Once again this year I’m helping cover the SeattleInternational Film Festival for The Seattle Times. That’s where the bulk of my reviews and writing time are focused for this year’s fest. And it’s been a fantastic slate thus far. Check out links to my reviews, and a number of other fine writers, below.
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Monday, May 21, 2018
What would a movie about a hitman on the run be without a bunch of people to shoot? John Wick has never had a lack of targets, and the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 3—possibly titled John Wick: Parabellum—just added a crazy ton of actors. The list includes Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Jason Mantzoukas, Asia Kate Dillon, Mark Dascascos, and most importantly, at least from my perspective, Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman from The Raid and Man of Tai Chi and Triple Threat star Tiger Chen.
Friday, May 18, 2018
Though I usually wind up liking but not loving his movies as much as many other people, Guillermo del Toro has an infectious love and enthusiasm for movies. Last year, the same year he won a Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water, he declared Issa Lopez’ Tigers are Not Afraid one of his favorite films of 2017. And it’s easy to see why he approves, as it bears a heavy influence of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating: If Tom Cruise can in fact die, and the jury is still out on that one, he’s going to die doing an insane stunt, probably for a Mission: Impossible movie. Seriously, just watch the new trailer for Mission: Impossible—Fallout and count the times where he almost bites it.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Did we need a standalone Han Solo movie in the Star Wars universe? No, no we didn’t. But no one asked me, and in the grand scheme of things, unnecessary as it is, we could have done much worse than Solo: A Star Wars Story. Granted, we also could have done much better. It’s a wildly mixed bag, but with the utter chaos behind the scenes—the ousting of directors Chris Lord and Phil Miller 2/3 of the way through production, the recasting, the rewrites, the reshoots—worse was always on the table as a very real possibility.
Marky Mark is sick of coddling all the pussies and his new movie is here to prove that. I don’t exactly know how that ties into his new action movie, Mile 22, but the Trump pal once again teams up with director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon) for some rah-rah, flag-waving, manly shit. And they, of course, can’t help but getting a jab in at people with feelings (AKA the aforementioned pussies) at the start of this new trailer.
Monday, May 14, 2018
The Seattle International Film Festival is an ungainly monster. It runs almost four full weeks (25 days), more if you hit up press screenings and screeners that start two weeks ahead of time, and features more than 400 movies, 168 of them features. You’ll find things that literally won’t see anywhere else. And while that’s awesome, wading through everything gets a bit much.
After pummeling audiences about the head, neck, and face in 2016 with Headshot, which I called one of the angriest action movies I’ve ever seen, Timo Tjahjanto, also known as one-half of the Mo Brothers, returns to his horror roots with May the Devil Take You. I have no idea what it’s about, but the director teased us with a quick glimpse, and I’m way, way, way, way down.
Friday, May 11, 2018
When two cinematic madmen hook up, you can bet the result is going to be some crazy ass shit. And that’s exactly what I expect from the tag team of Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage. If the prospect of these to lunatics working together doesn’t get your Spidey sense tingling, you may be dead. The duo is set to work together on Prisoners of the Ghostland, Sono’s English-language debut, and it sounds rad and insane.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
If you have any inkling, even the slightest idea of what Breaking In is all about, you, well, know exactly what Breaking In is all about. It’s a stripped-down, to-the-point home invasion thriller that delivers 100% what it promises. How much mileage you get out of that depends on you, but it accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do. But it’s easily watchable, even if there’s little substance, and Gabrielle Union is terrific as a desperate, vengeful mother fucking up BillyBurke and his gang of goons.
He didn’t write John McTiernan’s 1987 Predator, but Shane Black appeared in the film. In the years since, he’s become a celebrated writer and director in his own right. And now he’s back to try to breathe some new life into the franchise with The Predator. 20th Century Fox just released the first trailer for the sci-fi actioner. Check it out below.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Talk about a third Bill & Ted movie has been going around for years. It’s one of those things that I never actually thought would happen—and one I’ve never been entirely sure I wanted, as the first two are perfect, and that comic sequel was good enough for me—but it’s apparently official: Bill & Ted Face the Music is officially a go. And despite any misgivings, that’s excellent news.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
When you begin your movie with a Lovecraft quote, you establish certain wingnut expectations right out of the gate. And Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the duo behind 2014’s Spring, meet those expectations with the twisty sci-fi/horror cult thriller The Endless. And there’s a character named Shitty Carl, which is a nice bonus.
Over the last few years, action fans have been blessed with two installments in the John Wick franchise. It’s easily the biggest and best action series going. (We can debate the best portion of that statement, but as far as this style of non-superhero, non-giant-robot action goes, it’s by far the biggest—most of this ilk heads straight to DTV.) Thank whatever higher power you prefer, John Wick: Chapter 3 is on the way, and it now has a first synopsis.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
I have to give it to Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel decided to stop fucking around. One of the biggest criticisms of their expansive cinematic universe is that no one ever in any real danger and no one of significance ever truly dies. Well, the bodies start dropping a few minutes in and continue throughout. Some are relatively minor in the grand scheme, and not all of them are destined to remain corpses, but quite a few are permanent and substantial game changers. With that, more than any other Marvel movie in their ten-year history, this film carries a legitimate edge of peril most don’t have. Right away, they establish a scenario where death, for anyone, is a real possibility, and the film’s better for it.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Though it takes a while to really find it’s footing, when it does, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s horror anthology, Ghost Stories, lives up to the hype it gathered on the festival circuit. The film plays with genre tricks and tropes, with varying degrees of success, but when the filmmakers finally break free, it builds into a clever and inventive crescendo.
Spider-Man villain/anti-hero Venom has long been a fan favorite, but bringing him to the big screen has proven difficult. The last attempt, let’s just say it didn’t go well. But there’s a new incarnation on the way, and while the initial teaser a while back left people wondering if we’d actually see the iconic symbiote, the new full Tom Hardy-starring Venom trailer leaves no doubt in that realm.
Monday, April 23, 2018
Last month we saw the first teaser for the Indonesian revenge western Buffalo Boys, and it was rad. But it was just a taste. Well, it’s back with a full trailer that delves into the storyline and shows off more of the fantastic action hinted at last time. Enjoy.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
It’s spring, a time of renewal, a time when the weather starts to pick up. Fortunately, on Saturday, April 14, 2018, the weather was complete and utter bullshit trash. Like some of the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived in Washington my whole life, so I know of which I speak. This fact just made it easier to spend all day inside watching scary movies with likeminded weirdoes at the 8th annual BoneBat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival. And once again, it was a total gas.
From all appearances, I like The Equalizer more than most people. It has a lunatic edge and one of the villains is essentially the Devil, which I’m all for. So, of course I’m game for another team up between star Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua. The Equalizer 2 drops this summer, and to get those of us fond of watching Denzel wreck dudes hyped up, it now has a new trailer.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Jonathan Ames’ novella, You Were Never ReallyHere is a gritty, stripped down portrait of a man wounded in nearly every way imaginable. At a hair over 90 pages, it’s spare and efficient. It evokes feel and tone and mood and emotion, hinting at a brutal history for its protagonist, simply named Joe, rather than offering overt explanation and detailed backstory. It’s sparse, but leaves a distinct lingering impression. And in the hands of director Lynne Ramsey (We Need to Talk about Kevin), it makes for a similarly tight, impactful film. Bleak and grim, it’s also a human, tender story about baptism, rebirth, and being repurposed.
Johnnie To’s 2013 Drug War finds the Hong Kong action auteur working at or at least very near the top of his considerable game. Action packed, violent, and full of betrayal and moral ambiguity, it bears all the hallmarks of the great HK genre offerings. A South Korean remake titled Believer is on the way. The first trailer just arrived and it looks like a worthy, and totally badass, adaptation.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
A24’s A Prayer Before Dawn has been one of my most-anticipated movies since I heard it was happening. It has Muay Thai, tells an insane true-life story, and was partially filmed in notorious Thai prisons using real prisoners. All that sets my movie spider sense a-tingling. And a new U.K. trailer has me marking off days on my calendar and contemplating buying a plane ticket.
Monday, April 16, 2018
In general, I pay pretty close attention to movies and movie news. Shocking, I know. But I have to admit, I have only the vaguest recollection of hearing the name Hotel Artemis. That oversight has been corrected, however, thanks to this awesome new trailer for the Jodie Foster starring sci-fi action crime thriller. This has my full attention.
Friday, April 13, 2018
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Fans of modern international action cinema are, or sure as hell should be, fans of Hong Kong director Wilson Yip. He helmed the first three Ip Man movies, with another on the way, SPL: Kill Zone, Flash Point, and tons more. (Also Bio-Zombie. I’ll take any chance to mention Bio-Zombie, because no one talks about it enough.) Now he’s returning to the SPL (Sha Po Lang) franchise with the third chapter, Paradox, which just dropped a badass new trailer.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Rampage, the latest opus of urban destruction from director Brad Peyton (San Andreas) and mega-star Dwayne Johnson, may legitimately be the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen. And I watched Air Bud last weekend for some reason. It’s also 100% the movie it looks like, with zero deviation. That’s not to say it’s without a certain level of fun, thanks almost entirely to The Rock, who does what The Rock does best. Only this time there are giant monsters, too. It’s somehow completely bonkers and totally forgettable in the same moment.
Just because they have an Oscar on their resume thanks to Get Out, don’t expect low-budget horror factory Blumhouse to change its stripes anytime soon. And as if on cue, here comes Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare. Cheap, schlocky trash, it’s the cinematic equivalent of truck stop hotdog; it does the trick, but it’s all empty calories, immediately forgettable, and you’re hungry again as soon as it’s gone. But while it’s trash, it’s also modestly entertaining trash.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
I’m a simple man with simple tastes. Tell me you have a movie where Jason Statham fights a giant shark, and I will watch that movie. Hence, my excitement for The Meg (though I’ve seen people rant about how it should just be called Meg, make of that what you will). It’s a film, perhaps a cinematic experience, that exists, and now it has a trailer.
Monday, April 9, 2018
When Lucasfilm first announced the Star WarsStory movies, I was down with the idea of standalone films that examine heretofore unexplored corners of that far, far away galaxy. There’s so much room to move and so many stories to tell, not just the tale of the Skywalker clan, their crew, and the Jedi. I’m not as into the idea of using them to rehash characters we already know (I sure as hell don’t want a Boba Fett movie). But despite what I want, we’re getting Solo: A Star Wars Story next month. And there’s another new trailer.
Friday, April 6, 2018
Iko Uwais, Dave Bautista, and Kumail Nanjiani are not three actors I automatically associate. Sure, I could see Uwais and Bautista team up for a low-down DTV actioner. By the same token, I can imagine Bautista and Nanjiani in a mismatched buddy actioner. But it looks like all three are about to team up for an action comedy called Stuber.
As a film series, The Purge films fluctuate wildly. The first had a cool concept, but turned in a mostly middling home invasion yarn. The Purge: Anarchy is an exploitation-style throwback that opens up the world and, IMO, is the best of the bunch. The Purge: Election Year tried to up the crazy, with mixed results—there’s good and less good. But these movies are also cheap, quick to produce, and crazy profitable. Which is why The First Purge is upon us, and you can watch the first trailer now and gawk at a new poster.
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Parenting is hard. Especially when even the slightest noise attracts the unwanted attention of a toothy, angry, altogether terrifying creature that will then rip the entrails from both you and your spawn.
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
If you ask me, and no one did, the Trost Brothers’ 2011 dystopian gang dance off, The FP, doesn’t get nearly the love it should. This should be raised to bona-fide cult status by now. Last year, we heard they’re working to Beat-Beat a sequel into reality, and it sounds like their efforts were successful. The FP 2, titled Beats of Rage, has a badass new poster and a ton of fresh details.
It sounds like and definitely is hyperbole, but Blockers has the potential to become the American Pie or Superbad for the current generation. Those films obviously build on foundations laid by the teen sex-romp comedies of the ‘80s, and Blockers certainly slots into the category that’s ultimately more about friendship than actually getting laid. As a whole, it’s not as over-the-top raunchy as some of it’s compatriots—though there are definite bawdy highs—and it doesn’t always maintain the comic momentum, but it’s a damn entertaining comedy that puts a, sadly, unique spin on the proceedings.
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
An unfortunate part of being lazy, broke, and hating to leave the house is that I don’t go to many film festivals and I miss out on seeing movies like Upgrade. After it debuted at SXSW recently, Leigh Whannell’s action, sci-fi, horror film garnered a ton of praise from folks I trust. And after watching this first trailer, I see why.
Not to be confused with the “Champagne of Beers,” Claire Denis’ Robert Pattinson-starring sci-fi drama High Life is a movie we’re rather excited about around these parts. It’s been in the works since 2015, and though we haven’t seen a ton from film, it has our full attention. And a handful of lovely new stills arrived on the scene today.
Monday, April 2, 2018
As a genre, it’s difficult to do anything fresh with a zombie movie. When they hit, they’re some of the greatest horror movies ever made. But especially 50 years removed from Night of the Living Dead, the hits far outnumber the misses. Every so often, a film comes along that reminds us there’s still life in the undead. They don’t have to reinvent the wheel—Train to Busan certainly doesn’t, but it’s still a fantastic addition to the cannon—but it has to do more than crap out a slapdash story about the walking dead. Now, I don’t know if Cargo is going to be any good or not, but this new trailer has my attention.
Friday, March 30, 2018
Possession movies are scary. That’s scientific fact. Home invasion movies aren’t always scary, but they can be terrifying. What happens when you combine these two venerable horror subgenres? It may look quite a bit like this trailer for Uruguayan director Guillermo Amoedo Schultze’s The Inhabitant (El Habitante). It might just make your skin crawl.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
I had never heard of writer/director Vaughn Stein’s directorial debut, the neo-noir Terminal, before a teaser dropped the other day. But it stars Margot Robbie and Simon Pegg, and has a, over-the-top, color-saturated, hyper-stylization that definitely doesn’t look like much else. Check out the full new trailer below.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Movies franchises based on a series of young adult novels have, let’s just call it a checkered past. For every Harry Potter and Hunger Games, we get a flailing series like Divergent that limped along for a few chapters, and nonstarters like The Fifth Wave and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, that never get off the ground. So, audiences are wary about endeavors of this ilk, but that’s not going to stop Hollywood from trying. The latest attempt is The Darkest Minds. I know nothing about this saga, but I’m actually kind of into the new trailer for the film.
Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One represents the ultimate fanboy wish-fulfillment dream. It’s a world here all of that obscure accumulated knowledge they’ve (we) spent years collecting, collating, and committing to memory actually means something, is actually important, and saves the world and gets the girl. While it’s remarkably constructed, and contains moments of true awe and Spielberg-ian wonder, the film alternates between reasonable entertainment and obnoxious tedium.
Monday, March 26, 2018
Spring has officially sprung in Seattle, so what better way to spend a (potentially) lovely weekend day than by sitting in the darkness of a movie theater watching horror movies with a bunch of weirdos? Yes, it’s that time of year again, time for the BoneBat Comedy of Horrors Film Festival. Year after year, it's definitely one of the most unique and entertaining film events in town.
Friday, March 23, 2018
Directed by Menahem Golan, half of the team behind the venerable Cannon Films, the 1987, Sylvester Stallone-starring Over the Top combines the high family drama of a child custody battle with…competitive arm wrestling. And it’s glorious. Thanks, Menahem, you glorious madman! But it’s also pretty much the only real movie that speaks to the arm wrestling enthusiast. Until now. South Korea’s Kim Yong-wan is making his directorial debut with Champion, and he’s enlisted Ma Dong-seok to star. Check out the trailer and try to convince me this isn’t going to rule.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
I legitimately enjoyed Deadpool, more than I expected to. I wasn’t sure how it would translate, if they would go all in on the filth and violence, but they did. And the result is a fun, foul-mouthed superhero joint. Even so, I haven’t been able to work up one iota of enthusiasm for Deadpool 2. And I should. David Leitch directed John Wick, the best modern action movie, and Atomic Blonde, which is solid. It has Josh Brolin, who I’ve loved since Thrashin’; Zazie Beetz, who rules; Terry Crews; and the kid from Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Regardless of how I feel, the Merc with the Mouth is coming back, and there’s a new trailer, and it does little to get my juices flowing.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
It probably comes as no surprise I’m excited about a Scott Adkins movie. In fact, The Debt Collector landed on my most anticipated movies list for 2018. But now we have a trailer, and it’s not only suitably badass to fit in the cinematic martial artist’s resume, it takes him to places he doesn’t usually go. Check it out below.
Since kicking off retirement, Steven Soderbergh has crafted a hillbilly heist flick (Logan Lucky), helmed every episode of a period medical drama (The Knick), created a weird interactive movie/app thing (Mosaic), and produced a ton of other projects. And just to prove he has more creative energy that the rest of us combined, he found the time to use an iPhone to shoot the low-budget, throwback horror thriller, Unsane.