Piercing Review

It’s clear from the very beginning of director Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing that he wants us on edge. He opens with a shot of a new father Reed (Christopher Abbott) standing over his infant son with an ice pick just inches from the child’s face. Reed snaps himself out of what seems like a trance and finishes packing for what he tells his wife (Laia Costa) is a business trip but is, in fact, a carefully planned and well-rehearsed killing of a total stranger, complete with a murder kit that we get to know well over the course of the film. Read More »

I Think We're Alone Now review

Is there anyone better at playing soulfully sad than Peter Dinklage? The Game of Thrones star is front and center in I Think We’re Alone Now, a post-apocalyptic drama in which he plays the last man on Earth who discovers he’s not as alone as he thinks when a young woman (Elle Fanning) enters his life. Characters in similar stories might celebrate this miraculous opportunity for human connection, but Del (Dinklage) resents it – he actually prefers being by himself, even in such extreme circumstances. Like an episode of The Twilight Zone extended to feature length, I Think We’re Alone Now wraps emotional exploration in a high concept premise. And like Rod Serling’s seminal sci-fi anthology series, this movie features a third-act twist – but this one almost torpedoes the entire story. Read More »

Maze Runner: The Death Cure review

There’s a lot to like in the final installment of the Maze Runner series. Maze Runner: The Death Cure is not a perfect movie — no movie that tries to have its cake and eat it too truly can be — but as far as franchise blockbusters go, it’s not too bad.

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Tyrel review

As a flurry of white snowflakes fall on a pitch-black sky, the word TYREL is superimposed over them in bold black font. It’s writer/director Sebastian Silva’s first attempt of many to underline the differences between this film’s black protagonist, played by Jason Mitchell (Mudbound, Straight Outta Compton), and the group of all-white bros he’s staying with during a weekend trip to the Catskills to celebrate one of their birthdays. The thing is, Mitchell’s character’s name isn’t even Tyrel, it’s Tyler – the title comes from a misunderstanding from one of the white guys, just one of the endless micro-aggressions (and physical aggressions) Tyler endures during this trip. But while Silva’s exploration of cultural isolation sounds like it could be the heir apparent to last year’s Get Out, Silva doesn’t do enough with the premise to give this movie the same lasting impact. Read More »

A Futile and Stupid Gesture Review

The rise and fall of the subversive comedians at National Lampoon was already extensively covered in the Sundance selected documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon. But director David Wain (They Came Together, Role Models) has taken a completely different approach in his dramatization of the creation of the humor magazine turned radio show and movie production house.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture is based on Josh Karp’s book of the same name, and it follows the founding of the wildly successful National Lampoon as it unfolds in the biographical story of co-creator and comedian Doug Kenney. However, David Wain doesn’t simply use this as an opportunity to craft a traditional biopic. Instead, the movie is a meta, self-aware retelling of Doug Kenney’s story in the same comedic style of National Lampoon, with a vibe that’s a lot like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy meets Man on the Moon. Read More »

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An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn review

The Sundance Film Festival is often populated with unconventional love stories, but An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn may take the proverbial cake this year. Legion co-stars Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement make an unlikely pair in this deeply odd movie, a screwball odyssey into the absurd in which barely a single scene plays out in a conventional manner. There’s a touching love story to be found here, but the off-the-wall humor encasing it is sure to throw off those who aren’t willing to give themselves over to the film’s outlandish world. Buckle up, because things are about to get freaky. Read More »

Arizona review

Jonathan Watson, the longtime assistant director on films as varied as Bad Boys and The Truman Show, makes his directorial debut with Arizona, a thriller set in the midst of the late 2000s economic housing crisis that stars Rosemarie DeWitt as a single mom realtor on the run from a deranged homeowner played by Danny McBride. While DeWitt is the ostensible lead, Arizona is more of a showcase for McBride’s particular set of comedic skills, and as the hunt intensifies, it takes us on a tour through a section of America that was left decimated by the hubris of Wall Street. Read More »

Hearts Beat Loud Review

Movies about fractured families are easy to come by at the Sundance Film Festival, so it takes something special to make them stand out. In the case of Hearts Beat Loud from writer/director Brett Haley (The Hero, I’ll See You in My Dreams), the special ingredient comes in the form of Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons as a father and daughter who have had trouble connecting since the death of his wife and find a connection by forming a band with some real potential. Not only is this movie sweet as hell, but it brings your new favorite band to the table with a soundtrack full of catchy original songs. Read More »

monster review

Ever since its publication in 1999, author Walter Dean Myers’ award-winning novel Monster has be a favorite among young adults, providing them a glimpse into the world of Steve Harmon, a black teenager whose life is thrown into chaos when he is arrested and put on trial for taking part in a robbery gone wrong, resulting in the death of a Harlem bodega owner. The film adaptation from music video veteran and first-time filmmaker Anthony Madler is an ambitious, complex, and layered look at how the court system in America is virtually designed to keep defendants like Steve from every getting a chance at actual justice.

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leave no trace review

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been eight years since filmmaker Debra Granik debuted her powerful, atmospheric, four-time-Oscar-nominated Winter’s Bone at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and launched the career of Jennifer Lawrence into the stratosphere. While she did follow that up with her exceptional, long-in-the-works 2014 documentary Stray Dog, audiences have had to wait far too long for Granik to once again immerse us in a world that seems millions of miles away, when in fact she places us in long-ignored corners of America that are currently having light shone upon them for a variety of reasons. With her latest work, Leave No Trace, Granik moves from the depths of the Ozark Mountains to the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

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