Filmmakers and general film enthusiasts worldwide share a deep distress over the slow erosion of theatrical projection and film preservation. Most recently, Martin Scorsese spoke extensively about the state of cinema in a high-profile interview, sparking a round of online arguments. Shivendra Singh Dungarpur of the Film Heritage Foundation has been working to preserve much of India’s old film reels, previously left rotting away in government closets for decades. Restored film prints of previously thought to be lost or incomplete films like Mohammed Reza Aslani’s Chess Game of the Wind and Abel Gance’s La Roue (which plays this year at NYFF) have proven that, with dedicated effort, people can salvage film history. Continue Reading →
Love at First Sight
As an avid consumer of romance—be it in book, film, or television format—you learn to level expectations when a beloved story is adapted. That’s particularly the case amongst the recent spate of mid-to-low budget adaptations across the gamut of streaming services. Usually, the best-case scenario is they’re mildly enjoyable but ultimately forgettable. For example, there’s Prime Video’s recent adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue. More often than not, they’re absolutely dreadful. The less said about Netflix’s take on Austen’s Persuasion, the better. What is true, though, is that they’re very seldom genuinely good. Continue Reading →
Sitting in Bars with Cake
(Editor's note: A previous version of this review included the full name of the presumptive real-life inspiration for the film; upon a subsequent request to maintain their privacy, we have removed that sentence.) Continue Reading →
Meg 2: The Trench
Ever since James Cameron boldly wrote “S” after ALIEN on a chalkboard and then changed it to a dollar sign, the quickest way to sequel-ize your killer extraterrestrial/reptile/mammal/whatever has been to add more of it. You scored a hit with people fighting one giant mosquito? Great, here’s a sequel with six of them. Continue Reading →
In a media landscape with fewer and fewer options actually targeted toward adults (often tied to the death of the mid-budget movie), audiences take the scraps they're given and make the best of them. This is the space that Jules occupies, a sci-fi fairy tale about the specific loneliness of senior citizens who feel isolated, ignored, and afraid. It’s also a thin, often ham-fisted take on a tale that could have had real legs in more capable hands. Continue Reading →
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Despite their hue, not all TMNT films deserved to be greenlit.
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984. Now almost 40 years later, what started as a comic book has inspired seven movies, five television series, and countless amounts of merchandise. This week the four ninja tortoises return in a new animated incarnation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Considering I’ve been a fan of the Turtles since six years old, this seems like the perfect time to put an official rating on four decades of movies. Some are gnarly, some tubular, and there’s always a whole lot of cowabunga.
Writers Note: This list doesn’t include the recent Netflix installment Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie, a TV-movie crossover Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the live recording of the 1990 Coming Out of Their Shells stage show. That one you can catch on YouTube, although I don’t know why you would. Continue Reading →
Talk to Me
Things have been very bad for much of the world for a very long time, and they won’t improve any time soon. I don’t mean to start things off on a bummer note, but to point out that from such dire circumstances comes one benefit: the horror movie renaissance that started in the late 2010s only seems to be getting better. Just this year we’ve gotten the low-fi nightmares Skinamarink and The Outwaters, horror comedy with M3GAN and Cocaine Bear, another mostly solid entry in the Scream franchise, too many indie horror films to list here (Bad Girl Boogey and Brooklyn 45 are but a couple), and the roaring return of the Evil Dead series. Even if there weren’t another release for the rest of the year, it’d still be a great year for horror. Continue Reading →
It doesn’t take much for someone who once meant a whole lot to you to creep into your thoughts every now and then. It’s not an everyday obsessive thing, where they’re a shadow lingering over you. It’s softer, more subtle: a snippet of a song, or something that reminds you of a private joke once shared. Even if the fire has long burned out, an ember or two will glow for an instant. Then it’s gone, and the life you’ve lived without them goes on. Continue Reading →
Gerard Butler's CIA-agent-on-the-run thriller aims to be more than a power fantasy, but for all its virtues, it doesn't stick that landing.
There's an expected cognitive dissonance that comes with watching a man-on-a-mission genre piece set in the Middle East. Whether it's a glorified shooting gallery or a power fantasy where the hero stops just short of bleeding red, white, and blue - one needs to practice a mental limbo to either ignore or maybe be pleasantly surprised with the bare minimum concessions to showing the opposite side's perspectives.
Ric Roman Waugh's expertly mounted, ambitiously scattered Kandahar is, at its core, a Stagecoach riff. One where our leading man, career CIA operative Tom Harris (Gerard Butler leveraging his soulful full-time divorced dad essence), has 30 hours to make a mad 400-mile dash across an Afghanistan desert from an impossibly large group of following forces. It's a foolproof premise, yet intriguingly, Kandahar refuses to embrace its conceptual neatness. Continue Reading →