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 →
There have been numerous film adaptations of the work of H.P. Lovecraft, featuring everyone from Sandra Dee (The Dunwich Horror) to Nicolas Cage (Color Out of Space). However, it was the late filmmaker Stuart Gordon who best managed to capture the peculiar and often perverse charms of Lovecraft’s work. With their combination of weirdo humor, bizarre imagery, kinky sex, grisly bloodshed and better-than-expected performances, his Re-Animator and From Beyond became instant cult classics and unquestioned high points of the entire horror genre in the 1980s. Continue Reading →
Good Night Oppy
Ryan White’s Good Night Oppy is a documentary about one of the technological marvels of our time, but it's less interested in science than its subject matter would suggest. It throws several elements into its mix—archival footage, contemporary talking-head interviews, voiceover narration from a big star (Angela Bassett in this case), and long sections of CGI recreations of moments not caught on camera. But instead of using them to edify viewers about the genuinely amazing accomplishments being achieved (the kind that might encourage younger viewers to get interested in science), White seems more inclined to deploy them in a manner meant to suggest a (mostly) live-action version of a Pixar film. 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 →
Five strangers with deadly ambitions sit on a train speeding from Tokyo to Kyoto in the middle of the night, all connected by one mystery yet to be solved. It sounds like the setup for a modern Agatha Christie whodunit, but make those strangers dangerous hitmen, and switch out the intrigue with violent mayhem, and you get Bullet Train. Continue Reading →
A look back at the use of chimpanzees as clowns & sidekicks for humans, & how it relates to a strange & haunting subplot of Jordan Peele's hit sci-fi horror.
Note: this article contains spoilers for Nope. Please read Jon Negroni’s spoiler-free review here.
If you haven’t seen Nope yet, you might be a little puzzled by references to a character named Gordy, especially once you learn that Gordy is a chimpanzee. It’s understandable: there’s not so much of a glimpse of a chimpanzee in any of the promotional material for Nope, and nothing that happens in its trailers seems to suggest that a chimpanzee will play any part in it. Continue Reading →
In the opening seconds of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, viewers are blasted with the sight of the Warner Bros. logo – a variant glowing in gold and crimson, practically exploding with flair and moving parts – accompanied on the soundtrack by a remix of “Suspicious Minds.” Within the first few minutes, sweeping shots of Las Vegas clash with Ocean’s 11-style split screens, and the editing juggles between slowmo and cranked-up fast motion, in classic Luhrmann fashion. Continue Reading →
The Black Phone
Gather around, children, and let Auntie Gena tell you a story about days gone by. Long ago, up till around 1984, kids used to run free in the streets from dawn till dusk, with virtually no adult supervision. Was it a better time? Not really, just different, and it all came to an end with the collective belief that bad things happen to children who aren’t carefully watched at all times. Now it’s swung so far in the other direction that allowing your children to walk themselves to school may result in a visit from child protective services. Scott Derrickson’s The Black Phone takes place in the time before, when parents didn’t worry about monsters until they were almost under their noses. Continue Reading →
Jurassic World Dominion
In the video game version of the original Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis, you can choose to play the side scroller as either Dr. Grant or a Velociraptor. Of course, you choose the raptor almost every time because dinosaurs are cooler than humans. It’s a great lesson for making a fun video game, but not for making a successful movie franchise. Continue Reading →
A Nuvem Rosa
The Pink Cloud opens with a disclaimer: “This film was written in 2017 and shot in 2019. Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental.” It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to realize just how necessary this disclaimer is because its parallels to the pandemic are frighteningly accurate. Only instead of a deadly disease keeping all the globe locked inside their homes, it’s a mysterious pink cloud that kills those that step outside almost instantly. Asking audiences to imagine a world where their lives are upended by a sudden quarantine that seems to stretch on indefinitely doesn’t actually require any imagination in 2022. Continue Reading →
Eva Husson directs Odessa Young to a stupendous performance of a young woman's birth as a writer in a story about the lingering impact of love.
An adaptation of Graham Swift's 2016 novella of the same name, Mothering Sunday begins as a story about wartime loss and forbidden love. Directed by Eva Husson from a script penned by Alice Birch, it mostly takes place over one spring day in 1924 England, just five years after the end of the first World War. It's Mother's Day and the orphaned Jane Fairchild (Odessa Young), who works as a maid in the Nivens (Olivia Colman and Colin Firth) household, is given a day off. Since she doesn't have a mother to celebrate the holiday with, Jane decides to spend the day with the only person in her life, her secret lover Paul Sheringham (Josh O'Connor).
The couple makes plans to meet at Paul's house. But on this very special day, Jane doesn't have to sneak in from the backdoor like usual. Paul's parents are not home—they're lunching with the Nivens and the Hobdays, whose daughter Emma (Emma D'Arcy) will marry Paul in about two weeks. As the three families gather at the lunch table near a beautiful river, Jane and Paul seize the opportunity to express their love for each other. They're aware that this afternoon will most likely be the last time they get to be in each other's company, so they make the most of it. Continue Reading →