Wonder Woman 1984

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in a scene from "Wonder Woman 1984." The film isn’t skipping theaters or moving to 2021, but it is altering course. The last big blockbuster holdout of 2020 is still opening in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day but it will also be made available to HBO Max subscribers free of charge for its first month, Warner Bros. said Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros Pictures via AP)

There’s no need to worry about the DC Universe getting too dark for the kids. The studio goes full Super Friends with Wonder Woman 1984. You can’t blame director Patty Jenkins, though. The target audience for WW84 was barely born when 2007’s Spider-Man 3 ended with the main characters having a group therapy session. The folks at Marvel moved away… Continue reading Wonder Woman 1984

Fatale

There are several counts of attempted noir in Fatale, starting with hardboiled narration which the main character soon forgets to keep spouting. That’s okay, though. Fatale is better off heading into new territory, as Michael Ealy’s successful sports agent Derrick runs afoul of a Becky with a badge. (Reviews of Fatale are embargoed suspiciously late, but all the critics should note how Becky… Continue reading Fatale

Half Brothers

There’s half a great comedy to Half Brothers – which remains a bizarre idea for a wide release amidst the Covid Cinema era. An international twist can’t disguise the tired plot of mismatched relations sent on a scavenger hunt by a dying dad. Luis Gerado Méndez stars as sullen Mexican aviation executive Renato, who’s hated America ever… Continue reading Half Brothers

The Climb

A long drought of useful finds from the Sundance Film Festival ends with The Climb. It probably helps that this old-fashioned comedy could have starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The Climb could also make for a fun radio drama, which explains why the movie relies on elaborate tracking shots in nearly every scene. Zach Kuperstein’s cinematography is a helpful contrast… Continue reading The Climb

Freaky

There’s a scary gulf between 2017’s Happy Death Day and the sequel of Happy Death Day 2U – with the high concept of a slasher-fueled remake of Groundhog Day going from fun and innovative to plodding and self-aware. Now director Christopher Landon returns with Freaky as a horrific halfway point between his two earlier creations. This horror comedy was called Freaky Friday the 13th… Continue reading Freaky

Let Him Go

Bizarro Hollywood continues to rule the box-office with Let Him Go as an unlikely major release – finally giving film fans an idea of what a Hallmark movie would look like if it was directed by Rob Zombie. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane star as a retired Montana sheriff and his wife who set out in the… Continue reading Let Him Go

Berlin – Pleasure Victim

The most irritating thing about Pride Month every summer is the people terrified of being mistaken for boring heterosexuals. They get all compulsive about making some bold social media statement without realizing they’re echoing a Margaret Cho joke from way back when she was funny: “Turns out I’m just a slut – where’s my parade?”… Continue reading Berlin – Pleasure Victim

Come Play

Come Play is sort of an unofficial sequel to The Babadook, or maybe the final entry in a trilogy of The Babadook and Lights Out! as expanded short viral horror films, or perhaps just the 746th entry in the Damn, CGI, You Scary franchise that began with Insidious back in 2010. Come Play is also no disappointment as the first decent major-studio creature feature to hit big screens… Continue reading Come Play

Possessor

Brandon Cronenberg’s first feature as a writer/director was a thriller cultivated in a social satire about fans looking to share celebrity viruses – with 2012’s Antiviral adding a twist on body horror that was worthy of his father David’s earliest work. It seemed reasonable to expect some kind of proper comedy as a follow-up. Instead, Possessor is a sci-fi… Continue reading Possessor

The Glorias

There’s a scene early in The Glorias when one Indian woman explains to another woman in India that Gloria Steinem has to travel third class while touring the country because she isn’t a man. The second woman doesn’t reply, “I know, you idiot. I live in India.” Instead, the two women go back to staring in adoration at the brave… Continue reading The Glorias

Alone

Evil gets way too banal in Alone – with Jules Willcox as troubled young Jessica, who’s wisely getting out of Portland and landing in the path of a Pacific Northwest psycho ready to abduct her. Marc Menchaca’s relentless stalker is as threatening as William H. Macy in full nerd mode. He’s not a particularly good serial killer,… Continue reading Alone

I Am Woman

Helen Reddy strides into New York City, 1966, where a giant variation of a sexist ad from 1953 is somehow still prominently featured on a subway wall. It’s the single mother’s first foreshadowing that her supposed recording contract with Mercury Records is about to be terminated by a Male Chauvinist Pig who can’t believe she… Continue reading I Am Woman

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Disney is trying to push old stock in a pandemic with reopened movie theaters showing The Personal History of David Copperfield, which ended up on a shelf after the company purchased Fox Searchlight. You can’t blame the company for having no idea how to handle this disappointing adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel from director… Continue reading The Personal History of David Copperfield

The Pale Door

Major studio releases are finally back in theaters. Horror fans, however, have to struggle with handing over box-office bucks to a movie that comes from the notably cheap Shudder production line. The film certainly opens like some dedicated schlock, with a quote from an Edgar Allan Poe poem that has as much to do with… Continue reading The Pale Door

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula

The last zombie movie to play theaters before the real pandemic started was Block Z. That was a Philippines production set in a medical school, so you could show up in a Times Square multiplex wearing a mask and surgical gloves while looking like you were just doing cosplay. Block Z was a pretty good unofficial sequel to… Continue reading Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula

The Burnt Orange Heresy

There are few things more ignorant than film critics claiming Rashomon is about the relativity of objective truth. Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 drama is about absolute truth – and The Burnt Orange Heresy might be the first movie of the 21st century to properly play around with the same high concept. There’s no unreliable narrator in this story about an art… Continue reading The Burnt Orange Heresy

She Dies Tomorrow

Jane Adams & Josh Lucas in She Dies Tomorow by Amy Seimetz

The critics are raving about She Dies Tomorrow, and it’s fair to say that the film is the third best horror movie to seek out a drive-in audience in 2020 – despite lacking the big metaphor behind the wholesome sci-fi of The Vast of Night, or the slasher antics livening up the touching yuppie angst of The Rental.… Continue reading She Dies Tomorrow

The Secret: Dare to Dream

Well, here’s a movie that’ll make it tough for Katie Holmes to ever mock Tom Cruise’s religion. She stars as widowed Miranda Wells, who’s in debt and overwhelmed by added expenses courtesy of bad teeth and three children. (Miranda’s also stuck with a mother-in-law who disappoints the ungrateful kids by making them Eggs Benedict instead… Continue reading The Secret: Dare to Dream

The Rental

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Anyone bothering to follow box-office receipts this summer has found that COVID-19 has allowed a lot of horror movies to briefly claim the #1 slot from the drive-in circuit. The Rental should be the first of these to deservedly cash in quick. That’s against all odds, too. First-time director Dave Franco isn’t the first hipster to… Continue reading The Rental

Hydra – Hydra/Land of Money/Rock the World

The history of horrible album covers has occasionally provoked some debate. Nobody ever argues with bringing up Mick Jagger’s Primitive Cool, though. You also can’t go wrong with the self-titled debut from Atlanta’s own Hydra. The album looks like the airbrush guy at the van shop got stoned and forgot to check out a library… Continue reading Hydra – Hydra/Land of Money/Rock the World

Irresistible

The first minutes of Irresistible tell us the setting is “Rural America,” followed by “Heartland, USA.” One more intrusive line of text would establish the overkill as a joke. The opening credits might also have noted how the role of Deerlaken, Wisconsin is played by Rockmart, Georgia. Unfortunately, beloved writer/director Jon Stewart never becomes that acidic or… Continue reading Irresistible

Shirley

This image released by Neon shows Elisabeth Moss, left, and Odessa Young in a scene from "Shirley." (Neon via AP) ORG XMIT: NYET627

Fantasy Island didn’t work out as a scary movie, so now it’s time to try Married with Children – except with a tweedy atmosphere that lends a literary twist. That’s how we get Elisabeth Moss as acclaimed horror writer Shirley Jackson, who we meet while she’s exchanging barbed witticisms with her lecherous professor husband. Those are real characters, of… Continue reading Shirley

The Vast of Night

COVID-19 claims its first major cinematic casualty with The Vast of Night – which has been denied what should have been some serious big-screen acclaim as an innovative indie. There aren’t many sci-fi movies that provide a platonic ideal of an outsider romance while seducing the audience into a cruel metaphor. The singularly named Everett (Jake Horowitz)… Continue reading The Vast of Night

Selah and the Spades

(L-R) Celeste O'Connor, Lovie Simone and Jharrel Jerome star in SELAH AND THE SPADES Photo: Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Despite an acclaimed debut at Sundance last year, Selah and the Spades was always set to bypass theaters to premiere on Amazon Prime. That’s a lousy way to treat a high school drama that finally fits into a decent triple bill with 1976’s Massacre at Central High and 1988’s The Chocolate War. This hard-boiled tale of feuding factions… Continue reading Selah and the Spades

Tape

The Assistant was a disaster of a #MeToo movie, but Tape is effective enough to get maligned by critics. Maybe it hits a nerve that Tape plays exactly like the acclaimed ’90s indies that introduced a new generation of starlets to #MeToo moments. (The title sequence perfectly captures that spirit, right down to Leslie Graves’ vocals filling a role… Continue reading Tape

Various Artists – C90

The 1990s was the rare decade that actually started on time – specifically, on April 8, 1990. That was the Sunday when everyone could go to the multiplex to see the latest John Waters comedy and get home in time to watch Matt Groening’s hit sitcom before turning the channel to ABC for a TV-movie… Continue reading Various Artists – C90

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

It might take a while to realize that Never Rarely Sometimes Always isn’t a period piece – which is exactly the point, since underage teens in Pennsylvania can no longer get abortions there without parental consent, so 17-year-old Autumn has to travel to Manhattan with her supportive cousin and struggle to find shelter for a few days before terminating… Continue reading Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Resistance

The new wave of Coronavirus Cinema begins with Resistance, which would have benefited from a quick trip to the editing room to get turned into a home-schooling family film about the horrors of WWII. Instead, we get this miserable Nazisploitation as put together by writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz – who’s somehow found acclaim as a cinematic… Continue reading Resistance