Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2020

Clover (2020) Entertains the Dubious Nature of Luck in the Mob Genre

clover movie review 2020
In the gritty world of mobsters, there’s the hunter and the prey. A hierarchy of crime bosses rule the roost while their henchmen or women, loaners, and sharks must obey pecking order to survive. Step one toe out of line and the whole business descends into chaos. This is something two hapless brothers in Clover learn the hard way.

Mickey (Jon Abrahams) and Jackie (Mark Webber) Callaghan are about to lose the pub that's been in the family for generations. The night before they’re supposed to payback a sizable loan, Jackie loses it all while gambling. When local mobster Tony Davolio (Chazz Palminteri) offers one last opportunity to wipe the slate clean, the siblings must go on the run with a young girl Clover (Nicole Elizabeth Berger) after she accidentally kills Davolio’s son.

Friday, March 13, 2020

(M.O.M.) Mothers of Monsters (2020) Compels Us To Question A Mother's Love

One of the scariest crossroads a parent can imagine is their children heading towards a destructive path where they want to cause themselves or others harm. What’s worse is when their child exhibits violent tendencies, but they aren't able to seek proper help and are left to their own devices. Tapping into the dysfunctional relationship between a mother and son, as well as the violence springing from young adults today, M.O.M. (Mothers of Monsters) tackles mother’s intuition and societal paranoia.

Concerned mother Abbey (Melinda Page Hamilton) has recognized a pattern of mental health issues with her son Jacob (Bailey Edwards) since he was a young boy. Having grown up as a teenager with an obsession for video games and Nazi paraphernalia, Abbey now questions whether her son is planning an attack on his school. Left to take matters into her own hands, Abbey rigs their house with an elaborate surveillance system in the hope of helping other mothers recognize the warning signs.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Miss Americana (2020) Shines A Light On the Swift Narrative

Miss Americana (2020) documentary review netflix
Everyone has an opinion on Taylor Swift. Millions of fans around the world have grown up with her music and followed her through the highs and lows. Outside of her loyal Swiftie community, the world over either loathes, ignores or maintains a bitter impression about Swift. Netflix's latest documentary Miss Americana (2020) strives to challenge what both fans and haters alike believe about the beloved yet divisive celebrity.

In 2016, after the massive success of her fifth studio album 1989, Swift reached a new height of media overexposure and a public feud with Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian. When #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trended worldwide for 24 hours, Swift was effectively canceled. The musician thought the world wanted her to disappear, and so she did – for a year. The question on so many fans’ minds will center on where Swift went during that time she disappeared, and this is where the documentary steps in.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020) Recaptures The Rom-Com Magic

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You / Netflix
From Set It Up to Always Be My Maybe, Netflix has become the new home for romantic comedies. Adapting the best-selling novel by Jenny Han into a three-film franchise, To All the Boys I've Loved Before captured the hearts of bookworms and movie lovers in 2018. And the streaming platform's plans to keep the series's heartfelt success going for its next two features continue strong.

Lara Jean Song Covey's (Lana Condor) secret love letters that were never supposed to see the light of day end up in the mailboxes of her old school crushes. To save face from embarrassment and coming in-between her sister and an ex (to whom one of the letters is sent), Lara and one of her crushes Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) start a fake relationship. Their attempts at keeping up with appearances while getting to know each other personally gives way to real feelings.

We last left the couple on the lacrosse field optimistically declaring their feelings for each other, but going back to Adler High School behind is tougher than they think. After risking it all and willing to take a chance on love, Lara Jean and Peter are no longer pretending to be a couple - they're the real deal. As Lara struggles to navigate her first real relationship, a fellow love letter recipient John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher) springs back into her life, leaving Lara to question what being in love truly means.

Where To All the Boys I've Loved Before brought us along on the journey of Lara Jean's struggle to trust giving her heart over to a real relationship instead of a fantasy, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You brings into view the expectations Lara places on herself as she falls in genuine love for the first time. Both Lara Jean and Peter have to confront insecurities from past relationships (namely with Peter's ex Genevieve played by Emilija Baranac) - they must learn to shed the restrictions of their fake-ship and invest in each other wholeheartedly.

As perfect as love stories might read on the page, it's an entirely different challenge to experience them in real life. Offering a perfect mix of rom-rom chemistry and grounded, relateable performances, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo pick up where they left off, vibing off of each other as the characters gradually grow up. As the beating heart of the series, Lana Condor once again brings humor, heartbreak, and self-awareness to her role as Lana. She perfectly fulfills the role of the conflicted and personable heroine we don't often see in romantic comedies anymore. Next to Centineo's Peter whose energy is as contagious as over, Jordan Fisher's John steps into the role of the sensitive and artistic dreamboat who might steal Lara's heart with ease.

Despite the first film's release two years ago, it doesn't feel as if time has passed at all between the two films. The sequel makes a few major switches behind the scenes - the director's chair passes from Susan Johnson to Micha Fimognari, while Sofia Alvarez adds J. Mills Goodloe as her screenplay partner. From her splendidly bold and colorful costumes to cinematography by, Lara Jean's world takes us back to the nostalgic sphere of rom-coms that sweep us off our feet. Also serving as cinematographer, Fimognari keeps the visual palette from the first film, giving the trilogy a consistent atmosphere and look that you can't get enough of.

For the most part, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You recaptures the same charm as its set-up, revitalizing the nostalgia for rom-coms of the past. It has more adorable characters, gorgeous costumes, and tender mishaps between the letter-writing love triangle that'll make you swoon as rom-coms should do. At times, it also expands its missteps, namely failing to let Lara Jean explore life outside of the confines of her view about and by Peter or John Ambrose. While the first film explored the similarities between Lara and Peter but balanced out the hiccups of their unorthodox arrangement, the consistent string of miscommunication and mix-ups limits the foundation of who they are individually. Some issues throughout their relationship, particularly Peter's inability to look past Genevieve, never exactly feels resolved or that the main relationship grows as much as it could. Subsequently, the cast's chemistry makes the story work even in its strongest and weakest moments where you can't help but feel like rooting for them.

Ringing in the old days of John Hughes's movies, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a rare gem, continuing the magic of the first flick and becoming a solid follow-up for a trilogy. Led by effervescent star Lana Condor, the film offers an enthusiastic and heartwarming diversity to a round of complex and endearing characters. The story reminds us of what it's like to fall in love and the journey of learning to communicate and be vulnerable in a relationship. As a romantic-comedy series for a new generation, the charm and joy from the mini-franchise leaves us wanting more for its final and third installment.

Rating: ★1/2☆
Have you seen To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You? What did you think?

Please Note: I was provided with a screener in order to watch this film. To All The Boys I've Loved Before and To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is currently available to watch on Netflix.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) Sparks New Life in the Comic Book Genre

birds-of-prey-movie-review
Since director Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman successful run in 2017, the DCEU has been steadily rebuilding its reputation. With follow-up films like Shazam (2019) and Aquaman (2018), fans love or hate the direction of the studio’s franchises. Shouldered with keeping their winning streak alive and kicking off a stream of female-led films in 2020, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) raises a little hell in the comic book genre and breaks a few glass ceilings of her own.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has broken ties with The Joker, but the immunity her relationship brought has now expired. Formerly under the protection of her ex's power, Quinn’s gotta fend off Gotham City’s worst nightmares when they come to collect. As her emancipation invites more obstacles than she bargained for, Quinn’s sets off a rebellious chain-reaction with teen thief Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), marginalized cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), vigilante Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead against a diabolical club owner Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Gentlemen (2020) Is A Typical Guy Ritchie Movie

Guy Ritchie The Gentlemen movie review
STXfilms (United States)
With the exclusion of a few titles under his cap, director Guy Ritchie has mostly replicated his plots for the past twenty-five years. Having his universe of copy+paste indie-mob flicks, based solely on the cast and how many times they can find new entertaining ways to curse, isn't the worst career to possess in film these days. But it's not necessarily the most exciting either.

Sleazy private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant) tracks down the dirty business arrangements between cannabis tycoon Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) and an American millionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong). With the intel he discovers, he attempts to bribe Mickey’s right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), and that's just not going to sit well with at all.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Quick Movie Reviews

From stealing the Declaration of Independence to escaping your psychotic in-laws, these are my quick movie reviews for National Treasure, Tremors, and Ready or Not. They're great picks for a fun night at home, and if you're looking for some action/adventure over the weekend. Have you seen these films? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Little Women (2019) Revitalizes A Classic for A New Generation

Sony Pictures Releasing
Every generation of bookworms experience a new adaptation of Little Women. As Hollywood brings author Louisa May Alcott's tale to the big screen for the seventh time, it's easy to believe the beloved story fulfills another quota for the reboot machine. Unlike most recent flailing remakes that fail to step out of the box or honor the original, director Greta Gerwig instills enough changes to revitalize the classic as well as stick to its roots.

Set during the Civil War, the March sisters face trials and tribulations with their place in the world. While Jo (Saoirse Ronan) aspires to be an independent writer, she struggles alongside her sisters Amy (Florence Pugh), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Meg (Emma Watson) to follow their passions or find economic stability through marriage.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) Is Not The Finale You're Looking For

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker movie review
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Since legendary filmmaker George Lucas changed movie history with a little space opera called Star Wars (1977), generations of fans have been obsessed with the imaginative sci-fi universe he created.  Slated to tell the story of the Skywalker clan over the course of nine movies, it’s been written in the stars that the epic saga would eventually close this chapter forever. Expected to stick the franchise’s landing with the latest trilogy The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), its final film The Rise of Skywalker is not the finale many of us were looking for.

In 2015, the Star Wars legacy was reignited with director and writer JJ Abrams’s The Force Awakens. A ragtag group of heroes fighting against the Empire 2.0 hit too close to home with A New Hope, but offered a chance to connect with a younger generation of characters and explore new plots. Namely, why did Luke Skywalker disappear? How did Ben Solo’s relationship with his uncle turn him to the dark side of the Force? Who was Rey from nowhere? The film was filled with endless possibilities that unraveled in the divisive follow-up The Last Jedi. Trying to answer as many questions as possible while also subverting expectations, director and writer Rian Johnson planted fresh ideas about failure in the Star Wars mythos. It gave us the chance to imagine Star Wars if it didn’t act like a formulaic blockbuster Star Wars film. Given full reigns to reinsert his own character development and plot, Abrams returned to throw everything at the wall and give fans the climatic finale they wanted. But it’s also one that we never imagined and might not have realistically needed.

After The Resistance led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) escapes The First Order, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is tasked with completing her Jedi training to take down Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). When the prince of darkness makes an unexpected reunion with the invincible Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine, both Rey and Kylo's connection to The Force will drive them to confront their biggest fears and darkest secrets.

This review contains spoilers from the film - read at your own risk.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Joker (2019) Makes Clowns Of Us All

Joker movie review
Warner Bros. Pictures
Box office dominance, Academy Award victories, and a stream of superhero movies slated for the next five years. All signs point to comic book movies not going away any time soon. As traditional filmmakers call out the formulaic scope of CGI thrills, it seems like the genre is still due for a timely swing in a different direction - a grim character study, subtle comic mythology, and a thought-provoking message about the state of the world. Joker is the first to step up to the plate, and then misses the mark on such an impressive scale, I was left laughing until it hurt.

Living in the slums of Gotham City with his troubled mother, social outcast, party clown, and aspiring comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) struggles with his mental illness. As ruthless street punks, his boss, a late night talk show host, and society seemingly have out for him, Fleck wrestles to fulfill his aspirations of putting on a happy face and making the world smile. Subsequently, the ostracization he endures drives him closer to becoming the nihilistic criminal he abhors.


Friday, November 29, 2019

(Spoiler Free) Knives Out (2019) Resurrects The Who Dun It Genre

Knives Out movie review
Knives Out / Lionsgate
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that manages to hit all the right spots - funny, suspenseful, detailed production design, fantastic cast, a real entertaining thrill ride. As the film industry is in the throes of artful cinema versus blockbuster cinema, sometimes you need a director who can kind of do both. Enter Rian Johnson.

On his 85th birthday, acclaimed mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies unexpectedly and leaves his entire family grasping at straws over his passing. Renown detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) comes in to investigate and teams up with local Thrombey fanboy Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) and Detective Lieutenant Elliot (Lakeith Stanfield) to find out the truth. With a massive estate on the line, what is initially ruled as a suicide unravels into a much deeper mystery where everyone - Thrombey's goodhearted nurse Marta (Ana De Armas) and his whole family Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), Walter Thrombey (Michael Shannon), Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette), Meg Thrombey (Katharine Langford), Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell) - are a suspect for Harlan's murder.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Maiden (2018) Shows Courage Against All The Odds

Maiden documentary review
Sony Pictures Classics
Rarely does history feel like its shifting when the status quo remains the same. Yet when we look on the past as a kaleidoscope of groundbreaking events in politics, entertainment, and sports, culture is transformed because a few ordinary people were called to forge their own path. A small moment creates a ripple effect that lasts for generations. Maiden tells the inspiring true story of Tracey Edwards and her bid to race the 1989–1990 Whitbread Round the World Race with an all-female crew for the first time.

Much more than a documentary, Maiden captures Edwards’s journey before she changed the competitive nature of sailing forever. As the crew’s cook Jo Gooding says, “If you believe in everything people tell you, you can't do, what would humankind have achieved?”. With captivating footage exploring the chapters of Edwards's life from childhood to adulthood, Maiden dives deep into the courage of the women who dared to do something different: not only be a woman stepping into a man’s world but compete the best that they could.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Film Spotlight: The Fare (interview with Brinna Kelly)

In the middle of nowhere, a charming woman Penny (Brinna Kelly) hails a taxi from a world-weary driver Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi). Though their initial encounter is only fleeting, their chemistry is suspiciously electric - almost as if they’ve met before. Soon, the duo come to an unsettling realization that they are trapped reliving the same moment over and over. The search for truth about what’s happened will undoubtedly change their lives forever.

Directed by D.C. Hamilton, The Fare immediately grabs your attention with its nostalgic atmosphere. A lone cab out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but two passengers, a mysterious radio show, and an electrical storm blocking their trip makes you feel like you’ve been transported into The Twilight Zone. There’s the natural sense, like with any sci-fi flick, that something else is brewing underneath the surface of what’s occurring on-screen. The use of special effects between the stretch of road Harris’s cab cruises over and over again as well as the black and white cinematography gives The Fare a production value of a much larger studio. Yet, as Penny and Harris’s relationship unfolds, the film also holds onto the intimate character experience of an indie, and lets the film unfold more than the initial sci-fi impression. Despite the seemingly simple premise, there’s a lot at play with the production between the characters and story, and Hamilton manages it with ease.

Similarly, some films falter when its cast can’t live up to the story, or the story engulfs the characters. But as a two-person show (three including the voice-over of Jason Stuart), it’s hard to believe how much the film relies and thrives on the deft performances of Brinna Kelly and Gino Anthony Pesi.

For Penny and Harris to work as individual characters reliving the same moment, as well as a partnership that evolves and flows with the story, their chemistry has to shine from the start. Even though the characters have been trapped together for an inordinate amount of time, their connection must be strong enough to sense that something else is going on between them – it’s not too fresh or too worn down to ruin the allusion of how long they’ve running into each other. They have a real interest in each other as well as a light-hearted banter and connection that makes you root for them. Both Kelly and Pesi exude that balance as their characters grapple with the routine of what they’ve experienced before as well as the startling discoveries that come along. It’d be difficult to believe that Kelly and Pesi don’t break out into the wider span of what Hollywood has to offer at some point, and hopefully The Fare will give them a bigger launching pad.

While this film works seamlessly together with the actors and production, The Fare’s greatest strength is its script. The direction and look of the film will grab your visual attention, and the performances will hook you emotionally, but the set-up of mystery and drama unfolds throughout Kelly’s plot with an impressive amount of pacing. The story rarely lags or feels overdone as the sci-fi element of a time loop gradually explores the loneliness of Harris’s lifestyle, the loss and yearning for connection, and contemplating the unknown. Kelly offers enough questions to keep you guessing about why and how the characters are trapped together, but doesn’t limit the characters’ own story. As the movie moves towards the ending, it’s surprisingly fitting how the film doesn’t throw in a twist just to be shocking as many sci-fi films manage to do. By all means, there is a twist - it’s not necessarily ground-breaking, but you also can’t say for sure you saw it coming. It fits well into the story that Kelly lays out, and depending on your guesses, should still leave you feeling satisfied.

Hamilton’s work on the production offers a visual appeal for longtime fans of The Twilight Zone, while Kelly’s script digs just as deep as Rod Serling’s character studies. Being forced to relive a moment or being trapped by the limitations of time has been done before throughout film and various genres – Memento, Groundhog’s Day, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and About Time, to name a few – yet none of them can quite compare to The Fare.

As always, I provide an honest critique for every film that I screen, and hope that you will check out the review and interview below. The Fare is currently available on YouTubeGoogle Play, and Amazon.


Rating for The Fare: ★★★

Friday, September 27, 2019

Judy (2019) Reminds Us Of the Woman Behind the Stardom

Biopics is one of the trickiest genres. Directors aim to pay homage to someone they admire or whose work speaks to them. But if a film exerts too much creative freedom, the story blurs lines between  fiction and reality. If creative pursuits are limited too much, reading a Wikipedia page would be more exciting. For an American icon like Judy Garland, there's more than enough exaggerated lore director Rupert Goold's Judy could've pulled from. And yet for the first time since the last salacious profile, the film finds a good balance between exploring the myth of Judy and showing the real side of her.

Based on Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow, Judy covers the last year of the legend's rollercoaster life. Facing homelessness, bankruptcy, and a custody battle for her children, Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) takes on a five-week engagement of sold-out shows at London's Talk of the Town. As she grapples with one more comeback and falls head over heels for a sketchy entrepreneur Mickey Deans (Finn Witrock), Garland struggles to keep her head above water as her final spotlight starts burning out.

With all that has been gossiped about Miss Showbusiness, how a biopic would grapple with her legacy is a question I've asked myself as a longtime fan of "Joots." At worst, I expected a repeat of scathing tell-alls that are more concerned with melodrama and anonymous sources; so much so that they ignore her humanity and tarnish her reputation. At best, I just wanted it to be better or just as good as other musical biopics. A well-organized, entertaining, and emotionally-driven tribute doesn't seem like a lot to ask for, but the last time I wished for a biopic of a favorite icon, I got Bohemian Rhapsody... To  my great delight, this film hits most of the right notes.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Geek, And You Shall Find (2019) Celebrates the Power of Superheroes Within

Geek, And You Shall Find (2019)
Superhero Faces Productions / Geek, And You Shall Find
Superman. Spider-Man. Captain America. Wonder Woman. These are just a few super-heroic characters who have become beloved icons for children and adults alike. From the famous Hall H at San Diego Comic Con to breaking box office records, it’s almost impossible to believe the arduous and inspiring evolution of geekdom. And yet, fandom not only started with the humble origins of comic books, but has also catapulted the way in which we navigate our everyday lives and the world around us.

Geek, and You Shall Find explores the fascinating past and future of comic books. Its creators and their stories have made a lasting impression on generations of readers, but where did it all start? How do the stories we love reflect society and vice versa? What can we truly gain from admiring characters that wear masks, don capes, and try to save their fellow man? Superhero Faces Productions journeys into the depths of Marvel, Westeros, Star Wars, and more to understand the life-changing impact behind our galaxy's biggest fandoms.

Starting with The Great Depression and the initial creation of Superman, Geek, and You Shall Find uncovers the rich history of beloved larger-than-life characters becoming an antidote and answer to society's greatest ordeals: war, racism, class disparity, immigration, and gender inequality. In speaking with the late Stan Lee, George R.R. Martin, Roy Thomas, and Kevin Eastman, the documentary examines the rise and challenges the comic book revolution has overcome and still faces. From censorship to international conflicts, comic books have not only withstood the test of time but also influenced reality far more than we could ever consider. Beyond the breaking down the timeline of how comic book creators imagined the fictional heroes we revere today, the film also implements Joseph Campbell’s heroes journey and how it mirrors our lives in mythological terms.

Drawing strength from comic books is no different than seeing ourselves in religious, historical, or public figures. Despite the fantastical or science-fiction approach to reflect the best and worst traits humans possess, comic books aren't often recognized as 'real' entertainment. When examining political issues, expanding inclusion, and challenging the status quo, the genre's critics are often the first to protest that 'serious' issues don't belong in their fandom. Outside of connecting with the genre's 'godfathers', the documentary also features creators standing up for what they believe in, psychologists  using comic books to help patients deal with trauma, and fans reaching out to each other for support and camaraderie. The worlds escape with on-screen and on the page prove to inspire real activism, practice compassion, and break barriers with their personal views.

As a self-proclaimed geek, it’s difficult to not find one area of my life that isn’t influenced by movies, books, or shows. When we connect with superheroes, Jedis, hobbits or wizards on their adventures, we become a part of their story and vice versa. Their ability to face against greedy corporations, evil masterminds, and stand up after being knocked down gives us strength to handle our own setbacks and victories. By participating in fandom over the years, I've grown out of my introverted cave to express my love of pop culture to write, cosplay, and try to inspire others to be the best that they can be. Comic books re-affirm what I love about fandom is as true and meaningful as I think it is for myself and fellow geeks as well.

Geek, and You Shall Find celebrates the rich history of storytelling in general and profound lessons and transformation comic books has on humanity. Superhero Faces Productions creates a positive affirmation about our unique passion for storytelling, and also invites those who don’t believe in the power of geek culture to reconsider. Their work maintains a wonderful balance of personalizing fandom from its roots to its present day success. We might not literally have spiderwebs shooting out of our wrists or take it to the streets against caped villains. But when we geek out, we are embracing a part of our identities in a whole new way and reminds us to embrace the superhero within.
Rating for the film: ★★★
Have you seen Geek, and You Shall Find? What do you think?

Please Note: I was provided with a screener in exchange for an honest review. Geek, and You Shall Find is available to watch on Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, and Google Play.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Quick Movie Reviews

I happened to catch a few older and newer movies in July, but felt my thoughts were better if they were laid out simple reviews. A part of me is hoping I can keep this up to complete my 2019 bucket list, so I'll see where this goes. These are my quick movie reviews for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Thelma, and Ali. The review for Thelma contains spoilers. Have you seen these films? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Us (2019) Works Best in Fragments But Not As A Whole

Us movie review
Universal Pictures
In 2017, Jordan Peele made the unforgettable switch as a comedy veteran to masterful horror director. His debut film Get Out stunned audiences with complex storytelling, attention to detail, and ability to set an allegory of the real world into the horror scene. While it’s natural to expect just as much from him for his next film, Us turned out to be a lukewarm experience in its story and script. Much of it works on paper, but what's presented on screen leaves as many open-ended questions as it answers.

The Wilson family – Adelaide (Lupita N’Yongo), Gabe (Winston Duke), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) - venture to a lake house near Santa Cruz for a fun vacation. Their harmless trip to the beach turns deadly when mysterious clones emerge around the country to hunt their other halves down. A traumatic event from Adelaide’s past, where she encountered her own doppelganger, brings back haunting memories, but they also might be the key to their survival.

If you haven't seen Us, read at your own risk. This post contains spoilers!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Katie Says Goodbye (2016) Strives to Find Meaning Out Of Misery

Katie (Olivia Cooke) dreams of leaving her past behind to move to San Francisco and attend beauty school. While pulling double-shifts as a waitress where her tips are wasted by her alcoholic mother, the seventeen-year-old supplements her savings as a prostitute. As she reserves every dime she can for greener pastures, falling in love with an ex-convict Bruno (Christopher Abbott) spirals her life out of control.

Everyone in Katie Says Goodbye has to forge their way in a claustrophobic nowhere town in the middle of the desert. There’s little to do for its residents except serve travelers on the road, drink, have sex – either for fun or as a gig. Left to fend for themselves with the basic necessities, Katie makes the best of what she has always looking for the silver lining. A few glimpses at her day-to-day life of monotonous waitressing, and excitedly gleaming at passing trains offers no rhyme or reason as to why she remains abundantly hopeful, and yet the film lovingly sets up this infectious charm only to gradually deconstruct it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Booksmart (2019) Is A Genuine Revelation

Booksmart Movie Review
Photo Credit: United Artists Releasing
Every generation has a coming-of-age movie that speaks to them - Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Mean Girls. Joining a solid pack of recent flicks exploring girls' complex emotions and moving into the real world - Lady Bird, Eighth Grade, The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Olivia Wilde's directorial debut with Booksmart explores even the bookworms don't know it all.

From earning admission into Yale to doing charity work in Botswana, best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) have high aspirations for themselves and their classmates. When Molly discovers that the slackers have also leveled up into amazing post-high school opportunities without sacrificing fun, she encourages Amy to squeeze four years of partying into the night before graduation. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Rocketman's (2019) Imagination Almost Burns Itself Out

Rocketman movie review
Paramount Pictures
Biopics tend to play it safe. They're afraid to veer too off from presenting the facts by the books and  rests on its laurels about whoever the story is based on. Given the freedom to delve into Elton John's colorful and bold life, Rocketman explore more than thirty years of the iconic musician's life. Combining elements of music and story, director Dexter Fletcher's goes all in, to the point that you wish he reeled it back just a little.

Growing up with his cold father and self-absorbed mother, a young Elton John finds refuge, imagination, and identity in his musical gifts. The lack of love he didn't received as a child, homophobia, and toxic relationships turns into a devastating recipe for substance abuse as he rises in the music industry. (Read the full review below)