There's at once too much, and somehow not enough, of the whimsical DIY spirit of writer-director Robert Rodriguez in his latest film, the shaky B-thriller Hypnotic. The Austin native made his name in the halcyon days of '90s indie filmmaking, shooting his first feature (El Mariachi) for a mere $7,000 at the tender age of 23. Since then, he's leveraged that inventiveness into a cottage industry of his own based out of his hometown of Austin, Texas, whether it's kid-friendly fare (Spy Kids), big-budget CGI blockbusters (Alita: Battle Angel), moody noirs (Sin City) or grindhouse splatterfests (Planet Terror, From Dusk Till Dawn). Hypnotic is all and none of those things, a chintzy lo-fi Christopher Nolan riff that doesn't have nearly enough life to work. And yet, there are just enough charming elements to save it from outright dismissal. Continue Reading →
Considering Kevin Smith's career from a 2022 perspective is a fascinating exercise. His early output, from 1994's Clerks to 2001's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, were once quintessential texts for Gen X / film nerds, treated with the same reverence as the films of Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. But that isn’t the case anymore, and hasn’t been for over a decade. Continue Reading →
The Tender Bar
The Tender Bar, streaming on Amazon January 7th, is based on J. R. Moehringer’s memoir of the same name. In practice though, it could be anyone’s story, and not because there’s a universality to the tale it tells. George Clooney’s film is so generic that the film's Moehringer might as well be a human-shaped blank space. Boasting the archly-drawn relatives of the film version of August: Osage County, the subtle needle drops of a Robert Zemeckis film, and the emotional insight of a Snapple lid fun fact, the picture leaves one thirsty for something of substance. Continue Reading →
The story of Kevin Smith certainly sounds like fodder for an inspirational movie. A film geek from New Jersey cobbled some money together, grabbed a camera, and filmed a movie at his convenience store workplace. Continue Reading →
80 minutes into Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, the titular surprise attack finally arrives. It is, without a doubt, one of the most virtuosic action set pieces ever committed to the screen, a flawlessly orchestrated symphony of carnage that burns for close to 40 minutes. Everything that you could possibly hope for from a maximalist, hyperkinetic blockbuster spectacle is here. There’s fire cascading, plumes of black smoke rising, bullets and bombs raining down, planes tumbling from the skies, boats being torn asunder, and bodies being flung about like ragdolls. Annihilation and national tragedy have never looked so stunning or—and it feels gross saying this—felt so exhilarating. Continue Reading →
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a good movie. Its cast brings the famous DC superhero team to life through performances that range from reliably solid to very strong. Its action is clear, creative, and in a few places downright stupendous. Its thematic work is interesting, both on its own and in the greater context of its long and winding road to existence. There are multiple moments that qualify as full-on fantastic filmmaking, sequences that successfully connect western superheroes to the larger-than-life feeling of mystical Arthurian lore. To put it simply, I like it. I like it a bunch. Continue Reading →
David Fincher's meticulous anti-murder-mystery is a curious marriage of thriller and romantic comedy.
When glancing at David Fincher’s filmography, romance may not come to mind. There are the gruesome murders in Se7en, the unsolved mysteries in Zodiac, and the rise of social media titans in The Social Network. In 2014’s Gone Girl, adapted for the screen by Gillian Flynn from her own novel, Fincher dives deep into the marriage of Amy (Rosamund Pike) and Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a picturesque couple suddenly thrust into the national spotlight when Amy goes missing.
As the film unravels, it becomes clear that Amy orchestrated her disappearance to teach the philandering Nick a lesson. Amy and Nick may have deceived each other, but the real master of deception Fincher. Gone Girl is packaged as a psychological thriller, but it’s also Fincher’s most romantic film, the director flirting with us by using both the conventions of the thriller and rom-com genres. As a result, it woos the audience with a twisted love story. Continue Reading →