Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child. (Letterboxd)
A remarkable exercise in discomfort, not just in its ooze (see opening the diaper to a shitload–been there, man), nightmares (see the titular one), and depressing settings (is that a pile of dirt on his bedside table?), but in the way it unfLynchingly amplifies the awkward gaps (walks home, elevator doors, and conversations are all terribly slow) and back-breaking straws (see Mary getting her suitcase) of life. The bizarre symbolism, meanwhile, like the head of a pencil, leaves lots to chew on.
Three lovable party buds try to bail their friend out of jail. But just when the guys have mastered a plan, everything comes dangerously close to going up in smoke. (Letterboxd)
A half-baked story, a fully-baked storyteller, and Old James (no wait, he wasn’t there, I don’t even know nobody named Old James) lend the film a certain smoggy air of awkward, stilted, fairy tale-like charm (Mary [Jane] Poppins-esque green-screen flying and all) but the good bits (e.g. guy on the couch, “janitor” and “scientist”) are outnumbered by the bad ones: namely, a gross jail caricature (rape, always hilarious), eye-rolling scantily-clad henchwomen, and a romance that’s hard to root for.
Los Angeles SWAT cop Jack Traven is up against bomb expert Howard Payne, who’s after major ransom money. First it’s a rigged elevator in a very tall building. Then it’s a rigged bus–if it slows, it will blow, bad enough any day, but a nightmare in LA traffic. And that’s still not the end. (Letterboxd)
Pop quiz, hotshot: What is long but fast-paced, exciting but a bit ridiculous? Answer: a speeding bus that’s able to jump a giant gap in a freeway without a ramp. Also, this movie. Down-to-earth Annie pairs well with Jack’s cheesy action-machismo, but there are still a few groaner moments (see the aforementioned gap jump), and while the thrills pile on in a wonderful way (“What, you thought you needed another challenge or something?”), 3 major set pieces (elevator, bus, train) is one too many.
An ambitious Indian driver uses his wit and cunning to escape from poverty and rise to the top. An epic journey based on the New York Times bestseller. (Letterboxd)
Uneven and a bit scattered in its mix of a generic “rags to riches” plotline with a more nuanced character study and critical examination of both western capitalism and the class system in India. It’s not helped by a pointless narrative framework (the end reveal is underwhelming), but Gourav’s great turn, along with some cool artistic touches throughout (Balram’s visions, the 4th wall breaking, unnerving close-ups–see especially during the signing) keeps this engaging through the bumpy delivery.
Llewelyn Moss stumbles upon dead bodies, $2 million and a hoard of heroin in a Texas desert, but methodical killer Anton Chigurh comes looking for it, with local sheriff Ed Tom Bell hot on his trail. The roles of prey and predator blur as the violent pursuit of money and justice collide. (Letterboxd)
Masterfully shot and acted (TLJ’s weary and witty ETB was my fav), with captivating violence and cat-and-mouse thrills, but it’s the film’s unique dramatic framing that really makes it stands out: namely, its perfect bookends (from the reluctant “OK, I’ll be a part of this world” to dreams of warmth and light in “all that dark and all that cold”) and fascinating use of distance throughout (the slow pace, the open landscapes, the lack of interaction between main characters, the removed villain).
Audrey and Morgan, two thirty-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. (Letterboxd)
The central friendship is passably engaging but doesn’t explode with chemistry and elsewhere, there’s just a dumb plot (MacGuffin-driven with a lazy climax–see the out-of-nowhere appearance of the cops to arrest the right bad guy), generic secondary characters (Russian villains, shoehorned-in love interests), bland character drama (neither character’s insecurity is that believable), and mostly forgettable comedy (passive-aggressive Tess and the thumb-stick are probably the best bits).
After a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all of the active undercover agents in Britain, Johnny English is forced to come out of retirement to find the mastermind hacker. (IMDb)
Atkinson’s continued comedic charm (great on its own–see his virtual mission–but excellent when paired with Bough’s straight man) keeps this thing afloat like a shoebox inflatable on a sea of forgettable and poor plotting (the climax is particularly eye-rolling), an atrocious villain (atrocious as in bad bad not good bad–his name is VOLTA for Zuckerberg’s sakes), and a cringe-y old school ways vs. new school tech motif (though the harkening back to super old school armour at the end was fun).
A pair of teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania travel to New York City to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy. (Letterboxd)
The oppressive environment weighs so heavy here: the stream of normalized wounds is endless (see “slut” x2, creep manager) and becomes a flood of pain and tears during the titular scene and the reach around the pillar. Riveting and heartbreaking with its subtle script, intimate cinematography, delicate soundtrack, quietly powerful performances, and absence of a happy or climactic ending. Fuck the patriarchy and fuck any male defensiveness taking the place of empathy in reaction to this film.
A small business owner is about to lose her shop to a major corporate development. (Letterboxd)
“You look out of breath!” Tell me about it. “Well, it looks like you just watched a comedy where the jokes came with the frequency and intensity of a taut thriller.” You can say that again. “You look like you just watched a comedy where the jokes came with the frequency and intensity of a taut thriller.” Tell me about it. Poehler and Paul head up a pitch-perfect parody parade with endless energy, bite (“Whatthefuckareyousaying?”), and genuine chemistry on display. “Hey Joel?” Yeah? “Thanks.”
In this animated musical, a girl builds a rocket ship and blasts off, hoping to meet a mythical moon goddess. (Letterboxd)
Not all if its details or smaller moments land (the humour is mediocre, the bunny-love sub-plot pointless, and the lyrics occasionally awkward), but in its broad strokes it’s quite beautiful: the (terrestrial) cultural landscape is refreshing and elsewhere, Fei Fei’s emotional journey through grief is wonderfully captured in the colourful mixture of mysticism and metaphor on the moon (love that the question of its scientific “reality” goes unaddressed; “I like the mommy explanation best” too).