Thoroughbreds (dir. Cory Finley)

Thoroughbreds is only a mildly exaggerated representation of the elite of suburban Connecticut, or Westchester, New York. Greenwich is filled with beautiful yoga moms and their children dressed in matching blazers, designer-bred show dogs and cars worth more than your house. This is an expose of the young and privileged, who both comfortably occupy the bubble they’ve grown up in and desperately long for freedom from it. They’ve grown up financially secure but emotionally neglected. Privilege is a necessity and empathy is a weakness. Continue reading

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A Negative Review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (dir. Martin McDonagh)

It didn’t have to be this way. In the hands of a better director or a better screenwriter, this could have been a really poignant story about grief and redemption. Instead it’s a melodramatic, sloppy, grim and empty husk of a movie with absolutely no idea what its thesis statement was. This has the stench of an Oscar-bait movie written on a time constraint, with some of the most awkwardly stilted dialogue, the most contrived coincidences and one of the most abrupt endings of 2017.

Spoilers:
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Happy Death Day (Dir. Christopher B. Landon)

I can’t say Happy Death Day is particularly frightening, nor is it particularly funny. The plot twist is pretty contrived, it gets frustratingly repetitive and there are moments that just don’t make sense even within its own fantasy universe. So why did I enjoy this so much? This is a case in which so many of the moving parts are messy and dysfunctional but they inexplicably come together as a cohesive whole. It’s like being on one of those giant carnival slides over and over again, or watching a fidget spinner. Continue reading

IT (Dir. Andrés Muschietti)

I can’t support the notion that the supernatural entity known as It takes on the form of a clown because clowns are enticing to children. No child has unironically enjoyed the presence of a clown since the vaudevillian days of the 1930s. People have been afraid of clowns for years, even before Tim Curry decided to put on a red nose. If you were one of those people who saw Stephen King’s It (1990) as a kid and cite it as the source of your childhood nightmares, I highly recommend watching it again, now, as an adult. Upon second viewing, you might come to realize that not only is it not very frightening, but it’s also rather dated and not particularly good. In this era of remake after remake after remake, this is a rare example of an early 90s relic that was due for an upgrade. And that’s because the story and the concept is actually compelling- the 1990 version just didn’t do much apart from traumatize some now-twenty somethings and give Tim Curry ample scenery to chew on. And this project has been in the works since 2009- Cary Fukunaga, the original director, dropped out due to “creative differences”, the script was rewritten, most of the actors were re-cast a week before filming…after all of that chaos it’s hard to believe they were able to pull the project together without making it too much of a messy combination of Fukunaga’s vision and Muschietti’s. But they did it, and they did it well. And maybe the delay in production was a blessing in disguise because it has been exactly 27 years since the release of the original miniseries- accurately matching the timeline of It’s resurgence from the depths of the sewers to consume the flesh of the innocent. So that’s nice. Continue reading

The Little Hours (dir. Jeff Baena)

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A loose parody of 14th century novel The Decameron, The Little Hours (dir. Jeff
Baena) features Dave Franco as a runaway who, pretending to be a deaf-mute, starts
hooking up with nuns at a convent. The entire cast is a comedy powerhouse- Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Fred
Armisen, and John C. Reilly. Clearly, some effort was made to cast people with excellent
comic timing. Continue reading

Brigsby Bear, and Why it’s “Dope as Shit”

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As evidenced by his work with SNL and sketch group Good Neighbor, Kyle Mooney has been building a career out of playing a similar type of character over and over again, but I think he does it with enough genuine empathy and admiration that I can’t complain. Mooney excels at cringe comedy, and he does this especially well in Brigsby Bear (dir. Dave McCary), in which he portrays a young man who essentially has never seen or heard of anything. Continue reading

Casting JonBenet: The Advantages of Bias

Casting JonBenet (Dir. Kitty Green), the highly anticipated meta-documentary released as a Netflix-exclusive film about the 1996 murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was met with mixed reactions- mostly because the idea of making a film about the actual brutal murder of an actual child didn’t sit well with many people. 1996 wasn’t that long ago. Is it exploitative? Probably. But by that logic, every film about or based on a real-life tragedy is exploitative. I am willing to defend this film’s existence despite its tendency to insert some black humor, as it doesn’t set out to minimize the seriousness of the crime. Unlike other crime documentaries, it is less focused on solving the mystery at hand and more focused on reactions to what we know about the murder and the inevitable biases that come with it. Continue reading