Category Archives: Film Reviews
“When you make a giant monster movie called Rampage there are two things I expect from your finished film. First, giant monsters. Second, some rampagin’. The contract has been fulfilled,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Three very different genre films, including a crime-thriller from a writers’ collective, the latest from a duo of DIY filmmakers and a riveting Australian Western based on true Aboriginal stories.
“The end result of the collaboration between director John Krasinski and his co-writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods is a terrific, broadly entertaining movie that manages to squeeze every bit of possible suspense out of its setting. It is a thrilling communal experience,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Geraldine Viswanathan plays the daughter of John Cena and Sarayu Blue, and she’s a winning lead, a smart vivacious kid who is up for a night of experimentation and boundary-breaking. It’s a refreshing character, made even more refreshing because Viswanathan is not the conventional face of teen comedy,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“There’s one sequence here that Spielberg to pay tribute to not one but two artists he adores, and he recreates a specific film to such a startling degree that it made me dizzy. It is stunning work, and even now, a few days later, I can’t really believe what I saw. That’s one reason I consider Spielberg the greatest commercial filmmaker of all time,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“It’s good to see Joshua Leonard doing this kind of work, and I hope other filmmakers give him more to do in the future, but because Unsane offers so few kinks or twists, he’s trapped playing a pretty one-note version of this kind of character,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Boyega’s a great model for the 21st century reluctant hero, but the film keeps trying to strike romantic sparks between his hero and non-character Jules (Adria Arjona) as part of a romantic triangle with Scott Eastwood’s character, and it’s a dud,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“The script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet & Alastair Siddons is largely functional, built with a sort of A-B-C plodding literal-mindedness that never really swept me away like a great adventure movie can, but there are some good choices in the film — including its leading lady,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“The movie only really starts to get interesting as the weak characters start being picked off one by one,” says Edward Douglas.
Drew McWeeny says that Wes Anderson’s latest is “brimming over with love and a sly sense of play that makes it one of the most instantly enjoyable of Anderson’s films.”
“There’s a visual ambition here that I found striking, but not every book makes an easy translation to the screen. I want to see filmmakers subvert and challenge the status quo even as they make Disney blockbusters, and if the results don’t quite connect, at least we see new voices dreaming big in new ways,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here in terms of storytelling, and it seems like a fairly trivial waste of its two leads,” says Edward Douglas.
“I’m not sure what to make of Bruce Willis as an actor these days. This is a weird performance, full-stop. Not good. Not bad. Weird. Willis hasn’t been seen in a theatrical lead role since 2013, and he’s oddly inexpressive these days,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“The Ritual won’t surprise fans of the genre by breaking some rich new narrative ground, but it may surprise them in terms of how controlled and rewarding it is by the end,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“There are actually two movies unfolding side-by-side here, and one of those stories is more interesting than the other. There’s a lot of good work in Mute, but my biggest problem with the film has to do with the way those stories finally come together,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“It’s harrowing and beautiful and oddly emotional, but I also get it if someone doesn’t get the same thing out of that final act. Garland took a big swing here, and it’s hard to complain about Paramount’s choice to let the director keep his vision for the film intact,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are enormously likable on their own, but paired, they are exponentially more so. She tempers some of his sarcastic edge, while he brings out a sharper side of her, and the combination proves quite winning,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Ali Soozandeh’s first film to get a U.S. theatrical release deals with a number of interlocking stories dealing with the antiquated religious beliefs in Iran that hold women back, while male dominance and sexism thrives.
“Considering how much of the film is about the power built into any sexual exchange, it’s interesting to see how Francis Lawrence avoids the easy ‘male gaze’ traps of the genre. The film doesn’t feel like it’s objectifying its star, who clearly shares a certain trust with her director,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Simply put, Black Panther is a thrilling fantasy-adventure with a vivid new palette, a superhero film that manages to feel like it packs in about eight different types of modern blockbusters into one big sprawling introduction to a world that is so big that it feels like the screen’s barely able to hold it all,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Once again, Netflix has spun gold out of creating a cultural disruption, and the movie at the center of the commotion almost doesn’t matter.,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Daniela Vega’s amazing performance as a trans woman dealing with grief after the death of her long-time lover is easily one of the best foreign language films in recent memory.
“It’s hard to believe this can possibly satisfy both the casual horror buff and the more diehard supernatural purist,” says Edward Douglas.
“The latest film from the Zellner brothers is slight and sweet and funny, but it manages to offer some really smart observations on the way men attach themselves to the idea of a woman rather than the actual woman,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Even if I don’t think Hereditary totally works in terms of what story gets told, the storytelling is commanding. As an experience, this was exactly what I look for from a Sundance midnight movie — a creepy exercise in control that sends the audience uneasily out into the frozen dark,” writes noted horror buff Drew McWeeny.
“Director Jason Reitman has become a punching bag for some critics, and unfairly. He’s had an uneven career, but it’s clear that the material he makes is material that speaks to him in a personal way… and I love that he seems to be willing to let his leads be terribly flawed without judging them,” writes Drew McWeeny
“While I think this film will play for every audience, and I think it’s one of the best overall movies I’ve seen at the festival this year, there is little doubt that being adopted made this a very uncomfortable emotional experience for me, and a personal one,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Emory Cohen has given several ‘good’ performances before now in films like Brooklyn and The Place Beyond The Pines, but I think it’s safe to say his turn here as Varg Vikernes is his first ‘great’ performance,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Two feature film directorial debuts offer an insightful look into personal and political issues using very different storytelling and filmmaking styles.
“Andrea Riseborough is great and Forest Whitaker is strong as a man of faith, but while Tom Wilkinson is good at conveying malice, he’s got that “English actor doing a Southern accent” accent that’s not really the right accent, but rather a weird approximation of it,” writes Drew McWeeny.