Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Fantasia 2024: 10 Movies To See

armed teens in masks
Well, it’s that time again, time for the Fantasia Film Festival in ye olde Montreal. That’s in Canada for the geographically challenged. It runs from July 18 through August 4.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

'Kill' (2023) Movie Review

lakshya with a knife at his throat on a train
The Raid on a Blank has become the new Die Hard on a Blank, action movie shorthand wise, and I’m here for every last one. And the easiest way to describe Indian director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s Kill is as The Raid on a Train. That is, of course, reductive and not the whole story, and while awesome, Kill is no Raid. (What is? That’s an unfair comparison.) Still, what follows is a brutal, badass time full of gnarly, head-smashing, bone-snapping violence steeped in sweet melodrama that’s one of the best times at the movies this year. 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' (2024) Movie Review

anya taylor-joy looking post-apocalyptic
“Do you have it in you to make it epic?” one character asks another near the end of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. In answer to his own question, George Miller casually strolls over, taps the mic, leans in, and responds, “Yes, yes I do.” The 79-year-old action maestro has once again stepped up to show the whippersnappers exactly how to do it. And it is good.

Friday, May 17, 2024

SIFF 2024: 'Tenement' Movie Review

a woman surrounded by cult members
Much of Cambodian import Tenement, making its North American debut at the Seattle International Film Festival, will be familiar to those reasonably well-versed in supernatural horror. The story follows someone returning to a place they once had a connection to and finding it haunted by more than memories. Though the film may lack a bit of originality, it delivers an effective, to-the-point, gorgeously staged chiller.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

SIFF 2024: 'The Lavender Hill Mob' Movie Review

alec guinness in lavender hill mob
In 1951’s The Lavender Hill Mob, Alec Guinness plays Holland, a milquetoast bank clerk. He routinely supervises the delivery of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of gold bullion. Honest to a fault, viewed by his coworkers as a goody two shoes, he’s the kind of bloke who reads to his elderly landlady at night. He would never. Right? When means, inspiration, and opportunity come together, however, Holland breaks bad and, with a ragtag crew of mismatched outlaws, heists his latest load.

SIFF 2024: 'Chuck Chuck Baby' Capsule Review

Louise Brealey and Annabel Scholey in Chuck Chuck Baby
Sucks to be Helen (Louise Brealey). She works nights at the chicken-packing plant, lives with her dirtbag ex and his idiot 20-year-old baby mama, and cares for his dying mother, Gwen (a wonderful Sorcha Cusack), who’s as close to a mother as she’s ever known. When Joanne (Annabel Scholey), her schoolgirl crush, returns to town, it lights something ablaze within her. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

SIFF 2024: 'Eternal' Capsule Review

a submarine pilot looking worried
In Eternal, a rift on the ocean floor threatens to destroy not only Earth’s climate but the burgeoning relationship between a young submarine pilot and aspiring singer. 

Monday, May 13, 2024

SIFF 2024: 'Scala!!!' Capsule Review

The Scala theater in London
From the 1970s to the ‘90s, London’s Scala theater was a haven for cinemaniacs. From arthouse to exploitation and everything in between, they screened oddities, avant-garde experiments, and whatever the hell they wanted.

Friday, May 10, 2024

SIFF 2024: 'Scorched Earth' Movie Review

a man brooding by a car
12 years after skipping town, career thief Trojan (Misel Maticevic) returns to Berlin, desperate and looking for work. What he finds is a world that’s moved past his old school ways, adopting new technology and the unfamiliar attitudes of those who adapt to such things, and a list of old contacts who have gone straight or otherwise left behind the life. When he finally lands a job, a four-person art heist, things spiral ever out of control. Such begins Thomas Arslan’s Scorched Earth. (Not to be confused with the DTV post-apocalyptic joint starring a certain disgraced former MMA star of the same name.) 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

'The Last Stop In Yuma County' (2024) Movie Review

jim cummings in last stop in yuma county
First-time feature writer/director Francis Galluppi’s crime thriller The Last Stop in Yuma County takes a simple, straightforward set up, fills it full of eccentric characters, piles on one complication after another, and ratchets up the tension and pressure until it must explode. It’s a hell of a first film, polished and sure-handed, and apparently caught the right eyes even before release, since the filmmaker has already been tapped to helm the next Evil Dead movie.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

'Chief Of Station' (2024) Movie Review

aaron eckhart on a phone
Another week, another direct-to-video action-thriller. Lately, many of these stars either Aaron Eckhart or Olga Kurylenko, and director Jesse V. Johnson’s Chief of Station happens to feature both. (It truly only stars Eckhart, with Kurylenko relegated to a supporting role, but we’ll take it.)

Thursday, April 25, 2024

'Boy Kills World' (2024) Movie Review

bill skarsgard with abs.
You know the story well. In a dystopian world, the despotic siblings who rule with an iron fist murder a family who opposes them. The only survivor, a young boy, left deaf and mute by the experience, trains his entire life with a very stoned shaman for a mission of revenge with only the mental incarnation of his dead sister and his internal monologue, the voice of his favorite childhood video game, for company. Yeah, that old yarn, right?  And thus, we have Boy Kills World

Friday, April 12, 2024

'Arcadian' (2024) Movie Review

nicolas cage in the movie arcadian
Raising twin teen boys is a harrowing enough proposition, but when you have to raise twin teen boys in the middle of an end-of-the-world scenario, it’s even more fraught with peril. And sibling rivalry, and raging hormones, and dammit-dad-leave-me-alone-I’m-brooding. In this exact predicament is where Nicolas Cage’s Paul finds himself in Arcadian. Not only does he have to protect his sons, Joseph (Jaeden Martell, It, Midnight Special) and Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins, Lost in Space), from monsters that come in the darkness, he has to keep them from killing each other. No minor feat.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

'Blackout' Movie Review

a man about to turn into a werewolf
After messing with vampires and Frankenstein, in Habit and Depraved respectively, indie horror fave Larry Fessenden returns with his take on werewolves in Blackout. Set in a small town in upstate New York, painter Charley Barrett (Alex Hurt, son of William Hurt, which comes into play in one uniquely pointed way) makes his way through his last day in town, wrapping up loose ends, visiting friends one final time, and trying to right a few lingering wrongs on the way out the door. Complicating his exit, it turns out Charley is a werewolf and responsible for a number of recent deaths the elder powerbroker of this minor hamlet, Hammond (Marshall Bell), has chosen to blame on Miguel (Rigo Garay) despite a lack of evidence.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

'Road House' (2024) Movie Review

Jake Gyllenhaal in Road House
A big part of the charm of Rowdy Harrington’s 1980 cult classic Road House is, aside from Patrick Swayze kicking all the ass and being cool as hell while doing it, how straight-faced it plays everything. From lines like, “Pain don’t hurt,” to a monster truck pancaking a small Missouri town, to a world where bar bouncers are world-renowned celebrities, it’s all presented as very serious business.

Friday, February 23, 2024

'578 Magnum' (2023) Movie Review

Alexandre Nguyen looking dour.
There’s nothing quite like watching a movie missing much of the connective tissue between scenes to make you appreciate that facet that so often goes unnoticed and underappreciated. You may not always recognize the work it does, but holy hell, do you miss it when it’s gone. And that is a big, big problem with Vietnamese writer/director Luong Dinh Dung’s 578 Magnum. The film is, however, Vietnam’s official Oscar entry for 2023, and though there are definite highpoints, there are also gargantuan problems to skirt.

Friday, February 16, 2024

'Lights Out' (2024) Movie Review

Mekhi Phifer hugging Frank Grillo
Lights Out knows what you came to see. (And it's not the horror Lights Out.)You came to see Frank Grillo throw down. And throw down he does. Constantly. It’s also precisely the movie it advertises itself as, and while your mileage may vary, if this is your thing, this is very much your thing. It begins with a tactical running battle and moments later there’s a bar brawl. If that sounds like a good time, you’re in luck.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

'Land Of Bad' (2024) Movie Review

Hems-pocalypse Now!
In Land of Bad, Liam Hemsworth plays Kinney, an inexperienced communications officer embedded on an op with a hardened Delta Force team. Unqualified and in far over his head, he’s only there because he was the only one around for an urgent, last minute rescue mission. The reason Kinney was around when duty called? Because he missed a flight. He missed a flight because he had diarrhea. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

'Restore Point' (2023) Movie Review

a detective and a corpse
What if you could save your life at a certain point and, if you die unexpectedly, can then reset to that moment, like a video game? That’s the general idea of director Robert Hloz’s Restore Point, a slice of dystopian sci-fi. A solid, sturdy neo-noir, the film combines a twisting mystery and cool world building with an intriguing idea that plays something like Chinatown by way of Minority Report, both thematically and aesthetically. 

Friday, February 2, 2024

'She Is Conann' (2023) Movie Review

“Let me tell you about the days of high adventure.” If your first impulse upon hearing this line from Conan the Barbarian was to giggle and go, “heh, high,” then have we got something for you. While you don’t necessarily need to be high to watch Bertrand Mandico’s She is Conann—and to suggest it can only be enjoyed or appreciated while on drugs denigrates a rowdy, curious slice of experimental cinema—it certainly won’t damage the experience should the viewer be a slight bit elevated. This seriously has future cult-fave midnight movie stamped all over it.

Friday, January 26, 2024

'Miller's Girl' (2024) Movie Review

Martin Freeman flirting with Jenna Ortega

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. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

'I.S.S.' (2024) Movie Review

Ariana DeBose is an astronaut.
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

'The Beekeeper' (2024) Movie Review

jason statham looking grim
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

'Mayhem!' (2023) Movie Review

nassim lyes hits a dude with a pool ball
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

'The Bricklayer' (2024) Movie Review

aaron eckhart in the bricklayer
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

The 50 Most-Anticipated Movies Of 2024

a kid eating popcorn in a movie theater
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.