Category Archives: Movie Reviews and Features

Suspiria

Suspiria

Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece “Suspiria” was a poetic bloodbath ahead of its time. Now, director Luco Guadagnino (“Call Me by Your Name”) brings us what he’s calling a cover of the original film — his own take on the story “an American girl joins a renowned dance company only to discover that it’s run by witches.” The character names are often similar or the same, as is much of the mythology underlying the tale, but so much is different that it’s hard to call this a remake. Hardcore fans of Argento’s film will need to set aside their detail-oriented love of the original to enjoy this homage.

Halloween

Halloween

Directed by: David Gordon Green Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton Rated: R for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity John Carpenter’s 1978 film “Halloween” is a horror classic. The sequels since then have a borderline-incoherent timeline, with multiple reboots and skips over inconvenient events of previous films. The new “Halloween” does this as well, explicitly denying material from “Halloween II” and cementing its lineage as a direct sequel to the original movie. It avoids the ridiculous twists of previous films and focuses instead on elements like the trauma survivors deal with for the rest of their lives. It’s been 40 years since Michael (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) rampaged through his hometown killing babysitters on Halloween. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) narrowly escaped him then, and has been obsessed with preparing for Michael’s eventual escape ever since.

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Venom

Venom

Venom is one of the more popular Spider-Man villains, so him getting his own movie isn’t surprising. Unfortunately, “Venom” can’t decide what kind of a movie it is, and never really comes together as a fun ride or a gritty exploration of body horror and coming to terms with the monster within. Venom fans and Tom Hardy fans will want to see this, but everyone else will probably be unimpressed.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls

The House With a Clock in Its Walls

As a director, Eli Roth is best known for his shock and gore pictures: “Inglourious Basterds,” “Hostel,” “Cabin Fever,” and so on. It’s kind of strange to see him at the helm of a family fantasy movie, but he nails it in a way that makes one curious to see him branch out further. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is definitely a creepy-scary film, but it’s aimed at families, so it’s more gross-out rather than freak-out.

The Nun

The Nun

Directed by: Corin Hardy
Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons
Rated: R for terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images

As horror movies go, “The Nun” doesn’t break much new ground aside from being yet another prequel spinoff of the successful “Conjuring” franchise. It brings everything you’d expect: there’s a decaying castle, a demonic nun, a priest haunted by his past, and a beautiful young novitiate (a nun who hasn’t taken her vows yet). While it’s not exactly groundbreaking, “The Nun” is a mostly-solid horror movie. It stands alone for folks who haven’t seen the rest of the films, and gives fans the backstory of the demon Valak from “The Conjuring 2.”

Kin

Kin

Written and Directed by: Jonathan and Josh Baker (adapted from their short film)
Starring: Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Dennis Quaid
Rated: PG-13 for gun violence and intense action, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and drinking

“Kin” opened without much fanfare, and no surprise – it’s the feature film debut of not only its star (Myles Truitt), but its writer-director team, Jonathan and Josh Baker as well. The product of these newcomers’ work is good, though, especially considering that they’re new to cineplex screens. This is a competent, solid film with a few things to say and a driving, focused plot.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong,
Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive content and language

“Crazy Rich Asians” is a pretty straightforward duck-out-of-water romantic drama. What sets it apart is its entirely-Asian cast. While sharp-eyed folks will note that the cast is all on the pale end of Asian, this is still a groundbreaking film. Every lead actor is Asian, as are the secondary characters and most of the extras. No more excuses when Hollywood casts yet another white person in an Asian role – here are a bunch of Asian actors to choose from with leading-role-experience. On top of all that, it’s a fun, sweet movie.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Hasan Minhaj, Gillian Anderson, Ivanna Sakhno
Rated: R for violence, language throughout, some crude sexual material and graphic nudity

Summer is winding down, but we’re still getting fun summery movies to enjoy before horror movie season gets into full swing. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” is a strange collage of poop jokes, spy-movie satire, and female friendship celebration. It doesn’t always gel perfectly, but it’s still a lot of fun – as long as you don’t mind crude humor.

Skyscraper

Skyscraper

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Roland Moller, Byron Mann, Chin Han, Hannah Quinlivan
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action and for brief strong language

Movies Starring Dwayne Johnson almost always have a few things in common: action, humor, and at least a little ridiculousness in the service of entertainment. They generally are not subtle or full of nuanced character development. “Skyscraper” fits the pattern. The only character development is the villains realizing how badly they’ve underestimated our hero and his family. If you like this kind of movie and don’t have a bad fear of heights, this is a great way to spend a couple hours in air conditioning.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
Rated: PG – 13 for some sci – fi action violence

“Ant-Man and The Wasp” is a juggling act. It somehow manages to keep a bunch of subplots, multiple character motivations, and a rather unusual MacGuffin in the air all at once. How well it succeeds at being entertaining depends a lot on how willing you are to keep up with the twists and turns – or your willingness to just let the fun carry you along like a bubble on a stream.