• Aloners

    Aloners

    ★★★½

    Hits the mark of capturing a particular kind of quiet, disassociated desperation that's directly related to how work is organized in the 21st century. Even besides some considerable projection on my part, I'd say it really doesn't take much to see yourself in how the protagonist carries herself, with the overreaching role screens/tech plays in all aspects of living, and how pathetic it all is.

  • The Asphalt Kiss

    The Asphalt Kiss

    ★★★★½

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    The realization that this didn't lose its edge is a huge testament to the provocative writing and greatly detrimental to society at large. Superb production design, performances and, of course, an ending for the ages.

  • 7 Days

    7 Days

    ★★★½

    Given the premise, I wasn't expecting this to be as comedic as it is. Soni and Viswanathan promptly get into an infectious groove of banter, well-oiled by their work in Miracle Workers, and charmingly set the opposites dynamic, but the lofty goal of intertwining commentary on the resilient culture of arranged marriages within some Indian-Americans and the COVID-19 pandemic feels like more than it can chew. Would make for an interesting comparison to 'Leo Grande' as 21/22 single-setting quarantine projects dealing with sexual/romantic expression and conservative backgrounds.

  • Gutted

    Gutted

    ★★★★

    Properly anxious, driving tension from an unknown vague exterior threat to an imminent, inadvertent response that grows as alarming or worse. An interesting little chamber incursion on how high-stress situations can swiftly revert dormant regressive gender roles, particularly regarding the relation between violence and masculinity. Fantastic sound design and score to help convey that physical and psychological shift in reasons for concern. Jacob's most fully realized project so far, well done!

  • October

    October

    ★★★½

    Once the shock of the event fades and the routine settles, my mind couldn't help but to wander off thinking about the moral and practical implications of those kinds of (mostly) one-sided relationships, specifically if a mild or well-meaning psychological projection could be somewhat constructive without harm to the object of that sentiment. The film's a bit redundant, and that's partially the point, but I'll always value gentle, slice-of-life, melancholic tales that spark meaningful introspection.

  • Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

    Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

    ★★★

    It's a simple premise set almost entirely in a single room, so naturally you'd expect some conflict complications within those confinements, but mirroring its main character, it keeps halting to over-analyze and put into words every thematic question that could've been conveyed otherwise. It's not like it's a wasted concept, it successfully fulfills its promise of being a horny movie about horniness and then some, yet that overt self-consciousness slightly takes away from the immensely complimentary performances of Thompson and…

  • Elvis

    Elvis

    ★★★★

    The 'Trouble' sequence where Elvis simply ends racism once and for all is wild. Hanks commitment to that Mr. Burns/nazi doctor/circus con-men amalgamation is wilder. (both are great)

  • The History of the Seattle Mariners

    The History of the Seattle Mariners

    ★★★★½

    Catnip for anyone who's a sports and/or data nerd or irrationally devoted to a team whose only exceptionalist claim is being the saddest and most unlucky (me). Most fans know that what really gets you hooked is not the game action per se, but the complex and convoluted world of narratives surrounding it, but this movie translates that notion, using almost exclusively a gauntlet of statistics and research, better than any sports doc.

  • The Black Phone

    The Black Phone

    ★★★½

    A significantly less histrionic version of contemporary 80's-affected genre riffs (It, Stranger Things, etc) that trades big moments for continuous tension. Note-worthy that Derrickson's lean visual choices makes the introduction of friendly ghosts as a major plot point feel somewhat casual. The grainy dream sequences are the highlight, but I kept wishing that style bled onto the rest of the picture as it reached towards the climax.

  • Sinister

    Sinister

    ★★★★

    Men will literally face the occult before going to therapy (or going to the police).

    The family drama is a bit stilted, but that Super 8 footage is creepy as hell.

  • Cinema Paradiso

    Cinema Paradiso

    ★★★★

    Looks great, of course, with the first section more than justifying its prestige as unquestionable movie magic about movie magic. The middle chapter kind of dwindles that effect a little, despite having some of the most beautiful shots. The expected full-on nostalgic swing at the end does verge on flat sappiness, but the actual final sequence is the payoff to end all payoffs.

  • Badhaai Do

    Badhaai Do

    ★★★½

    It's only the second best crowdpleasing dramedy in which Rajkummar Rao enters a sham heterosexual relationship that helps his partner get away from the wings of a conservative family to live her truth, but still pretty good. Kept waiting for the moment it would use the mostly lighthearted farce to pull the rug on the audience and become more weighty, but it's naive to forget that conciliation is an integral part of mainstream 'progressive' pictures. Not that anyone wants to…