Say what you will about writer/director Jade Halley Bartlett’s debut feature, Miller’s Girl, and we’ll get to that in a moment, this movie truly understands the cinematic power of cigarettes. Smoking looks cool and dammit, people look hot smoking—even if I don’t want to be around them afterward. Something as seemingly innocuous as offering a light becomes encoded with erotic subtext, they’re an excuse for characters to isolate themselves and break apart from the prying eyes of the crowd and exchange secrets, or hell, they offer an excuse for the camera to linger on a character’s mouth.
Friday, January 26, 2024
Thursday, January 18, 2024
The hardest movies to write about are the ones that are fine, the ones that are just kind of okay. Where there’s nothing specifically wrong with them, where there aren’t glaring, slap-you-in-the-face flaws or problems, but also where there’s nothing particularly engaging, memorable, or otherwise noteworthy. And that is the exact place where director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s extraplanetary thriller I.S.S. lives. It has a strong cast doing solid work, seamless special effects, and a decent amount going for it. But the finished product is little more than a shrug and there’s not much to say beyond, “It’s fine.”
Thursday, January 11, 2024
We’re barely into 2024 and so far, the new movie releases have twice returned to the guy-with-a-mundane-job-who-used-to-be-a-government-agent well. First came Renny Harlin’s The Bricklayer and now star Jason Statham and director David Ayer have thrown their hat into the ring with The Beekeeper. (The Custodian feels the obvious next step.) Bigger, badder, and wilder than the Harlin joint, this plays like deep EuropaCorp trash filtered through a lens of mean-spirited American animosity and excess. The result is relentlessly absurd, but also absurdly entertaining. It's utter nonsense, but fun nonsense that’s in on the joke (to an extent), and even funnier because everyone plays it straight faced.
Friday, January 5, 2024
When you have a checkered past, a new, idyllic life complete with a pregnant wife and newly minted hopes and dreams, and are a badass fighter, you know you’re utterly, absolutely screwed. Cinematically speaking of course. Such is the case for Samir (Nassim Lyes), the protagonist of Mayhem!, the latest violent offering from director Xavier Gens (The Divide, Gangs of London). Vicious and all kinds of mean, this offers up a dark, brutal slice of fantastic action for those so inclined.
Thursday, January 4, 2024
It makes a great deal of sense that Renny Harlin’s The Bricklayer was once earmarked as a Gerard Butler vehicle. Butler remains a producer, while Aaron Eckhart takes the role of former spy Steve Vail, and does a passable growly, grumble-voiced tough-guy mutter. Though admittedly, without Gerry’s sweaty macho charisma, the finished product loses some oomph. The plot is pure dumbed-down airport-novel espionage with little investment, stakes, or suspense, but thanks to a brisk pace and action that whips damn hard, this offers up an entertaining thriller that scratches a specific itch.
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Since we’ve already taken the time to look back on the year that was 2023, it only makes sense to now turn our gaze forward, toward the cinematic future. With that in mind, here are my top 50 most-anticipated movies of 2024.