The Nun

the nun

The Nun has been enjoying a robust showing at the box office, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s backed by the sizable support of the ever-expanding The Conjuring franchise, and it was released with a savvy sense of timing; late enough into September to whet the seasonal appetite for horror, but early enough to get ahead of the incoming torrents of competitors.  But if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that good marketing is not a substitute for quality, especially in a series as inconsistent as this one. Continue reading

Eighth Grade

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As an incurable horror movie fan, I have no problem watching torture, disembowelments, and all other manner of grotesqueries.  But no amount of gore could prepare me for the emotional meat grinder that is Eighth Grade.  Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is at times nothing less than an endurance test, and I mean that as the best of compliments. Continue reading

Searching

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Searching is the latest entry in the ever-growing subgenre of computer movies, that is, movies that consist entirely of screen-captured images of computer (or in this case, any digital device) screens.  Up until now computer movies had been dominated by horror outings like the surprisingly not-terrible Unfriended series, but Searching is a mystery-thriller through and through. Continue reading

Crazy Rich Asians

crazy rich asians

Hundreds of articles!  Overwhelming buzz!  93% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few months, you’ve no doubt heard the roar of the Crazy Rich Asians hype machine chugging away.  Like Get Out and Black Panther before it, it’s been dubbed the Movie of the Moment, receiving endless praise for revitalizing its genre and for its all-Asian cast.  But pull back the Eastern twist and you’re left with a generic, if competent, rom-com. Continue reading

American Animals

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Were it not for the real-life event upon which American Animals is based, it could have easily been a typical college comedy.  Its deceptively simple setup – four in-over-their-heads students plan to rob their school – sounds more like a 2000s frat movie than the unique blend of genres it turns out to be.  I stress the word “blend,” because the movie is simultaneously a breezy college comedy, a heist movie, and a stranger-than-fiction docudrama. Continue reading

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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Those of you who read my Worst of 2015 know that I was no fan of Jurassic World.  Among its greatest faults was its insistence on bludgeoning its audience with slavish callbacks and references to the series’ first installment.  Jurassic World’s follow-up manages to escape the shadow of its revered progenitor, but creates new headaches in the process. Continue reading

Avengers: Infinity War

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It seems that every Marvel movie somehow manages to generate even more hype than the last, and Avengers: Infinity War is no exception.  It’s the movie that the last dozen-or-so films of its universe have been leading up to, focusing on the titular band of superheroes doing battle with Thanos (Josh Brolin), the much-ballyhooed big-bad of the Marvel universe.  Infinity War brings with it the creative challenges posed by its two predecessors: juggling a massive cast of characters, maintaining a brisk pace for a hefty running time, and keeping the stakes high in a franchise that has rather cheapened the threat of global destruction. Continue reading

Rampage

rampage

Video game film adaptations haven’t had the best track record.  They’ve been historically maligned by critics; some justly (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is, in fact, that bad), others unjustly (Mortal Kombat remains a 90s camp classic).  Now we have Rampage, based on the classic giant monster arcade game, being marketed as “the best-reviewed video game movie of all time.”  But despite this dubious designation, Rampage can barely be called an adaptation.  It deviates from and adds so much to its narratively sparse source material that it’s essentially its own beast.  Continue reading

A Quiet Place

A quiet place

During his heyday, Alfred Hitchcock coined the term “the ice box scene,” which refers to a movie scene whose plot issues become apparent to the audience sometime after the fact.  A Quiet Place could be described as the ice box movie – thoroughly watchable in the moment, but logically wanting when given any serious thought.  Continue reading

Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Back in my college days, I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One – believe it or not – for a class.  It was a light, fast-paced read; the kind of book that’s hard to put down and easy to plow through.  But despite its fleeting pleasures, the moment I finished I could feel my inner critic starting to wake up.  The more thought I gave Ready Player One, the more cynical my attitude towards it became.  Could this collection of pop-culture references tacked onto a generic treasure-hunt plot even be called a novel?  These doubts grew so quickly that they completely tarnished my previous enjoyment of the book, and soon I felt duped for having bought into it in the first place. Continue reading