to tonally fall into the Deadpool trap of thinking it's funny when it's really just annoying, Birds of Prey finds its own voice and declares itself, loudly, to be pretty much the exact opposite of the self-serious,…

  • Woman at War

    Woman at War

    ★★★★½

    This film shares a spiritual kinship with the novel 'Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead' by Olga Tokarczuk (which I loved); fierce women on ethically sound but practically doomed one-woman crusades against the perils of a changing climate. 'Woman at War' is the quirky, feel-good pro-eco-terrorist comedy thriller I have been waiting for, guys. When Halla is not leading her local choir outside Reykjavik, she is committing acts of sabotage against the local aluminum plant, which become…

  • Haunt

    Haunt

    ★★★½

    The conceit of a horror film that takes place in a haunted house that is, get this, ACTUALLY DEADLY, leaves a limited scope in which the narrative can exist. Painted into a corner from the outset, Haunt gleefully scraps its way from expected story to genuinely tense and surprisingly fun within the scope of the final girl genre. And for others who have no problem watching a Halloween movie in February, check this one out.

  • Ma

    Ma

    ★★★½

    Pulpy fun that doesn't quite get crazy enough to spectacularly go off the rails and hints at but never does much with the issues of race and class and mental health. And my main complaint: not nearly enough Allison Janney! Like, why cast her at all only to underuse her so gregariously? That said, Octavia Spencer is without a doubt the reason to watch this one and she relishes the manic swings and deadpan humor in this twisted tale of revenge.

  • Color Out of Space

    Color Out of Space

    ★★

    Too much weirdness for the sake of weirdness without much in the way plot or meaningful character development leave a lot of interesting elements just kind of adrift; the score by Colin Stetson is great, some visual elements are striking, and Cage is uneven at best, his manic energy and charisma never really harnessed. I walked away basically feeling nothing since there is so little to hang on to, just, well, a lot of strange but incoherent shit.

  • Ever After

    Ever After

    ★★★½

    A post-apocalyptic zombie tale that is sort of a mix of 'The Battery' and "Annihilation.' There is fertile ground for dealing with issues of guilt and trauma in the zombie canon which are largely unexplored, so in that regard this film is unique and arguably successful. It is also, I think, the first film I have seen with a zombie with a disability so more points in the originality column. However, there are some very puzzling plot points that don't…

  • Jojo Rabbit

    Jojo Rabbit

    ★★½

    Hiding within this scattershot film are some true gems; the absurd nature of totalitarian authority and the naive, childlike devotion that enables the rise of such regimes - an under-baked but potent allegory to our own times and infantile but dangerous fuhrer. In it's best moments, Jojo Rabbit plays like a Mel Brooks satire wearing a Wes Anderson mask; bitingly subversive and violent and cringe inducing. However, these are merely riffs which make the overall film that much more frustrating,…

  • Come to Daddy

    Come to Daddy

    ★★

    Awkwardly genre hopping and never finding its footing, this tale isn't scary or tense enough to be considered a thriller, and the relationships are half-baked at best, so it doesn't really work as a family drama either. It succeeds most as a sort of off-kilter comedy, but the humor peaks early and never really reemerges. There are some gory bits that are well conceived, but just kind of hang in limbo. I usually love Wood and Donovan, so this was a disappointment.

  • Black and Blue

    Black and Blue

    ★★★½

    This film, while not great, is firmly in touch with its genre identity and proudly pursues those ends. Set in the Lower 9th and Bywater neighborhoods of New Orleans, this good cop/ bad cop thriller makes great use of setting and movement through space, building tension and delivery much with little. Strong performances are undermined by lackluster dialogue and a pretty stock plot. But still, I was wrapt for most of it.

  • Everybody Knows

    Everybody Knows

    ★★★½

    Asghar Farhadi has crafted a taut melodrama about the taboo relationship money plays in the lives of family, exposed when a teenage girl is kidnapped during a wedding and everyone is suspect. Secrets are revealed in soapy fashion and the complexities of relations are given as much dramatic heft as the whodunnit. The payoff pales in comparison to the buildup of tension; he has a lot more success laying everything on the table than finally pulling the threads together.

  • The Big Sleep

    The Big Sleep

    ★★★

    A classic noir plot structure is to have the solving of a mystery something akin to peeling the layers of an onion or a Russian nesting doll; there are always more to uncover, mystery begets mystery ad infinitum, rendering truth intangible and facts obscured. The Big Sleep is a prime and ultimately frustrating example of this device. The thrills and mysteries strangle the plot and suspense, rendering the brilliance of Bogart and Bacall adrift in a maze created by Hawks…