• Free Guy

    Free Guy

    ★★★★

    I knew going in that this was going to be entertaining. It has an intrinsically funny premise, and we always expect Ryan Reynolds to do his thing as the God Emperor of rapid-fire snark (that somehow manages to be charming despite its juvenile irreverence). What surprised me was the cleverness of the story, or more specifically, how its two storylines representing the video game world and the real one, both linked and fed into each other. The basic premise features…

  • Candyman

    Candyman

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    The best thing about this film is its unexpectedly haunting tone. It's more creepy than scary as the horror was contained in its ideas over anything else. The story begins with a grad student named Helen Lyle (played by Virginia Madsen), who’s researching modern urban legends and happens upon the myth of The Candyman: a haunting, vengeful spirit terrorizing the poor black residents of a run-down housing project. Even though there were earlier Blaxploitation horror films, or just straight horror…

  • The Cotton Club

    The Cotton Club

    ★★★★½

    Note: This review is based on the Director's Cut titled "The Cotton Club Encore."

    This is a jazzy little number that Francis Ford Coppola made during what now seems like an extended period of convalescence following his mad excursion into the jungle filming “Apocalypse Now.” It doesn’t seem all that well known today, and gets lumped in with Coppola’s other lighter (and sappier) 80’s films like “The Outsiders,” “Rumble Fish,” and “Peggy Sue Got Married.” This is worth another look…

  • Reminiscence

    Reminiscence

    ★★½

    The biggest problem with this film is that nothing about it feels new or exciting. The plot, premise, and characters all felt like bits and pieces taken from numerous other films we’ve seen countless times before. I don’t think a movie needs to always present the novel or reimagined, but one centered on a mind-bending premise like this seems to naturally create an expectation that we’re going to see something that at least feels different, or puzzling, and perhaps even…

  • The Suicide Squad

    The Suicide Squad

    ★★★★

    If DC Film’s initial overarching plan was to copy whatever Marvel did except at an unfeasibly accelerated rate, then it seems that their strategy for phase two is to simply rehab their image. True, we’ve already seen these movies fail the first go around, but now we get to see their alternate good versions! I’m twice a roped in sucker for this, as I already vibe with Gunn’s filmmaking style, and I thought the first “Suicide Squad” film had a…

  • The Green Knight

    The Green Knight

    ★★★★½

    A Game of You and Me.

    This is a dazzling and inventive film. In fact, I haven’t felt this visually stimulated from a movie since “Blade Runner 2049.” This was adapted from the scaffolding of an epic poem—one of the numerous stories, added, cut, melded, and reforged into the Arthurian Cycle over a period of centuries. A brilliant thing (perhaps the most brilliant) that this movie did, was how it didn’t try to completely transform this into something more narratively…

  • The Toxic Avenger

    The Toxic Avenger

    ★★★½

    I usually don’t like these “so bad they’re good” films of the MSTK3 variety. This immediately felt different though, as if it were pulsating with a strange, ambient energy. Yes, it’s a no-budget film and it shows, and about 90% of the actors that appeared in this would only go on to claim this movie as their sole claim to fame. It’s weird and campy, and I think its bizarre tongue-in-cheek premise revolving around a grotesque superhero is a key…

  • Slither

    Slither

    ★★★½

    This is a low-budget sci-fi comedy film that’s most notable for being James Gunn’s directorial debut. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is my favorite Marvel film (just edging out “Captain America: Winter Soldier”), and it’s clear that he’s had the golden touch right from the beginning—especially in the way he’s able to balance fantastical sci-concepts with the precise amount of comedy needed without tipping things into farce. Just like his other films, there’s a diverse and colorful cast of characters to…

  • Spawn

    Spawn

    ★½

    This would’ve benefited a lot by coming out just a few years later than it did, at least around the time of the first “X-Men” film. Spawn is an interesting character, but his fanciful nature requires an extensive amount of visual effects, and a director imaginative and capable enough to capture the comic's peculiar, semi-dark tone. This movie just seems like a series of missteps. First and foremost, this probably has the worst CGI effects of all time. That’s not…

  • Kafka

    Kafka

    ★★★

    Let’s be honest. Everyone that comes to this film today, does so with the expectation of seeing something that evokes the feel and atmosphere of Kafka’s works. Kafka is a rare writer that has a specific word made (Kafkaesque) to describe his unique style, and you’d think his works would translate easily into film—at least visually—which already has a rich legacy of surrealism and magical realism interwoven into its history. The only great cinematic adaptation of Kafka that I’ve seen…

  • The Frighteners

    The Frighteners

    ★★★½

    This is a fun movie with a great premise that ultimately comes off as tonally uneven. It was made by Peter Jackson just before he embarked on his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and you can tell, as it feels like a progression from his early, over-the-top gore fests like “Braindead,” and the film he made previous to this, “Heavenly Creatures,” which blended together divergent, hallucinatory worlds of dark drama and interior fantasy. Michael J. Fox stars as a sleazy,…

  • Loki

    Loki

    ★★★★

    There’s a certain creation myth archetype that depicts a god-like entity that sacrifices itself to form the basis of the material world. The end is the beginning, and the beginning is the end, and so on, in an endless, cyclical process of death and renewal. It feels appropriate that Loki is the harbinger of the next great Marvel film event, which will surely be told through multiple different franchises and eventually culminate in a grand Infinity War-esque climax. He is…