Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil' Movie Review

This is an updated version of an earlier review.

To lump all South Korean cinema together and paint the industry with a singular, this-is-what-they-do brush is to do it a disservice. It cuts across genre boundaries, topics, and subsets, with standouts in each category along the way. But goddamn, do the South Korean filmmakers do dark, thoughtful crime thrillers really well. OldboyI Saw the DevilThe Yellow Sea, the list goes on. The latest addition to this canon is Lee Won-tae’s The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Master Z: Ip Man Legacy' Movie Review

This is an updated version of an earlier review.

This will surprise absolutely no one, but Yuen Woo-ping can stage the hell out of a fight. The guy is a legend for good reason. And he displays this particular skill front and center in his latest directorial effort, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy, which features choreography on par with some of his best. Inventive and thrilling, it runs the gamut from incredibly technical martial arts acumen to high-flying wire artistry that calls to mind his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

'Into The Ashes' (2019) Movie Review

Sometimes, on paper, a movie has all the ingredients necessary for success, but for one reason or another—or many—just doesn’t work. Such is the case with writer/director Aaron Harvey’s Into the Ashes. It contains most of my favorite cinematic things—Frank Grillo, violence, a grim revenge tale—but other issues bog down the film and, it brings me no pleasure to report, it simply isn’t very good.

Monday, July 15, 2019

'Luz' (2018) Movie Review

The first thing that stands out in Tilman Singer’s eerie, esoteric horror thriller Luz is the sound. It begins with oppressive, ominous notes, droning synth tones, creaking doors. At times over the course of a sparse 70-minute runtime, layered dialogue, a hypnotic prog-heavy score, and brooding pitched noise builds to a nightmarish, overwhelming cacophony. 

Fantasia 2019: 'The Deeper You Dig' Movie Review

a woman sits on a log while her dead daughter hovers in the background

During the credits of The Deeper You Dig the phrase, “An Adams Family Film” (not Addams Family) pops up on screen. And sure, it’s good for a chuckle, but it’s also an accurate representation of what you’re about to see. It’s nothing if not a family affair. Written and directed by John Adams and Toby Poser, the couple also star in two of the three main roles. The third? Filled by their daughter, Zelda Adams.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Sadako' Movie Review

big eyed woman and a ghost
(C)2019 "Sadako" Film Partners

In 1998, with Ringu, Hideo Nakata helped kick off an American obsession with Japanese horror that continued to wield a heavy influence through the 2000s. Now, two decades, multiple sequels and remakes, and countless knock-offs down the line, the director returns to that well yet again. The latest chapter, Sadako, maintains the standard creepy, atmospheric vibe at the same time it updates the franchise mythology for a YouTube, anything-for-clicks generation. I mean, it’s hard to make a killer VHS tape scary in a day and age when no one even has a VCR, right?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

'Trespassers' (2019) Movie Review

skull masked man

Home invasions are a staple of horror, and while it offers a largely paint-by-numbers approach, Trespassers delivers a passable, if familiar addition to the subgenre. It hits all the markers: dysfunctional couples, a remote setting, questionable decision making; drugs, booze, and assholery abound. There are major logical jumps and a few narratively convenient oversights, but mean-spirited carnage and strong female protagonists make it a compelling watch.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Fantasia Festival 2019: 6 Films We've Already Seen

pegasus, space cat, moon, and pug in a spaceship.

For the first time I have the opportunity to cover the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. Well, sort of. I’m covering it remotely, which is cool in one regard, because, comprised almost entirely of genre movies, it skews right into my wheelhouse. It’s one of the big film festivals I’ve most wanted to check out in my time on this beat, and while I won’t get to be there, boots on the ground, to hang out with a bunch of fine folks in person, I still have the chance to check out a ton of movies I’m rather jazzed to watch.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

'Knives Out' Trailer: Rian Johnson Returns With A Throwback Murder Mystery

toni collette makes a face in front of a wall of knives

I’m definitely in the camp that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is great, and I love that long ago, far, far away galaxy. That said, I’m happy director Rian Johnson still takes the time to make twisty, clever, albeit smaller genre movies. Especially his upcoming murder mystery Knives Out. It’s one of my most-anticipated movies of the year, and this first trailer does nothing to dissuade my excitement.

Monday, July 1, 2019

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' (2019) Movie Review

spider-man does spider-man things

Just a heads up: talking about Spider-Man: Far from Home necessitates discussion of key events from Avengers: Infinity War. So, be warned if you’re one of the five people on Earth who hasn’t watched that particular motion picture yet.

If Avengers: Endgame felt like an end, like the closing of a door, Spider-Man: Far from Home plays almost like an epilogue at the end of a novel. It finds characters dealing with the fallout and contending with previous events. Time has passed, but even from the opening scene, the specter of loss looms large over the entire film.

Friday, June 28, 2019

'Hobbs & Shaw' Trailer: Dwayne Johnson And Jason Statham Fight Idris Elba With An Axe And A Chainsaw

Dwayne Johnson with an axe and Jason Statham with a chainsaw

At this point, I don’t need a trailer to know I want to see Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. But that doesn’t mean this latest, and “final,” trailer doesn’t make me smile like a drooling idiot. Because it does. This is ridiculous, and I mean that as the highest praise. I didn’t stop grinning the whole time. Check it out below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

'The 16th Episode' (2019) Movie Review

bloody woman in a bathroom

The battle for clicks and views has killed more millennial YouTubers than malaria and polio combined—not measles, though, that shit is back with a vengeance. I kid—maybe, I don’t know the statistics—but that’s the basic premise for the new horror film, The 16th Episode, and, as you probably imagined, things do not go well.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

'Midsommar' (2019) Movie Review

a man and woman walk up a hill

When the lights went down, I certainly didn’t expect to describe Hereditary director Ari Aster’s Swedish pagan cult horror Midsommar as either “silly” or “a hoot,” but if the glass slipper fits… This is heightened ‘70s exploitation that builds to a bug-nuts crazy climax that had me rolling and clapping. Think hallucinatory Douglas Sirk nightmare by way of Jodorowsky-style surrealist fairytale, all punctuated with bursts of gore and terror.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

'Point Blank' Trailer: Frank Grillo And Anthony Mackie Team Up In This Remake Of A Baddass French Action Movie

UPDATED: Not to be confused with classic 1967 Lee Marvin movie of the same name, the 2010 French action-thriller Point Blank has been remade a startling number of times for a film most people never knew existed. And that includes a new Netflix version starring Frank Grillo and Anthony Mackie. It drops next month and the first trailer is here to prove it.

Monday, June 17, 2019

'Into The Ashes' Trailer: Frank Grillo, Crime, And Revenge

frank grillo and some goons

A grim, gritty saga of betrayal, revenge, and retribution starring Frank Grillo? Stop right there, Into the Ashes, I will partake of this particular bit of cinematic moral gray-zoning, no need to say more. Oh, there’s a trailer? Why yes, I am interested in watching that as well. If you care to join me, take a look below.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

'Doctor Sleep' Trailer: Mike Flanagan Shines In Stephen King's 'The Shining' Sequel


It’s well-known that Stephen King has never been a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, but it’s still one of the best movies, horror or otherwise, ever made. That really has nothing to do with anything, but we’re talking about Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of King’s Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, so it seemed worth noting. Both a new film from Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) and adaptation of the horror master himself are worth celebrating, and now we have the first trailer for Doctor Sleep. Take a gander.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

'Desolate' Trailer: Check Out This Grim Modern Western Thriller

Jack Conley with a shovel stands his ground while others flee

A grim, proto-western about hardscrabble outsiders struggling to scrape by and ultimately turning towards a life of crime to make it through? Yeah, I’m here for that. And if you, too, like the sound of this, check out the trailer for director Frederick Cipoletti’s upcoming Desolate.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

'The Dead Don't Die' (2019) Movie Review

bill murray, chloe sevigny, and adam driver stare at carnage

The Dead Don’t Die is a movie that, on paper, sounds fabulous. Indie icon Jim Jarmusch assembled an amazing cast—Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, and a murderer’s row of others—and the last time splashed around in the horror pool we got Only Lovers Left Alive, one of my favorites of 2014. But goddamn if this doesn’t miss in every conceivable way. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Top 10 Films Of SIFF 2019

seattle international film festival 2019

It’s been 25 days (more than six weeks for press), but another Seattle International Film Festival is in the books. An epic undertaking, I saw north of 50 movies—not my highest total, not my lowest, but a solid amount—and lived to tell the tale. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Pigeon Kings' Movie Review

a man sits alone in his back yard with pigeons

Did you know there’s a specific breed of pigeons that summersault mid-air? Did you know groups of people around the world who raise birds to do just that and have turned it into a competitive sport? Neither did I, at least until I watched Milena Pastreich’s documentary Pigeon Kings.

'Jiu Jitsu': Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, And More Join Nicolas Cage's Martial Arts Versus Aliens Movie

tony jaa practices martial arts

When you hear about a movie named Jiu Jitsu, you probably don’t expect it to involve aliens. However, this particular film also stars Nicolas Cage, so all bets are off. And his upcoming action flick just added a ton of badass talent. In addition to Cage and Alain Moussi, star of the recent Kickboxer revamp, the cast now includes Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, JuJu Chan, Rick Yune, and Marie Avgeropoulos.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

'The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil' (2019) Movie Review

a group of men in suits walk in slow motion.

To lump all South Korean cinema together and paint the industry with a singular, this-is-what-they-do brush is to do it a disservice. It cuts across genre boundaries, topics, and subsets, with standouts in each category along the way. But goddamn, do the South Korean filmmakers do dark, thoughtful crime thrillers really well. Oldboy, I Saw the Devil, The Yellow Sea, and many more. The latest addition to this canon is Lee Won-tae’s The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Lynch: A History' Movie Review

Marshawn Lynch throwing skittles during the seahawk's super bowl parade

For a man notorious for not talking, Marshawn Lynch is imminently quotable: “I’m just about that action, boss,” “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” “Run through a mother fucker face.” In Lynch: A History, David Shields combines all of his greatest hits, clips of the former Seahawks running back’s career from high school through the pros, and unrelated footage and interviews to provide larger context of the man, his life, and the world that formed him. 

'Ad Astra' Trailer: Brad Pitt Explores Daddy Issues In Deep Space

I despised The Lost City of Z, just hated it with a white-hot fiery passion, in a raw, visceral manner I don’t hate many things. It makes me angry in a way that usually only racists and bigots do. In most cases, even if I dislike a film, I can at least wrap my head around how and why other people enjoy it. Not this time. I was shocked so many people love it and find zero value on screen (except Robert Pattinson, he’s rad). That said, I’m excited for director James Gray’s next film, the sci-fi adventure Ad Astra. It has a great cast, falls into one of my favorite genres, and checks all the boxes. The first trailer is here. Watch it below.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Koko-Di Koko-Da' Movie Review

cat watches over small people

We’ve seen the Groundhog-Day-as-horror conceit before, most notably with Happy Death Day, but in Swedish oddity Koko-di Koko-da, writer/director Johannes Nyholm takes the concept to straight-up psychological nightmare territory. Twisted and terrifying, it offers a time-loop of grief, death, and adorable animated shadow puppet bunnies and birds, which he also manages to turn scary and unnerving as all hell. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'In Fabric' Movie Review

two women gaze into a mirror in a department store

Peter Strickland’s Duke of Burgundy is one of my favorite movies of the last decade, so In Fabric was always a must-see. And when the first shot has a warm, crackling giallo look, a switchblade, and ‘70s style prog rock score, you have my full attention.

SIFF 2019: 'The Art Of Self-Defense' Movie Review

jesse eisenberg in a dojo

In Riley Stearns’ dark comedy, The Art of Self-Defense, Jesse Eisenberg plays Casey, a milquetoast office drone with no social skills a no friends outside of his dachshund, joins an agro karate dojo to learn to defend himself and become what he fears.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'The Legend Of The Stardust Brothers' Movie Review

the stardust brothers singing with marimo

Dear The Legend of the Stardust Brothers, where have you been all my life? Seriously, this lost Japanese musical oddity from 1985 fills a gaping chasm in my soul I didn’t even know was there. It also has maybe the most WTF twist I’ve ever seen, and this is a movie that’s basically non-stop WTF moments from one end to the other.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'International Falls' Movie Review

a woman and a man stand in the snow in minnesota

Dee (Rachel Harris) is a harried wife and mother working a at a hotel in a small Minnesota town on the Canadian border. Stuck in a dying marriage, she dreams of doing standup. When Tim (Rob Huebel), a burned-out, low-level, road-warrior comedian—Dee tells a coworker, “We don’t get the kind of people you’ve heard of”—makes a stop in her town, the two form an unlikely bond.

Friday, May 24, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Deadtectives' Movie Review

a group of fake paranormal investigators

Sam Whitner (You’re the Worst’s Chris Geere) leads a TV team of faux-paranormal investigators, staging hauntings to please fans and sponsors. As their show teeters on cancellation, in a last-ditch effort, the gang heads to the “most haunted casa in all of Mexico.” Turns out it’s actually haunted, ghosts are real, and they’re in way over their heads. 

SIFF 2019: 'Human Nature' Movie Review

young boy looking at a test tube

Adam Bolt’s new documentary, Human Nature, watches a bit like prequel to dystopian science fiction. His cameras tells of the rise of CRISPR. What is CRISPR, you might ask? Don’t worry, the film explains that. The acronym stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. What it is, is a revolutionary new development in genetic manipulation, one that has epic, sprawling, far-reaching implications across numerous fields. 

SIFF 2019: 'Enormous: The Gorge Story' Movie Review

a view of the gorge amphitheater

From geological anomaly to accidental concert venue—the original owners wanted to start a vineyard—Nic Davis’ documentary, Enormous: The Gorge Story tracks the evolution of Washington’s Gorge Amphitheater into one of the most unique, spectacular places to see live music. The film weaves together archival footage, intimate performances, and talking head interviews with the likes of Dave Mathews, John Oates, Jason Mraz, members of Pearl Jam, and more.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

'Booksmart' (2019) Movie Review

It’s the last day of school, the night before graduation, and BFFs Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), the top students in their class, overachievers who spent the last four years focused solely on academic pursuits, come to a crushing realization: they should have had more fun. In Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, the duo sets out to rectify that situation and cram a high school career’s worth of partying into a single night.

'Terminator: Dark Fate' Trailer: Linda Hamilton Has A Bazooka

linda hamilton with a bazooka

Granted, the last few Terminator movies haven’t been…good. Let’s say it like it is. Depending on your perspective, we maybe even have to go back to Judgment Day to find a good one, but that’s an argument for later. (Though The Sarah Connor Chronicles is fantastic and we got screwed out of more of that series.) But I will never not be excited for a Terminator movie. Sorry, those movies were so formative that’s just how I’m wired. Which is why this Terminator: Dark Fate trailer got me all tingly. Take a look, Linda Hamilton has a bazooka.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'X - The eXploited' Movie Review

Beginning with slow motion aerial shots of an upside down Hungarian cityscape, intercut with startling images of horrific violence and civil unrest, scored with ominous organs and a child choir, X – The eXploited immediately creates a dreamy, ethereal, disorienting sensation. On top of all of this, voice over sets that stage for investigating apparent suicides and accidental deaths that may actually be foul play. Nothing is what it initially appears.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

'Avengement' (2019) Movie Review

scott adkins with a shotgun

To give you an idea of the level of brutality in Avengement, the latest team-up from star Scott Adkins and director Jesse V. Johnson, at one point Adkins’ character, Cain Burgess, straight up bites out a dude’s jugular with a ferocious snarl. And no, this isn’t a vampire movie. This is a gritty, mean, down and dirty crime story about gritty, mean, down and dirty criminals. It’s also Johnson’s most ambitious film to date, as well as maybe his best.

'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' Trailer: Now With More Charles Manson And Neil Diamond

leonardo DiCaprio with a machine gun

I know, I know, you’re super excited about that new Downton Abbey trailer that dropped today, I am, too. We’ll get there, I promise. But first, let’s take a detour and check out the new trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Take a look after the jump.

Monday, May 20, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Knife+Heart' Movie Review

A heavily stylized, giallo-inspired, queer slasher about a masked, dildo-knife-wielding serial killer stalking a low-budget gay porn crew in late-1970s Paris? Damn, Knife+Heart, you had my full attention from the word go.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Monos' Movie Review

eight teen soldiers on a mountaintop

High atop a remote mountain, a cadre of eight teenagers with names like Rambo, Smurf, Boom Boom, and Swede, armed with automatic weapons, guard a prisoner and keep watch over a milk cow. A faction of a mysterious group known only as The Organization, this adolescent guerilla squad, left to their own devices, breaks down as loyalties shift and allegiances falter, and their crumbling structure and sanity build towards violence.

Friday, May 17, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story' Movie Review

warren miller smiling as he films

I grew up watching Warren Miller movies. I spent the summer months wearing out VHS copies of skiing movies like Extreme WinterBeyond the Edge, and Steep and Deep, praying for snow as I watched neon-clad (it was the 1980s) winter sports enthusiasts huck themselves off cliffs and gracefully carve mountain pitches you’d think twice about walking down, all narrated by his wry, soothing monotone. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

SIFF 2019: 'Who Let The Dogs Out?' Movie Review

stuffed dog that presumably sings a bad song

It’s a question that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time. Or at least, you know, since the dawn of the summer of 2000. Who did let the dogs out? And as demonstrated by the new documentary from Brent Hodge (A Brony Tale, The Pistol Shrimps), answering that question isn’t quite as easy as one might initially expect. 

The 'Angel Has Fallen' Trailer Is Here To Amuse Me And Only Me

gerard butler being arrested

So, London Has Fallen is mean and dumb and as chest-thumpingly numb-skulled and jingoistic a movie as has been produced in years. And I love it. (Though oddly, not a fan of the first film in the series, Olympus Has Fallen.) I’m not sure what to expect from the follow-up, Angel Has Fallen, but you’re damn right I’m excited. I might be the only one. (Not true, actually, I know at least one other person more pumped up than I am.) The first trailer has arrived and I’m here for it all day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

'Maria' (2019) Movie Review

movie poster of a woman holding a knife

Due to a handful of factors, it’s easy to equate Pedring Lopez’ new action film Maria to Erik Matti’s 2018 BuyBust. Both hail from the Philippines, they feature similar color palates, both have a particular mean streak, and they even share stunt choreographer Sonny Sison. And thanks to a single, but significant plot point, it’s also going to garner comparisons to Kiet Le-van’s Furie from earlier this year. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

11 Must-See SIFF 2019 Movies

seattle international film festival 2019 logo

May is in full effect, which means that, once again, it’s time for the Seattle International Film Festival. Ever a sprawling, unwieldy behemoth, the 45th chapter of this annual event runs 25 days and encompasses more than 400 films.

'Midsommar' Trailer: What Could Possibly Go Wrong In Such A Brightly Lit Horror Movie?

Well, Ari Aster’s Midsommar continues to be one of my most-anticipated movies of 2018. This new trailer doesn’t change much on that front, but it goes get me pretty damn hyped, so there’s that. Check it out below, along with a new poster for the Hereditary helmer’s sophomore feature.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

This 'It: Chapter Two' Trailer Is Straight-Up Nightmare Fuel

a scary clown temps children

That’s cool, It: Chapter Two, I wasn’t planning to sleep tonight anyway. But thanks for the nightmare fuel in this trailer, it’s always appreciated. *Shiver* If you’re into such things, we finally have our first look at the grown up Losers Club in the second part of the latest, greatest Stephen King adaptation.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

'Shadow' (2018) Movie Review

Zhang Yimou’s Shadow is a wash of grey; a veritable rainbow of ash and charcoal hues, occasionally punctuated by a splash of blood. This applies both to the visual aesthetic as well as the morality of the characters and narrative. At times, it watches like a black and white wuxia saga, Shakespearean in scope and scale. But while pretty and grand, and the idea of a historical epic from the director of Hero and House of Flying Daggers sounds like a great concept, Shadow falls flat and cold.

Monday, May 6, 2019

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Trailer: The Wall Crawler Goes On Vacation

If you haven’t watched Avengers: Endgame yet, don’t watch this Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, there are big, movie-ruining spoilers, like right out of the gate. But don’t worry, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Tom Holland, will also warn you. And wow, it’s been a busy weekend and I just looked at the box office numbers and, you know what, with a $2+ billion haul, there probably aren’t many of you who haven’t seen Endgame. Damn. Anyway, check out the trailer below.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

'Crawl' Trailer: Alexandre Aja, Alligators, And A Hurricane

alligator swimming through a sewer

The last time Alexandre Aja went all in on crazy-ass nature run amok, we got Piranha 3D, which is just the best movie. Well, he’s back in that realm, and while Crawl looks like a very different approach—dark and grim and terrifying versus over-the-top camp and schlock—it looks no less rad. I mean, come on, giant rampaging alligators in a hurricane. Check out the trailer below.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

'I'll Take Your Dead' (2018) Movie Review

ava preston

I’ll Take Your Dead starts with a young girl’s ominous voiceover about seeing dead people and the nature of death, straight into a corpse being dismembered, dissolved in a bathtub, and disposed of. This immediately sets the mood for writer/director Chad Archibald’s dark synthesis of gritty underworld crime saga and supernatural ghost horror.