Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Carmen – Movie Review


  • Director: Valerie Buhagiar
  • Writer: Valerie Buhagiar
  • Starring: Natascha McElhone, Steven Love, Michaela Farrugia

Grade: B

When we’re first introduced to Carmen, the titular heroine of writer/director Valerie Buhagiar’s film, she seems to be in the throes of a comfortable life. She’s the sister of her Maltese town’s Catholic priest and, despite the fact that nobody in town likes or respects her, she’s mostly content. She’s live with him in the parish’s rectory since she was 16, and she considers her role as his care-taker her own full-time job. Naturally Carmen is a woman of strong religious conviction, so when her brother suddenly and unexpectedly dies, leaving her essentially homeless, she begins to question exactly how big a role her faith should have in her life going forward.

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Blonde – Movie Review


  • Director: Andrew Dominik
  • Writer: Andrew Dominik
  • Starring: Ana de Armas, Bobby Cannavale, Adrien Brody, Julianne Nicholson, Evan Williams, Xavier Sameuls

Grade: C-

Has any Hollywood star loomed larger over pop culture since their discovery, and lingered even longer after their death, than Marilyn Monroe? Whether directly or indirectly, the blonde bombshell has appeared in too many biopics and fictionalizations to count in this column since her untimely death. Her life is the stuff of legend, and her tragic exploitation at the hands of virtually everyone that she trusted is well known by now. So what could be gained by making a new account of her life, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of the same name?

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Luck – Movie Review


  • Director: Peggy Holmes
  • Writer: Kiel Murray
  • Starring: Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, Flula Borg

Grade: D+

The animation world has long been searching for someone to challenge Disney and Pixar – and, to a lesser extent, Dreamworks – as the de facto animation studio that kids and adults rely on. Sony Animation has been successful occasionally with Into the Spider-Verse and Mitchells vs. the Machines, and Netflix has been known to put together some interesting titles like I Lost My Body and The Sea Beast. Now entering the ring with its first animated feature film is Skydance, a subsidiary of the studio that co-produced mostly action films like World War Z, The Tomorrow War, and Top Gun: Maverick. Skydance’s animation division had already gotten off to a rocky start thanks to its hiring of John Lasseter as Head of Animation after his forced exit from Pixar, and Luck, which lists Lasseter as a producer, won’t do the studio many favors.

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Nope – Movie Review


  • Director: Jordan Peele
  • Writers: Jordan Peele
  • Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Michael Wilcott, Keith David

Grade: B+

In just three feature films as a director, Jordan Peele has enjoyed a noticeable upgrade in virtually every aspect of his production scale. His reputation as an exciting auteur of genre filmmaking has similarly skyrocketed. Get Out was a left-field cultural smash that garnered critical and popular attention and won Peele an Oscar for its screenplay. 2019’s Us received similar praise but steered more sharply into its horror trappings while still making a unique statement on class. Now comes Nope, a sci-fi/horror blend that manages to have a lot on its mind but never manages to bring it all together cohesively.

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The Gray Man – Movie Review

The Gray Man

  • Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo
  • Writers: Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
  • Starring: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Henwick, Regé-Jean Page, Julia Butters, Alfre Woodard

Grade: C

You know your movie is in trouble when the behind-the-scenes happenings are more intriguing than what’s put forth on the screen. Such is the case with Joe and Anthony Russo’s newest action blockbuster The Gray Man. The film represents Netflix’s biggest production ever, a $200 million franchise starter that’s based on Mark Greaney’s book of the same name. And with A-list stars like Ryan Gosling (making his first on-screen appearance since 2018), Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas on board, the streamer is hoping for a big return on its investment.

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The Sea Beast – Movie Review

The Sea Beast

  • Director: Chris Williams
  • Writers: Chris Williams, Nell Benjamin
  • Starring: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jared Harris, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dan Stevens, Kathy Burke

Grade: B+

Netflix’s quest to win the Academy Award for Best Picture has been a well-documented pursuit in recent years. With The Sea Beast, they perhaps have their best chance at winning the Best Animated Feature. The streamer’s newest animated film arrives on Friday and, while it’s likely to be swallowed up by their bigger, more palatable films, it deserves a spot at the table as one of the best animated films of the year.

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Marcel the Shell With Shoes On – Movie Review

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

  • Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp
  • Writers: Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny Slate, Nick Paley
  • Starring: Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer-Camp

Grade: A-

More often than not, I’m alone when I go to the theater. Sometimes I even have the theater to myself, which is what I secretly hope for whenever the lights go down and nobody else has entered. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with the sensation; freedom to laugh loudly at all the stupid jokes, freedom to squirm at an uncomfortable development, or freedom to simply stretch myself out. But at my screening of Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, there wasn’t an empty seat to be found, and somehow the experience made the film all the more potent. Because when you’re watching a film that’s all about finding friendship amongst the vast loneliness of the world, being surrounded by a room full of strangers (and right next to my wide-eyed 7-year old) is oddly cathartic.

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Top Gun: Maverick – Movie Review

Top Gun: Maverick

  • Director: Joseph Kosinski
  • Writers: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Ed Harris

Grade: B+

Top Gun became a bit of a peculiar pop culture oddity after it premiered in 1986, and hardly because of the film’s quality (or lack thereof). Tom Cruise would become an even bigger movie star, the volleyball scene became iconic in its own way, a symbol of the queer-coded subtext of the film writ-large, and its theme song outlived any semblance of the movie’s plot. The Navy even saw enrollment jump in the years after its release. Not to mention it was the namesake of a pretty amazing roller coaster at King’s Island in Cincinnati, which I rode to death in my adolescence.

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Senior Year – Movie Review

Senior Year

  • Director: Alex Hardcastle
  • Writers: Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli and Brandon Scott Jones
  • Starring: Rebel Wilson, Mary Holland, Sam Richardson, Zoe Chao, Angourie Rice, Jade Bender, Chris Parnell, Alicia Silverstone

Grade: C

There are two ways to play Senior Year, a comedy about a cheerleader who slips into a coma before her senior prom for 20 years and wants to pick back up where she left off. One is the bonkers 21 Jump Street way in which everything is heightened and anything can happen, sending up the same genre it’s clearly pulling from. The other method is to use the insane setup as a way to explore a character who had the best years of their lives taken from them, in a saccharine, rom-com way. Consider it a coming-of-age comedy in which the central character has technically already come of age. Unfortunately for first-time director Alex Hardcastle, he never fully commits to either type of film. 

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Pleasure- Movie Review


  • Director: Ninja Thyberg
  • Writers: Ninja Thyberg, Peter Modestij
  • Starring: Sofia Kappel, Zelda Morrison, Evelyn Claire, Chris Cook, Dana DeArmond, Mark Spiegler

Grade: B

Perspective is an important, understated tool when creating a film. In Ninja Thyberg’s directorial debut, she wields it like a knife. Specifically, Thyberg shows the ins and outs (no pun intended) of the porn industry from a newcomer trying to reach the top of the world. But Pleasure is more than a retread of Boogie Nights (more on that in a minute) with a female protagonist. The film is an unflinching look at the modern porn industry and the deeply rooted misogyny inherent in how it’s run. Of course, the film wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the committed performance of its lead, Sofia Kappel.

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