Both the main characters in Michel Franco’s Memory are struggling to deal with the echoes of their past. Sylvia (Jessica Chastain), a recovering alcoholic and single mother to 13-year-old Anna (Brooke Timber), desperately wants to forget the unspoken traumas of her childhood. Saul (Peter Saarsgard), on the other hand, can’t grab a hold of his past. He’s powerless as early-onset dementia slowly but inevitably steals it from him. After their high school reunion, he wordlessly follows her home and spends the night standing outside her building. In turn, she visits him at the house he shares with his brother (Josh Charles) and niece (Elsie Fisher). Then she takes him for a walk and accuses him of participating in a rape that she endured at the age of 12, a crime that he has no memory of committing. Continue Reading →
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Cory Finley is obsessed with money. His characters have nice things or want them. They live in beautiful houses or enviously plot to get them. Even in the year 2036, with aliens living on (or, more precisely, about two miles above) planet Earth, people still fret over money and try to make scads of it. That’s the state of things in his latest, Landscape with Invisible Hand. It’s a title with the same bespoke aestheticism as the stuffed ocelots and oversized chess pieces his characters own. It feels seemingly designed to scare off less curious viewers. While the film has an awful lot of plot, the undergirding is the same. As in his 2017 debut Thoroughbreds, his follow-up Bad Education, and even his episodes of the abysmal miniseries WeCrashed, the drama comes from the idea of what money does to the soul. Continue Reading →
It’s fascinating to watch a movie that could have been made any time within the past 30 years. That’s not the same thing as “timeless,” I’m talking about a movie that just feels like the script lingered in development hell for possibly decades before finally getting made, with only the slightest bit of tweaking to bring it up to date. Netflix’s new horror-comedy Day Shift could have been made in 1996, 2005 or 2012, and the only thing that would need to be changed is the cell phone technology. Like a lot of Netflix’s original content, it’s polished, yet dull, with a budget that doesn’t explain how forgettable it is. Continue Reading →
As the likes of Doogal and Planes make abundantly clear, there is no secret formula for making a great animated kid’s film. But there are some key things to avoid if you want to make a movie aimed at youngsters that satisfies its target demo. Luck, the first feature from Skydance Animation, trips over several of these shortcomings, particularly overwhelming your young audience with too much expository dialogue. Adolescents want wonder and soaring emotion, not endless chatter about how a fictional world operates. Devoting so much time to lore is just one of the many ways Luck underwhelms compared to its potential. Continue Reading →
Top Gun: Maverick
Navy Captain Peter "Pete" Mitchell, callsign "Maverick" (Tom Cruise) is a living legend. He is the only man to have shot down multiple enemy planes in the modern era of combat aviation. From the F-14 Tomcat to bleeding-edge skunkworks stealth plane prototypes, there is nothing he cannot fly, nothing he cannot (or more accurately will not) push past the fabled Danger Zone. Continue Reading →
劇場版 呪術廻戦 0
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is a darn-good adaptation of manga artist and author Gege Akutami's equally-darn-good dark fantasy shonen battle manga. Its protagonist is compelling, his peers likable, the villain hateful but not without shading. The action is excellent. Alisa Okezahama, Yoshimasa Terui, and Hiroaki Tsutsumi's score rules. The storytelling is overstretched in places, and narrative jumping during the climax gets frustrating, but 0 works far more than it doesn't. Continue Reading →
Mike Wade (Scott Adkins) thought he could make it in Mixed Martial Arts, he really did. He couldn't. With his career definitively over, Mike and his pride have to figure out what to do with themselves. A temporary gig on the crew tearing down Birmingham, Alabama's infamous Castle Heights hospital is better than nothing—it even leads to a friendship with fellow crew member George (Vas Sanchez, Cobra Kai seasons one and two). But Mike's still lost in himself, still processing the fact that his dream is capital letters DONE. And then, on the last day of demolition, mere hours before the explosives are set to go off, Mike finds a $100 bill. A $100 bill that leads to a cool three million in cash, hidden in a wall. Continue Reading →
Coming Home in the Dark
James Ashcroft's hostage horror is nought but bland, sour sadism.
Before the premiere screening of the New Zealand import Coming Home in the Dark, the festival programmer introducing it led off by admonishing viewers that the following film was “not for the faint of heart.” Of course, for a violent thriller appearing in the midnight slot at Sundance, such words are not so much a warning as they are a come-on designed to lure in those with more outre tastes hoping to find the next gory hit to emerge from the festival. Although the film is certainly gruesome enough, there is nothing here that average viewers will find to b that far beyond the pale. Instead, they are more likely to be put off by James Ashcroft’s hollow and increasingly tiresome exercise in empty sadism whose utter pointlessness is further underscored by its delusions that it is saying something profound.
Alan “Hoaggie” Hoaganraad (Erik Thomson) is a blandly pleasant-looking teacher who is off on a car trip with his wife, Jill (Mirama McDowell )and her teenaged sons Make (Billy Paratene) and Jordan (Frankie Paratene) to the coast. All seems perfectly normal until they, in the time-honored tradition of bad cinematic car trips, decide to stop for a hike and a picnic lunch. It is while completing the latter that they are approached by two men, the extremely loquacious Mandrake (Daniel Gilles) and the more taciturn Tubs (Mathias Luafutu). After a few minutes of vaguely menacing talk, Mandrake produces a rifle and the two interlopers are soon on the road with Alan and the family—at least what remains of it—as their captives. Continue Reading →