• The Equalizer 2

    The Equalizer 2

    ★★★

    Extra star for R-rated explicit violence, the overall exploitation quality of the movie, the black movie trailers that aired before it, and a scene that seems like it was written by Denzel Washington to the audience.

  • The Counselor

    The Counselor

    ★★★★★

    "...reflective men often find themselves at a place removed from the realities of life. In any case, we should all prepare a place where we can accommodate all the tragedies that sooner or later will come to our lives. But this is an economy few people care to practice."

  • Foxcatcher

    Foxcatcher

    FOXCATCHER tries to weird you out by being slow and awkward, a feature-length Adult Swim sketch that thinks its Oscar bait.

    Its clunky obviousness was embarrassing to watch. I felt complicit in its moronic artificiality.

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

    Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

    ★★

    VALERIAN nails what so many well-received movies do not: it depicts the fantastic with an element of pleasurable disorientation. This should be the norm in an era where genre trash is the biggest business there is.

    Instead, ROGUE ONE was so patly familiar it might as well have been shot in my local grocery store. DR. STRANGE, based on a children's comic rooted in magic psychedelia, has the sterility of a Christopher Nolan demo reel.

    VALERIAN features a five-minute sequence…

  • War for the Planet of the Apes

    War for the Planet of the Apes

    ★★★★

    The intensity of our collective goodwill towards WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is conditional. This is an affecting, restrained tent-pole blockbuster in an age where the default setting for tent-pole blockbusters is "stupid and bombastic." Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy those kind of movies, but to have a sustained trilogy like this is rare.

    Is it possible for a movie to be too evocative? Maybe not anymore. In this one you'll see clear allusions to the…

  • Beatriz at Dinner

    Beatriz at Dinner

    ★★★

    This becomes a more ambiguous bottle movie than I was expecting, but only after over-inflating its quality naturalistic performances with ripped-from-the-headlines gravitas for the first hour.

    I couldn't help thinking, as I left the theater among a slumped audience, that BEATRIZ AT DINNER is an expose on a kind of political anger that is steeped in goodwill and ultimately inert. It's ironic that Selma Hayek, a Hollywood actress married to a French businessman worth 20 billion dollars, is cast as…

  • Baby Driver

    Baby Driver

    ★★★

    BABY DRIVER is a fun genre outing that proves in another life Edgar Wright could have been Marvel's James Gunn: he knows how to make inoffensive competent things that are broadly likeable and empty.

  • The Mummy

    The Mummy

    ★★

    Cinematic equivalent of eating a piece of plain toast.

    I wouldn't mind being cursed by Sofia Boutella.

  • Elle

    Elle

    ★★★

    The darkly funny ELLE suffers for its bookishness.

    Isabelle Huppert plays the titular Michele, a powerful woman composed of irreconcilable contradictions. She is cruelly tested but wholly capable and resilient to the many challenges sent her way. She radiates her power in this matter-of-fact, engrossing way that kept all of my attention on her for the entire film. I can't remember the last time I've been so interested to see and hear a character's backstory, whenever tiny morsels of it…

  • Logan

    Logan

    ★★★

    The way Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart allow themselves to look like total shit in LOGAN is the most laudable thing about it.

    Less enjoyable is the way characters saying "fuck" is a punchline. No joke, it's supposed to be funny that people are cursing. That overwears its welcome the first time it happens.

    There is a ten minute sequence where the movie is savage. It is not due to over-the-top action, special effects, or cool posturing. Things just HAPPEN,…

  • Nocturnal Animals

    Nocturnal Animals

    ★★★★

    A fine movie that gets finer when you realize there is very little hard evidence to suggest it's about revenge at all. 3 stars for the movie, but 5 stars for the quality of conversation you can have about it.

    If I were to fictionalize my life into a bleak novel, I too would cast Michael Shannon as the dying father figure. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays crazy so fucking well, I have to assume he was snoozing in everything else I've seen him do.

    Time to see more Tom Ford stuff. Good thing that's easy.

  • xXx: Return of Xander Cage

    xXx: Return of Xander Cage

    ★★★

    Some of the dialogue hurts my brain, but this movie accomplishes what no other Hollywood film has done: it let Donnie Yen shine.

    And it doesn't even show a fraction of what he's capable of.

    An embarrassing confession: seeing XANDER CAGE was my Inauguration Day act of rebellion. I took to the streets, mere blocks away from the National Mall, through masses of red baseball caps and plumes of marijuana smoke, to see this.

    The theater was empty except for…