Lou (2022)

Works well as a rain-soaked, chilly/ing to the bone thriller; Lou is badass (see her shoulder pop-in and “Fuck!”), the violence is brutal (see the cabin fight), the villain is frightening, and the cinematography and music are both excellent (see the haunting opening sequence). It falls apart, unfortunately, when it overcomplicates things with a lackluster twist, puncturing the cool air of mystery around the central character and muddying up the climactic third act with tons of exposition.

Apollo 13 (1995)

It’s pretty much just a bunch of white guys in suits (space and business) getting tense while talking on headsets, doing math, and flipping switches, but it’s directed to plain procedural perfection; the swirling technical banter envelops you in the world (and out of it) and the methodical problem to solution plot points create suspense and release very effectively. To this formula are added nice touches of humour and emotion (“You never know what events are to transpire to get you home”).

Fun Mom Dinner (2017)

The set up is fine, but then halfway through dinner the engaging conflict with outsider mom Kate promptly disappears in a whiff of marijauna smoke and we’re left with a mostly chemistry-less foursome doing some generic letting loose with no real purpose or character arcs to fulfill. There’s a good skit or two (see the weed shop stop; Melanie interrogating Alfred) but there’s also way too much Adam Levine (his whole subplot is excruciating), and the dad storyline doesn’t really work either.

Decision to Leave (2022)

Mesmerizing and overwhelming (it’s hard to follow in real time at times) in its intricate, layered design; paired perspectives and varying voices of past and present are brilliantly melded together (the editing and camerawork are fantastic) as the dangerous central relationship adds a unique sizzle and intimacy to the detective procedural-ings. The second case is unexpected and makes the film feel long but in hindsight it serves as a perfect parallel tidal push to the pull of the first.

Zola (2020)

It’s tweet-sized in its story, too often feeling like a short film stretched thin with gaps where deeper character or theme development should be. The scattered script pieces are excellent though, provoking in their subject matter, plot thrills, and relational dynamics, and Paige’s great Zola provides a steady emotional core throughout. Its construction is also amazing: the film grain, fades, and freeze frames, the unique camera angles, the vocalized texts, the unnerving sound design and score.

Bullet Train (2022)

A fizzy concoction of twisty mystery, genuine relationships (see Kimura and father; the citrus brothers), well-choreographed combat, and tanks of humour that occasionally go off the rails (the dark comedic takes on death go a bit too far at times–see The Hornet fight), all within a fun flashback-filled script framework built around Brad’s bad-luck (or should I say ill-fated?) ‘Bug. Loses steam in the third act though, with its shift from wild multi-party conflict to straight forward team-up.

Charlie’s Angels (2019)

“Are we on a boat?” “Yeah.” *Cue reflective pop music*. This odd scene with Sabina making funny faces with a little girl exemplifies the fun femme B-movie charm that K. Stewart in particular brings (“I need you to exhibit some attention-seeking behavior.” “I have so many ideas!”); it’s just a shame the rest of the script is such an awkward mess, especially in the second half (see the unecessary asides with Fatima and Langston). Good fight choreography though, and the Brok break-in was well done.

Uncharted (2022)

The CGI is a little spotty and the writing is full of cannonball-shaped holes (Nathan is a good character but the backstories to Sully, the treasure, and the rival hunters are only hinted at; meanwhile, the twisty trust/betrayal dynamic of the main three awkwardly flip flops between serious and playful), but the clue-hopping pace is perfect, the comedy sufficient, and the adventure action barrels of fun (see the heist, the plane jump, and the ridiculously amazing pirate ship battle in the sky).

Do Revenge (2022)

Good acting, aesthetic, and posh Gen-Z high school world-building keep this party going amidst some inconsistent writing (see the unnecessary narration, the one-off sympathizing of Max, the confusing and unfounded twist, the drastic reconciliation to happy ending that reeks of privilege, the cheesy and easy re-pairing off in the credits). There are some great emotional moments (see Drea and Nora in bed) but they don’t always feel connected or justified. Or maybe I just don’t get teens anymore.

Easter Sunday (2022)

Nice to see the Filipino representation on screen (the meta bow-tying with the TV show offer at the end was a nice touch), though you can tell lead Koy is more of a comedian than an actor (probably why the writers awkwardly shoved a stand-up routine into the church scene). The whiplash plot full of wacky family drama and wild crime action is handled surprisingly well, but is marred by a few cringey low-budget moments (see the poor sound editing during karaoke and obvious green screens).