The Little Mermaid
The spate of recent live-action Disney remakes has run the gamut in quality from pleasantly diverting (Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon) to unwatchable abominations (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast.) Even the most well-received entries of the bunch struggle to find reasons they should exist in the first place. Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid is no different, but for one crucial factor that sets it apart from the rest: Halle Bailey as Ariel. Bailey is so captivating and winsome in the titular role that this remake almost feels worth it just to launch her into movie stardom. Unfortunately, sub-par CGI effects and clunky changes to Howard Ashman’s classic songs often make it feel like Bailey is left to carry the movie on the strength of her remarkable talent alone. With a shaggy runtime of two hours and fifteen minutes—a full hour longer than the original cartoon—it’s a heavy load for one performer to bear. Continue Reading →
There's always been something of the vampiric in the acting style of Nicolas Cage; his dark, intense eyes, his hunched gaze, his predilection for sinking his teeth into the scenery as vociferously as he might an unsuspecting jugular. And yet, it's wild to think he's never played a gen-you-wine bloodsucker before now. Sure, there's Vampire's Kiss, the great 1988 dark comedy in which he played a manic '80s business guy who imagines himself to be one -- but those were more the panicked neuroses of your typical self-destructive Cage protagonist. But in Chris McKay's action-horror-comedy Renfield, he's the real pale deal: Count Dracula himself, complete with velvet capes, a mouth full of fangs, and an unquenchable thirst for hemoglobin. Continue Reading →
Crazy Rich Asians
The director-writer & star of Asia talk death, love & the immigration experience.
A mother, her rebellious teen daughter, and an illness. It’s a story that’s been done and redone so many times that it’s basically become a subgenre. But in Ruthy Pribar’s feature directorial debut Asia, a tender and devastating character study about motherhood and loss, everything about the subgenre gets rejuvenated. Not because it breathes a new life into it, but because it tells the story in an understated way, with a level of realism that recalls the works of the Dardenne brothers more than it does The Fault in Our Stars.
The titular character, Asia (Alena Yiv), is a 35-year-old single mother who immigrated herself and her daughter from Russia to Israel years ago to start a new life. By day (and sometimes night), Asia works tirelessly as a nurse. But when she’s not taking care of her patients, Asia likes to spend time at a bar, drinking alone and flirting with strangers, or having sex with her colleague in his car as if she’s still a teenager. Continue Reading →
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
Early on in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, the third cinematic iteration of the long-running Nickelodeon series SpongeBob Squarepants -- after 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and 2015's The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water -- the Tim Hill-directed road movie flashes us back to the childhood of our absorbent, yellow, porous protagonist (voiced by Tom Kenny) and his first meeting with his beloved snail, Gary. By the time the film's over, we'll learn that all of SpongeBob's friends -- Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), and the rest -- all met as kids in an undersea summer camp called Kamp Koral. Continue Reading →
Raya and the Last Dragon
(Note: We heavily encourage you to read reviews and criticism from Southeast Asian critics, who have a much more intimate and detailed understanding of the cultures from which Raya and the Last Dragon draws inspiration. This thread is a helpful primer.) Continue Reading →