‘Knives Out’ – A Satisfying Whodunnit, A Better Social Satire

To be frank, Rian Johnson feels overqualified for the whodunnit. Known for his subversive-style storytelling, Johnson has a knack for one-upping the genres he’s operating in: Brick, a high school thriller wearing a hardboiled fedora & trench coat; Looper, a time-travel movie more invested in drama than sci-fi; and The Last Jedi, an age-old good vs. evil blockbuster that transcends Chosen One tropes. With Knives Out, Johnson is back in detective mode, but the genre can’t contain his ideas or idiosyncrasies. Knives Out is flesh and blood a murder mystery, but the real hat-trick is that it’s simultaneously a satire that slyly carves its way into the beating political heart of America. Continue reading

‘Crawl’: Draining the Superhero Swamp

January and February are typically months spent catching up on all the movies I’ve missed in the last year. Though I may write and tweet insufferably endlessly about film, I will forever be late to the hype train. Because for each one movie I obsess over, there are 10 others passing below my radar. I recently went HAM on all the sweet Blu-ray deals I could find for myself (as a treat). Among the score was Crawl, a creature-feature & underrated B-movie gem that I sadly skipped in 2019. I wish I hadn’t because holy shit does this movie rule. Continue reading

The Rise of Skywalker and the Limits of J.J. Abrams

For as long as I’ve known him as a moviegoer, J.J. Abrams has done the impossible. He made me a fan of franchises like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. That may sound hyperbolic considering De Palma’s Mission: Impossible is as iconic as its centerpiece CIA heist sequence, and that Star Trek is as immediately recognizable in geek iconography as the mere parting of your fingers. But I was never a fan of either until Abrams put his stamp on both properties.

J.J. Abrams became THE go-to guy to resuscitate any dormant film franchise, and he’s since gone on to shape the modern blockbuster as we know it like a valiant successor to Spielberg. As a result, Hollywood has entrusted him with the reins of not one but two of its most sacred franchises in Star Trek and Star Wars. Needless to say, it’s been very easy to hop on the J.J. Abrams train. Continue reading

JOKER: A Black Hole Comedy to Ruffle the Masses

The most disturbing moment in Joker for me by far, is the scene that follows the subway murders. Arthur locks himself in a public bathroom, looks at both himself and what he’s done in the mirror then starts to… dance. Violence brings Arthur such unspeakable power (perhaps even joy) and the only way he can express that release of emotion is by waltzing with himself like one would in, say, a vaudeville musical. It’s a disturbing portrait of nihilism, narcissism, and psychopathy that I couldn’t stomach. Continue reading

Dave Chappelle’s ‘Sticks & Stones’ Won’t Break Bones, Or Any New Ground Either

Few comedians are as enduring or headline-worthy as Dave Chappelle. Many can nab themselves TV or movie deals thus prolonging their shelf-life i.e. Kevin Hart, Kumail Nanjiani, Michelle Wolf, Bo Burnham. But the return to the mic isn’t always seamless i.e. Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Daniel Tosh (and, depending on who you ask, Ricky Gervais). Dave Chappelle is the rare comedian who came back with a renewed comic lens and a welcome socio-political incisiveness that made his return such a sigh of relief. But if his last two standups Age of Spin and Equanimity suggested a pseudo-renaissance, then Sticks & Stones is an unfortunate stumbling block that otherwise slows the breakneck pace of his resurgence. Continue reading