Friday, December 22, 2017

Call Me By Your Name: Movie Review


Sensual love and haunting sadness.
Call Me By Your Name is a film about love and sadness. I would argue that that’s all it’s about and it’s beautiful. Timothée Chalamet stars as Elio a teenager in Italy who likes lounging about. Armie Hammer co-stars as Oliver an American who has come to stay with Elio’s family and work with his father. Elio doesn’t like Oliver much and just views him as another arrogant American. The subtle shifts in the characters and their perceptions is particularly good. 2017

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay by: James Ivory
Based on the novel by André Aciman

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Get Out: Movie Review


Humorous, bizarre and very well made.
Get Out is the type of movie that just begs you to keep watching. The theme of systemic racism has been explored before, the psychological thriller/supernatural element of the suburbs has been done before, even the horror ending has been done before (at least similarly), but none of it has been put together in quite this way before. It’s a very complete movie with brilliantly designed cinematography, and a score that perfectly balances the uneasiness and inherent humour. 2017

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Screenplay by: Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Disaster Artist: Movie Review


Hysterically funny real-life nonsense.
After just a few funny scenes of The Disaster Artist, I started getting antsy, that maybe I shouldn’t be laughing at one man’s lunacy, but there are two good points to keep in mind. As much as this is a comedy about the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (it is – and a very funny one at that), it’s mainly about friendship and the pursuit of dreams, and Tommy Wiseau is all for it. 2017

Directed by: James Franco

Screenplay by: Scott Neustadter, Michael Weber
Based on book by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wonder Wheel: Movie Review


Empty, meaningless fusion of 1950s Coney Island and family melodrama.
Wonder Wheel is disappointing. An interestingly constructed, 1950s fusion of Coney Island and the melodrama of a play. The main issue is that it’s just so empty. Ginny (Kate Winslet) is having an affair with attractive lifeguard and aspiring playwright, Mickey (Justin Timberlake). She spends her days having sex with him and fretting about how awful her life is. Mickey spends all of his time expounding to the camera about being in love with Ginny or her step-daughter Carolina (Juno Temple). 2017

Directed by: Woody Allen

Screenplay by: Woody Allen

Starring: Juno Temple, Kate Winslet, Jim Belushi and Justin Timberlake

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lady Bird: Movie Review

Heartfelt, honest and funny.
Lady Bird is about a lot of smaller ideas, all of which might seem uninteresting to the average viewer, but it so perfectly captures the awkwardness of a teenager coming of age and trying to survive her last year of high school, that there’s a relatable humour and warmth that will echo throughout the generations. Writer and director Greta Gerwig has referred to it as a love letter to her hometown of Sacramento, California, and it’s also about navigating the slightly different social structure of an all-girls catholic school, which Gerwig herself attended. 2017

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Screenplay by: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Movie Review


Brilliantly unsettling drama.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of those movies where you are never allowed to get comfortable. Every time you think you know what it’s about, there’s another twist which turns all of its themes on its head. And that’s impressive for a drama, a drama about police relations, racism, homophobia, bigotry, and a parent’s grief about the death of a child. 2017

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Screenplay by: Martin McDonagh

Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Colossal: Movie Review


Unique, interesting and entertaining.
If you have ever wanted to have a discussion about extremely self-destructive people, then you need to watch Colossal. A movie that’s more clever than it has any right to be. Gloria (Anne Hathaway) spends her nights getting drunk and then waking up in the morning (or afternoon) with a hangover unable to remember what happened the night before, and then rinse and repeat. Meanwhile there’s a giant monster terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. Interestingly, these two events are intimately connected. 2017

Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo

Screenplay by: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Opening Night: Movie Review


Delightfully funny, chaotically real.
What a blast. There are a number of things that films can do to overcome weak stories and characters, namely, have a quick pace with popular songs and funny lines, and that’s exactly what Opening Night does. Set in approximately real time backstage at a Broadway musical on opening night, the characters aren’t particularly innovative. There are a lot of gay men and drama queens, helpful hands who aren’t exactly helpful, and Nick (Topher Grace) – the stage manager trying to pull everything together. 2017

Directed by: Isaac Rentz

Screenplay by: Gerry de Leon, Greg Lisi

Starring: Topher Grace, JC Chasez, Taye Diggs, and Alona Tal

Friday, September 1, 2017

Blood Honey: Movie Review

A campy story with death and bees.

There are a number of working titles floating around including “The Hive” and “The Bequest” but I wonder if they considered the very fitting “Death by Bees”. Not only does this film feature a literal death by bees but it also brings to mind the B-horror films like Killer Bees which should attract the right audience for these campy thrillers. Although I’m not sure campy is the right word for a poor story played out very dramatically. 2017

Directed by: Jeff Kopas

Screenplay by: Jeff Kopas, Doug Taylor

Starring: Shenae Grimes-Beech

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Wind River: Movie Review


Thoughtful, compelling and distressing.
Wind River starts with the end of a life of a Native American woman. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say murder mystery, but it does feel like that is a cheap description. This film is a drama, a tightly wound drama at times, while on its way to avenging a murder (either through legal justice or revenge) it gives some thoughtful pause to racial tensions between Native Americans and their white neighbours, and the universality of grief. 2017

Directed by: Taylor Sheridan

Screenplay by: Taylor Sheridan

Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner

Friday, August 18, 2017

Lemon: Movie Review


Not a good crazy.
There’s a scene in Lemon where Michael Cera’s character says to Brett Gelman’s character, “I knew you were crazy, but I thought it was a good crazy. I liked it. I liked it a lot; I thought it was fun. Now I know you’re bad crazy; you’re unstable.” The quote also works as a good description of the film. A film that is very clearly crazy, but is it good crazy or bad crazy? Could it be a fun and likable kind of crazy? The answer to the latter question is “no.” 2017

Directed by: Janicza Bravo

Screenplay by: Janicza Bravo, Brett Gelman

Starring: Brett Gelman, Judy Greer

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Landline: Movie Review


Witty, genuine and authentic.
Landline is set in the 90s. The filmmakers definitely make that point clear, but at the same time the references are mostly kept in the background. The film is so much more than outdated fashion and culture jokes. It’s a very enjoyable treatise on love – family love and commitment to yourself and commitment to another you’ve professed to love. It hits that remarkable balance between witty silliness and relatable drama of real life. 2017

Directed by: Gillian Robespierre

Screenplay by: Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre

Starring: Jenny Slate, Abby Quinn, Edie Falco, John Turturro and Jay Duplass

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lady Macbeth: Movie Review


A dark and twisted tale of love and murder.
Lady Macbeth is a film deserving of its namesake, in that there are no likable characters. This is a film filled with sociopathic people completely devoid of empathy – and yet there is something compelling about the murderess protagonist. The film itself is based on the Russian novella "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District" (which of course borrows its title from the Shakespearean character), although veers significantly from the original material. 2016

Directed by: William Oldroyd

Screenplay by: Alice Birch
Based on the novel by Nikolai Leskov

Starring: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Little Hours: Movie Review


A nun sex comedy goes crazy and sometimes funny.
The Little Hours is a medieval satirical farce, a sex romp through a nunnery and its countryside. The movie looks exactly like it could have been a Monty Python sketch. An idea that probably should have remained just that, but writer and director Jeff Baena and the cast with a background in sitcoms were able to stretch it out with enough laughs to keep the audience’s attention. 2017

Directed by: Jeff Baena

Screenplay by: Jeff Baena

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, John C. Reilly

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Ghost Story: Movie Review


Creative exploration of life and loss with a uniquely engaging ghost.
A Ghost Story is an incredibly unique and odd experience and although I have no desire to describe it in overly philosophical and broad terms, describing how it accomplishes what it accomplishes is going to be a challenge. First, writer and director David Lowery has chosen a box-like 1.33:1 aspect ratio with rounded corners. Similar to photographs you’ve seen in your grandparents’ albums. It gives the film a worn-out but familiar atmosphere, like this moving story of a ghost’s life is a family photograph held onto and cherished through the years. 2017

Directed by: David Lowery

Screenplay by: David Lowery

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Detroit: Movie Review


Powerful foray into America’s race riots.
Detroit opens with a cartoon detailing a brief synopsis of the racial history of the early to mid 1900s, that leads into Detroit in the 1960s with African Americans milling about on the streets, many out of work, most just going on with their lives despite the unrest, racist cops sputtering their racist ideas, black politicians being the voice for the brewing civil unrest and black cops not wanting to be the voice for every African American in the country. Tensions boil over, race riots ensue. 2017

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Screenplay by: Mark Boal

Starring: Will Poulter, Algee Smith, John Boyega, Anthony Mackie

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Incredible Jessica James: Movie Review


Not as incredible as she thinks she is.
The Incredible Jessica James is only partly a misnomer. The title Jessica (played by The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams) thinks of herself as incredible. She also likes to use many other adjectives to describe how wonderful she is, but it doesn’t take long before the audience just finds her annoying and incredibly insufferable. Oddly the movie around her is mostly non-descript. An unremarkable comedy-drama mixing together a little quarter-life crisis with a romantic comedy. 2017

Directed by: James C. Strouse

Screenplay by: James C. Strouse

Starring: Jessica Williams, Chris O'Dowd

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Girls Trip: Movie Review


Funny and satisfying film about love, sex, pee, drugs, debauchery and self-acceptance.
The thing about Girls Trip that works is that it cares about its characters, and its audience. It’s a funny film – crass, funny, and sweet; and so effortlessly it has us caring about this foursome of women. None of these character types are new to film, and none are overly complicated, but they all contribute to the film and there’s a genuineness to all four of them which makes the predictability and relationship drama easier to swallow. 2017

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee

Screenplay by: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver

Starring: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dunkirk: Movie Review

Visually and aurally immersive experience of war.

Christopher Nolan decided to tell a World War II movie. One thing needs to be made very clear: this is not a story; this is a visually and aurally immersive experience of war. I’m sure many people were thinking Dunkirk would be something along the lines of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan but updated with today’s impressive technology and added upon with Nolan’s visual flair, but Nolan is striking a very different chord. Dunkirk just wants to get you in your seat and throw a thousand different things at you. 2017

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Screenplay by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Mark Rylance, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh

Monday, July 17, 2017

To the Bone: Movie Review


Dramedy tied together with empathy.
To the Bone is a somber yet intriguingly uplifting look at the life of a young woman struggling with anorexia nervosa, and this is the extreme side of the disorder, literally on the brink of death. Or looking at that another way, the film is about a young woman dying who is incapable of saving herself. Not an easy watch, but that’s also only in parts because of the film’s use of humour and introduction of supporting characters there is a feeling of optimism scattered throughout. 2017

Directed by: Marti Noxon

Screenplay by: Marti Noxon

Starring: Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Big Sick: Movie Review


Funny, heartfelt romantic comedy with real characters (literally).
The Big Sick explores several topics including the struggle of artists as they try to make it big, the clash of American and Pakistani cultures, relationships with in-laws, and how near-death experiences can change people and their loved ones, and it does all of this while being framed as a romantic comedy. Which is just one of the reasons it’s a good movie: an accessible and entertaining romantic comedy but approaches it from more interesting, and refreshing, view points. 2017

Directed by: Michael Showalter

Screenplay by: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Handsome Devil: Movie Review


A well-told entertaining and inspiring coming-of-age story for our times.
Handsome Devil is a great film because it effortlessly combines characters both relatable and vital to the well-being of society, important themes of acceptance and self-confidence, and grandiose statements on the nature of growing-up, and put them all in an entertaining story. It brings to mind similar films that have come before it, notably Dead Poets Society and School Ties, but still draws a favourable comparison. This is a film for now, for this generation of school kids, and is good enough to make a difference. 2016

Directed by: John Butler

Screenplay by: John Butler

Starring: Fionn O'Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, and Andrew Scott

Monday, June 12, 2017

Shimmer Lake: Movie Review

Atmosphere and comedy hold together backwards crime drama.

Shimmer Lake has a great atmosphere and an intriguing sense that an interesting mystery is unfolding. It starts on Friday only giving hints as to what happened. Then progressing backwards through the week, providing further clues, and a few dead bodies, to show how it all went down. It takes most of that time to produce a coherent crime drama and the comedic casting makes it difficult to strike the right tone; however, by the end, you have watched a funny, interesting crime drama best told in reverse. 2017

Directed by: Oren Uziel

Screenplay by: Oren Uziel

Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Megan Leavey: Movie Review


The bond between woman and dog with emotional strength.
Megan Leavey is a dog movie, but it’s also a war movie. Kate Mara stars as Megan Leavey, a young woman who turned to alcohol following the death of her best friend who died at the hands of drugs and alcohol. She’s very clearly lost in life and has no difficulty admitting it; she blames her parents (mostly her mother) for not letting her cope, but she had to get out of the house and do something, so she joined the Marine Corps. 2017

Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Screenplay by: Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt

Starring: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez

Monday, May 22, 2017

Baywatch: Movie Review


A fun and entertaining ride into the ridiculousness.
When Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) describes their lifeguard job as saving lives, chasing down criminals, uncovering intricate crime rings and doing everything that the police should be doing, Zac Efron’s character Matt Brody responds “that sounds like an entertaining but really far-fetched TV show.” Considering that’s what Baywatch is, it’s only fitting that that’s also what this movie remake is as well. For the most part, entertaining, but also utterly ridiculous and they play that up big time. 2017

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Screenplay by: Mark Swift, Damian Shannon

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Everything, Everything: Movie Review

Romance carries the movie, everything else sinks it.

Everything, Everything wants to be both everything and nothing at the same time, and that doesn’t work. On one hand it looks like it wants to be an edgy, surreal, quirky film - at that it fails. At other times, all it's trying to be is a straight-forward teen romantic drama and it definitely succeeds at that. The story is straight out of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, source material that is more fantasy than reality, and this adaptation from a young-adult novel isn't any more convincing. 2017

Directed by: Stella Meghie

Screenplay by: J. Mills Goodloe
Based on the book by Nicola Yoon

Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Snatched: Movie Review


Implausibility rules raunchy adventure comedy with mother-daughter relationship.
As demonstrated in Trainwreck, Amy Schumer is really good at playing an extreme version of a regular woman – being relatable and funny at the same time. In Snatched, Schumer’s Emily is more incompetent than the average woman, and is really funny when she quits her job right after she’s fired or breaking up with her boyfriend right after he dumps her (speaking of which, Randall Park was great as said boyfriend). 2017

Directed by: Jonathan Levine

Screenplay by: Katie Dippold

Starring: Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn