Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
Love Everything But the Ending
Much like The Sixth Sense, it took me probably too long to check out M. Night's faith based thriller, and for the most part, it lived up to the hype. However, the ending and certain plot explanations were laughable and ruined some of the experience for me. But his slow burn approach to this sci-fi thriller is admirable and undoubtedly influential to its core. I almost would have preferred even fewer answers than we got. But if there's one great thing, it's that James Newton Howard score.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Paved the Way for Zombie Films for Decades to Come
If for nothing else, Night of the Living Dead is a fascinating look into a world of television and film that wasn't flooded with undead material, whether it be 3 Walking Dead related shows, or Zombie sequels like this past weekends Zombieland 2, it's a much different time now than it was in 1968. So if you judge the film as being one of the first true zombie films to take off in the mainstream, it's a much more enjoyable experience. Heck, this film does something that most undead flicks don't which is adding a certain amount of intelligence to the creatures, like using weapons? No matter, you can appreciate the craft from George A Romero, even if it doesn't hold up as much as you'd like.
Carlito's Way (1993)
"If you can't see the angles no more, you're in trouble"
In the years since, there have been plenty of films about characters trying to get out of or 'escape' the troubled life they're living. There's something infinitely appealing about watching characters who can't quite leave their criminal life, and perhaps no one plays them better then Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Pacino plays the titular character this time around, surrounded by early turns from Sean Penn, John Leguizamo, and Viggo Mortensen. Much like several other classic Pacino performances, Carlito's Way is an excellent showcase of his talent, and a time when crime films were a whole lot better than they are now (for the most part). Here's hoping The Irishman is this good.
This is Cinema
I might as well be the 9 millionth person to express their opinions on the Joker movie online, but I won't bring any sort of strong thoughts one way or another. I really liked the film, and even if the film doesn't have an intricate plot to dissect, there's certainly plenty to discuss. I've seen a ton of Joaquin Phoenix movies, and I'm not sure he's ever been better. Todd Phillips brings the best out of Phoenix and seems to have a blast playing in an entirely different sandbox than something like The Hangover or Due Date, instead something like Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy. Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir does a phenomenal job setting the aesthetic and tone with her unsettling score. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher brings something entirely new to the superhero genre. This controversial, provocative, and disturbingly violent film will more than likely be debated for decades to come. Perhaps more than anything else, this is cinema. (I'm looking at you Scorsese & Coppola)
The Walking Dead: Ghosts (2019)
While not necessarily a bad thing, this felt like the type of episode that The Walking Dead would put out a few years ago. Especially following a flashback heavy episode last week, I figured there may be a little bit more sense of urgency with The Whisperer storyline. But I have to remember this is a 16 episode arc and there will be plenty of 'filler' episodes, let's just hope they're good.
One of the things I love that they established with The Whisperers is there mysterious ability to monitor the crew without showing themselves. Sure, we had that long staredown a few weeks back with Carol & Alpha, but since the massacre in episode 9.15 last year, there hasn't been a ton of interaction between the two groups, at least as much as there were with The Saviors. But that in itself lends itself to a creepier vibe and aesthetic.
Is this the first time we've had a pill-popping storyline on The Walking Dead? It feels like it. Every TV show has to do it, it's like a requirement... All jokes aside, if I'd buy anyone getting themselves in trouble with drugs/pills, it would probably be Carol. And I enjoyed all of the hallucination sequences, which is like free thrills/horror. The Aaron/Negan dynamic was interesting too. As Ross Marquand said on Talking Dead, this is essentially the first time they have had extended scenes together, and a chance to catch up on all the horror Negan has brought to Aaron and his friends/family.
All in all, it's forgettable but still well done in many areas. I have a good feeling about this season, but it still has a ways to go before we get back to the quality of season 9.
A Surprising Win for Dreamworks
In the age of the blockbuster and the only films that succeed are IP based, Abominable may end up losing money for Dreamworks, but it's more than worth the price of admission and a sweet film for the entire family. A lovely soundtrack, gorgeous animation, and a direction that doesn't blatantly cater towards the potty humor that some studios do (ahem...Illumination). I even nearly teared up towards the end of the film. A job well done overall.
To Die For (1995)
"What's the Point if No One is Watching"
A young Nicole Kidman here reminded me of the off-kilter performance from Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler a few years back. The film is just strange enough to be enjoyable, even if it's hard to see the ultimate point of the film. I appreciated the semi-mockumentary style approach and early performances from Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix, but time hasn't necessarily been kind to the film. Other movies since have done a more efficient job of presenting a story with similar subject matter.
What Maisie Knew (2012)
She Just Needs Some TLC
It's pretty rare you get a movie centered around divorce where the story is told through the eyes of the child in the midst of it. 'What Maisie Knew' is an underrated little independent film about a young girl caught in between a nasty divorce battle, and at times, is forced to choose where she wants to spend her time. Filled with great performances from famous actors, and one from the unknown Onata Aprile, it's an enjoyable drama for the whole family, and who knows, it may help keep some together.
Influential But Doesn't Necessarily Hold Up
There's a point about 4 minutes in to watching Persona that you begin to wonder what exactly you decided to spend 80 minutes experiencing. And even after the runtime, it's not exactly easy to interpret the message behind Bergman's psychological thriller. I almost feel like Bergman's films are films you experience and not necessarily ones you understand, am I right? He was essentially David Lynch before Lynch existed. And I can see how he inspired dozens of filmmakers to this day, but I'm not sure how effective his films may be on a viewer like me.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow, There's an Oscar Win
Much like Gary Oldman in The Darkest Hour a few years ago or Glenn Close in The Wife last year, it seems like Renee Zellweger completely overshadows the movie itself as the titular, Judy Garland. She transforms into the tragic music legend of the mid 20th century to give what may be the best performance by an actress all year. Perhaps only outshined by her co-star Jessie Buckley, who stunned in this past summer's Wild Rose. The movie is forgettable overall, but Zellweger is worth the price of admission herself.
Arrow: Starling City (2019)
I very well may have said this about the premiere last year, but this episode didn't have to do a whole lot to excite me about the season. Season 7 is the worst season in the show's history and the show hasn't had more than one good episode in a row since Prometheus was still on the board. Well, strangely enough, this episode just so happened to co-star Josh Segarra in what was a surprisingly well thought out 42 minutes with more than just great fan-service.
Really, if it weren't for the flash-forward's, there would be no reason to not give the episode a 10. I love the idea that this season will be taking Ollie back to events of his past, or perhaps more vaguely, characters (and actors) we haven't seen in years. How incredible was it to see Moira and Malcom back on screen (together!) for the first time since the season 5 crossover (and really season 2)? The show has missed those two mightily, but I also admire the guts of the writers at the time to kill them off when they did. Something The Flash almost certainly will never do with its 'beloved' characters.
Did I just write two paragraphs without even mentioning the Bruce Wayne/Batman mask easter eggs? Yeah, well those mentions don't really have the weight or impact they once did. Even so, hearing Prometheus say he's gotten advice from Wayne before certainly gave me chills.
One of the things I loved about the structure of the episode was that it didn't feel the need to explain everything to its audience. The Flash often struggles to understand how to communicate complicated plot to its viewers. Sometimes the answer is to just wing it and choose not to. We didn't even know what earth Ollie was on (or why) for quite a few scenes. That's much better than what CW typically attempts to do.
Couple of other things I need to mention: the Ollie/Dig scene in the car brought back memories and a massive smile to my face. The mansion made its return! Ollie repeating the "I'm 10 steps ahead of you" line to Chase was picture perfect. The Tommy/Oliver dynamic mirroring season 1 was awesome, even though most may consider it pandering. Whether or not next week's (and the rest of the season's episodes) live up to this week's is to be determined, but I'm just glad the show is about Ollie again. Because it definitely wasn't for the last 2 years.
Brave Enough to Walk With the Dead
It feels like it's been awhile since we've had a flashback heavy episode that gives us a better idea as to who some of the more background characters are and where they came from. Not that The Whisperers are background, but considering we barely know any of their stories besides Lydia's (to a certain extent), this episode provided some further context.
Once again Samantha Morton came to play in a big way as we got a sort of side by side look into her life years ago as the apocalypse was unfolding and where she's at now as she looks for a new new daughter figure in her life with Lydia a part of the Alexandrians. We got to see her breakdown and be emotional for the first time, give Beta his name, and proclaim Gamma the new 3rd in command of sorts after saving her life. If for nothing else, I'm always down for a TWD episode that shakes up for the formula and sets the stage for something larger. This episode certainly provided that.
It sure seems like the "Whisperer War" is beginning sooner rather than later this year. I'm undoubtedly okay with that.
The Walking Dead: Lines We Cross (2019)
The Villains of Someone Else's Story
Surprisingly it felt like this off season without Walking Dead went by quicker than ever, even though the series is coming off what could be considered the best season ever.
I figured the episode would 'hide' Alpha and The Whisperers for a good chunk to reintroduce the audience to the mystique of the show, and they did just that. It also reintroduced us to the structure of a show that still clearly has about 4-5 too many characters. Whether it's the mostly unnecessary but entertaining training sequence, to Negan introducing himself to Lydia, or Carol/Daryl's ride, the show decided to focus more on characters than it did plot. Especially as the majority of the episode dealt with the arrival of a satellite that burnt down most of the forest right along the border.
More than anything else, the episode made me want to revisit the last few episodes of last season, especially the fair episode. Besides the final staredown, there wasn't a ton of things to tackle in terms of an official review but it was a promising start to what should be a phenomenal season 10.
La haine (1995)
The World is Yours
24 years later, a story about 24 hours in the life of three young men in France after riots and police brutality change their lives, still feels incredibly relevant. In fact, I wrote down in my notes that the film is ripe for a remake, whether that be a film or mini-series, it feels like time. Whether it's the unclear symbolism of the cow, it's comment on the power you feel with a gun, references to Taxi Driver, or other various homages, La Haine clearly has a lot on its mind, and I'm all here for it, right up to its final, brutal & devastating moments. You can see why this film is considered one of the greats.
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)
Largely Unnecessary Plot, But Laugh Out Loud 90% of the Runtime
Not that there's a whole lot to review about a Between Two Ferns film, but at the very least it could be in the discussion for best comedy of the year, with Booksmart, Good Boys, and Long Shot. It's hard to believe there's only been a handful to choose from. The best thing to say about the film is that it's basically non-stop laugh out humor from beginning to end, with a plot around the jokes to be less than stellar. But if you're a fan of Galifianakis' dead pan humor, then the film is just for you.
No Strings Attached (2011)
I'm a huge fan of the Mila Kunis/Justin Timberlake lead 'Friends With Benefits' which is probably the reason why I held off for so many years with 'No Strings Attached', released the very same year. Both plots are eerily similar but just like every other genre, if you succeed in using a similar formula, then what does it really matter? And technically this film came before 'Friends With Benefits'. Natalie Portman, who has truly become one of the greatest actors of this generation (and she's still under 40!), has great chemistry with fellow lead Ashton Kutcher, who expectedly begin to fall for each other after years of friendship. Much like the previously mentioned 'Friends With Benefits', the film is rounded out with a great cast of supporting actors, Greta Gerwig, Jake Johnson, Lake Bell, Ludacris, Mindy Kaling, and Kevin Kline. It's nothing earth-shattering, but the film is a good time nonetheless.
Ad Astra (2019)
To the Stars
I'll always contend that the single most important thing about a film is how it finishes and makes you feel as you leave the theater. Unfortunately for Ad Astra, it doesn't quite know how it wants to close out the story of a man sent to uncover the secrets of his father's mission decades prior, and potentially, save his life. There are sequences in Ad Astra unlike any other space film I've ever seen, including an extraordinary chase on the moon. I was thrilled the trailers didn't show too much either, and quite frankly, presented an entirely different movie in the marketing material. More than likely though, this film will be likely forgotten come awards season, much like First Man last year. The ending just falls too flat to leave you with a good taste as you leave the cinema. I would love to see James Gray do more sci-fi though.
We Were Hurricanes
Fair or not, Hustlers is very much Goodfellas with strippers, but that's not a criticism necessarily, but more of just a comment on the structure and tone of the story. When following main characters that are criminals, more often than not the film shows the rise and fall, and Hustlers is no different as the rise is far more captivating than the latter. I haven't seen a ton of Jennifer Lopez performances, but Hustlers is far and away the best she's ever been. The sequence on the pole that everyone is talking about just goes to show you how impressive she can be as a presence without saying many lines. Is she good enough to warrant a nomination? I'm not sure about that, but it's worth the discussion. The bottom line being that Hustlers is a story that should be told and I'm thrilled it was.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Legends Never Die....
It sure seemed like the end of Rambo 4 meant that he was finally going home and in a way "walking off into the sunset", well leave it to Stallone to revisit the character *one* more time. Last Blood in many ways feels like a fitting end to the series. It's extremely violent, Stallone is once again difficult to understand, and it contains as many cheesy one liners as it does moments to cheer for because of some elaborately gruesome kill Rambo makes on a henchman. It's like this film wants to be both Logan and Taken at the same time, while throwing in some over the top Expendables like action. It's nothing short of absurd.
"Killing is as easy as breathing"
High octane action, Sly mumbling his words through 90 minutes, and unnecessarily ridiculously bloody action, Rambo is perhaps the deadliest movie of all time and I'm still not sure if that's a compliment for this type of action movie or not. The plot? Well, if you really care about that for a Rambo film, it revolves around a group of christian aid workers who decide to head into war torn Burma to assist the locals, and of course, get taken captive. It's incredibly convoluted and once again very silly (yet takes itself way too serious), but admittedly, it's much more entertaining than the 3rd film, and some say this is the best Rambo to date.
Rambo III (1988)
"Come Full Circle"
There have been 2 Rambo films since, but yet Rambo III deals specifically with the idea that John Rambo keeps getting pulled back into conflict, and it never truly leaves him. The third film focuses on his trek to save Col. Trautman from Soviet Forces in Afghanistan. Where the second film feels like dumb fun, Rambo III is almost all the former, presenting a script so silly only the 1980's can deliver. This is essentially a carbon copy of the second film, without any of the charm. And really, this probably should have ended the franchise, if it wasn't for Stallone constantly wanting to go back to the well and revisit old properties.
Official Secrets (2019)
A Dangerous Truth
It's sometimes difficult for films that deal with heavy dialogue covering subjects that are not always the easiest to translate on screen to create thrilling 100 minutes or so. Official Secrets does it well, bolstered by yet another great (period piece) performance from Keira Knightley. This film may not be revered as much as All the President's Men or Spotlight but it's up there for me. Separating itself by showing the true costs of being a whistleblower emotionally and physically while still succeeding in using a similar formula structurally. I was nothing short of enthralled with Official Secrets.
The Goldfinch (2019)
Not a Disaster, But Certainly a Disappointment
It's always disappointing when a film releases one of the best trailers (and I thought marketing campaigns overall) this year and then film comes out and bombs the way The Goldfinch did. And it doesn't help that the film itself isn't all that good to begin with. Packed with solid acting, gorgeous cinematography, and a story that should be extraordinary to tell on the big screen, The Goldfinch has every part of the process down for success, except for the execution. It was one of my most anticipated films of the back half of 2019, and sadly it's one of the bigger letdowns of the last few years. But it's also far from the atrocity some critics are making it out to be. It's certainly watchable, but it's far too long for repeated viewings.
Meek's Cutoff (2010)
Am I Playing Oregon Trail?
What's great about going back through Michelle Williams filmography is that there's a wide range of genres and roles for her to dive into. She's pretty much been a force in Hollywood for just about 15 years and I'm convinced there's nothing she can't do. With Meek's Cutoff, she explores the Oregon Trail era time when finding new land and gold was just about the only goal people had. The film mostly focuses on the former, as Williams along with Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, and Paul Dano also star as settlers in the middle of the desert with no water in sight, as tensions rise. It's largely a walk and talk (Linklater style) western set in the 1840's, but director Kelly Reichardt does a lot with a little, and brings extraordinary performances out of her actors.
When Life Was "Simpler"
While the movie overall didn't completely land with me emotionally, I love a story about the time in your life when things were simpler and your world view was small. For Juli Baker and Bryce Loski, a childhood crush was life or death. With that, Flipped is a lovable story about your childhood love and perhaps the judgements you make about people before you really know them, something everyone is guilty of when you're young. The bow that gets wrapped at the end doesn't necessarily feel earned, but it's a pretty sweet little film that not many have seen, and that should change.