Chungking Express is a wonderful portrayal of quirky, confused and complicated people in the crowded corners of Hong Kong. A young cop faces a quarter-life crisis as he approaches his 25th birthday. A mysterious blonde-wigged woman becomes a mess as her underground drug operations go south. A restaurant employee plays “California Dreamin’” loudly at the counter to avoid thinking. Another cop laments about the recent breakup of his girlfriend by treating all his inanimate objects like human beings, from stuffed animals to washcloths. Some of these characters collide, and some don’t. Some of their stories have an ending and others ambiguously fade away. Continue reading ““Chungking Express” Review”
I partially knew what I was in for with a film like The Upside. Prepared for the most milquetoast of melodrama, I grabbed a coffee and sat back hoping to be won over by the chemistry of Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. The coffee was a mistake as I found myself so baffled by the poor filmmaking layered on top of banal laughs and hokey drama that I wondered why the rest of the audiences seemed to be rolling with laughter. I wish I had whatever they were drinking. Continue reading ““The Upside” Review”
Both Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly certainly have the look of the iconic comedic duo Laurel and Hardy down pat. Stan & Ollie is a film that doesn’t waste that look, taking care to make something worthy of their makeup but not merely turn in a somber tale of how the two faded from the silent vaudeville days into the frustrating 1950s. It’s a love letter to the pair which takes a fonder approach to their twilight years and gives them a gracious send-off rather than a golden glory day retrospective. Continue reading ““Stan & Ollie” Review”
Creed II has everything I did and didn’t want in a sequel to the Rocky spin-off. While it does present Adonis Creed with another tough boxing challenge and ties directly into his lineage for being the son of Apollo, it also slips too comfortably into the old Rocky movies. The punches are heavier, the stakes are higher, and character drama is amplified to the point of being a melodrama. And while it certainly gets the job done as a blood-pumping pleaser, it does show a bit of wear and tear that threatens to take the Creed franchise down a peg into the lesser Rocky territory. Continue reading ““Creed II” Review”
The best that can be said of the Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, is that Rami Malek is fun to watch as Freddie Mercury. He has a lot of the power and vibrancy to rock the stage as the music legend who parades in tight pants and uses the microphone like a baton. That’s all well and good for a Queen tribute of sorts but it’s a bit of a shame that this movie only delivers the bare bones of the story behind the mustache and doesn’t bother to shake them as well as Malek can shake his pelvis.
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First Man doesn’t so much tell a straight story of Neil Armstrong’s mission to the moon as much as it tries to slip inside his mind, trying to feel every jolt of the cockpit and every sting of surrounding death. Director Damien Chazelle goes digging for an experience in Armstrong’s path which is certainly debatable in motivation but nevertheless keeps your eyes locked on the objective as strongly as Neil keeps focused. And for the direction Chazelle chooses to steer this towering biography, it’s a trip worth taking.
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If yet another remake of A Star is Born seems like one too many, consider Sam Elliott’s words in the film about the nature of musicians. All songs have a somewhat similar construction and it’s all up to the artist to interpret it their own way. And director Bradley Cooper certainly gives this old story a flavor all its own, sparkling with fantastic songs, character chemistry, and a skillfully edited presentation. At the center is Lady Gaga, taking her well-established singing abilities to the big screen. Can she act as well as she sings? After this film, there’s little doubt she was destined to be an actor. The film’s title couldn’t be any more fitting for her. Continue reading ““A Star is Born” Review”
Few films of action and revenge come with a genuine sense of terror and pathos. Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here has enough faith in the audience to piece together its broken hero, his traumatic history and a commentary on his nature of violence with hardly a word. In the tired and formulaic format of action-oriented revenge and rescue films, Ramsay has found something more artful and meaningful past the usual gun-toting. Here is a film that takes its time with its gripping violence, where every kill carries more weight than a rush of adrenaline. Rarely have I received such chills with the tale of a man killing people to save a little girl.
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“But did you know those actors were the real people from the true events?” Yes, I’ve heard it everywhere. From the TV interviews to the word-of-mouth buzz, to even the usually blank comment cards at the press screening. It’s an admirable gimmick from Clint Eastwood and a surefire way to garner easy praises of patriotism for a film that holds real heroes up on the screen. It may even be an ironclad way to avoid criticism, making a case that those who don’t like the film don’t like the heroes. The truth is I do like the real-life trio brought together for this film that stopped a terrorist on a train. I like them so much I didn’t want to see them flounder on screen with a film that has little to say about them past being average men that did average things in a surprisingly average movie adaptation.
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In the era of so-called fake news and questioning of journalistic integrity, Steven Spielberg’s The Post is both eerie and timely. It’s a mostly reactionary piece to be sure that focuses more on the importance of the Washington Post’s contribution to free press and representation. And, yes, it does slam its points home with the power of Thor’s hammer. But in an age when we tend to devalue journalism to such a degree, such an impact feels warranted.
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