I have been a film critic for nearly 20 years and worked professionally, as a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association for the past 9 years. My favorite movie of all time is The Big Lebowski because it always feels new.
I cannot decide which is the more difficult type of review: positive without fawning, negative without being mean-spirited or ambivalent. The last type of review is where I find myself with the new movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:; utter and complete ambivalence. There is much to admire about the latest from director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, among others) but there is also plenty of empty, sci-fi spectacle.
The Big Sick broke my heart into a million little pieces and slowly pieced it back together throughout its gentle, sweet and very, very funny 120 minutes. Featuring an unconventional but brilliant lead performer, a radiant love interest and two of the best possible supporting players anyone could ask for, The Big Sick is, thus far, the best movie of 2017.
As RoboCop turns 30 years old this month it’s as good a time as any to look back on the career of director Paul Verhoeven and examine his unique oeuvre. Verhoeven’s career is marked by overreaching his talent. It is marked by attempting to deliver great, thoughtful work that comments on humanity via characters and storytelling and then settling for titillation of the lowest common denominator kind. To put it metaphorically, throughout Verhoeven’s career he’s become known for using a chainsaw when he should be using a scalpel.
In nearly 20 years as a film critic, I have seen more than my share of terrible movies. I have seen The Room without the Rifftrax commentary track. I sat all the way through The Happening with my mind reeling at the incompetence of M. Night shyamalan’s most incomprehensible work. And I have seen all the Transformers movies which should qualify me for some sort of movie critic combat pay. But in nearly 20 years I can genuinely say I have never seen anything quite like Blind.
Oh, how I hate The House! This one note joke of a comedy about morons trying to send their daughter to an upscale college is an embarrassing and sad mess. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler star in The House as a married couple about to empty their nest when they send their daughter off to Bucknell University. However, when they lose out on their daughter’s scholarship due to a scheme by a corrupt city council member (Nick Kroll) they are forced into criminal behavior to make their daughter’s college dream come true.
This weekend a minor 80’s gem turns 30 years old with little fanfare but plenty of positive memories, especially for young girls. Adventures in Babysitting is a lovely little 80’s nostalgia piece that, though some of its unintended politics haven’t aged well, the film’s silly little heart was always in the right place and that’s more than can be said about most 80’s teen comedies.
Despicable Me 3 is so wildly mediocre, so achingly adequate, and so puzzlingly prosaic, I can barely bring myself to write about it. In all honesty, I have spent more research time for this review googling synonyms for mediocre than I have considering anything related to the production of Despicable Me 3. The latest bit of barely above average animation from the company Illumination is so very much just OK that just trying to find the energy to type words about it is taxing.
Okja is a movie that defies simple description. On the surface, the film resembles a kiddie flick with a friendly monster and a little girl on an adventure to overcome a group of simple-minded adults trying to split them apart or exploit them. The surface of Okja does not do the film justice. Okja is truly one of the most daring and original films of 2017 from one of the master directors of our time, the brilliant Bong Joon-ho.