Soldado Review

Soldado

If there’s one thing that the Sicario series is trying to teach us, it’s that America never learns. Its foreign policy and obsession with control over every part of the world consistently leads to ceaseless cycles of violence that the USA then tries its best to ignore. Soldado, the follow up to Denis Villeneuve’s astonishing 2015 original, hits many similar beats to its predecessor. Yet, instead of feeling repetitive, it instead hammers home returning writer Taylor Sheridan’s point that the world can be a nightmare, and all the international military and intelligence communities can do is make it worse. It’s a bleak message, sure, but executed with enough thrills to still keep it completely compelling.  Continue reading

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The Happy Prince Review

Happy Prince

As far as passion project biopics go, it’s hard to think of a better fit of actor/director and subject matter than Rupert Everett and Oscar Wilde. A ‘90s superstar who was even once pegged as the new Bond, the openly gay Everett found his career stymied by the homophobic studio system after coming out, lending a meta layer of pathos to The Happy Prince. His take on the last few months before Wilde (played by Everett) died, the film explores how Wilde’s disgrace and imprisonment after being convicted of homosexuality shortened the now-immortal writer’s life. As director, star, and writer, this is 100% Everett’s show, but though he truly excels on the performance side, his behind the camera work is less remarkable.  Continue reading

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review

Fallen Kingdom

When Steven Spielberg first brought Jurassic Park, perhaps the quintessential summer blockbuster, to screens in 1993, everything about it was monumental. From the scope to the music, it remains a first rate scary family adventure, and the truly miraculous dinosaur effects have barely aged in over two decades. But in 2018, after so many record-breaking superhero and Star Wars hits, the ancient lizards just don’t have the same power that they used to. 2015’s Jurassic World skirted this problem largely successfully, thanks to nostalgia and hybrid dinos, but now this follow up, Fallen Kingdom, has to find its own solution, which it only does sporadically.  Continue reading

The Miseducation of Cameron Post Review

Miseducation Cameron Post

After the one-two punch of the deeply distressing The Killing of a Sacred Deer and You Were Never Really Here last year, it would be easy to assume simply from The Miseducation of Cameron Post’s mouthful of a title that Desiree Akhavan’s second feature would be a sombre, serious affair. And though it does deal with some very hefty traumas and social ills, it’s in its kind, funny, warm-hearted humanity that Miseducation finds its true power. Though it may not exactly be revolutionary or even particularly unpredictable, it hits every emotional beat you could possibly want it to with such sincerity and panache that it’s impossible to resist.  Continue reading

First Reformed Review

First Reformed

There’s a sickness at the heart of Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. From man-made pollution of the environment to the creeping cancer in the stomach of its hero, this tale of a devout man’s descent into total crisis balances its spirituality with very real, tangible darkness, anchored by an introspective and intensely compelling central performance from Ethan Hawke. Schrader, no stranger to men of purpose going over the edge, has delivered a deliberately divisive study of faith and big business, and the uniquely American intertwining of the two. It’s a fascinating experiment that doesn’t shy away from weirdness or sincere religiosity.  Continue reading

The Tale Review

Tale

Jennifer Fox has already made a name for herself at the Sundance Film Festival as a superb documentarian, but this year she brought her first narrative feature to the fest, an astonishing, repellent, and utterly essential look at Fox’s own childhood sexual abuse at the hands of an adult man. It’s a potent, needling look at trauma and the stories people tell themselves to survive it and how the intrusion of cold reality on these stories can hurt nearly as much as the trauma itself. The Tale has seared itself into my brain and, if you have the stomach for it, is the best film of 2018 so far.  Continue reading