At the end of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” hired-assassin, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), shoots an annoyingly smug assassin on the consecrated grounds of the Continental Hotel — a no-no. Wick is declared Ex-Communicado, or rogue, which results in every assassin in the world chasing him.Read More
I don’t really want to waste too much ink on Rob Letterman’s “Detectve Pikachu.” It does adhere to diehards of Pokemon, despite the comedic voicework of Ryan Reynolds as the titular private eye.Read More
When we think of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, we think of sex. After all, she brought it to the forefront of the American conversation back in the ‘80s. But after watching Ryan White’s “Ask Dr. Ruth,” the most comprehensive documentary about her life and times, you start to realize it’s the least interesting thing about her.Read More
Mikhail Gorbachev’s legacy is that of being the eighth and final President of the Soviet Union, but this often misunderstood leader had a much more significant role in the world stage. Prolific director Werner Herzog‘s powerful documentary “Meeting Gorbachev” tries to paint a picture of a leader haunted by a never fully completed vision of a utopian, capitalist-driven USSR, one which, the director shows, had incredible similarities to today’s European Union.Read More
Jonathan Levine’s “Long Shot” asks us to buy into the concept that Charlize Theron can be attracted to Seth Rogen. Theron plays highly-succesful, 40-ish, Secretary of State Charlotte Field, who is also planning a presidential run for the White House. Rogen is Fred Flarsky — an unemployed journalist hired by Charlotte as her speechwriter, in part because she babysat him when she was in her teens. So, not only is Charlotte such a physically attractive mismatch for Rogen, but she is older than him as well and way more successful. Can this happen in real life? Theron is only six years older than Rogen, but she’s still Charlize Theron, hotness personified, the woman of my dreams, and he’s still Seth effin’ Rogen (not to diss him in any way) — what are the chances of this kind of romance actually happening? The slogan for the film reads “unlikely but not impossible.” At least Levine has the courtesy to admit that a story such as this one is rare.Read More
Young, female, brown, carrying oh-so-terrifying socialist ideals of equality for the underrepresented, and not afraid to speak her mind loudly, U.S. House of Representatives politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez currently has the Washington D.C. establishment quaking in their boots. Laugh if you want to, but there’s absolutely a reason a brand new, relatively inexperienced 29-year-old congresswoman—the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States—has found herself in the crosshairs of Fox News, The Daily Caller, and dozens of alt-right conservative voices. She’s absolutely dangerous to them because she represents a wakeup call to America and a voice of change they desperately want to suppress.Read More
Leave it to the French to philosophize about Twitter and E-books. That's exactly what Olivier Assayas' "Non-Fiction" dares to do and, for the most part, this small little trifle of a film actually works. Coming off his brilliant "Personal Shopper," Assayas decides to make a more relaxing film this time around. This intermingling of relationships and friendships, set in the publishing world, is just an excuse for Assayas to update Rohmer for the 21st century, but in a minor key.Read More
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger and late collaborator Bruce Sinofsky were always interested in making films about the way our justice, or injustice, system works; the perpetrators, the victims, the fascination was there seeped into every frame of “Brother’s Keeper” and “Paradise Lost.” However, in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile,” Berlinger decides to turn his camera towards the charismatic killer and the way evil can easily be shaded by charm.Read More
When we last saw the heroic Avengers in 2018’s “Infinity War,” we were all stunned by the devastating final minutes, in which evil Thanos (Josh Brolin) got a hold of all six of the Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers, causing half of the world’s population to be killed. Many of the key MCU players, including Spider-Man, were thus, supposedly, wasted off into a barrage of grim apocalyptic dust. Of course, this being Marvel and Disney, there was absolutely no way this could conceivably be the way the 22-movie MCU ended. And so, here we are with “Avengers: Endgame,” which opens where we last left off: the infamous “Snap.”Read More
Described as “the greatest literary hoax of our time,” the infamous unmasking of cause célèbre persona/author JT LeRoy in 2005 turned the world of pop culture media upside down. An extraordinary story that made headlines around the globe, the tale in short is: a precocious, sexually ambiguous, then-famous teenage author (LeRoy) — purporting to come from a world of drug addiction, poverty, and sexual abuse — was revealed to be the creation of another writer, a fraud upheld by an actor playing the press-shy persona in public, with her musician/boyfriend as a co-conspirator.Read More
“Hail Satan” is, first and foremost, about resistance; resistance against sectors of Christianity which have heavily deviated into their own toxic kind of militant evangelism. In fact, it’s this problematic nature of religion that kick-started the creation of The Satanic Temple. In Penny Lane’s documentary, The temple is rendered as nothing short of a troll-punking organization. It’s also an atheist-minded religion which keeps the positives that would come with religion — such as the camaraderie, organization but intersects these positives with progressive liberal values. You might ask, where does Satan fit into all of this? Oh, he’s mostly used as a direct conduit to infuriate Christian extremists, most of which actually believe The Satanic Temple abides by Lucifer’s throne. They don’t. In fact, The Satanic Temple does not worship Satan as a literal god at all. It’s all about the symbolism, baby. After all, the lord of darkness was the ultimate rebel by which the earliest biblical stories were told. These post-modernist Satanic followers mostly just want to place his statues all around red-state public spaces, including a Baphomet smack-dab in the middle of the Arkansas State Capitol. The fight to take the statue down, not to mention the idea of replacing it with a replica of the ten commandment plates, thanks to one Arkansas lawymaker, form the absurdist drama of the doc. Lane uses talking-heads footage from high-ranking TST members to forward her narrative, including the inner dilemmas such as the ethical rivalry between spokesman Lucien Greaves and Jex Blackmore, the founder of TST’s Detroit chapter who caused controversy within the organization, and ensuingly got booted out of it, after deciding to incite violence towards the temple’s enemies. Blackmore believes the separation of church and state isn’t enough, and that anarchy is needed to further promote the Staanic Temple’s goals.The rest of the movie is surprisingly infused in light and satirical manner by Lane, to further establish Satan’s rebelliously playful demeanor. If anything, Lane tries to make the case for America, in all its divisiveness, to take the moral examples presented by these lord-of-darkness-worshiping jokesters and change its mindset for the greater good. [B/B+]
It’s remarkable and perplexing that a landmark work such as director Bi Gan‘s latest film, “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” is not part of this year’s official competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The mezmerizing, mysterious film, an indisputably great one, is coming off the heels of the equally otherworldly 2014 film “Kaili Blues,” but this sophomore effort is a game-changer of the highest order.Read More
The Initial release for David Robert Mitchell's "Under the Silver Lake" was supposed to be last summer, but, after negative reviews greeted it at Cannes, A24 cut the chord and changed its release for December 7th, then that date was bumped again to, supposedly, this coming Friday. I presume Mitchell’s film is indeed coming out in 4 days hence, so it’s time to give my two cents on this polarizing film, which I happened to catch almost a year ago at Cannes.
"Under the Silver Lake" actually works decently well, up until its lazy and infuriating payoff, which feels flat and uninspired. David Robert Mitchell (“It Follows”) is a filmmaker that wants to break rules, his work here with DP Mike Gioulakis is commendable. The problem is that there just is no there there, an L.A. odyssey about Sam (Andrew Garfield), a Peeping Tom-turned-amateur-detective who tries to crack the conspiracy case of a missing person which he believes may be hidden in pop-culture artifacts. That missing person is Sarah, and who wouldn’t have a thing for this stoner chick, especially since she’s played by Riley Keough. The evidence he uncovers leads him to vanish into the L.A. underworld, where nothing is as it seems; girl gangs, tween vandalists, a dog killer, a missing millionaire among other distractions Mitchell lays out for us.
The goal here is to build up a cult following, and, make no mistake about it, there will be people that'll respond to Mitchell's film in that very way. Clocking in at 139 minutes, this shapeless L.A. noir wants to be like "The Big Lebowski" and "The Long Goodbye," but tries too hard to attain the level of those classics. Mitchell's intention with this film was for it to be a purposeful and confusing California-flavored mental haze. However, the whole notion of a story revolving around a surreal dive into L.A's hipster community is nothing new at the movies. We’ve seen it all before. [B-]
Sometimes a performance can carry a film and make it work despite an average screenplay. It takes a talented actor or actress to make this happen, but when it does, it becomes a testament to their ability to carry a film all by themselves, which is that rare thing that producers in this industry always look for.Read More