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This tag is associated with 67 posts

Movie review: “Bad Times at the El Royale”

Much as he did with The Cabin in the Woods, writer-director Drew Goddard (The Martian) has taken a hoary old premise and re-invigorated it with deft plot twists (often delivered with shocking, sudden violence), black comedy, and genre satire. Bad Times at the El Royale plays like a long-lost Agatha Christie potboiler by way of Quentin Tarantino. … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Happytime Murders”

Despite what the hype would have you believe, The Happytime Murders is not the most inappropriate puppet movie ever made (Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles still retains that honor). There is a lot of fluff wrapped around its hard-boiled innards, but somewhere in there is also a gleefully raunchy subversion of film noir and an … Continue reading

Movie review: “Murder on the Orient Express”

A hearty serving of “meh”, actor-director Kenneth Branagh’s workmanlike adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is diverting, crammed full of strong but unremarkable performances from an impressive ensemble cast, and mercifully short. It’s a fun ride, but there’s not enough steam in this engine for it to develop into anything memorable. However, the … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”

Classical tragedy mixed with moderate sadism and Polanski-ish surrealism, upstart filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest test of audience endurance plays like Sophie’s Choice by way of the ‘burbs. Don’t let that description be deceptive — it may not be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea. Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster) builds his bizarre revenge tale around a heart surgeon, … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Snowman”

Rife with potential, the film adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s bestselling crime novel makes for frustrating viewing, even more so now that director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) recently revealed that 10-15 percent of the script was never filmed. Sadly, there’s probably a good movie buried in it somewhere; ironically, cutting more … Continue reading

Movie review: “Detroit”

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s latest collaboration (following The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty) is provocative, infuriating, emotionally exhausting, and entirely timely. Like those previous two films, it utilizes a gritty, no-punches-pulled docu-drama style to explore a brutal war zone — one within America’s own borders. The movie begins with the raid of an illegal … Continue reading

Movie review: “Live by Night”

When Ben Affleck adapted Dennis Lehane’s gritty crime novel Gone Baby  Gone to the big screen in 2007, he established himself as a nascent directing talent and reinvigorated a career that had become a joke. He displayed a vice-like grasp of the material; his grip on Lehane’s pulpy gangster tale Live by Night is depressingly weak. the young … Continue reading

Movie review: “The Nice Guys”

A gritty, cynical, hilarious, and mostly satisfying bit of L.A. noir, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys sees the bad boy writer-director make a slick return to his signature brand of buddy action comedy. It’s best described as a worthy successor to The Big Lebowski, an irreverent take on Chinatown, and Inherent Vice without the art-house pretension. The Nice … Continue reading

Movie review: “Triple 9”

There’s a lot of appeal in the idea of Triple 9:  It’s a gritty crime drama about a couple of good cops caught in the machinations between a bunch of dirty cops and Russian-Israeli mobsters boasting an all-star cast, a no-holds-barred director, and an Oscar-winning composer. Sadly, the final product is a murky, inert movie. The needlessly … Continue reading

Movie review: “Sicario”

Sicario is the moral-grey-zone crime drama for those of us who felt burned by season 2 of True Detective. There are few heroes and even fewer clearly defined villains in this taught, gruesome, and disquieting narco-thriller written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners). Unlike other films that posit the need to go to extremes to win … Continue reading

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