Review: ‘Enola Holmes’ is a joy for the whole family

Enola Holmes

Millie Bobby Brown is already a star. Her role in the Netflix series Stranger Things established her as a young actress to watch and her role in last years Godzilla: King of the Monsters cemented that she can indeed act opposite giant CGI monsters on the big screen as well as the small.

There’s always a danger in an actor taking on iconic roles at an early point in their career that they might be typecast. With the release of Enola Holmes this is, I can firmly say, not a danger that Millie Bobby Brown needs to worry about.

She’s great, and this is a good movie.

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Review: ‘The Devil All The Time’ is a bleak story anchored by great performances

Tom Holland / The Devil All The Time

There are a lot of no good sons of bitches out there. This is the message that Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) imparts to his son immediately after brutally beating two men who had made lewd comments about his wife.

Willard teaches his young son Arvin (Michael Banks Repeta) that the world is full of no good sons of bitches, and that using violence against them is not so much a question of if as it is when. Years later, an adult Arvin (Tom Holland) finds himself surrounded by no-good sons of bitches; he remembers his father’s lessons.

The Devil All The Time is a story of generational pain and violence in 1950s Ohio. It is bleak, and unflinching, and also incredibly uneven. If it weren’t anchored by two brilliant performances I’m not sure that I would recommend it. Luckily, it is, so I am.

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Review: ‘Class Action Park’ is a fascinating look back at a piece of 80s Americana

Class Action Park

Amusement parks are thrilling places. The rides create an artifice of danger, one that is scary but never actually scary as thought you might actually be injured or killed. Or, at least, that’s what they are supposed to do.

Action Park, built as a summer season companion to a ski resort by ethically unscrupulous developer Eugene Mulvihill, did not create that artifice; it literally put people in danger. Directors Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott III new documentary Class Action Park looks back at the story of the park and the scars inflicted on the survivors.

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Review: ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ is awkward, uncomfortable, and purposeful

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Charlie Kaufman films have a particular feeling to them. Weird isn’t the right word. Unique is a good one. Idiosyncratic is another. Netflix has a string of movies they’ve released where they seem to have backed a dump truck full of money onto the lawn of a filmmaker and then set them loose to make whatever they’re going to make. For better or for worse, in these cases, we seem to end up with films that are very much their filmmakers’ films.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is a very Charlie Kaufman movie. Starting with the simplest of setups –a young woman and her boyfriend take a road trip to his parent’s house during a snowstorm– and slowly but surely expanding to ruminate on ideas of self, relationships, memory, fantasy, quantum physics, family, and great poets, among other things.

If you’re into Charlie Kaufman, this movie is definitely for you.

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Review: ‘Mulan’ is a mixed bag

Mulan / Liu Yifei

Mulan should have been a slam dunk for Disney. A remake of a well-loved 1990s animated classic, it features a cast of both rising and legendary Chinese and Chinese-American stars, a director with a solid track record in Niki Caro, not to mention the bank account of the House of Mouse behind it.

The film, released this weekend straight to Disney+ because of, you know, the plague, is certainly a gorgeous one. It’s also well-acted and adds some new elements to the story, but ultimately is held back by some baffling editing choices.

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Fantasia Review: ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’ is a sweet, silly, and entertaining documentary

You Cannot Kill David Arquette

When you think of David Arquette, you probably think of the lovable goofball from the Scream movies. I can say this with confidence because that’s what most people think of him as after he was typecast as that after the Scream movies.

I’m just tired of being the joke” he says, while atop his horse scooter wearing a purple cape while vaping. Arquette feels, all at once, the loveable goofball you’re already thinking of and a slightly lost soul who just wants a little respect. Introduced to the world of wrestling by way of the 2000 film Ready to Rumble, he found a community that seemed perfectly suited for him. A sport, a theatrical sport, that appealed to his goofball nature.

But after a disastrous entry to the sport, in which he won the WCW World Championship to promote his movie, he lost the respect that he so desperately needed. 18 years later, his career never having reached the heights it could have, and maybe should have, he decides to try to reclaim that respect.

This is a good movie, people.

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Fantasia Review: ‘Patrick’ is a sweet story of coming into ones own.

Patrick

There’s something to be said for being naked. Everyone knows it, but naturalists live it. They spend all their time naked, or nearly so while living their lives. These are normal people with normal lives; they just live in the nude when they can.

Patrick is the story of a mild-mannered handyman who lives with his parents in a nudist campground. He’s content, if unambitious, to continue fixing things and, in his spare time, build beautiful handmade wooden furniture. Patrick is a wizard in his woodworking shop, the one place he truly feels at home.

And then his father, patriarch of his family and owner of the campsite, suddenly passes away. Suddenly he as unruly tenants to deal with, a lothario rock star as a guest, a sly developer trying to bully him into selling the campground, and worst of all: his hammer is missing.

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Fantasia Review: ‘Fried Barry’ is excessive, but is it bold or juvenile?

Fried Barry

I am going to come right out and say that I did not get along with Fried Barry, but I can see why it is resonating for some viewers. Grimy, greasy, seedy, and salacious, this film belongs to the cinema of excess, in which everything that happens to the lead character happens to the fullest extent that it can complete with any undue side effects and grossness that might follow.

Is it bold or just juvenile? Honestly, I can’t quite tell.

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Fantasia Review: ‘Monster Seafood Wars’ is an homage to the silliest of Kaiju movies, but it’s not totally silly

Monster Seafood Wars

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of kaiju films: those that are laden with metaphor, meaning, and subtext like 1954s Godzilla, and those where giant monsters fight each other for the amusement of the audience like 1974s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. I like both varieties of these movies but it’s clear to me that Minoru Kawasaki loves the latter.

Monster Seafood Wars is in many ways a perfect homage to the silliest of the classic kaiju movies, complete with men in suits playing the monsters, ridiculously low tech effects, and a ridiculous storyline. The only thing it’s missing is space aliens.

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Fantasia Review: ‘The Oak Room’ weaves stories within stories to great effect

The Oak Room

On a cold winters night during a snowstorm, a man walks into a bar. The bar is deserted but for the bartender. After a drink and some conversation he offers to tell the bartender story, that starts like this:

On a cold winters night during a snowstorm a man walks into a bar. The bar is deserted but for the bartender.

You might be sensing the start of a pattern and you are not wrong. The Oak Room weaves together several stories, each told between a man and a bartender and each appearing separate, right up until they are not, of course.

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Fantasia Review: ‘Hail to the Deadites’ is an opportunity missed

Hail to the Deadites / Bruce Campbell

Some b-movies go nowhere, and others become cult classics. People love this latter category of movies. People go out of their way to see them in special screenings and to collect memorabilia. What makes these films resonate is a question worth examining. Not only do they have to have a certain je ne sais quoi about them, whether that is amazing effects or the cast having a great time, or them being perfectly of their place and time, something causes them to connect with audiences in a profound way.

Sam Raimi’s trilogy of Evil Dead movies are all three of them, this type of movie. The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness are all definitive cult classics with a wide fanbase. Hail to the Deadites, this new documentary about the fandom surrounding this trilogy, presents itself as an opportunity to answer the question of why and how these movies resonate.

It’s a pity then that it does not do that.

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Fantasia Review: ‘The Block Island Sound’ is suitably creepy

The Block Island Sound

Sometimes I wonder if people in movies watch movies because when weird things start happening like tons of dead fish washing up on the shore of a small, peaceful island you’d think someone would say “wait I have seen this before.”

Cut to Block Island. A small, peaceful island with a year-round population of less than a thousand, and tons of dead fish washing up on the beaches. A marine biologist comes to town to investigate and finds more than she bargained for.

Yes, you have seen this set up before. Yes, this goes to some probably different places.

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Review: ‘Bill & Ted Face The Music’ is a most excellent follow up to films previous

Keanu Reeves & Alex Winter / Bill & Ted Face the Music

Legacy sequels can be a difficult thing to pull off. You need to have respect and reverence for the original material, but not stray too far into fan service or parody, and there’s a temptation to just do the same thing all over again.

We’re lucky then that original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon have returned along with original stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Do the Wyld Stallyns travel through space and time again? Yes, but instead of trying to pass a history class they end up examining their own lives.

You’re probably wondering if it’s good. Yes, yes it is. Is it as good as the originals? Yeah, I think it is.

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Fantasia Review: ‘Hunted’ covers some well-worn revenge ground

Hunted

The rape-revenge story is a well worn film story. Bad man seems nice. Bad man gets woman alone. Bad man reveals himself as bad man. Violence ensues. Hunted attempts to take a supernatural twist on this story, following our victim deep into a forest that will eventually becomes her ally.

Or so the pitch goes. The problem is that the film doesn’t really follow through on the pitch.

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