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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: Ocean's 8 (2018)

* * *

Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina

"Why do you need to do this?" "Because it's what I'm good at." Sometimes that's all the justification you need. Did the world need another Ocean's movie? Probably not. I mean, one could reasonably argue that there didn't really need to be three in the first place. But movies like Ocean's 8 don't exist to address a need any more than the candy available at the concession does. These things exist because sometimes you just want a treat, something that has no nutritional value but gives you a bit of a sugar rush. Ocean's 8 is a lot of fun. It might not be striving for greatness, but it delivers pretty much exactly what it promises and its mix of charismatic stars, glamour, comedy and adventure makes for a perfect summer entertainment.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: Disobedience (2018)

* * *

Director: Sebastian Lelio
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola

The promotional materials for Disobedience heavily emphasize the relationship between the characters played by Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. While that relationship is most certainly a key element of the story, it isn't really what the film is about, but I suppose it's easier to sell a tale of forbidden love than it is a story about people living in a strict religious community being faced with the choice of adhering to the limiting confines of the religions teachings or being expelled entirely. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman and directed by Sebastian Lelio (whose A Fantastic Woman won this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar), Disobedience is a carefully observed film about the struggle between the desire to be and the desire to belong and features great performances by its two Rachels.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Review: Deadpool 2 (2018)

* * *

Director: David Leitch
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin

Part of the charm of Deadpool was its inherent shabbiness. Made on a shoestring budget (at least by the standards of superhero/action movies), Deadpool turned its discount elements into a strength by making it part of the joke. Deadpool 2 has the benefit of having about twice the budget as its predecessor, which gives it a lot more flash in terms of its action pieces, but it still manages to maintain that industrial and minimalist aesthetic of the first. It adheres to the principle of movie sequels to "do the same thing, but more," but it manages to stay relatively true to its roots at the same time, which is surely no easy feat. Deadpool 2 is the equal to its original, better in certain respects but not quite as good in others, and certainly worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

* * *

Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich

There are two things that can't be denied about Solo: A Star Wars Story. The first is that it had a troubled production, with original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (directors of the Jump Street movies and The LEGO Movie) being fired more than half-way through production and replaced by Ron Howard, prompting much speculation about the salvageability of the project. The second is that with an estimated $103 million Memorial Day weekend opening, it's considered something of a flop (by the standards of Star Wars movies, at any rate). That's a lot of negativity for one movie to overcome, but you know what? Solo is a pretty decent movie. It's a goofy adventure/heist movie that, though it has some flaws, is at worst a mid-tier Star Wars movie. Seriously: give it a chance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: Life of the Party (2018)

* * 1/2

Director: Ben Falcone
Starring: Melissa McCarthy

Life of the Party, the latest vehicle for the go for broke talents of Melissa McCarthy, is neither as well put together as the films that McCarthy has made with director Paul Feig, nor as broad and crass as her previous collaborations with Ben Falcone. There's a sweetness to the movie which many of McCarthy's other movies tend to lack until until their third acts, and it's pretty funny even though it must be said that it has a pretty simple premise - after being left by her husband, a woman decides to make over her life, starting by going back to college - and manages to do remarkably little with it. Still, McCarthy is funny and charming and sometimes that's enough.