Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Review

On paper, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children sounds like a perfect combination of talent, material, and timing. It’s essentially an X-Men movie, in keeping with the current craze for superhero films, but one with a fanciful gothic vibe. It is directed by the master of fanciful gothic vibes, Tim Burton — who knows a thing or two about superheroes and big-budget blockbusters already. It’s led by the living Tim Burton drawings Eva Green and Asa Butterfield. Oh, and it’s based on a bestselling novel by Ransom Riggs.

In short, it has all the makings of a big hit that brings some much-needed quirkiness back to the multiplex. So why, then, does it all feel so… uninspired? So familiar? So not-very-peculiar?  Read More »

down under review

It’s a shame that Down Under exists in the first place, but because we live in this particular world at this particular time, it can’t help but feel necessary. It’s not a movie we want as much as it is a movie we need, an angry howl of pain and confusion that goes down like a bitter pill. But a spoonful of comedy helps the medicine go down, because writer/director Abe Forsythe‘s pitch-black comedy is one of the funniest movies of the year, tempering so much rage and pain with stoner jokes, slapstick, and a cast of characters who earn your affection despite themselves.

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a dark song review

If your average horror movie is an indication, the occult is a piece of cake. Grab a dusty old tome from your local library, pick up a Ouija board, light a candle or two and voila! You’re ready to open a portal, summon a demon, or cleanse a house of a vengeful spirit. Genre movies have a habit of making magic look easy and convenient. Either anyone can do it, or an exposition-spouting expert is just a quick phone call away.

A Dark Song isn’t that kind of movie. Writer/director Liam Gavin has made a movie where black magic isn’t just dangerous and a good way endanger your soul – it’s also really, really difficult and it takes a long time. Here is a movie about a single dark ritual that takes place over the course of six months.

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shin godzilla review

What is Shin Godzilla?

Known as Godzilla: Resurgence in Japan, it is the 29th Godzilla movie produced by the legendary production company Toho. It is directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi and no connection whatsoever to Gareth Edwards’ 2014 film or the giant monster universe Warner Bros. is currently building.

But that doesn’t really answer the question, because Shin Godzilla isn’t what many viewers think it will be. So, what is Shin Godzilla? That’s a difficult question to answer because Anno and Higuchi have really made four movies in one package and each one is fascinating and frustrating and genuinely revealing about what this iconic, and wholly Japanese, series actually represents in the year 2016.

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raw review

It’s going to be easy to label Raw as a cannibal horror movie. It’s simple. It gets the point across. It’s a hook to get people in the door. However, director Julia Ducournau‘s feature debut is about so much more than the consumption of human flesh. It’s a coming-of-age drama that truly understands the loneliness of being away from home for the first time. It’s a pitch-perfect portrait of the awkward transition into college life. It’s a sad and lovely portrait of how siblings are never that far apart, even when there appears to be a great distance between them. Raw is a movie about changes and transitions and settling into being the person you will be for the rest of your life.

And yes, it is also a cannibal horror movie.

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split review

Every filmmaker finds themselves in a rough patch every now and again, but few directors have had quite as public a rough patch as M. Night Shyamalan. It wasn’t enough that the immensely talented director of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs was stumbling with duds like The Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender – his name had become synonymous with disappointment for many moviegoers. He had become a punchline.

But now, it’s looking like Shyamalan has started to get his groove back. The Visit was one of last year’s more pleasant surprises and now Split, which held its world premiere as part of a secret screening at Fantastic Fest, has seemingly revealed his future going forward: he’s going to keep on making low-budget horror movies until someone tells him to stop. If his latest film is any indication, few people are going to tell him to stop anytime soon.

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Sadako vs Kayako review

“Who would win in a fight?” is the great conversation starter. You yell about it on the playground. You debate the finer points in the bar. Who you back in a match-up between two fictional characters can sometimes say a lot about you and your tastes. Batman or Superman? Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees? Alien or predator?

And now we’ve reached peak versus with the arrival of Sadako vs Kayako, which pits the evil spirits from The Ring and The Grudge against each other in an absurd supernatural throwdown. In one corner, you have a longhaired young woman with a penchant for possessing outdated physical media. In the other, you have a broken-bodied, frog-throated demoness who really doesn’t like visitors. And when they do fight, will anyone care?

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The Eyes of My Mother Review

There’s a scene in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre where Leatherface, the deranged serial killer who wears the skin of his victims, runs to the window of his isolated farmhouse. He’s just made quick work of two teenagers who wandered onto his property one after another and he has no idea where they came from, what they wanted, and if more are on the way. Through that grotesque flesh-mask, we can see his eyes: confusion and fear and concern for what else this day may bring him. For a few seconds, this monstrous figure is so oddly…human.

The Eyes of the Mother is like a feature-length version of that shot.

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the age of shadows review

Almost every Kim Jee-woon film is a blasted battlefield where style and substance have declared war on one another. Most of the time, the two reach a stalemate – films like The Good, The Bad, The Weird and I Saw the Devil are energetic masterpieces that often feel as if they’re teetering on the edge of collapse, films whose expansive running times are justified by the sheer amount of things happening on the screen. It may take awhile, but even The Last Stand (Kim’s first and, so far, last foray into Hollywood) taps into his innate desire to tear up everything on the screen with gleeful, gory debauchery. It’s his default mode and it has served him well.

The Age of Shadows is a quite the departure for the director, who has returned to South Korea and has returned with a slick historical spy epic that finds his most identifiable traits being moved to the back burner, for better and worse.

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american honey review

The United States of America is a nation of many nations. Within this vast expanse, you carve out your own destiny, define your existence, and struggle against the walls, both real and imagined, that box you in. You choose to look past those whose nation is so different from your own, your gaze deliberately passing through a individual, a fellow human being, whose circumstances are so alien to your own. Or maybe you wonder why that person won’t look you in the eye, why they’re looking at you without looking at you, and why their polite smile is so empty. It’s easy to get lost in America.

Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey is a machine powered by empathy, 163-minute odyssey through the forgotten and overlooked ranks of humanity who call America’s heartland their home. This is a road trip through flyover country, a cinematic opportunity to meet the gaze of those so many have forgotten or dismissed. It is a masterpiece and one of the best movies of 2016.

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