Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Review: Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

* * *

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the most movie you'll see all summer. It has everything. Allies who turn out to be enemies, enemies who turn out to be allies, double crossing, globe hopping, love triangles (of a sort), car chases, helicopter chases, gun fights, room destroying fist fights, assassination attempts, nuclear bombs, and at least four occasions when it's entirely conceivable that Tom Cruise could have been killed during the filming of the scene. I can't wait to see what insane thing the next Mission: Impossible's director manages to talk him into doing. Maybe he'll go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Maybe he'll wrestle a tiger. Maybe he'll surf a wave of lava. Anything's possible!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Sorry to Bother You (2018)

* * * 1/2

Director: Boots Riley
Starring: Lakeith Stanfield

Sorry to Bother You is a work of surrealism that, like all great works of satire, manages to strike brutally close to home the more wildly it goes over the top. While the film's big, grotesque twist is pretty far outside the realm of possibility (at least, one desperately hopes so), the film's depiction of income inequality and the effects of unchecked capitalism feels familiar even in its most exaggerated elements. If things continue on their current trajectory, where the top 1% have 40% of the wealth and governments have been steadily dismantling all of the mechanisms that once kept income disparity more in check and maintained a path for upward financial mobility, certain elements of Sorry to Bother You's narrative don't seem at all far fetched. An assured, inventive, and thought provoking film from Boots Riley, Sorry to Bother You more than lives up to all the hype it's inspired since its debut at Sundance earlier this year.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Review: Mama Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

* * *

Director: Ol Parker
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters

The Mama Mia movies are the sort of works that force you to examine your own taste in art. In a purely objective sense, you're aware that they're not "good" and that, in fact, they don't even really come close to the normal standard of what makes a movie good. They are, if you are being brutally honest with yourself, barely movies at all in any traditional sense. Their narratives are thin as air, existing merely to connect a series of songs to each other, not always accomplishing that in the most elegant of ways. And yet. Isn't the aim of art to stir something in the audience, to touch some emotion and heighten it through the experience of consuming it? If the goal of the work is to bring the audience joy and it succeeds in doing so then isn't it, by definition, a "success" even if it does so in a fashion that might generously be described as "clumsy." This is all a round about way of saying that Mama Mia! Here We Go Again is as terrible and wonderful as the first film and I loved every minute of it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

* * *

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly

And so, after the impossibly high stakes of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel dials things back ever so slightly with the sillier, lower stakes of Ant-Man and the Wasp. In a summer that has been pretty underwhelming so far (with the exception of Ocean's 8, Deadpool 2, and poor, unloved Solo: A Star Wars Story), Ant-Man and the Wasp is perfectly crafted for summer entertainment. It's fun, it's quick on its feet, and it's incredibly engaging. There are a number of things that you have to give Marvel credit for with respect to the success of its shared universe, and while the patience to build it one film at a time may be chief among them, the casting is surely a close second. Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang - none of these choices would have seemed obvious from the jump (well... maybe Downey as Stark), but all of them now seem inspired. Thank God Rudd never ended up being snapped up to play any of the million other super heroes running around out there.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Review: Blockers (2018)

* * *

Directors: Kay Cannon
Starring: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz

It's hard to believe that a comedy centering on a teenage sex pact and featuring a scene involving "butt chugging" - which I sincerely hope is not a real thing that people do, but I'm certainly not going to google it to find out - could be as sweet and insightful as Blockers. That's not to say that the film doesn't have its problems - there is an entire sequence which, in the wake of the "Me Too" movement, I'm surprised could make it into the final cut of a movie (and apparently having elicited no controversy, as far as I can tell) - but it's leagues better than most movies of its kind and it's terrifically funny, too.