Premise: American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.
1954’s Godzilla is the beginning of film’s most massively iconic movie monster. It’s an introduction like no other as it focuses on the human reaction to Godzilla’s presence and destruction. With a slow build toward the rampage, the film explores real pathos in its characters. Godzilla creates the monster as an antagonist in a way that brings the fear of nuclear arms, humanity’s race toward self-destruction, and the horror of creating that which you can’t control to the forefront of its story. Continue reading →
Premise: After waking up convinced that she is going to die tomorrow, Amy’s carefully mended life begins to unravel. As her delusions of certain death become contagious to those around her, Amy and her friends’ lives spiral out of control in a tantalizing descent into madness.
She Dies Tomorrow, the latest from filmmaker Amy Seimetz, offers a unique exploration of existential anxiety by personifying depression as a contagion that’s easily spread. It’s a film that takes its subject matter seriously and eschews any subtlety or subtext with it. Instead, the specter of impending death and anxiety takes the forefront and drives what very little plot is in the movie. In a strange way, this approach actually works to the film’s benefit some of the time. Unfortunately, at other points, She Dies Tomorrow feels too meandering for its own good.
Premise: After an innocent AOL chat turns racy, a Catholic teenager in the early 00s discovers masturbating and struggles to suppress her new urges in the face of eternal damnation.
Think back to your early high school days and how sex and sexuality felt ever-present in daily life. Then, if you weren’t already, imagine those same feelings in the setting of a Catholic school, where you’re taught to mostly repress or ignore those feelings. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. So is masturbation. What do you do when your body and society are telling you one thing and the church is telling you another? Oh, and if you go against what they’re teaching, you’ll spend the afterlife in eternal damnation. Continue reading →
This week, Mike joins me to review IFC Midnight’s new releases Relic and The Rental. We also chat about Mike’s recovery from nose surgery, the newly announced Scream Factory Friday the 13th Blu-ray collection, and the ill-advised Days of the Dead convention.
In our inaugural Ebert’s Great Movies Review Series episode, our contributor and friend Ben Sears joins me to discuss the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup (1933) and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (1985) from Ebert’s “Great Movies” list. For Potpourri, we discuss the documentary The Painter and the Thief and the first handful of episodes from 13 Reasons Why’s final season.
Premise: Early in World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain must lead an Allied convoy being stalked by Nazi U-boat wolfpacks.
Throughout the running time of Greyhound, we learn more about Captain Ernie Krause’s (Tom Hanks) leadership skills, but shockingly little about his life outside the titular naval destroyer. The mission is simple: guide a fleet of Allied supply ships across the vast Atlantic Ocean, and sink as many Nazi U-boats as possible. The fleet remains unprotected from air cover for over 50 hours over the ocean, and this provides the ticking clock conceit to the film. Greyhound bears a striking similarity to last year’s 1917, in that there’s a clear endpoint objective at stake, and the characters we spend the most time with are frustratingly opaque. But whereas 1917 took time to reflect and add at least a little characterization between its video game-like checkpoints, Greyhound only stops and pauses for a scant few moments. Continue reading →
Premise: A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home.
Relic, the feature debut from writer/director Natalie Erika James, takes the fragility and fear of caring for a mentally ailing loved one and packages it into an overall enticing thriller with the effectiveness and confidence of a seasoned filmmaker. By focusing on the struggles of caring for a relative, Relic allows its audience to grow attached to its characters before suddenly ratcheting up the tension and suspense in more conventional ways. And although James deftly guides the audience through the family drama at Relic‘s center, the conventional feel of the climax does leave a bit to be desired before successfully ending the film on a disturbing and thought-provoking note.
Premise: A Democratic strategist helps a retired veteran run for mayor in a small, conservative Midwest town.
By transposing a high stakes political arena onto a small town rural America setting, Jon Stewart’s Irresistible takes a relatively low key approach to its ribbing of the world of campaign finance. It is not simply a “fish out of water” story. Nor does it attempt to romanticize the quaint small town it occupies. Instead, Stewart uses this juxtaposition to call attention to the absurdity of campaign fundraising in a fairly unique manner. And although the approach is surprisingly refreshing in this era of fourth wall breaking Adam McKay political and socio-economic commentary films, Irresistible falters a bit on the road to its message.
This week, our contributor and friend Ben joins me to review the retro sci-fi film, The Vast of Night and the new Judd Apatow film The King of Staten Island. We also talk about drive-in movies and AMC’s plans to reopen. For Potpourri, we discuss the Netflix films Da 5 Bloods and The Wrong Missy.
Premise: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.Continue reading →
Premise: A pilot’s aircraft is hijacked by terrorists.
Patrick Vollrath’s 7500 is a tense and claustrophobic thriller about an airplane hijacking and the pilot’s efforts to keep control and guide the passengers to safety. Taking place almost entirely within the cockpit, 7500 quickly becomes a showcase of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ability to command the screen with an intense and introspective performance. It is also an exercise in low-budget filmmaking and storytelling that utilizes limited set space.
Loved this movie while I was growing up. It still has its charms, but the pacing is pretty off and the ending doesn't really land in any memorable way. But the comedy with Brendan Fraser's naivete is pretty fun.
This is a really interesting samurai film in that it's based on a play that adapted a real event and that it was commissioned as a wartime propaganda film. Mizoguchi made a more humanistic story, though. The 47 Ronin is mostly characters discussing what is happening and what they plan to do next. There's a lot of talk about the samurai code and wha […]