• A Boy Called Christmas

    A Boy Called Christmas

    ★★★

    This was fun and festive for sure - and it's always awesome to see Smith, Broadbent and Hawkins (playing a villain!) The first two-thirds moves pretty quickly, then it starts to feel a bit long. I appreciated the attempts at humor but not much of it landed for me - only the droll sarcasm by Dame Smith did.

  • The Boy Behind the Door

    The Boy Behind the Door

    ★★★★½

    This was freakin' fantastic. Incredibly tense, gorgeously shot and edited and impressive performances - especially by young Chavis, who puts many of his adult peers to shame. I loved the simplicity of the harrowing and disturbing story. These directors have a blindingly bright future.

  • Candyman

    Candyman

    ★★★½

    I just rewatched both films - and doggone it if I don't prefer this one. I even bumped my initial rating up a quarter-star.

    The first movie just has too many narrative and plot problems -- especially: what's Candyman's deal? What does he want? I'm still confused.

    This film is much more successful in telling a coherent story - plus it connects to the o.g. Candyman in satisfying ways.

  • Candyman

    Candyman

    ★★★

    I'm surprised Helen didn't die of lung cancer first!

  • Dreams Don't Die

    Dreams Don't Die

    ★★★

    Thanks to Style Wars and its cinematic cousins, I'm endlessly interested in this important artistic/social era in NYC history.

    Although the plotting here is just so-so at times, many other elements work great, including SPECTACULAR location shooting, committed performances (including a great role for Winfield) and a frankly inspiring message.

  • Bright Lights, Big City

    Bright Lights, Big City

    ★★½

    A decent adaptation of an enormously influential and popular novel, this suffers with Fox in the lead. He's talented at some things but just doesn't have the dramatic chops to make us want to root for our hero. (A tough task, considering he's often a selfish ass -- although there are certainly layers to the character.) Robert Downey Jr might've been a better choice?

    Sutherland is perfectly cast here, and mid-late 80s NYC looks great.

    The standout scene is a bedroom conversation between Fox and Wiest, who was at the peak of her thespianic powers.

    2.75 stars.

  • The Night House

    The Night House

    ★★½

    This was one of those films where the more details were revealed, the more confused I became and I started caring less and less about how things would turn out.

    There are some individually creepy moments here are there that work well. Hall seems overqualified for the part, though: like an actress with her talents (see: Christine) shouldn't be slumming it in such an inconsequential movie. Her performance is incredibly intense and she's working on a distractedly different level than the rest of the cast.

  • tick, tick...BOOM!

    tick, tick...BOOM!

    ★★★

    This is set during my freshman year at NYU -- and the great recreation of time and place immediately brought me back to walking the streets of the Village on my way to class at 721 Broadway.

    The movie is incredibly frantic and is a lot to take at times. The songs aren't really memorable (I can't say I'm a fan of trying to pack as many words as possible into each verse) and neither are the characters - the…

  • King Richard

    King Richard

    ★★★★

    This was great!

    I've been a tennis fan for 30+ years - and Venus Williams is my sports heroine - so I was stoked to see it.

    All the elements fall into place here. Great pace, the script isn't dramatically one-sided (Richard Williams will frustrate you as much as inspire you), and the performances are awesome. I can't say I'm a Smith fan but he is really subtle and effective here - as is Ellis as Oracene. The young actresses are all on point. But I feel like Bernthal really steals the film -- stache an' all.

  • My Brother's Wedding

    My Brother's Wedding

    ★★★½

    Although much of the acting is dodgy (to say the least) and scenes are sometimes awkwardly staged, the characters and their world here seemed absolutely real. Silas is solid in the lead, and the ending hits hard.

    My favorite scenes involved father and son playfully wrestling with each other -- and the foot chases where characters stop to change direction and their momentum made them skid. Good stuff.

  • The Norliss Tapes

    The Norliss Tapes

    ★★★★

    Very well-written and at times genuinely shocking (the monster attacks!), this features spooky coastal Bay Area locations and the always welcome Dickinson in a great part. I didn't mind the cliffhanger ending - it made the whole movie seem more haunting.

  • Cobra

    Cobra

    ★★★

    I finally caught up with this one!

    Man, is it violent. Easily one of the most violent films I've ever seen -- and it was released during a particularly RAH RAH AMERICA time in the 80s that makes me feel guilty for how much I enjoyed it. And the crime stats that Stallone recites at the opening are way way inflated.

    I had no idea it was based on a novel - by a woman (!) - called Fair Game,…