The film's biggest highlight is the actor as an unlikely hero: a beekeeper-turned-assassin.
Bees, scammers, and a hive of lies. Jason Statham’s latest record-breaking feature The Beekeeper is honey-soaked, with wisdom that leaves the viewer wanting more and learning to be wary of scammers, stop elder abuse, and save the bees. As he aggressively fights to save the bees (and society) from total destruction, Statham serves up the same kind of grizzled Brit-buster vibes he's given us through decades of punch-em-up action. But this one's something special, a caper that leans into the meme of both Statham's curious star power and his apian brethren.
Directed by David Ayer, The Beekeeper tells the story of Adam Clay (Jason Statham), a beekeeper and retired member of the crime-fighting organization of the same name. But when his elderly neighbor Mrs. Parker (Phylicia Rashad) is subject to scammers and loses everything, Adam goes on a mission to find the scammers and kill their operation to “protect the hive.” His journey leads him all the way to the White House, even involving the FBI and CIA. Continue Reading →
The Zone of Interest
Jonathan Glazer's first feature in 10 years is a near-unclassifiable work of patience and intentional distance from its historical horrors.
What am I to say here? What can I say?
I feel as if I’m to say nothing at all. My mind has gone and I feel sick, and while that’s due to the film in question, another degree of it comes from a deeper truth. I feel wrong in my reaction to it; it can’t help but feel inadequate. The Zone of Interest has leveled me like few things ever have, but that’s not the point. That’s not its point. Continue Reading →
Yorgos Lanthimos directs a sumptuous adult fairy tale featuring Emma Stone at her very best.
Here’s the thing about Yorgos Lanthimos: you’re either on board with him, or you’re not. Even in The Favourite, arguably his most accessible film, there’s a sort of joyful grotesqueness to it, leaving the audience laughing and wincing simultaneously. His latest offering, Poor Things, is his most visually dazzling film yet, with moments of stunning beauty and bittersweet insight, but still isn’t afraid to test the audience’s sensibilities. It’s a film about what it means to be alive, every little disgusting aspect of it.
Based on Alasdair Gray’s novel of the same name, Poor Things opens in dreary black and white London, where eccentric scientist Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe) is overseeing an experiment that’s both miraculous and horrifying. Baxter, whose face looks like it was carved into several pieces and then put back together the wrong way, has brought a woman back to life after she committed suicide. The woman, whom he’s renamed Bella (Emma Stone, with a magnificent pair of eyebrows), initially has the mind of a toddler, but she’s learning and maturing at an astonishing rate. Bella refers to Godwin as “God,” and so far knows no one and nothing else but him and their home together. Continue Reading →
Thomasin McKenzie & Anne Hathaway burn up the screen in William Oldroyd’s unsettling thriller.
Eileen will likely be lost in the holiday season shuffle among such spectacles as the upcoming Wonka and awards-friendly fare like Ferrari. On the other hand, it’s unclear under what circumstances Eileen would make a big splash. It’s an odd, occasionally off-putting little film that wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the scorching chemistry between its two leads.
Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s (also odd and occasionally off-putting) novel of the same name, Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie as the titular character, a lonely young woman stuck in a miserable rut. Living in the most depressing town in Massachusetts circa 1964, Eileen is forced to take care of her alcoholic, mean-spirited father (a chilling Shea Whigham, still somehow not one of Hollywood’s biggest stars), a former cop who’s taken to waving his gun at their neighbors. Working as a secretary at a juvenile detention center, though she’s in her twenties she comes off as someone much younger, a meek and awkward child merely dressing up as an adult. Eileen also has a child’s taste for doing things like ignoring her hygiene, stuffing herself with candy, and compulsively masturbating, while maintaining a rich fantasy life involving rough sex with a detention center guard, or murdering her father. Her boredom has reached pathological levels. Continue Reading →
After stumbling with Downsizing, Alexander Payne bounces back with a gentle & witty comedy-drama.
The artist Dmitry Samarov one said to me that the ratio of good to bad late periods in an artist's life was depressing to consider. For every Sir Edward William Elgar there was an Eric Clapton (my example, not his), and that it was rare to see someone sharpen as they aged. Now, I like Dmitry and certainly respect his opinion, but I can’t help but feel that when film overtook painting as the dominant artwork that people engage with, the ratio shifted towards bizarre experimentation and welcome self-reflection as much as dull self reflection.
Take for instance 62 year old Alexander Payne, who, after the biggest disaster of his career (2017’s confused parable Downsizing), has started his fourth decade as a director by leaning hard back into what he knew (and what the royal “we” enjoyed) and rediscovered himself with The Holdovers, a movie no one can seem to stop comparing to Hal Ashby. No mean feat, of course, but even that sells its virtues short. This is no mere homage, no mere return to form, this is the movie that Payne’s been hoping to make since his 90s heyday, a film that earns both its jaundiced gaze and its catharsis. Continue Reading →
In such films as Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There, filmmaker Todd Haynes has taken the stories of famous people and utilized what we know—or think we know—about them to explore ideas about celebrity and our all-consuming need to render their often-complex stories into straightforward narratives. That strange compulsion to explain, understand, and commodify the lives of real people is at the heart of his latest work, May December, and it certainly seems to have sparked something in him because the end result is the strongest work that he has done in quite some time. Continue Reading →
At this point, you can roughly divide the output of Nicolas Cage into one of two categories. First, there are films so tailored to his reigning wild man of cinema persona that it seems unimaginable they could exist if he passed. In the other camp are the quieter efforts like The Weather Man, Joe, and Pig that remind of what a powerful actor he still can be. His latest project, writer-director Kristoffer Borgli’s Dream Scenario, combines both approaches into a single offering. The result is a strange and wildly audacious work anchored by a surprisingly deft and low-key turn from Cage that stands in marked contrast to the weirdness surrounding him. Continue Reading →
Spare a thought for the white male writer in your life. Christian Petzold just roasted him so bad they’re beyond saving; just grab a marinade and sides. The enigmatic German formalist lets it all hang down in Afire, his loosest film in many moons, a comedy of ill manners, withheld emotion, and confusing flirtation, and his best film since 2014’s Phoenix. Continue Reading →
The immediate issue with Tina Slatter’s debut feature, Reality, is how disengaging it is as a movie. A direct adaptation from Slatter’s theatrical piece Is This a Room, the conceptual background is probably the more interesting part. That show took the recorded transcript of FBI agents and former veteran and NSA translator Reality Winner (Sydney Sweeney) about Winner's leaking of classified information on Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election and used it as a verbatim dialogue. Everything uttered on the tape is replicated almost exactly in the play and, now, the film. The stutters, pauses, coughing, dog barking, doors opening. Everything. Recreated in minute detail. Continue Reading →