• Cry Macho

    Cry Macho

    ★★

    "You are a cowboy?"

    The weight of Easwood's role here (actor, director, producer) isn’t lost on me. Objectively, he has one of the most storied screen careers around, and he’s quite possibly the most prolific American filmmaker of the last five decades, the long-gestating Cry Macho representing three of those. And now this production—shot late last year and released this weekend—has reached the peaceful end of a very long road. But, unfortunately, the project’s collected more dust than heart as…

  • Malignant

    Malignant

    ★★★★

    "You've been a bad, bad boy, Gabriel."

    Arguments for Malignant either being the very best or absolute worst film of 2021 are equally sound. But, y'know, it's awesome.

    About as smart as a bag of rocks (no offense to rocks) and often untidy in various areas of the script (topics and characters range in tactfulness). But virtuoso maniac James Wan knew this, wanted this, embraced this, wholeheartedly committing to the material with a staggering conviction for camp, shlock, and the…

  • A View to a Kill

    A View to a Kill

    ★½

    "So, anyone else want to drop out?"

    It's valuable to admit when you're wrong. To humble one's self isn't an act of defeat necessarily, but one of honesty and perspective. For years now—whether born from inherited spite or earned disdain—I believed that Die Another Day, Brosnan's final tour as 007, was the worst in the whole series; an enormous mess of evolving big-budget trends and subpar reverence dragged even lower by its unmistakably poor script. But I now know that…

  • Octopussy

    Octopussy

    ★★½

    "Having problems keeping it up, Q?"

    Next to Moonraker, this might the closest that the Moore era comes to achieving self-parody. Octopussy is a ridiculously mounted chapter for 007 that makes a horse's ass of itself (literally) from the get-go. And it's only a matter of upping the ante from there, continuously pushing the mission's absurdities with every scene, including, but not limited to: 00-clown pursued by assassin twins, hammy Russians, a tuk-tuk chase crowned with a camel ramp, The…

  • Elysium

    Elysium

    ★★

    "What's in it for the hippo?"

    Varied aesthetics and first-rate production value are all within the grasp of Neill Blomkamp here, each wielded with a sense of technical conviction that lends considerable gravity—and credibility—to the on-screen drama. Elysium certainly looks and sounds the part. Whether consumed by the favelas of Los Angeles or awash in the gaudy immoderation of the titular orbital haven, the world of 2154 is a stylistically compelling stage, though one that's not entirely alien (both by…

  • 7 Men from Now

    7 Men from Now

    ★★★★½

    The Criterion Channel – Film #26

    "Anytime you're ready, Sheriff."

    Hope's for the dead and shame's for the living in the hard-edged Seven Men from Now. The first of several collaborations between actor Randolph Scott and director Budd Boetticher, as well as writer Burt Kennedy, this effective piece boasts a broken heart and a cruel spirit, maintaining a brisk pace that rarely sacrifices tension or character. It's such a sharp experience; a Psychological Western carried by impressive filmmaking (the editing…

  • The Suicide Squad

    The Suicide Squad

    ★★★★

    "What the fuck?"

    Genuinely refreshing at many, if not most, turns. Sure, The Suicide Squad hits several of the notes you’d assume of its congested ilk, suffering from some of the same issues, too. All in all, the experience runs long by maybe 15 minutes, enough time to make an underdeveloped beat or missed opportunity obvious (the narrative’s rhythm stumbles now and then, certain character moments along with it). But, by the end, this latest comic book flick accomplishes a…

  • The Green Knight

    The Green Knight

    ★★★★★

    "Oh greatest of kings, indulge me in this friendly Christmas game..."

    A vast experience of immense texture. An adaptation of keen reverence and broadening reflection. A film of haunting power.

    Mysticism in motion. Crafting a singular, unorthodox epic forged from the very fabric of cinema itself, writer-director-editor David Lowery turns a centuries-old tale into a definitive screen odyssey aglow with freakish artistry and stirring revelation. The Green Knight honors the original poem while traveling beyond the territory of the page…

  • The Tomorrow War

    The Tomorrow War

    ★★

    "I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this."

    There’s like four decades of blockbuster gibberish here—sequels, prequels, spin offs, etc.—and it’s as derivative and jumbled as you’d expect. But maybe not as terrible.

    Chris Pratt plays your average screen Joe. You know the one, right? Just your typical all-American solider-father-teacher with absentee daddy issues, shrinking career aspirations, and a supportive family. But then soldiers from the future arrive warning of an unsurvivable alien apocalypse 30 years from now.…

  • Pig

    Pig

    ★★★★★

    "We don't get a lot of things to really care about."

    A debut of considerable emotional gravity and existential resonance, one punctuated by assured artistry from both the cast and crew, all of whom deliver immensely. Writer-director Michael Sarnoski, with a story co-envisioned by producer Vanessa Block, transcends the motions of genre with this anomalous quasi-revenge-thriller that defies expectations with its often relentless yet surprisingly subtle presentation and sobering, meditative nature. Pig is a superbly mounted work, an introspective experience…

  • Bad Day at Black Rock

    Bad Day at Black Rock

    ★★★★½

    The Criterion Channel – Film #25

    "I thought the tradition of the Old West was hospitality?"

    As efficient and grim as a genre picture should be. At once a dying western and a taut post-war noir, Bad Day at Black Rock both challenges and embraces the customs of its very mold(s) while rarely cushioning the outrage uncovered by the truth at the core of its story. Danger hangs on every scene, each character circling the same burning fuse as the…

  • Blow Out

    Blow Out

    ★★★★★

    The Criterion Channel – Film #24

    "It's a good scream. It's a good scream."

    Quite possibly De Palma's best work. A film that deals with the director's obsessions and fears so effectively and in a manner that reflects the medium so creatively that no other piece in its author's storied screen career may compare. Blow Out is an experience flooded with both pleasure and dread, one that revels in it's cinematic inspirations (Antonioni's Blowup most evidently, that signature Hitchcockian flair…