Writer/Director Riley Stearns really made a real splash with the criminally underrated and underseen 2019 black-comedy, "The Art of Self-Defense" (read my review of that film here). He follows it up with "Dual," another film that exists in the same darkly comedic vein that his previous work did, but this one doesn't quite resonate nearly as much.
"Dual" is a film that introduces a very compelling concept, but veers well off course. By the time it tries to right the ship, it's too far gone for us to care.
The pandemic had much more of an impact on the movie industry than just at the box office. You can sort of tell the kind of film that was made during lockdown: Small, character-driven dramas or thrillers that utilize very few locations and minimal casts.
This weekend there is an example of how to accomplish this effectively (see "The Outfit"), and how difficult it can be. With "Windfall" (on Netflix Friday 3/18), we're happy that the cast and crew got out there and made a movie, but the result is a banal so-called "thriller" that's so minimal you'll nearly forget it's even there.
"Deep Water" might be remembered - if at all - for being the movie that started an off-screen romance between its two stars, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. There must have been real chemistry between the two, but you'd never know it by watching "Deep Water," a cold plunge into shallow erotic thriller territory, by a director who has been kept on ice for nearly two decades.
If you saw Netflix's recent "The Tinder Swindler" and thought it was unsettling, then just wait until you get a load of "Fresh." This sharp, witty and downright shocking horror-comedy caused jaws to drop when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2022, and now all of us can share in the exasperation as it lands on Hulu this Friday.
I am tempted to just create a "Liam Neeson Movie" review template, where I could save my self time and trouble by simply inserting Liam's character name, occupation and co-stars into the review.
This Academy Award nominated actor seems completely content to fill his current schedule with one throw-away action flick after another. "Cold Pursuit." "The Commuter." "Honest Thief." "The Marksman." "The Ice Road." And now "Blacklight." All of them trying to recreate the success of Neeson's 2008 film "Taken," but none of them sticking the landing.
Apparently there is still a market for action thrillers starring a nearly 70-year-old man, and if any of these other aforementioned movies were up your alley, then most likely you'll also approve of "Blacklight."
Pre-text: I'm a big fan of the "Scream" franchise...heck, who isn't? The series, with all four previous installment having been directed by the late, legendary horror master, Wes Craven, began in 1996, and not only poked fun at the slasher-horror genre, but transcended it. It was fresh, new and different. Moreover, it was loads of fun.
The original film's success brought about a renaissance of sorts for horror movies, and was followed by "Scream 2" the following year, "Scream 3" in 2000 and "Scream 4" back in 2011. In my review of "Scream 4," I had wrote:
"11 years later for 'Scream 4' seems like the right timing for Scream to return with something worthy of shouting about. With the same sense of style and personality, I could see another Scream movie coming out maybe every 5 to 10 years, to give wry commentary on the state of the genre."
Well at least they got the timing right...then new film, called simply "Scream" and not "Scream 5" as it probably should be, lacks that familiar style and personality that made the others so sharp (pun intended). In a series where the killer is always a copycat, for the first time, this chapter is more "wanna-be" than it is "wants-to-be-good."
In spirit, we need more female-led action films, but "The 355" is not worthy of the all-star cast of women it has assembled.
Following up his 2017 Best Picture winner "The Shape of Water," director Guillermo del Toro adapts "Nightmare Alley," a 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham. It's a seemingly natural fit for the director who loves to deconstruct the concept of what makes someone (or something) a "monster," so it's no surprise really that this would be a premise that is right up his...alley.
Writer/Director/Actor Jim Cummings is one of the more delightfully unique voices emerging in Hollywood. If you haven't seen or heard of his previous films, "Thunder Road" and "The Wolf of Snow Hollow," you're not alone, but do yourself a favor and seek them out.
In "The Beta Test" - co-written, co-directed and co-starring his real-life buddy PJ McCabe - his third independent film is his most biting...a delicious slice of entertainment and intrigue that satisfies as much as it unsettles.
Talk about a sight for sore eyes. "No Time to Die" - the 25th overall James Bond film and the fifth (and final) one starring Daniel Craig as 007, was originally slated for theatrical release nearly two years ago, back in November of 2019. It was delayed into February of 2020 and then into April...and on and on, finally landing in theaters this weekend.
The film was delayed for so long, that some of the in-movie product placements had to be updated...you can't have Bond traipsing along using outdated tech, can you? But now that it's finally here, we're reminded of the charm and the allure of this character, that has persevered for nearly 60 years on the big-screen. He's a timeless hero, tweaked for the times.
"No Time to Die" has an epic feel to it, with some stellar action sequences, gadgets and thrills like we've come to expect from the franchise. It has its shortcomings for sure, but by and large, this is a Bond film that was worth the wait.
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