Best Movie Trailers of 2019

I love a good movie trailer. Some people don’t care for them. I, however, like to make sure my ass is in the theater well before the movie starts. The ritual of viewing trailers is just as integral to me as the movie I paid to see.

I like to think of a solid movie trailer as one that sells tone more so than plot; gives you a sense of scale and impact more than company branding or, *deep sigh* another cinematic universe. If it does the job, then I won’t need any word-of-mouth buzz to get me lining up. (I steer well and clear from those obnoxious critic pull-quote trailers.) Whether this is a prelude to my eventual Best Films of the Year list remains to be seen. Nevertheless, these were the trailers of 2019 that worked for me. Continue reading

We Failed Kelly Marie Tran

I get emotional when I think about Rose Tico. I idolize her the way past generations have idolized Luke, Han, Leia – the way Rose herself is astonished to meet Finn. Because after how many movies set in a galaxy far, far away, there she is. There we are, reflected. I didn’t realize how monumental that would feel to me as an Asian-American. Which is why I feel so personally vilified to hear that Kelly Marie Tran has been driven off social media over the unspeakable crime of being in a Star Wars movie.  Continue reading

‘Star Wars’ and the Nature of Expectation

“This is not going to go the way you think.”

There’s a reason this was the money quote for The Last Jedi. The very placement of this film as the middle chapter inevitably invites the comparison to Empire Strikes Back. Writer-director Rian Johnson seems acutely aware of this and it becomes his main storytelling drive to take everything we know about Star Wars and turn it on its head, much to the benefit of the franchise.  Continue reading

Best Films of 2015

2015 was yet another fascinating year for film, which made composing this year-end list that much harder. It hurts to select ten movies; it’s even more agonizing to go about ranking them. For me, it’s a factor of two things: emotion and staying power. Any film can impact you in the moment. But the truly great ones stay with you long after you’ve left the theater. That is how I define great cinema. Here are the most memorable cinematic experiences I had in 2015.

  1. The Big Short the-big-short

Adam McKay’s first foray into drama is as irreverent and wonderfully madcap as any of his feature comedies, but with a much sharper focus. The Big Short isn’t just a scathing indictment of the system, it’s a critique on our own indifference. We got so comfortable in our collective disgust towards Wall Street that we failed to see the doomsday clock ticking right in front of us. We disarmed ourselves by obsessing over YouTube, smartphones, and the next reality TV star. With a bit of irony, McKay pokes fun at our fixation on celebrities by bringing in surprise cameos like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to break the fourth wall and deliver the blood-boiling truth behind the collapse. You can almost feel McKay’s serrated comedy edge cutting into your skin as you’re bellying over with laughter. Christian Bale disappears into yet another dynamic role; Ryan Gosling matches McKay’s satiric bite; and Steve Carrell gives a soulful performance. The Big Short is as entertaining as it is infuriating. You almost forget that these characters profited from the nation’s financial meltdown. Almost.  Continue reading