• Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    I felt really bad for the John Candy character when I saw this as a teenager, happy to see him step all over the uptight irritability of Steve Martin's character, sad to learn what his whole deal was in the reveal at the end. And generally in life I've come to like these cheery tightass-demolisher characters and have no time for the uptight and irritable. So how did my sympathies end up flipping here?

    Maybe it's because that reveal at…

  • Purple Rain

    Purple Rain

    It's nearly impossible to separate this movie from the world-owning album attached to it, whose songs it so regularly, prominently features, so why bother? Purple Rain was one of the first cassettes I had as a kid and though this is not really where my tastes ended up, it made a more lasting impact than Huey Lewis & The News or, god help us, The Cars. Musically speaking, the house gets repeatedly brought down here.

    Beyond that, it's notably mean to…

  • This is GWAR

    This is GWAR

    I expected this to be funny, and I'm definitely on its wavelength - GWAR's been a favourite of mine since high school (which is a long time for a band to not stop being a favourite, especially a metal band). But it was also more informative and considerably more emotional than expected, not only humanizing the men (and sometimes women) behind the latex and spew, but smoothly establishing the "art collective" side of GWAR and the strong bonds and more…

  • Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

    Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

    Perhaps more meme than movie by this point, the after-the-colon title here has been at least second-order repurposed into something so rancid I'm not sure how I would even explain it to ten-years-younger me. The world moves in baffling ways.

    But it once was just a movie, a humble breakdancing movie, where a dance battle can work in nunchucks and garbage can lid shields but not be anything resembling an actual violent battle, dancers can hold off community-centre-threatening bulldozers like…

  • No Strings Attached

    No Strings Attached

    The Black Swan rivalry continues as this time it's Natalie Portman in one of those early 2010's sexy romcoms, and...aw man, it's Ashton Kutcher. Jake Johnson is in here too and he's so much funnier, and this still operates under the rules of “women's butts are sexy, men's butts are comedy”, and this is less sexy than Friends With Benefits, so it falls to Ashton Kutcher's butt to be funny and I bet Johnson's is way funnier.

    Hits all those…

  • Insidious

    Insidious

    I'd thought I saw this about ten years ago when these evil-spirit movies were all over the place, but nothing about it rings a bell this time. I'm pretty sure the only thing about it that's going to ring a bell in the future is its one good scare, which Netflix currently uses for its preview thumbnail. I gave this one a thumbs-down rating and Netflix immediately suggested I watch Insidious 2.

  • Lamb

    Lamb

    One of those movies whose existence only makes sense at all if you let yourself believe that it's based on a folk tale, and as if informing you of this (or apologizing for itself), one of only two bits of suspiciously plot-uninforming dialogue is literally “folk tale”. (the other bit is talk about time travel, which speaks to some regrets for the initially childless couple but not actual time travel.)

    So there's no way around this: there's a lamb girl.…

  • Wira

    Wira

    There's an enjoyable stunt-people-doing-stunt-stuff kineticism to the action here, the fights looking and sounding suitably physical and exhausting, but there's also a sense of pulled punches; it looks like something that should be giving me that sweet, cringey rush of phantom sympathetic agony but this movie does not crunch bone.

    And this movie so often seems like it wants to crunch bone - it is not one of those "it's like a ballet!" martial arts movies - but those bones go uncrunched. Maybe this was a victim of the Malaysian equivalent of nerfing your action scenes to get a PG-13.

  • Phantoms

    Phantoms

    Over the course of about one year in the 90's I devoured twenty or so Dean Koontz books before it dawned on me how samey they were; a year or so later Phantoms was the only book of his I would admit to anyone I liked, and even then, I wasn't sure it'd hold up on re-read. (I haven't.) So my anticipation for this was wary but still excitable, and for whatever it was worth, Koontz thought it was important…

  • A Vigilante

    A Vigilante

    Olivia Wilde really throws herself into this one, a performance of burst-vessel intensity, coming home from her hassling-assclowns hobby to sometimes dance around and rock out, sometimes crawl around while sobbing.

    This is not an action movie, and as a portrait of a messed up person doing a messy job of trying to do a halfway good thing (liberating abused women from their abusive partners, etc), it tilts enough toward comic-bookiness (she's a master of disguise, and can throat-punch) that…

  • Jolt

    Jolt

    This has got a good concept and a great leading lady in search of a movie that can keep up to them. Part of the problem is that it can't settle on an approach to its action-movie shit; is she a preternaturally skilled John Wick type whose not-even-trying-to-pass-as-the-star stunt double can beat the shit out of a room full of high-end trained security guards, or is this a more mortal-stakes thing where people underestimate a highly motivated and moderately skilled…

  • The Night House

    The Night House

    If there's any reason to watch this particularly mopey exercise in 2020's griefsploitation, it's Rebecca Hall's performance as a widow who feels free to be a total bitch when the situation calls for it; I loved her and her prickliness and hard-drinking unreliable perspective.

    Beyond that, everybody else hems and haws so much it feels like their scenes just take twice as long as they need to. By the time this movie starts explaining itself you might find yourself wishing for your two hours back. Grief always takes its sweet-ass time.