Wednesday, July 31, 2019

'Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' (2019) Movie Review

hobbs & shaw

Since Fast Five (give or take), the Fast & Furious franchise has become a continual escalation of ludicrous, physics-defying mayhem. Pushing the boundaries of imagination, logic, and audiences’ willingness to suspend disbelief, the films have left behind the grounded, Point-Break-with-cars style action of the early days in favor of sheer ridiculousness. Looking back, it almost feels inevitable that spinoff, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a movie as bloated as that title and star Dwayne Johnson’s biceps, was destined to become an absurd action cartoon. 

'The Irishman' Trailer: Check Out Martin Scorsese's Crime Opus Starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, And Joe Pesci


A new Martin Scorsese movie is always a reason to celebrate, so let’s party like maniacs with the first trailer for his long-in-the-works crime opus, The Irishman.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Depraved' Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

The Frankenstein story has been adapted, tweaked, and tinkered with countless times across every medium. With Depraved legendary filmmaker Larry Fessenden gives the tale a lo-fi indie horror spin, though it’s more concerned with Brooklyn hipsters dealing with trauma than typical genre trappings.

'The Lighthouse' Trailer: Robert Pattinson And Willem Dafoe Get Creepy In Robert Eggers' Latest Horror


Robert Eggers’ The Witch (or The VVitch if you’re one of those) is one of the best horror movies, and best movies, of the decade. That was his first feature, so what do you do for a follow up when your debut was one of the most acclaimed films in recent memory? You apparently make a black and white, Lovecraftian tale about two olde timey lighthouse keepers. One of my most-anticipated movies of the year, The Lighthouse now has a trailer.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'No Mercy' Movie Review


A modern incarnation of a muscle car, a silver mustang in this case, rumbles across the screen. A woman in a red dress and high heels, her legs noticeably scuffed and scraped and bloodied, emerges. In casual but deliberate fashion, she walks across an auto shop. She asks a question of the mechanic working beneath a car. When he pokes his head out to answer, she smashes him with a sledgehammer. So begins South Korean director Lim Kyoung-tack’s revenge thriller No Mercy.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Harpoon' Movie Review


You might think a movie with three total characters—four if you count an occasional narrator—is, by necessity, simple and straightforward. After all, how much intrigue can a trio of early twenty-somethings really get up to? Maybe cool your jets a second, Hoss, and give Rob Grant’s thriller Harpoon a try. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Shooting The Mafia' Movie Review


We take journalists of all stripes for granted, but they often put themselves in harm’s way to document and expose. Such is the case with Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia, who spend decades on the front lines chronicling the violence and iron-fisted control of the mafia over life in Sicily. Fascinating and fearless, documentarian Kim Longinotto points the camera at her in Shooting the Mafia.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'The Legendary Stardust Brothers' Movie Review


This is an updated version of an earlier review.

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, July 24, 2019

'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' (2019) Movie Review


On their own, I like all—okay, most—of the pieces of Quentin Tarantino’s latest opus of revisionist history/love letter to a golden age of movies, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Individual characters, scenes, and moments stand out, and all his hallmarks are present and accounted for. The soundtrack kills, whip-cracking dialogue abounds, and harsh violence lurks just beyond the surface. Unfortunately, these pieces never cohere in any meaningful way and the whole thing feels empty and meandering, a collection of moments more than a cohesive being.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'Knives And Skin' Movie Review


“I need to know there’s a way out of this place.” So says one of the many teenage characters in writer-director Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin. For kids in a small town, one that feels oppressive and choking, like it’s squeezing the life out of you at every turn, it’s a common feeling. This undercurrent flows through the surreal adolescent noir that borders on magical realist fable or allegory.

'Wu Assassins' Trailer: Iko Uwais Battles Ancient Supernatural Evil, And His Dad


Hey, remember like an hour ago when we were discussing that badass clip from Netflix’s upcoming action series Wu Assassins? Remember when I mentioned a full trailer was on the way today? Well, it’s here. Enjoy.

'Wu Assassins' Clip: Watch Iko Uwais Pummel Dudes In A Hallway


Looking for a reason to get excited about a movie or series, the presence of Iko Uwais usually does the trick. Such is the case with Netflix’s upcoming supernatural action show, Wu Assassins. It lands on the streaming behemoth in a few weeks, and just in case we weren’t already all jacked up, this badass new clip should do the trick.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'J.R. "Bob" Dobbs And The Church Of The SubGenius' Movie Review


When I was in high school, a friend sent away a dollar—this is back when mail order was a thing—and received a packet of stickers featuring the clip-art face of a grinning, 1950s-ideal-of-white-suburbabn-American-man clutching a pipe between two rows of perfect teeth. Along with the stickers were various pamphlets and leaflets extolling the virtues of a wingnut religion that, at least at first glance, appeared to be an elaborate joke. This WTF literature was my first introduction to The Church of the SubGenius. To this day, I’m still not entirely certain of the veracity of this particular religious sect, but now, thanks to Sandy K. Boone’s documentary J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius, we can all bask in the underground strangeness.

Fantasia 2019: 'The Prey' Movie Review


Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game” has, officially or otherwise, served as the basis for countless action movies. Hard Target, Surviving the Game, Bloodlust!, and countless otehrs—not to mention all the straight adaptations—all draw from the tale of men hunting men. Now we can add Cambodian actioner The Prey, from Jailbreak director Jimmy Henderson, to the pile.

This 'Daniel Isn't Real' Trailer Has A Terrifying Imaginary Friend


Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Daniel Isn’t Real is one of those movies we’ve been hearing about for what feels like forever, but that we keep missing. (It’s only been a few months in reality, but it feels much longer.) Fortunately, the film is getting a release, and this teaser trailer, while it doesn’t deliver much in the way of content or details, certainly looks nuts in a way I’m super into.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Fantasia 2019: 'DreadOut' Movie Review


Dammit, teens, when are you going to learn no amount of social media follows is worth venturing into haunted abandoned buildings? For the sake of horror movies, I hope the answer is never. And at least they didn’t learn before Kimo Stamboel—one half of the Indonesian filmmaking duo The Mo Brothers (Headshot)—delivered his first solo directorial effort,  DreadOut.

So, This 'Top Gun: Maverick' Trailer Is Great


Outside of maybe Red Dawn, Top Gun had more of an impact on my life and who I’ve become as a person than any other movie. And that’s saying something, as movies have and continue to define my life to what is probably an unhealthy degree. That said, I always passed off years’ worth of Top Gun 2 rumors as just talk that would never come to fruition. And once it finally became clear a sequel really was going to happen, I assumed it would be a tossed off joke we’d all make fun of for years. But here we are. I just witnessed the first trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, and fuck me, I have a new most-anticipated movie of 2020.

Fantasia 2019: 'Porno' Movie Review


If you lament the lack of graphic genital torture or exploded testicles in modern horror cinema, you’re in luck. First time director Keola Racela’s  Porno has the cure for what ails you. It also has demons, repressed religious nerds, an uptight straight edge kid, and more Encino Man references than one might initially expect. Gory, ridiculous, and often legitimately scary, it’s a perfect movie to watch late at night, preferably with a rowdy, intoxicant-lubricated crowd.

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.