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The First Purge Review

14 Jul

Some movies are entertaining. This is not one of them. Listen, I can forgive many things when it comes to this franchise because I love the concept so much. The second and third installments are a decently fun time at the movies (let’s not talk about the first), and I’ll always be a staunch defender who wishes they went even further in ridiculousness. But this? This is difficult to forgive. Aside from a few striking images and a rousing action set piece at the end, nothing about this remotely resembles a movie of even average quality.

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Leave No Trace Review

29 Jun

Oftentimes too meditative and languid for its own good, but that’s fine because the central dynamic between father and daughter is so strong. The common struggles of parenthood, adaptation, and growing up are magnified in intriguing fashion through the premise, and more than anything, Granik demonstrates respect and empathy for all her characters’ situations. The film does not turn a critical lens on any singular perspective, understanding that we all have our reasons for living the ways we do and that we are perfectly capable of figuring it out as we go. No judgment on others’ living situations and methods of survival, as it should be. Ben Foster is great. Thomasin McKenzie is sensational, joining Elsie Fisher this year as hopefully the Next Big Thing.

GRADE: B

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+

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