• Terrified

    Terrified

    ★★★

    I've been seeing this film on scariest movie lists, and while it does not have the most coherent storytelling, there are a good amount of scares that make an impression. The film covers the tormenting phenomena in a Buenos Aires neighborhood which are then investigated by a police commissioner and three researchers.

    Since the neighbors and investigators have their own experiences, the film does not seem to have a lead character to specifically focus on, which makes the focus frustratingly scattered. Very few explanations about the mythology are provided. Effective scares aside, the story needed something to anchor itself on.

  • Rise

    Rise

    ★★★

    "Rise" is a film for basketball lovers and audiences with childlike wonder, and while there is a lack of grit in the film's execution, there is an inspiring value in its story and a revealing look at immigration issues worldwide. This is the biography of the Antetokounmpos brothers who later became famous NBA basketball players. Their story is rooted in the admirable strength of their parents and a series of struggles related to immigration.

    The direction occasionally feels a bit…

  • Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

    Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

    ★★★

    "Good Luck to You, Leo Grande" is an intimate character study balancing drama with comedy, and while it's never an extraordinary film, the lead performances of Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack are excellent. The film feels like a filmed stage play with lengthy conversations, which will not always keep the viewer's attention. But the dialogues tell a lot about the characters, their differences and desires.

    Insights about sex work, family, aging, and body image are explored in the film. Sex…

  • Crimes of the Future

    Crimes of the Future

    ★★★

    In "Crimes of the Future," David Cronenberg's brand of body horror takes a near-future setting wherein people develop new organs and feel no physical pain. It's a promising premise, yet it also seems that there are not many new ideas introduced in the film. It also feels like the story is not offering any solution to the tangled threads of conflicts and mysteries it reveals.

    Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, and Don McKellar all deliver either off-kilter…

  • Hustle

    Hustle

    ★★★★

    NBA fans and sports film lovers will have much to fawn over at "Hustle," an unexpectedly well-made, feel-good sports drama. Adam Sandler takes the lead role as a scout and fills it with his undeniable charm and dramatic chops. What actually surprises though is Juancho Hernangomez's performance, a brilliant example of a popular athlete-turned-actor turn that was pretty good. Hernangomez effectively makes Bo Cruz likable and rootable.

    The film does not reinvent the wheel of sports dramas, as it will…

  • Watcher

    Watcher

    ★★★½

    "Watcher" takes a stalker/serial killer story in a Romanian setting with elegant cinematography and a scream-queen-in-the-making turn from Maika Monroe. It's a slow-burning thriller that takes time to explore each side of being a "watcher"—stalking someone and having someone stalk you. While it is short in surprises storywise, the coldly unsettling atmosphere by director Chloe Okuno is well crafted.

    Thriller films like this can be overdone and generic, and some plot beats in this film definitely feel familiar. But the…

  • This Is Going to Hurt

    This Is Going to Hurt

    ★★★★½

    Led by astounding performances from Ben Whishaw and Ambika Mod, "This is Going to Hurt" is a revealing look at the state of public medical facilities and the mental and physical torment that affects doctors and medical workers. This is a challenging series to watch as it depicts childbirth problems and the struggles of the characters viscerally, yet the drama is balanced with hilarious one-liners, fourth wall breaks, and outrageous moments that lighten up the mood.

    Whishaw proves to be…

  • The Host

    The Host

    ★★★½

    "The Host" is not one of Bong Joon-ho's most renowned works as it is not the most memorable monster movie out there, but it has a fearless bite in its social commentary with regard to contemporary American imperialism, incompetent governments, and mass hysteria. Similar to Bong Joon Ho's other works, the film walks a tightrope of comedy, satire, drama, action, and creature film genres, and while the entirety is not completely cohesive, the attempts to infuse various ideas are worth…

  • Father of the Bride

    Father of the Bride

    ★★★½

    "Father of the Bride" brings the premise of the comedy classic into a 2020s setting that explores gender roles in marriages and the clash of tradition vs. modernity. Andy Garcia leads a remarkable cast and gives fascinating nuance and complexity to Billy, a man conflicted with his daughter's choice to marry. Adria Arjona also provides a perfectly poignant performance as a young woman who seemed to take the lead role in her romantic relationship.

    It does not reinvent the wheel…

  • The Great Hack

    The Great Hack

    ★★★

    The lack of regulation over disinformation and the sowing of hatred on social media continue to destroy democracies around the world, and "The Great Hack" explores the damaging contribution of Cambridge Analytica to society. While the topic couldn't be more relevant, the documentary is a bit tepid in execution without a lot of goosebump-inducing moments one could expect from this kind of subject.

    Cambridge Analytica stole the psychological information of people and used the datasets to devise plans for Trump's…

  • Under the Banner of Heaven

    Under the Banner of Heaven

    ★★★½

    "Under the Banner of Heaven" brings the detective thriller genre to Mormon culture and bravely exposes that some churches have been historically spreading lies to justify the personal interests of cis males. The limited series is not consistently engaging due to its lethargic pacing and flashback overkill. But it has a terrific cast led by a massively talented Andrew Garfield playing a Mormon detective starting to doubt his faith after the murder of a mother and daughter.

    Garfield is excellent,…

  • A Few Good Men

    A Few Good Men

    ★★★★

    Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men" is a riveting courtroom drama boasting an incendiary script from Aaron Sorkin and masterful performances from Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and especially Jack Nicholson. The film follows three military lawyers defending two marines, and the fact that the two marines actually killed someone adds more complex themes to the story. It becomes a struggle for the truth, a scrutiny of moral codes, and a study of the extent in which one should follow orders.…