Annihilation

annihilation

Annihilation is a hard movie to categorize; not because defies genre categories, but because it samples so many of them.  Like the strange creatures that inhabit its world, it’s a hybrid; blending together science-fiction, drama, and horror to potent effect.  The structure of its first-act setup is pure adventure, beginning with the return of Lena’s (Natalie Portman) husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) long after he went missing on a classified government mission.  It’s immediately clear that something is very wrong with him, both physically and mentally.  When Lena tries to get her husband to the hospital, the government swoops in and abducts them both to a secret location, where they isolate her and reveal what’s responsible for his condition.  Continue reading

Thoroughbreds

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Lily (Anna Taylor-Joy) is in a bad place.  She’s in trouble with her posh boarding school, and stuck at home between semesters with her well-meaning but uninvolved mother and douchebag-extraordinaire stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks).  He and Lily live together in hostile tension, both affecting a façade of chilly politeness that barely conceals their mutual hatred for one another.  Meanwhile, the mother of Lily’s middle school classmate Amanda pays her to tutor her daughter, itself a transparent excuse to provide Amanda with some social contact.  Amanda has become an outcast after brutally killing her family’s crippled horse, which in her mind was an act of mercy. Continue reading

Black Panther

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The best movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and now, Black Panther) all have a few things in common.  For one, they’re essentially standalone, requiring nothing from their audience other than a willingness to have fun.  Their other shared element is the introduction of a new world to their viewers.  For Iron Man, that was the then-new and exciting MCU itself; Guardians of the Galaxy created a colorful, pulpy version of outer space; and now, Black Panther gives us Wakanda, a fictional African country that plays at third-world poverty but boasts a technologically advanced society hidden from all other nations. Continue reading

Netflix Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

Cloverfield paradox

If nothing else, The Cloverfield Paradox is an interesting – if dubiously effective – experiment in advertising.  Informing the masses of its existence via a short Super Bowl ad, it attracted a fair 750,000 viewers later that night.  The series itself remains something of a novelty in the age of producers endlessly mining the same vein to diminishing returns: a loose series of movies that share the same name and universe, but are hugely unalike in terms of tone, scale, and genre.  Cloverfield was a found-footage kaiju movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane was a claustrophobic thriller, and now we have The Cloverfield Paradox, a…space movie? Continue reading

The Fast and Fentress Worst of 2017

worst of 2017

As I said in my Best of 2017, the ratio of good-to-bad movies was pretty decent this year, but the 2017 had its share of stinkers as well.  Two quick notes: I (obviously) couldn’t include any movies I didn’t see (so you’re off the hook, The Emoji Movie); and as always, the presence of a movie on this list doesn’t inherently mean I disliked it.  Enjoy! Continue reading

The Fast and Fentress Best of 2017

best of 2017

In retrospect, 2017 was an impressive year for cinema.  Anytime I find myself having to pare down my picks for the Honorable Mentions, I really can’t complain.  Now, without further ado, here are my top ten movies of the year. Continue reading