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Hereditary Review

12 Jun

So close. So, so, so close. Most of this film is fantastic. The scares feel organic, the tension is relentless, and the performances are impeccable. It certainly works as a horror film on a purely technical level, but where it draws its strength is from its humanity. After all, the horror is inextricably linked to sorrow, regret, pain, and the helpless feeling of being trapped within your own lineage. Just one sentence from mother to son can have the same effect as a creature jumping out at you from the shadows. The above are all fascinating ideas, and for most of the runtime, Aster brings them out to play without necessarily needing to subvert the genre.

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Ocean’s 8 Review

10 Jun

With the exception of Hathaway, the entirety of this project feels like an assemblage of lifeless, recycled products, all pieces needed to pitch it in this reboot era and nothing more. The first act hastily throws together the team with little motivation or personality, and the last act (which spends way too much time on James Corden) is overlong and treats its twists like obligatory exposition dumps. The heist itself can be mildly entertaining, but it’s still severely lacking in energy. Suffice to say: Gary Ross should not have directed this movie. For a movie that’s supposed to be surface level, it still manages to be too surface level.

GRADE: C+

American Animals Review

3 Jun

A heist film about heist films. Ultimately conventional, but still an interesting deconstruction of the heist, its seductive pull, and its attendant romanticization in pop culture. However, this deconstruction is best handled on a visceral, moment to moment basis in the film rather than on a grander thematic basis, as those themes and motivations are clumsily jabbed at without any strong underpinnings. The documentary aspect of the film is unnecessary and provides too little insight into both the psychology of the characters and the idea of memory. But still…the actual heist is quite the sequence, and the fairly unconventional turn the filmmaking takes later in the story truly does grasp at something intriguing. It’s not quite drawn out, but it’s enough to make this a very solid film.

GRADE: B

Avengers: Infinity War Review

1 Jun

Credit where credit is due: this film took on a near impossible task and still managed to be semi-watchable at times. Most of it is legitimately bad, but when I say that it’s not a completely lost cause, I really do mean that sincerely as praise.

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First Reformed Review

26 May

Slow and deliberate, but fervent in its interrogation of faith and in its portrayal of all-consuming mental anguish. Hawke is a force in the film, his internal conflict clearly bursting at the seams in each and every intimate frame. The setting is utilized to full effect as the church becomes positioned between past and present, between an ideal and a reality, between the central tenets of religion and the insidious hypocrisy of corporate greed. It all builds up to an absolutely stunning finale that seethes with anger, yet challenges you to grab ahold of something in a world that too often seems devoid of hope and meaning.

GRADE: B+

The Tale Review

20 May

Decidedly not formalistic, but much too often to a fault. I have great respect for what Fox is going for here, especially as it relates to the messiness of trauma and the profound impact it has on victims’ memories. The contradictions inherent in dramatizing a story about a kind of existing dramatization are endlessly fascinating, but the documentarian in Fox too often results in a stiltedness that outweighs the authenticity accompanying the approach. Continue reading

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