• Scream

    Scream

    ★★★

    Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s “Scream” is hoarse. Sitting in the middle is a relationship between two estranged sisters (Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega) who reconnect when one is attacked by the Ghostface killer and miraculously survived, but this would-be human element is handled so much like a terribly written soap opera that nearly every time they talk about their painful pasts or how much they care for one another despite having not spoken for five years, the pacing of this…

  • Zone 414

    Zone 414

    ★★½

    Fingerprints of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” are all over Andrew Baird’s “Zone 414,” a sci-fi dystopian thriller involving a private investigator hired to locate a missing girl within the titular location, a city of robots supposedly free of crime since its inception. Despite its humble visual effects and occasional questionable dialogue, for a while the mystery lingers like a thick fog and peering through it offers just enough surprises, however slight, to inspire viewers to keep watching, questioning, wondering. But…

  • Don't Look Up

    Don't Look Up

    ★★★

    In the middle of Adam McKay’s satirical sci-fi “Don’t Look Up,” a movie surrounding two astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence) who try to spread the word that a mountain-size comet is on its way to Earth, certainly an apocalyptic event should it make impact, I grew increasingly restless of its highly repetitive nature: hyperbolic acting when the plot screeches to a halt, schizophrenic editing when it wants to hammer us over the head with a specific idea or ideas, a…

  • The Matrix Resurrections

    The Matrix Resurrections

    ★★½

    About a third of the way through Lana’s Wachowski’s “The Matrix Resurrections,” one cannot help but feel as though the material were written by a super fan of the trilogy rather than a visionary who made a lasting stamp on the landscape of filmmaking. There is a curious premise—Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) find themselves trapped in the Matrix, he a video game developer who survived a suicide attempt and she a mother of three children who works…

  • The King's Man

    The King's Man

    ★★★★

    Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin, one of the central antagonist’s generals who stokes conflict among Great Britain, Germany and Russia, delivers such an astonishing performance, he almost singlehandedly steals the picture when it hits slower segments, particularly when drama steps onto the foreground while in-your-face action recharges in the background. His version of Rasputin is enigmatic, cunning, unpredictable, sexually ambiguous, and quite snake-like as he slithers and glides from one scene to the next. Even he remains unperturbed when his…

  • Death Valley

    Death Valley

    ★½

    Ninety minutes is better spent playing a video game where you shoot countless monsters in a shadowy underground facility than having to sit through Matthew Ninaber’s “Death Valley,” an insultingly generic “Aliens” rip-off that offers terrible dialogue and utterly broken sense of pacing. Every picosecond is a slog because there is not a single attempt at creating something original or inspired. Even the monsters look dull; they look like bipedal wrinkles with fangs. The film is so laughable at times…

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

    Spider-Man: No Way Home

    ★★★★

    During the first third of director Jon Watts’ third “Spider-man” outing starring Tom Holland as Brooklyn-based Peter Parker, I grew bored of its usual tricks that proved especially problematic in the interminable final showdown of “Spider-Man: Far from Home”: too much emphasis on special and visual effects on top of endless barrage of noise and acrobatics while pushing genuine human drama or conflict in the back burner—lightyears away from the humble but solid “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Here, Spidey’s identity being revealed…

  • In the Fade

    In the Fade

    Fatih Akin’s “In the Fade” is a revenge picture that does not offer hyper-stylized action, gruesome images of blood spurting out of limbs, nor a glorified speech before the villains get their comeuppance. Yet despite the lack of these expected elements, the story remains thoroughly compelling because of its well-written screenplay, classy direction, and a strong performance by Diane Kruger as a woman whose husband (Numan Acar) and son (Rafael Santana) perished in a “nail bomb” explosion executed by neo-Nazis…

  • West Side Story

    West Side Story

    ★★½

    At some point during this musical’s bloated running time of a hundred fifty minutes, I wondered what compelled director Steven Spielberg to take on the remake of Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s dated and problematic 1961 “West Side Story” when he does not even bother to put a modern or original spin to it. What results is a movie that looks and sounds beautiful, but if one were to consider carefully about what it aims to say about romantic love,…

  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★★★★

    It is a tale as old as time: a widow remarries into wealth and disequilibrium results in the man’s established household. Based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, “The Power of the Dog,” written for the screen and elegantly directed by Jane Campion, takes a familiar template and drenches it with terrific tension. On the surface, it is family drama set in 1925 Montana. But just underneath is an exploration of toxic masculinity, festering resentment,…

  • Them That Follow

    Them That Follow

    Those who possess even the most basic knowledge of any fundamental religion will likely able to guess the film’s major plot developments, but an argument can be made that “Them That Follow” is not about plot but rather how events are threaded to make a coherent and compelling whole. This independent drama is able to find surprising notes in between the familiar and pairing these notes with interesting and capable performances, it creates an experience that drenches the viewer in…

  • Single All the Way

    Single All the Way

    ★★

    Michael Myer’s “Single All the Way” is the kind of movie that requires its viewers to lower their collective IQ by at least ten points all because it is a romantic comedy set during the holidays. Because, you see, would-be hilarity ensues when our flamboyant protagonist from Los Angeles returns to his small town in New Hampshire for Christmas. Cue the quirky (translation: insufferable) family members and drawn out scenes of people hugging and expressing how much they’ve missed one…