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 →
Director Tyler Spindel's track record is scattered, composed of primarily-for-streaming movies including The Wrong Missy and Father of the Year. He has an affinity for the David Spade experience, in other words. His latest, The Out-Laws, doesn't feature Spade and doesn't do much to suggest that Spindel's body of work will ever grow more than scattered. Continue Reading →
Thanks to decades of cameos in movies and promotional stunts intertwining him with the very word “Marvel,” audiences across the planet have a deep connection to comic book legend Stan Lee. Though he passed away in the final weeks of 2018, Lee’s legacy lives on. Marvel Studios even utilized existing audio of his voice in a special 2021 video. It helped them announce the return of its features to movie theaters. Artistic individuals like this tend to endure, no matter what happens to their physical bodies. Continue Reading →
Of all the oddball trends in 2023’s multiplex movies, the strangest has to be Hollywood’s current obsession with films about the origins of familiar consumer lines and products, including Air Jordans, Tetris, and the BlackBerry PDA. The films have been okay—and Air’s genuinely quite good—but even so, when all is said and done, it is hard to shake the sense that what you have been watching is less a movie than an elaborate brand extension designed to remind viewers of the benevolence and vision of our corporate overlords. That is especially true in the case of Eva Longoria’s directorial debut Flamin’ Hot, a film whose story is almost too good to be true (more on that later) but which is, in practice, an ironically bland bit of product placement even more processed and devoid of nourishment than the snack food it celebrates. 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 →
Let's face it: At this point, you're either in for the overamped, Saturday-morning-cartoon lunacy of a Fast and Furious movie or you're not. Building from its humble roots as a 2001 street-racing Point Break riff to the gargantuan action tentpole it's after a whopping ten movies (eleven if you count Hobbs & Shaw), the series has built quite the convoluted lore over the decades. There are dead characters who come back to life (Sung Kang's Han), living characters who can never come back because their actors are no longer with us (see: Paul Walker's Brian), sworn enemies who join the familiar just one film later. It's dudebro soap opera, fueled by nitrous oxide and every weird, bonkers thing the filmmakers can think to do with a car. Continue Reading →
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 →