Tag Archives: movie review

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

Pleasure

  • 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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Happening – Movie Review

Happening

  • Director: Audrey Diwan
  • Writers: Audrey Diwan, Marcia Romano and Anne Berest
  • Starring: Anamaria Vartolomei, Sandrine Bonnaire, Kacey Mottet Klein, Luana Bajrami

Grade: B+

A film about a woman’s search for an abortion could easily feel like a heavy-handed attempt at political relevance, but that is not what Happening is about. Rather, director Audrey Diwan’s sophomore directorial feature grounds its drama in its lead character’s dilemma. It’s no secret that reproductive rights have been a hot-button issue in America for decades, even after the passing of Roe v. Wade – ironically, I screened this film the night before the draft opinion was leaked that would essentially overturn the landmark case. That the film takes place in France in 1963 and still feels as prescient is no small feat.

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Dual – Movie Review

Dual

  • Director: Riley Stearns
  • Writers: Riley Stearns
  • Starring: Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, Beulah Koale, Theo James

Grade: B-

In just a handful of feature films as a writer and director, Riley Stearns has firmly established himself as a connoisseur of dark, deadpan humor. But he uses this style of comedy to effectively explore surprisingly complex themes. 2019’s The Art of Self-Defense used its humor as a way to explore toxic masculinity and the ways it permeates our culture. Dual scratches the surface of bigger ideas, but is less successful in its execution. Stearns is unquestionably a unique voice in the independent film landscape today though, which earns Dual a certain amount of brownie points.

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All the Old Knives – Movie Review

All the Old Knives

  • Director: Janus Metz Pederson
  • Writers: Olen Steinhauer
  • Starring: Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Pryce

Grade: C-

Officially speaking, we’re out of the first quarter of the year of our Lord 2022. But All the Old Knives may as well have been released in the first quarter, when studios traditionally dump all their projects in which they have zero faith to make any lasting impact. This effect is exacerbated when a movie premiere on streaming services, when they can be buried amongst the platform’s endless library, which makes it harder for any film that’s barely promoted beyond an obligatory banner ad to make any lasting impact. Not that the film does itself any favors though, as it’s the kind of lazy genre exercise that barely justifies its existence.

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Deep Water – Movie Review

Deep Water

  • Director: Adrian Lyne
  • Writers: Zach Helm, Sam Levinson
  • Starring: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Finn Witrock, Rachel Blanchard

Grade: B-

On the surface, Vic and Melinda live a carefree, exuberant lifestyle. He retired early after developing and selling microchip technology which is now used for drone warfare. His days mostly consist of riding his bike around town, tending to his snail collection, and spending time with their daughter. As for Melinda, we’ll get to that shortly. They live in an upper-class mansion and attend formal catered dinner parties with their friends, seemingly on a weekly basis. But look closer, and their life together is far from ideal. In fact, most of their friends openly acknowledge how troubling their public life has become, voicing their concerns to Vic whenever possible.

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Fresh – Movie Review

Fresh

  • Director: Mimi Cave
  • Writer: Lauryn Kahn
  • Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan

Grade: B

Take one part horror film, one part revenge thriller, a heavy dose of post-MeToo commentary, and a good helping of chemistry between two likable actors, and you have the perfect distillation of Fresh. First-time director Mimi Cave, working from a script by Lauryn Kahn, displays a nice confidence in the material, but lacks the discipline in a few key areas to make the film truly memorable. Nevertheless, Cave populates the film with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, two capable, charming actors as the leads, which goes a long way to making Fresh an enjoyable ride overall.

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After Yang – Movie Review

After Yang

  • Director: Kogonada
  • Writer: Kogonada
  • Starring: Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Sarita Choudhury

Grade: A-

Kogonada’s sophomore feature further establishes the writer and director as a unique voice amongst new filmmakers. His 2017 debut, Columbus, explored how beauty can be found amongst the mundane, and After Yang contains similarly profound ideas. Specifically, the film is about preserving the memories of those we love after they’re gone. What will we remember about them? And what will they remember of us?

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