• Creed II

    Creed II

    ★★★½

    Maybe a little too predictable, but nevertheless highly entertaining. The sequel is again anchored by top notch performances from Michael B. Jordan, Sly, et al. Creed II demonstrates that this Rocky franchise spin-off is no one hit wonder.

  • Creed

    Creed

    ★★★★

    Ryan Coogler nailed this, giving the Rocky franchise a shot of a adrenaline with this highly successful spin-off. He manages to create a movie that is at once fresh and a loving homage to the original films.

  • Hoosiers

    Hoosiers

    ★★★★½

    I’m a sucker for inspirational sports movies, so I return to this one frequently. For the cynics, I get it—there’s no real suspense. We know Ollie is going to hit the free throws; we know Jimmy will sink the winning basket. There’s a comforting pleasure in that certitude for the right audience (like me).

  • Scrooge

    Scrooge

    ★★★★★

    The definitive version of the Charles Dickens’ classic. Alastair Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge is sublime. I watch this film at least once every holiday season, and so should you.

  • The Phantom of the Convent

    The Phantom of the Convent

    ★★★★

    Richer on atmosphere than scares, but still an impressive early Mexican horror film. Clearly an influence on the Charles Beaumont penned Twilight Zone episode “The Howling Man.”

  • Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge

    Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge

    ★★★½

    Certainly not great cinema or anything, but a fun 80s slasher that sets the Phantom of the Opera in a shopping mall built by an evil capitalist who (I guess?) intentionally burned titular Eric out of his home that (I guess?) was situated on prime mall building land. The director doesn’t seem to care much about filling in plot details. No matter.

    Now Eric is back for revenge (no effort to build suspense either), hiding out in the air ducts…

  • Rocky IV

    Rocky IV

    ★★★★½

    A near perfect piece of Western propaganda in which Rocky ends the Cold War. Ridiculous plotting, tear-jerking monologues (Duke’s pep talk to Rocky moves Sly so much that he calls actor Tony Burton by his real name at the end of the scene), marvelously unrealistic fight scenes, a kick ass soundtrack, a bevy of montages inspired by the heyday of MTV videos—this one is just wildly entertaining. Looking forward to checking out Sly’s recent director’s cut.

  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife

    Ghostbusters: Afterlife

    ★★★½

    Ghostbusters: Afterlife is clearly trying to piggyback off of the kid-centric success of Stranger Things et al., and the characterizations are pretty thin (i.e. we know nearly nothing about Trevor’s love interest Lucky). Nevertheless, it’s a faithful, fun sequel with a solid premise and lots of action—plus a few cool surprises for fans of the earlier films.

  • Office Killer

    Office Killer

    ★★★½

    Carol Kane is terrific as Dorine, a timid and overlooked copy editor who has been a ticking time bomb since she was an adolescent and a car accident left her (perhaps abusive?) father dead and her mother crippled. She calibrates her performance expertly, going from mousy passiveness one moment to frightening explosiveness the next. As a whole, the film is inconsistent in both pacing and tone, but Kane makes it a must see for those with a taste for oddball slashers.

  • Prisoners of the Ghostland

    Prisoners of the Ghostland

    ★★½

    This taut, subtle film is reminiscent of the Italian neorealist works of Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti. Nicolas Cage’s restrained performance reminds one of Robert Redford’s understated turn as the Sundance Kid.

    Just kidding.

  • Fist of Fury

    Fist of Fury

    ★★★★

    There’s romance and drama and the bear threads of a plot, but if you want those elements deeply filled in, look elsewhere. This is all about sublimely choreographed kung fu and savage revenge. If that’s what you’re looking for, this is a classic. Bruce Lee’s balletic moves are a feast for the eyes, as are his comic book-esque facial expressions and mid-move pauses. A must see for genre lovers; your mileage may vary otherwise.

  • The Big Boss

    The Big Boss

    ★★★

    The plot is thin and at times laborious—there’s way too much needless milling about and repetitive dialogue. It could’ve easily been 15 minutes shorter. That said, the balletic action sequences are more than enough to stay committed until the end.