Rob has written 22 reviews for films released in 2017.

  • Virus Tropical

    Virus Tropical

    ★★★

    Fairly standard coming-of-age story, based on a graphic novel. Author seems to portray herself as supremely level-headed. Pretty detailed, somewhat at the expense of an arc. Could have been shorter? Leans hard on sisterhood, all-female family, patriarch in absentia. Didn’t resonate with me like many coming-of-age stories do, maybe because it was so female? Apparently the book focuses a bit more on growing up in cartel culture, and I would’ve liked to see more of that. I wonder if the film eschewed that culturally specific aspect to be more universal and therefore an easier sell in the international market.

  • Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

    Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

    ★★★

    It’s easy to ding this doc for its nearly three-hour run time, which seems self-indulgent. I don’t think its length is one of its strengths, but I didn’t find it to be a slog either. Mostly I just enjoyed hanging out with its characters and hearing their stories, and I was especially tickled to hear members of the apocalyptic Neurosis geeking out over how much they love Green Day. Being something of an outsider who grew up in a countercultural…

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    ★★★★

    Discretion is the better part of valor. Heroism ≠ leadership. I think I enjoyed this even more the second time.

  • You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    ★★★

    Someone finally made the meditative arthouse thriller the Pizzagate crowd has been waiting for.

  • I, Tonya

    I, Tonya

    ★★★

    Biopics are an almost universally boring and unnecessary category, but I, Tonya subverts that by a) relitigating a scandal and depicting as a hero someone long understood to be a villain, and b) being brutally entertaining. Its pitch-black comedy is reminiscent of The Wolf of Wall Street, with inferior style but a vastly more appealing and sympathetic protagonist. As Tonya Harding and her mother, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney own the film, and without performances of their impressive caliber, I would…

  • Call Me by Your Name

    Call Me by Your Name

    ★★★

    Call Me by Your Name strikes me as an important achievement, but one that doesn’t speak to me as much as I had hoped, at least not as much as Carol or Moonlight, the other recent queer crossover hits that are inevitably offered for comparison. The gulf between its adolescent protagonist’s cosmopolitan intellectualism and my own experiences as a teen may be a factor, and it doesn’t help that I am definitely not a fan of Sufjan Stevens. But mostly…

  • The Shape of Water

    The Shape of Water

    ★★★½

    A sweet fairy tale, easily the best of the small handful of Guillermo del Toro films I’ve seen. My one gripe is that it relies so heavily on the (strong) appeal of Sally Hawkins’ and Richard Jenkins’ performances that the film sags when they’re not onscreen. Michael Shannon is a serviceable villain, but his contours aren’t nuanced or idiosyncratic enough to justify the amount of attention del Toro lavishes on him.

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Much as The Force Awakens strongly echoes A New Hope, many elements of The Empire Strikes Back are recognizable in The Last Jedi:

    • A budding Jedi, Rey (née Luke Skywalker), seeks training from a master, Luke Skywalker (née Yoda), isolated on an obscure planet, Ahch-To (née Dagobah).
    • Meanwhile, her friends in the Resistance (née Rebellion) are on the run from the First Order (née Empire).
    • A rogue named DJ (née Lando Calrissian) comes to their aid but…

  • The Disaster Artist

    The Disaster Artist

    ★★

    Greg Sestero’s 2013 memoir, The Disaster Artist, tells the story of his unlikely friendship with Tommy Wiseau, a bizarre and mysterious man more than two decades Sestero’s senior. Both men dream of movie stardom, and the book centers on the making of The Room, Wiseau’s self-financed and uniquely terrible feature film, which later inspired an enduring cult following. Anyone reading the memoir is probably already a fan of The Room, and hoping to gain some insight into how Wiseau’s extraterrestrial…

  • The Dinner

    The Dinner

    ★½

    If I were a congressman running for governor, and my son and my nephew committed an appalling crime together, the first thing I would do is arrange a dinner date to discuss the matter in a public place with my unstable brother.

  • The Florida Project

    The Florida Project

    ★★★★½

    When I see a new film of almost universal acclaim, sometimes I go out of my way to read the negative reviews to get a little distance from the zeitgeist. In the case of The Florida Project’s negative reviews, I saw a few patterns:

    • the expected backlash against the critical consensus
    • the frustration of viewers who prefer more traditional narratives
    • locals objecting to the portrayal of Florida
    • accusations of poverty porn

    One flavor of that last…

  • Loving Vincent

    Loving Vincent

    ★★½

    I generally appreciate starry-eyed visionaries following through on ill-advised, shoot-for-the-moon ideas, even when the results are underwhelming. There are lessons to be learned and inspiration to be taken, and some demonstrable good is likely to come of it eventually. That said, I wish Loving Vincent, the first animated feature film to be constructed from tens of thousands of oil paintings, were more of an achievement than a stunt.

    Narratively, it’s a fairly stale exercise in hagiographic historical fiction, but storytelling…