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Baby Driver Review

17 Jun

Music has the ability to completely transform a film. However, it’s usually seen as a complement of sorts, a mood-crafter that assists in furthering the story and themes. It’s clearly essential, but it’s usually viewed as a secondary element unless you’re watching an overt musical. Baby Driver isn’t an overt musical; it’s a musical and a love story and a crime thriller and an homage all rolled up into one glorious package, and it doesn’t just utilize music as a complement to the story. In fact, music dictates everything from the editing to the acting to the directing, lingering in certain scenes and blasting in others. It’s the rock solid foundation of the entire film, and Wright uses different musical cues to set up the very structure of his plot. It’s a thoroughly engrossing relationship between song and screen, and from the exquisite opening sequence to the final shot, it plays out in a confident, exhilarating fashion.

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The Big Sick Review

16 Jun

This is a well made film with a big heart. It features a likable cast and crew doing what they do best. It’s a funny, touching, and deeply personal story that I’m very glad Kumail is sharing with us. And yet, there’s definitely something I missed that everyone else seemed to get. It’s certainly not the quality of the performances, as they’re excellent across the board and feature vets Ray Romano and Holly Hunter essentially carrying an entire half of the film. It’s certainly not the dialogue, as it’s frequently engaging and witty and even contains some brilliant dark jokes. It’s certainly not the messages of acceptance and love that are prominent in the story.

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It Comes At Night Review

10 Jun

On a technical level, this is a fun little exercise in the manipulation of space. Shults and d.p. Drew Daniels have a clear vision for what they want their set to become on screen, their use of wide lenses in tight spaces meshing well with their lighting and blocking and changing aspect ratios. Their quintessential image consists of the camera dollying toward a red door, the focal point of the entire film because of what it represents: an unknown that we’re drawn to. Shults seems to be a proponent of the idea that what is unknown may be the most terrifying thing of all, and he does his best to try to build tension with that in mind.

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Wonder Woman Review

8 Jun

Wonder Woman is a worthy follow up to Logan in that it continues the trend of people overhyping slight variations on a worn-out formula, as well as blatantly disrespecting The Dark Knight by vomiting out hyperbolic quality comparisons to that masterpiece. For a film that’s been labeled as progressive and empowering and different, it does remarkably little to separate itself from the vapid storytelling that has plagued preceding works. In fact, the most praiseworthy aspect of this project is Patty Jenkins, who injects some life into the CGI’ed emptiness with her earnest, kinetic filmmaking and who honestly should’ve written the script as well. We should be past the point where it’s surprising that a woman is directing a blockbuster superhero film, but we’re not. Let’s keep it going.

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Baywatch Review

19 May

The opening scene of this movie is one of the best of the year. It follows The Rock in all his suave, muscular glory as he jumps into the water to save a drowning beachgoer. It features a glorious overuse of slow motion, random unnecessary closeups, and a huge title card rising out of the water as he carries a limp body to safety. It’s beautiful in a way that inspires confidence in the rest of the movie, namely confidence in its clear understanding of the outlandish nature of the story. Unfortunately, this incredibly refreshing opening is squandered immediately, and the rest of the two hour runtime only contains flashes of that bold “who gives a shit” attitude.

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Free Fire Review

25 Apr

One of the more disappointing efforts of the year thus far, and not because I had any delusions about this being a masterpiece. Rather, this is disappointing because Ben Wheatley understands exactly what this film is and what he needs to do, yet still doesn’t do it very well. It’s oftentimes bad chaotic when it should be good chaotic, dull when it should be fast-paced, and cringeworthy when it should be cool. I don’t quite understand the praise for the script because some of these lines sound like they’re coming from the mouth of a wannabe filmmaker who once saw a Tarantino highlight reel on Youtube. The setup before the firefight is the most egregious example of this–awkward and unfunny and an awful attempt at building tension–and it’s not till everyone starts getting shot that the actors begin to shine.

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Colossal Review

9 Apr

The first half of this film is as fun as they come. It’s a creative concept, an interesting little mystery, and a truly funny psychological comedy all rolled up into one, and watching it play out was easily one of my most enjoyable moviegoing experiences thus far in 2017. However, the second half is a fairly large letdown, and the story goes completely off the rails figuring out what it wants to say and be. I think Vigalondo understands what it means to embrace a big, dumb, and entertaining premise, but he also reaches for something here that he can’t quite grasp. Most problematically, the entire metaphor that the film rests upon isn’t very strong, and Vigalondo’s attempt to tap into the human experience is therefore weakened. There’s a strange mix of off-kilter humor, character drama, and half-hearted explanations in this one, and while it’s fine that there isn’t a singular vision that emerges here, it does feel like the director struck gold and then lost it.

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