Review: ‘The Green Knight’ grapples with temptation and virtue, cowardice and courage, and ends up one of the best films of the year

The Green Knight

There’s no one moment that will let you know that The Green Knight is going to be something special. It is apparent from the beginning that you are about to watch something excellent, both the production design and casting tell you that, but it’s not until nearly in the second half that you may realize you’re watching something truly great.

A knightly quest, and a chivalric romance, The Green Knight is a film that has so many questions and diversions that it could have been a mess, but instead is one of the most purposeful and human films of the year, and one of the best, too.

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Review: ‘Old’ highlights M. Night Shyamalan’s weaknesses, but also his strengths

Old

I think a lot about M. Night Shyamalan. I don’t like all of his movies, but all of his movies are unmistakably his movies, and I love him for that. So what makes an M. Night Shyamalan movie? Janky dialogue delivered weirdly and a very straightforward understanding of human emotion and behaviour, but also a keen eye for visuals and a newly unparalleled ability to use the camera to tell a story. He is, in a word, a dichotomy. His latest film Old is no different.

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Review: ‘The Last Mercenary’ misses the mark

The Last Mercenary

Action movies aren’t a genre that has ever let the age of their stars get in the way of a good time. If you do things right, you can have aged men play all kinds of characters. The Last Mercenary seems intent on pushing that idea to the limit by casting a 60-year-old Jean-Claude Van Damme as a mysterious spy returned from the cold to rescue his wayward son.

It also seems intent on being as over the top silly as it can be, with Van Damme’s character –dubbed “The Mist” because it’s there, but you can’t touch it– being a master of disguise, a master of proverbs, and hyper-competent at basically everything while also making all the most ridiculous choices.

Does it work though? Well… no, not really.

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Review: ‘Jungle Cruise’ is fun!

Jungle Cruise

Given the state of the world, it might be a more interesting fact that Disney hasn’t made more films based on the rides at their theme parks. I know that’s a weird thing to think about, but the future is weird. Disney is a vast, money-making empire and can monetize its properties like no other vast, money-making empire, and many of the rides in its parks are iconic.

Now, I know what you might be thinking, that it’s maybe a little cynical to make a movie based on a theme park ride, but to that, I say two things. First: tell it to the Pirates of the Caribbean, and second you can make a good movie out of anything. Here to prove that second point is Jungle Cruise, a good movie based on a theme park ride.

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Review: ‘The Last Letter from Your Lover’ is a lovely, if predictable, romance story

Last Letter From Your Lover.

Picture this: in the present, a young journalist discovers a series of love letters. They were written between a married woman and her paramour in the 1960s, and they tell of a passionate but star crossed affair. Naturally, the journalist searches for more of the letters and, eventually, finds love of her own.

This is the plot of The Last Letter From Your Lover. It isn’t entirely original, but it is a pretty good version of this kind of story.

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Review: ‘Blood Red Sky’ isn’t quite the film it could be, but is still fun

BLOOD RED SKY

An ill woman and her son are on a plane to New York. Awaiting them, a doctor with an array of ultramodern medical technology will give them the best chance to cure her ailment. Her plane is then, of course, hijacked. All of this is a slow build to a reveal that you can see coming from a mile off her ailment isn’t an ailment; she’s a vampire trying desperately to suppress the monster within, and the hijackers are about to find out that they aren’t in the movie they thought they were in.

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Review: ‘Settlers’ compelling performances and stunning production design keep it interesting

Settlers

A western, on Mars. That’s the pitch with Settlers, the debut feature from Wyatt Rockefeller, a film that tells the story of a family farmstead in the middle of nowhere on Mars. True to its pitch, the story is difficult and bleak, but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential, while it does feature excellent performances all around.

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North Bend 2021 Review: ‘Luchadoras’ looks at women fighting back

Luchadoras

Women have it harder in this world than men do. Some might dispute this (and they’d be wrong), but it is a fact. While it remains true anywhere you go, one of the worst places is Ciudad Juarez, in Northern Mexico. In this city, there is an ongoing trend of women being murdered and exploited. Luchadoras follows three women in the city who have discovered a means to empowerment within their lives, Lucha Libre.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition in the first place, but it only gets more powerful as the movie goes on.

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North Bend 2021 Quick Reviews: ‘Cryptozoo’ and ‘Swan Song’

North Bend / Cryptozoo / Swan Song

North Bend Film Festival continues with two esoteric and singular films, Dash Shaw’s Cryptozoo, an a dreamy animated commentary on capitalism and Swan Song, a personal journey of restoration and reclamation featuring stunning performance from Udo Kier.

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North Bend 2021 Review: ‘Tailgate’ makes road rage terrifying

Tailgate

We’ve all been there. We’ve cut someone off, we’ve made unsafe turns, and we’ve tailgated. It’s rude, and we shouldn’t do it, and when we’re called out we probably shouldn’t be defensive about it.

Tailgate (Bumperkleef in the original dutch) follows an impatient father as he does exactly what the title suggests, and angers the wrong person in doing so. The result is, obviously, a deadly game of cat and mouse that will reveal the true character of those involved.

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North Bend 2021 Review: ‘Ayar’ is a fascinating experiment

Ayar

Ayar is another entry into the ongoing oeuvre of COVID-19. Taking place mid-pandemic, it follows a young mother trying to reconnect with her daughter. A simple enough premise, but rather than take the straight path to get there, director Floyd Russ new film opts for something more experimental and experiential, to fascinating results.

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Review: ‘Fear Street Part Three: 1666’ is an uneven, but still satisfying, end to the trilogy

Fear Street Part Three: 1666

As with most trilogies, the wrap up can be difficult. In this case, a great many story threads have to be wrapped up from two different time frames, and the film does so by diving into the past and the origin of the curse that haunts Shadyside.

The result is that Part Three: 1666 has the most responsibility of the three films, and strains a little bit under that weight.

Note: This review contains minor spoilers for Fear Street Part One: 1994 and Fear Street Part Two: 1978, both of which you should definitely watch before you watch this. It will also contain what might be considered minor spoilers for this film, so if you want to go in blind, let it be known that while I think this is the weakest of the three films, I still liked it and think you will too.

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North Bend 2021 Review: ‘Ninjababy’ will charm the pants off you

Ninjababy

There are unplanned pregnancies, and then there are unplanned pregnancies. Children turn your whole world upside down enough as it is, not having a plan only flips things further. Rakel (Kristine Thorp) is a twenty-something who is not living her best life. She’s unemployed, dropped out of school, and despite dreams of writing a graphic novel hasn’t made any effort to actually do that beyond occasionally drawing.

A few weeks after hooking up with Mos, an Aikido teacher, based solely on the fact that she thinks he smells good, she begins to feel unwell. A quick pregnancy test supplied by her roommate confirms it, but when she goes to the doctor she finds out that she’s not just pregnant, she’s six months pregnant.

Hilarity, as they say, ensues.

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North Bend 2021 Review: ‘CODE NAME: Nagasaki’ pushes the boundaries of documentary

Code Name Nagasaki

A man and a woman meet, fall in love, and have a baby. They are from different worlds, him from Norway and her from Japan. Things are happy for a time, but eventually, she returns home and severs all contact with her husband and son.

Decades later the son she left behind, Marius Lunde, is on a quest to track her down. There is a multitude of feelings involved, but ultimately he just wants to know his mother. Marius, along with his friend and filmmaking partner Fredrik Hana, set out to not only complete the task but film the whole thing as well.

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Review: ‘Pig’ is not the movie you are expecting, but is one of the best movies of the year

Pig

Nicolas Cage is something of an enigma. I don’t think that it is either surprising or a revelation to say that, but the man is one of the only true movie stars we currently have. He is known for his near-constant output as an actor, and for being willing to appear in just about anything. This volume of work is not always great (though it’s never exactly boring), but the one thing it accomplishes is that as a result we sometimes forget that he’s a really great actor.

In Pig, his latest film, he reminds us. Before I launch into this review, I should say this: Pig is one of my favourite movies of the year so far, and I firmly believe that you should see it as cold as possible.

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