Roma

Forget Alfonso Cuarón’s smooth camera work and his technical attention and his ability to wreak havoc in the background while his foregrounds remain calm and focused. Instead, watch Roma and pay attention to Cuarón the photographer who can bring beauty and life to a million shades of gray. Filmed in a black-and-white palate that is…

Cage’s Mandy, not Manilow’s

The 2018 Panos Cosmatos film Mandy could very well have been released in 1978, directed by John Carpenter or Tobe Hooper, and, aside from Nic Cage’s Academy Award-winning visage, no one would be the wiser. Featuring a crazed cult, motorcycle-riding demons, over-saturated film stock, and, well, Nic Cage wielding a custom axe, Mandy is a…

Happy As Lazzaro

An odd yet beautiful film. However, its morality play center and rambling narrative diminishes the film’s quirkiness The first act of the Italian film Happy As Lazzaro focuses on naïve, worker-bee Lazzaro, an all-around good-guy who’s as gullible as Charlie Brown. He, along with his fellow working community, is exploited by a tobacco heiress as…

Extinction

The alien invasion plot is an industry standard that is now as boilerplate as Batman’s origin and Netflix’s Extinction upholds this formula in a by-the-books thriller yet manages to present the film in a slick and entertaining way. Yes, there is a plot twist deep in the third act that is satisfying and, believe it or not,…

ANON: SciFi blast for cliché crime caper

The future can be scary, and that’s exactly how writer/director Andrew Niccol (Gattica) likes it. Niccol’s latest, Anon, directly distributed by Netflix, takes social media privacy scares and concerns and makes those issues a substantial threat as every event every single person sees is stored forever in an Orwell-ian cloud. Anon presents an original, albeit…

Dope

Icarus, much like its mythological namesake, starts out openly enough. Writer/director Bryan Fogel, obviously undergoing a mid-life crisis, seeks to rise above his competition and win an long-eluded amateur bike race by subscribing to a doping program ala Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton. His gonzo-ish film about cheating the system then takes a serious turn…

Video-Game Action; Direct-Release Scripting

Let’s play nice and call Spectral an homage to a heap of sci-fi films and not a mash-up of clichés from all that has come before. A mash-up, yes, but certainly a nice-looking one at that. James Badge Dale, proving he had leading-man chops, as evident from HBO’s The Pacific, stars in first-time director Nic…

Suspenseful. Alluring. Slow.

Stoker is a surprisingly wonderful indie film written by an American television actor, directed by a Korean known for violent action flicks, all told in a suspenseful vein that Alfred Hitchcock would find suitably satisfactory, especially with the themes presented within: a loner child, daddy issues, an ignorant mother, a suspicious uncle, and death, death,…

A most excellent look at a personage of historical significance

Daniel Day-Lewis steals the show as the title character in Lincoln, but by all rights, the film itself could have been named Amendment XIII as the second act’s energy, as well as most of the third, is focused on the debate in the House to abolish slavery nearly leaving Lincoln as a mere witness to…