King Kong (2005)


A greedy film producer assembles a team of moviemakers and sets out for the infamous Skull Island, where they find more than just cannibalistic natives. (IMDb)
“It was beauty killed the beast”: A stupid line that botches the promising thematic arc. This character was the one who dragged Kong from home to hellhole for a life of humiliation all for his own gain but sure, let him end the film with this bullshit poetic proclamation that places blame on the fucking sunset and the woman who literally just tried to save Kong’s life. It’s a great film otherwise: the action-adventure is truly breathtaking in spite of dated CGI and cringe-y native portrayals.
7.5/10 (Really Good)


Allegiant (2016)


After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago, to finally discover the shocking truth of the world around them. (IMDb)
A great soundtrack makes things sound epic right from the tense first scene; unfortunately, it never gets substantiated by a story riddled with predictable (and sometimes confounding–see their premature celebration on top of the wall; letting Peter go at the end) characters (you knew David had a bad side), far-fetched revelations (see the genetic experiment) and technology (see the seemingly unlimited surveillance system), and contrived exposition (see the dialogue; Bureau entrance video).
5.5/10 (Poor)

I Heart Huckabees (2004)


A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means. (IMDb)
A few odd (literally) instances aside (see the mud sex), it maintains a perfect balance between quirky existential comedy (the philosophy also nicely rejects the extremes) and relatable drama, as wildly memorable dialogue-packed scenes (see dinner at Steve’s) craft numerous brilliant character arcs (Dawn’s epiphany is hilarious; Schwartzman’s on the lawn poignant), boosted by outstanding turns (see Law’s face listening to the joke recordings; Wahlberg’s petroleum rants). Nice soundtrack, too.
8/10 (Great)

Demolition (2015)


As an investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash, his increasingly confessional series of letters to a vending machine company catch the attention of a customer service rep with whom he forms an unlikely connection. (IMDb)
“Everything is a metaphor,” says our lead early on, setting a tone uniquely free of pretentious subtlety for this intriguing, well-acted study of grief ripe with satisfying symbolism (the recurring dancing and demolition are two highlights), artistically crafted with a great soundtrack and sharp editing. Davis’ meandering, deeply personal journey at the center of it all evokes both titters and tears, despite a few unnecessary tangents (his happenstance graveyard meeting comes to mind).
8/10 (Great)


St. Vincent (2014)


The “unlikely friendship” story here lends itself to predictability, and even some specifics of its climax are telegraphed in an early scene thanks to its title, but it remained powerful in its message and emotional pull (I bawled), largely thanks to Murray’s wonderful performance as Vincent- a well-written character that adds some unexpected grit to the film by going beyond the cliche grumpy but loveable old man. Watts and Lieberhe are also good in this predictable but poignant and funny film.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)


Keaton, Norton, and Stone all put forth amazing performances that scream for their close-up shots, while the continuous-style cinematography is mesmerizing and creates an incredible and unique pace for the film, pulling you along like a fish on a line, right with the characters. The ending’s a little cheesy, but the film still stands as a wonderful work of art about artistic integrity and ego that’s only occasionally tainted by a couple of side plots that feel a little unnecessary.
8.5/10 (Amazing)