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SilentDawn has written 33 reviews for films during 2020.

  • Richard Jewell

    Richard Jewell

    ★★½

    47

    Clint Eastwood's best since Sully, although it still falls far beneath the 2016 film in terms of craft. Eastwood has always found a tightrope between the mundanity and myths of reality, but his recent works have been creaky, set in their ways, and weirdly sloppy. Richard Jewell is no exception, but it benefits from the tense dichotomy of media and government institutions and the classism of being betrayed by law enforcement. Much of it is precedent in ways that…

  • Michael Clayton

    Michael Clayton

    ★★★★½

    88

    Bone-chilling. Front to back, a classic screenplay. As a man of virtue, Michael Clayton's only flaw is that he refuses to acknowledge not just who he represents, but 'what' - a transformation from individuals to entities, clients to corporations. This is about wiping the slate clean, and plummeting to your doom as a result. Delighted to see Katherine Waterston pop up in a one-scene role, her only moment being a gesture: understanding that keeping her mouth shut is a matter of life and death, a cog in the system self-aware.

  • Mortuary

    Mortuary

    ★★★

    55

    Lost amidst the spaces of the dead.

  • Hard Ticket to Hawaii

    Hard Ticket to Hawaii

    ★★★★½

    85

    "Man, he must be smokin' some heavy doobies."

    A total joy. Andy and Arlene Sidaris created a sun-baked day-glo adolescent fantasy with a contaminated snake and a lot of Uzis and rocket launchers. Teeters closely to knowing farce, but it's always terrible enough to stick the landing. The skateboard scene is the stuff of legends.

  • Ma

    Ma

    ★★★

    52

    You can see from the trailer that Ma is built as a standard blumhouse teen horror with an outrageous central performance by Octavia Spencer, and it's exactly that, but that ultimately anchors the whole thing. Tries for moral ambiguity and a few exploitative shocks, fails at both, but it does succeed at being really fucking funny. Imagine this story directed by a capable genre craftsman and not the director of The Help, a nastier script revision, and we'd be in business.

  • The Gate

    The Gate

    ★★½

    48

    Great creature effects complimenting a sturdy 80s kids horror narrative, but it's mostly a snooze and it falls short of the inventive visual ideas on the fringes.

  • Pieces

    Pieces

    ★★★

    58

    Still don't love this, wish I did. Weirdly low-energy, with all its inept quirks and big moments lost among a glacial giallo pacing but lacking much of the style. Hilarious moments, sure, and it adds up to a weird concoction, but it's no comparison to Slugs.

  • Goodbye Uncle Tom

    Goodbye Uncle Tom

    no rating

    Feverish, episodic depravity. Probably the most effective film about the industry of slavery, the machine that it was, and how its landscape of joyous brutality, union cognitive dissonance, and transactional efficiency all operated at the expense of brutalized black bodies and minds. The filmmakers, in hiring Haitian people and paying them pennies to reenact such atrocities, encapsulated the disgust of true exploitation, hiding behind (admittedly potent) ideas of political rage and historical depiction while reviling in extended sequences…

  • Tombs of the Blind Dead

    Tombs of the Blind Dead

    ★★★½

    67

    Plodding, cardboard characters methodically hunted by undead, and blind, knights Templar galloping on their zombie horses in slow-motion. Often primordial. Outstretched skeleton hands. Ancient ruins, tombs, and the stench of death.

  • 1917

    1917

    ★★★★½

    83

    Grunt work. Sam Mendes and team have conjured up a masterclass in tactility. The trenches, mud, corpses, dilapidated farms and villages. It's all given an earthy texture, eventually crumbling into surreal spaces and haunted chaos. As a 'men on a mission' movie, it has no real consideration for the historical context, and great care is taken in the minute details. Each step and glance around the corner, each sudden turn of events, the progression of location and character -…

  • Slugs

    Slugs

    ★★★★★

    100

    "To watch and talk about 1988’s Slugs, directed by Juan Piquer Simón, is to be confronted by the epitome of splatter exploitation. With its delirious mix of 50s ‘when creatures attack’ B-pictures and the vicious gory energy of the 1980s, it’s a movie about mutated slugs that kill, and it’s as absurdly violent as it is, from scene to scene, completely baffling and hilarious. It’s perfect. I would give it all the stars and 10/10 IGN scores in this…

  • Bombshell

    Bombshell

    13

    For anyone who trashed Anchorman 2 and sent Adam McKay on his dark path of becoming the one true voice of activist filmmaking, this is for you. The epitome of slapdash, exploitative political posturing built to ultimately satisfy everyone. Embarrassed for all involved.