Rough Night (2017)

Things go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami. (IMDb)
Pretty rough (easy pickin’s). The friend chemistry is barely there and most jokes land as awkwardly as the stripper did when Alice jumped on him, and he died–an incident which, incidentally, wasn’t handled as roughly and insensitively as I initially feared (the unexpected twist/reveal helps soften the blow). On that note, the wild plot’s the best thing about the film, but with mostly bland drama and cringe-y comedy filling in the gaps between points, you’re still just waiting for it to end.
4.5/10 (Bad)

Marriage Story (2019)

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Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. (IMDb)
Exquisite in its script, performances, and craft: the feels are real and raw and wrenching, and there’s a lot of them (love, hate, heartbreak, awkwardness, tension, release); the leads, meanwhile, bring them all home, and the camera knows to just stay focused on them and not cut. In its monologues, songs, long takes, and dramatic emotion it almost has the feel of a theatrical play (with the troupe and their babbling commentary serving as the chorus), and it works perfectly with the material.
9/10 (Amazing)

 

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

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A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. (IMDb)
There are great moments of dark satire (see the training camp), but it’s the more intimate scenes (some funny, some poignant, some both) of developing relationships that carry the film–that of JoJo and Adolf (a quirky friendship gets ugly as JoJo grows–see Adolf’s anger in the kitchen), Elsa (McKenzie is excellent), and Rosie (see the riverside talk) respectively, and even that of Elsa and Rosie (see the cupboard convo). So the climactic battle felt out of place, but the dance after was perfect.
8/10 (Great)

 

Ghost World (2001)

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With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man’s newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives. (IMDb)
The plot is loose and meandering but it’s no matter as the performances are strong (Buscemi as sad sack Seymour really shines), the indie quirkiness on point (see convenience store guy, art teacher), and the thematic threads thoroughly thought-provoking, as nostalgia, niche-dom, and the search for identity do battle with the uncertain future, capitalist suburbia, and loneliness in the post-high school void (“Just think, we’ll never see Dennis again… It’s actually totally depressing”).
8/10 (Great)

 

Lucy (2014)

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A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. (IMDb)
Terribly heavy-handed, from its pointless visual metaphors (the pursuing bad guy is the cheetah, Lucy is the antelope, wow, nice one) to Freeman’s excruciating presentation (yes let’s hear “cerebral capacity” said one more time, thanks) to its bad plot exposition (see Lucy mind-reading and saying what we already see). All of this said, it’s got a good action-thriller pace, and the extremes it goes to with its concept in the end are actually pretty compelling (if still presented in a cheesy way).
5.5/10 (Poor)

 

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe. (IMDb)
From the devastating opening scene to the goosebump-inducing climactic action sequence, the scope and spectacle here will blow you away. Rich with humour (Thor and Ant-Man are highlights but even stoic Cap hass his moments), emotion, and inside references, it brings the MCU to a remarkable climax and resolve. After the blockbuster-high wears off some issues emerge (the main plot concept is severely underexplained; some characters are–understandably–neglected), but it remains a monumental film.
8.5/10 (Amazing)

 

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. (IMDb)
Thanos’ villain still felt a little familiar with his twisted “for the greater good” motive, but he remained an intimidating presence-a good match for the huge cast of heroes which is balanced remarkably well throughout and contributes to plenty of amazing moments both of comedy (see Thor meeting the Guardians) and action (see the Titan attack; Thor’s arrival in Wakanda). With all the superpowers going around some snags in the plot arise but its massive stakes and solid execution overwhelm them.
8/10 (Great)

 

Isle of Dogs (2018)

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Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog. (IMDb)
Awe-inspiring animation, as expected, with an amazing attention to detail (petals on noses, fur blowing in the wind), breathtaking landscapes (see the journey montages), a variety of unique shots (see the shadowy discussion in the bottle cave), creative storytelling devices (see the split-screens), and fun flourishes (see the sushi-making). A welcome surprise is the engaging hard-boiled political drama added to Anderson’s typically quirky comedy (the gossiping goofy alpha dog pack is great).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

 

Lost in Translation (2003)

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A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo. (IMDb)
Just a hug would have been better, but aside from that and a few other missteps in the final act (the singer sleepover came out of nowhere), it’s the ultimate in soothing cinema, thanks to its down-to-earth script that manages to capture all the beauty (and often humour) found in the mundane things of hotel/tourist life and friendship (see the falling asleep while talking scene). Solidly acted and remarkably edited and scored, it’s a marvel of refreshing authenticity (see the first night out).
8/10 (Great)

The Prestige (2006)

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Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion. (IMDb)
From an initial point of drama comes both the pre- and post-conflict timelines, which together expertly unravel in a most satisfying way a bevy of exciting secrets that reveal the stunning story behind the beginning intrigue. Driving forward this intricate plot is a tense dual-character study (both Jackman and Bale excel) set within the dark and unnerving world of professional magicians conveying the drastic–even deadly–effects of ambition and rivalry. A masterfully layered yet cohesive film.
9/10 (Amazing)