Sound of Metal (2019)

Remarkably immersive; I was constantly on the verge of tears of all kinds, thanks in large part to the powerful sound design, uniquely poignant dialogue, and flawless, emotive turn from Ahmed that together elevate the occasional predictable dramatic story beat. The romantic arc and thoughtful thematic undercurrent on the past, the future, and embracing change, meanwhile, are tied up in a refreshing manner (another spiral would’ve been easy tragedy pickings but instead we get “It’s okay, Lou”).

Thoroughbreds (2018)


Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost. (IMDb)
It’s a little slow but the patient pace eventually fits really nicely into the overall unnerving, dryly/darkly witty atmosphere (see the amazing slow-zoom one-take shot with Amanda sleeping on the couch). The leads are excellent, and their respective arcs revealed at the end were a nice surprise for a more mood-oriented film, even if they didn’t feel quite justified. Wonderful cinematography and careful use of music and sound throughout add more artistic flair to this white-collar weirdness.
7.5/10 (Really Good)


Ready Player One (2018)


When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. (IMDb)
The OASIS is fun (maybe more for others, but I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Shining visitation), but it’s the back-and-forth dynamic between it and reality that’s really well done and makes for lots of entertaining action hi-jinks (see the fooling of Sorrento). In the end though, it wastes the potential of its characters (there should be a whole movie made about the tragic Halliday) as well as the deeper reality vs. entertainment theme underlying the sadly neglected dystopian setting.
7/10 (Good)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)


High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. (IMDb)
Beautiful and uniquely shot cinematography (with good music) and an engaging narrated story set-up (with its fair share of quirky characters–see Offerman’s oddball dad) set a nice tone for this indie flick that does falter slightly in its storytelling (see Greg’s weakly justified narration lie, him and Earl’s unfounded fallout, the slightly dragged out ending), but some poignant time-passing montages and climactic scenes (the hospital film viewing, Greg exploring Rachel’s room) do wonders.
7.5/10 (Really Good)