Category Archives: movies

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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By lunging headfirst into the Spider-Man mythos and poking fun at its tropes while continually reinforcing them, Into the Spider-Verse is a silly, heartfelt fun ride, that is as bold and engaging as it is dense and impenetrable. Amidst a story full of time-travel, parallel-universe hokum, the film nonetheless pulls at the right heartstrings while highlighting the universality that made the original Spider-Man an everyman hero.

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The Favourite

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While eschewing historical accuracy, The 18th century epic The Favourite plays like a political All About Eve, decorated with crowns and powdered wigs. Purporting to tell the story of Queen Anne (a deliriously grand Olivia Colman) and her dueling subjects, confidant Sarah (wryly malicious Rachel Weisz) and new servant Abigail (earnestly aggressive Emma Stone), the film veers into a seedy sexual triangle of one-upmanship. With lush backgrounds continually magnified through fish-eye lenses, the style of the film is only surpassed by the game performances of its three leads.

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Boy Erased

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It’s difficult to pinpoint what doesn’t quite work about Boy Erased. Written and directed and co-starring Joel Edgerton, it’s the dark, uncomfortable story of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), a young boy with overly religious parents who send him off to a conversion camp when he admits that he’s gay. Based on the true-story of Garrard Conley who wrote the book the movie is based on, the film tackles an urgent matter, is performed delicately and expertly, and is as harrowing as it is hopeful. And yet, there’s just something about it that feels a little unfinished.

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Suspiria

Suspiria

Suspiria is a weird movie. It’s the kind of film that strives for mood over cohesion and revels in the revolting, delights in the disgusting, and cares more about the shock than the awe. That doesn’t make it a bad movie. I was reminded a bit of Mother! the awful, masturbatory fever dream of David O. Russell that was all titillation, zero fascination. Suspiria, thankfully, at least has a story, albeit a thin one.

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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Melissa McCarthy has spent the past few years of her movie career urging audiences to like her, to laugh along with her willing, do-anything antics, sometimes showing the sad side to a sweet character. In Can You Ever Forgive Me, she flips the script, leading with the caustic, brusque and deceitful and keeping the sensitive buried deep. It’s a somewhat slow, but engaging true story about a woman running out of options who finds a unique yet dishonest and illegal way to develop her craft.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

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I think a deep dive into the character of Freddie Mercury and his bandmates in Queen could be an interesting topic for a film, but whatever good will the movie had is wasted on a completely uninspired approach that, despite a great central performance, deteriorates under the weight of its own anachronisms and an overall disinterest in actual history. Originally directed by Bryan Singer who was fired in the middle of shooting and quickly replaced by Dexter Fletcher who finished the film, it’s hard to know who to blame for this mess, but the end result is a weak outing that checks every formulaic biopic box and falters with every forced conversation that you know never happened in real life.

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Beautiful Boy

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Like most addiction stories on film, Beautiful Boy follows a particular formula, tracking the cycle of drug abuse from recovery through relapse and back again. Based on the memoirs of father-son Nic and David Sheff, and realized by co-writer Luke Davies and co-writer/director Felix von Groeningen, the film is unflinching in showcasing the effects of abuse on both the abuser the family that cares for him. Filled with quiet, honest performances, the film is affecting and uncomfortable, but also a bit too exhausting, feeling a bit like emotional porn (a big-screen, more focused “This is Us”).

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Bad Times at the El Royale

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There are worse things than Drew Goddard (co-writer and director of The Cabin in the Woods, writer of The Martian and Cloverfield) doing his best Quentin Tarantino impression, but “Bad Times at the El Royale” is an earnest effort that is exceedingly long and a bit too ambitious. It’s still an entertaining film, and worthy effort, even if it would’ve been a greater movie with a few edits and someone trying to reign the director in a bit.

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First Man

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As he took one giant leap for mankind and into the history books as a legend, Neil Armstrong was still an elusive, uncomfortable and reluctant hero. First Man, from writer Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post) and director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) attempts to delve into the man behind the mission as it documents NASA’s first journey to the moon and back. Where most movies set in space highlight the vast expanse, First Man tracks more personal, with an almost claustrophobic and certainly uncomfortable view from the tight quarters in the space vessel. This cramped approach doesn’t lessen the impact, the overall sense of wonder, of space travel, if anything it makes the fantastical feel all the more real.

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Venom

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Sony desperately wants a Marvel-ous franchise (or series of franchises, really) of its own. Despite failing the Spider-Man franchise the prior three times at bat before the MCU stepped in to help guide last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, they have another push with Venom, a not-quite spin-off from the Spidey mothership that is depressing in its inability to be interesting in any way. It tries to crib from the Marvel formula but only really succeeds in copying two of the MCU’s weakest elements-a too-long origin story and a final conflict where the good guy has to fight the evil version of himself.

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