Critic’s Mind 2018



There’s one on-going box office behemoth in 2018 and it’s “Black Panther.” I’d be lying if I didn’t say that annoyed the hell out of me, since “Annihilation” (pic right) has had nowhere near any of that good fortune even though it’s one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made. “Annihilation” contains images and ideas that have never been seen before (it’s also the most genuinely scared I’ve been at a movie in ten years), while “Black Panther” is no different from the hundred or more other Marvel comic book movies or CGI-laden blockbusters that have come before it. Audiences would rather see a new coat of paint on an inartistic dead horse rather than have their minds blown. Whatever. — 3-16-18

Hollywood decided to vote on “The Shape of Water” as Best Picture and Best Director because they knew somewhere in the world that would piss me off. So I disliked the movie, I mean, every time it does come up with a beautiful shot it’s held for about two and a half seconds. I admired forty or forty-five other movies way more last year. But the one consolation out of it is Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar speech was a beauty. – 3-5-18

Annihilation” is my first 5-star masterpiece review off the 2018 roster. — 2-28-18

I imagine an irate reader out there wondering how I could give “The Commuter” 3-stars and “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” 2 stars. My reasoning is that “The Commuter” on its own terms is an unpretentious genre piece, very watchable with a relatable Liam Neeson, is something I honestly had a good time at, while “Star Wars Episode VIII” is another entry I’m expected to write a bunch of excuses for, that has only a few moments that got my heart thumping, and inevitably soured me because I feel like the series betrayed what Luke Skywalker is supposed to stand for. Do you really want a jaded, mentally deteriorated Skywalker? And yeah, the series is soap opera deep while being pretentious at the same time. On its own terms, “The Last Jedi” is a declination to the series. — 1-21-18

Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” tops my list as the Best Film of 2017. Read my year-end round up here. The best lead performances I saw this year were Colin Farrell in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and the best supporting performances I saw were Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project” and Kirsten Dunst in “The Beguiled.”  — 1-5-18

What I Saw Winter 2018: “Annihilation,” A+. “Battle of the Sexes,” A. “The Bridges of Madison County” (1995), A-. “The Post,” A-. “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” A-. “Phantom Thread,” B+. “Leviathan” (2014, Russia), B+. “The Arrival” (1996), B+. “The Square” (2017, Sweden), B+. “I, Daniel Blake,” B+. “Marshall,” B+. “Brad’s Status,” B. “Happy Death Day,” B. “Red Sparrow,” B. “Lucky,” B. “The Invitation” (2015), B. “Wonder,” B. “Good Time,” B-. “Last Flag Flying,” B-. “The Light Between Oceans,” B-. “Shadow of the Vampire” (2000), B-. “Roman J Israel, Esq.,” B-. “The Commuter,” B-. “Faces Places” (France), B-. “Darkest Hour,” C+. “The Bad Batch,” C+. “Star Wars Episode XIII: The Last Jedi,” C. “The Shape of Water,” C. “Call Me By Your Name,” C. “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House,” C. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” C. “Home Again,” D+. “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” D+. “It,” D. “CHIPS,” F. “The Snowman,” F. Caught up to it late, but “Battle of the Sexes” now takes the crown as the most underrated movie of 2017. “It” became for me the WTF how-did-that-garbage-become-a-blockbuster-!?! movie of this past year; let it be known though I love Stephen King. I wish someone would adapt his best book, “The Long Walk.” Oh, and after several weeks of mulling over it, I’ve now decided “The Bad Batch” is one of the most interesting bad movies I’ve ever seen. It’s pickled in flaws, but if you’re curious enough, just see it. I update this blog regularly as I see more movies. — 1-4-2018


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Red Sparrow

If you’re like me and you thought “Salt” with Angelina Jolie and [especially] “Atomic Blonde” with Charlize Theron were bulls*** than here we have something more true to life with a truly magnetic Jennifer Lawrence to boot. Red Sparrow is based on a novel by […]



So frightening it pains only to turn your eyes away. Annihilation is hard science fiction that is a crossbreed of horror, too, and it has enough ideas to fill a dozen movies. It does not hurl constant action movie type of Roland Emmerich moments at you because it’s strategy is to build anticipation and dread a la Kubrick and Cronenberg […]


Black Panther

All the hype led me to believe it was going to be a whole lot of level different. No it’s not. Black Panther is just more of the Marvel Comic Book same. From the get-go, it’s so preoccupied being sensational at every single moment that it never gets grounded […]


The Square (Sweden)

Museum world satire that smartly digs at upper class hypocrisy. The Square (Sweden) at the same time is a sincere character study revolving around its chief curator Christian (Claes Bang) who sees himself as a small celebrity amongst hoity-toity circles […]


Battle of the Sexes

Some people might stay away thinking it’s only a tennis fan’s only movie. Humongous mistake. Battle of the Sexes is about the 1973 famed exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) that got turned into a circus act […]


The Commuter

The first action-suspense pic for the new year is a diverting midlevel yarn, it’s no genre trendsetter (more derivative if anything), but it’s got Liam Neeson going for it and tasteful mindless fun going for it. The Commuter is Neeson’s umpteenth take since […]


Best Films of 2017

My compiled year-end round-ups come late, but that’s only because I want to fairly track down every essential title before I complete it. It’s the closest thing I have to composing a sacred writ […]


Phantom Thread

For forty-five minutes I believed I was seeing an incomparable masterpiece. But it wasn’t meant to be. Phantom Thread just isn’t a film that completely comes together logically, but damn if it also shows the kind of flair by director Paul Thomas Anderson […]



Of all the bad movies I’ve ever seen, at least this one has kernels of mesmerizing tidbits. Downsizing comes from exactly the kind of brain factory as I could have wanted. That of writer/director Alexander Payne […]


The Post

This 1971 historical drama shines a light on today. Steven Spielberg’s The Post gains a suspenseful amount of traction by the time it gets halfway through. Richard Nixon, former disgraced President, tried to shut up the New York Times […]


Molly’s Game

It has been a great season for actresses, and the distinguishably smart biopic Molly’s Game in particular features Jessica Chastain at the top of her career. It’s a sexy, power-hungry performance about a woman deeply compelled to control rich men under her […]


Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

I can’t go on forcing excuses that it’s awesome when I feel it’s not, just so I can win a popularity contest with my readers. Star Wars Episode XIII: The Last Jedi kicks off with a virtuoso aerial dogfight with enough blast and whoosh […]