Reviews

 

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Miss Bala (2019)

Miss Bala is a remake of the 2011 Spanish film where a beauty contestant became ensnared in a crossfire between drug cartels and American DEA agents out to exploit her accessibility. It won respectability and was graced with a limited theatrical release in the States, but I thought the action was overcooked […]

 
 

High Flying Bird

Five men on the court. Short range shots for two points. Outsider perimeter shots for three points. Fouls. Free throws. Five fouls per player maximum. Heck, basketball is an easy to follow sport. What High Flying Bird is aiming to do is to give us a scoop on NBA basketball without though giving us one piece of basketball action […]

 
 

Velvet Buzzsaw

The snob art world deserves a skewering – or perhaps another skewering because the 2017 Swedish award winner “The Square” already took such a deliciously wicked swipe at it – but Velvet Buzzsaw has only intermittent parts infused of timely satire, and its supernatural horror elements […]

 
 

Escape Room

Once in awhile you might have the taste for something mindless, something crude but clever, something fatalistic, maybe that’s all a little ride on the exploitation side – if that’s the case than the horror maze thriller Escape Room might give you that fix […]

 
 

Best Films 2018

When it comes to the list, I have no proclivity to win popular tastes. I have a few hits, a few misunderstood titles I want to defend, a few obscure titles and a few I am predicting will be discovered with cult devotion decades down the line […]

 
 

Bird Box

I was hoping for some toss-off amusement and mindless time-killing at best with Bird Box, the new Sandra Bullock end of the world thriller directed by Susanne Bier (“In a Better World”) released onto Netflix. It’s got holes, and it’s high-concept nonsense on the outset, but to my surprise […]

 
 

Mary Poppins Returns

The 1964 original “Mary Poppins” is beloved to me, but for many months I looked forward to seeing the new long awaited Emily Blunt starring sequel and with the likelihood of me writing some fan labored corny puns. I have now seen Mary Poppins Returns, and while it is decent enough with some isolated marvelous moments […]

 
 

If Beale Street Could Talk

The romantic love swoons mighty and rapturously in the opening minutes of If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of the 1974 James Baldwin novel that is one of the best films of the year. Tish and Fonny have known each other since childhood […]

 
 

Roma

The shimmering, but overlit cinematography is what beckons attention – it screams ART. Beneath the look of the film, there’s a little something there, in what should be looked at as a personal little ditty for director Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”). The main character of Roma (Mexico, in English subtitles) is a servant […]

 
 

The Favourite

Yorgos Lanthimos has become a fierce force of high provocative filmmaking (“The Lobster,” “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”), and now he has made a costume period drama that elevates the new standard of what a costume period drama could or should be. The Favourite takes place in eighteenth century England […]

 
 

Green Book

A race relations picture set in 1962 that’s also a road movie. Green Book crosscuts two formulas but it’s not a forced crosscut. It’s based on a friendship that really happened, one between bouncer and father Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) and black musician Doc Shirley (Mahershala Ali). Doc needs a driver and […]

 
 

Shoplifters (Japan)

Initially absorbing, then a little scattered. In Shoplifters (Japan, in English subtitles), what appears to be a middle class father in his weekend clothes goes supermarket shopping with his son is actually a well-rehearsed inventory theft – dad has taught his boy all the tricks […]