At times, while watching Laura Poitras’ ‘Citizenfour’ (which premiered Friday night at the New York Film Festival) it feels like fiction. It feels like an almost lazy spy movie that uses clichéd tropes to present a world in which everyone and everything is being watched. But, this isn’t fiction. This is the story of Edward Snowden and it is terrifying in its paranoia.
It’s a weird thing, I can already tell that ‘Inherent Vice’ will grow on me after time. I can already tell I like it better as I type this than I did while watching it. People will compare ‘Inherent Vice’ to the Coen brothers’ 1998 movie ‘The Big Lebowski’ and that’s totally fair because I’m going to do just that right now. Both films feature protagonists – with an affinity for marijuana use – who experience a remarkable adventure while searching for something that doesn’t matter. Sixteen years later, Mickey Woolfman means about as much as the money for a urine-soaked rug. It matters to the character but it never really matters much to us and, in both of these cases, we wind up being right.
Nic Cage is in a new movie that opened today called ‘Left Behind.’ There’s already a movie called ‘Left Behind’ that starred Kirk Cameron and this movie is probably a lot like that one, only Nic Cage is in it now. ‘Left Behind’ details the biblical rapture and what it would be like if the rapture happened while Nic Cage was piloting a commercial airliner. If ‘Left Behind’ was screened for critics, I wasn’t invited. So, on Friday morning I paid to see ‘Left Behind’ in the Kip’s Bay area of Manhattan. While watching ‘Left Behind,’ I kept a running diary. Here’s how that all went…
There are brilliant and daring conceits that elevate and enhance the viewing experience of a film, and then there are shameless and hollow gimmicks that do little more than hook the viewer in and fail to deliver anything meaningful. 'The Tribe' both promises and delivers on the former with a premise and a narrative concept unlike anything in conventional cinema: a story told from the perspective of a Ukrainian boy attending a school for the deaf where everyone speaks in sign language, and we're given no voice over or subtitles to hold our hand.
Throughout David Fincher’s adaptation of ‘Gone Girl,’ it was almost as if my subconscious was telling me that this movie shouldn’t be as good as what I was watching. That’s not a slam on Gillian Flynn’s novel (obviously; I haven’t read it), it’s just that the book is presented in such a unique way, which would at least seem almost impossible to pull off – just in a basic book vs. movie sort of way. Look, I understand that this following statement can be said about most movies, but in a less capable director’s hands – and with a less capable cast -- this movie could have easily have been garbage. Actually, this movie should have been garbage.
The last few years in horror have felt rather stale, but hot on the heels of watching the terrifying and refreshing 'The Babadook' at Fantastic Fest comes 'It Follows,' the sophomore effort from writer/director David Robert Mitchell. Similar to the lo-fi tone of his debut film, 'The Myth of the American Sleepover,' the comparisons end there for Mitchell's follow-up, which smartly and horrifically explores the politics of young adult sexuality.
“If this were a TV show, I’d watch it every single week.” These were the words I spoke right after watching Antoine Fuqua’s theatrical version of ‘The Equalizer,’ which is kind of a dumb thing to say considering that ‘The Equalizer’ was a TV show. Though, this updated version of ‘The Equalizer’ bears little resemblance to the mid-‘80s version, even though it kind of has everything to do with it.
'50 Shades of Grey' has officially been put on notice by 'The Duke of Burgundy,' the gorgeous and glorious sophomore effort from British director Peter Strickland, the vivid mind behind 'Berberian Sound Studio.' A film which features not a single male actor and which examines the ins and outs of a dominant/submissive relationship, 'The Duke of Burgundy' is also an incredibly smart and surprisingly funny relationship drama.
It's become increasingly rare for horror films to make an effort to truly scare us these days, but Jennifer Kent's 'The Babadook' gets under the skin in ways that are both visceral and highly emotional. A mediation on a mother's grief and the displacement of that grief onto her son, the film echoes Stephen King's 'The Shining' in many ways, while lead actress Essie Davis gives a chill-inducing performance evocative of vintage Sissy Spacek and Mia Farrow.
Keanu Reeves seriously does not get the credit he deserves. Over the years it seems like he's just been accruing knowledge from project to project, figuring out what works for him and what doesn't, and now he's distilled and perfected something that's almost hard to define. Last year he brought the crazy, crowd-pleasing martial arts flick 'Man of Tai Chi' to the Fantastic Fest film festival, and this year he returns with 'John Wick.' It's a ridiculous action thriller in which Reeves plays a former hitman-type out for revenge because some obnoxious Russian gangster's son steals his cool muscle car and kills the puppy his dead wife sent him as a present -- yeah, really.