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Friday, May 29, 2020

[6.50/10] The Banker (2020)

The Banker (2020)
  
Quick Review: The approach on this biopic is a little safe and by-the- numbers, but the fact-based story about a very ambitious young black businessman's breakthrough in real estate in mid 1950s L.A. is still eye-opening in terms of racial inequality and prejudice, that's simple enough to follow, gripping enough to enjoy, and inspiring, but the movie's main strength is the terrific acting by the leads, with the slick cinematography adding a truly authentic vintage vibe coming in second place.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

[5.00/10] Awoken (2020)

Awoken (2020)

Quick Review: This exorcism indie horror gets an A for effort, as it puts a fresh spin on demonic possession through exploring insomnia, it's also adequately-shot, and led by a pretty spot-on performance by Sara West, but despite that, the morbid setting it takes place in, and some rather ominous old school footage it uses with chilling effect, "Awoken" never manages to be properly frightening, as it relies on jump scares, instead of examining the evil spirit in deeper, more revealing details.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

[5.50/10] The Lovebirds (2020)

The Lovebirds (2020)

Quick Review: Nanjiani & Rae are a likable pair, and they are both fun to watch in a way, even if the humor is either crude, uninspired, or simply not funny enough to evoke laughs, and though it moves along at a brisk pace, throwing the freaked couple in one batty situation after another in a 'we will deal with this mess together' scenario, devoid of rom-com tropes, "The Lovebirds" ends up being an amusing, but never hilarious attempt at crime romance that has the looks of a dime TV production.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

[6.25/10] The Photograph (2020)

The Photograph (2020)

Quick Review: Telling not one, but two love stories -- on from the past, and one in the present -- neither of which corny or sugar-coated, "The Photograph" is a tender, sensual, and heartfelt ode to love filled with variety of emotions that digs deeper than your usual romance affair, and although the slow pacing and back-and-forth plot structure let it down a bit, the movie makes up with smooth visual stylishness, sexy score of jazz and funk, and undisputed chemistry between the lead couple.

[5.50/10] Greed (2020)

Greed (2020)

Quick Review: Going back-n-forth in hectic fashion to tell the busy life story of its protagonist, yet with little depth, this uneven and flimsy biopic plays it like a satire on the lifestyle of the rich, but it lacks the wit and brains to provide real substance or convey its message on exploitation, however, the vigorous style keeps "Greed" reasonably entertaining, as well as Coogan convincing turn as the arrogant prick McCreadie, even if the multile minor characters steal a lot of his screen time.

Friday, May 22, 2020

[7.25/10] 18 Presents (2020)

18 Presents (2020)

Quick Review: Putting an original, slick and stirring spin on time travel, this Italian sci-fi family drama about a pregnant woman dying of cancer meeting with her teen child from the future in a parallel universe sounds absurd on paper, but "18 Presents" turns out to be an emotional roller- coaster of a tearjerker, featuring a rousing, heartwarming and poignant mom-daughter relationship, in which both characters grow and change in surprising ways, thanks to the clever script and hearty acting.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

[6.50/10] The Half of It (2020)

The Half of It (2020)

Quick Review: More a coming-of- age story than corny teen romance, "The Half of It" is a sweet, genuine, and endearing dramedy about first love, deception, friendship and true affection that also honors talent for writing, and even music, and though you know how things will turn out at the end, Lewis' sincere performance as the smart and gifted misfit Ellie, and the emotional complexity of the 'love triangle' situation help this one to deliver its 'be yourself and never pretend' moral message.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

[5.00/10] Scoob! (2020)

Scoob! (2020)

Quick Review: Not only this CGIed version lacks the quirky charms of the cartoon and fails to embody firm bond between Scooby and Shaggy, but apart from some vigor, and an 'okay' villain with cute robo-helpers, "Scoob!" is flimsy attempt at reviving the franchise, suffering from a busy origin story that is too cluttered for adults to enjoy, and too convoluted for kids to comprehend, not to sat the plain, clumsily-executed, rather bad-looking animation doesn't make it very appealing, either.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

[11/10] Shi mian mai fu a.k.a. House of Flying Daggers (2004) – [16th Anniversary Re-Review]

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Quick Review: Ingeniously-crafted and splendid to behold, "HoFD" is a stirring wuxia love story with a twist, driven by Ziyi's 'blind' devotion, that strikes with its divine beauty, due to the ravishing imagery saturated with contrasting mellow and vivid colors, picturesque locations, opulent sets rich in detail, and stupendous action stylized through innovative 'weapon tracing' shots, with the 'echo dance' scene and the 'bamboo forest' fight being truly jaw-dropping.

Monday, May 18, 2020

[11/10] Wo hu cang long a.k.a. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – [20th Anniversary Re-Review]

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Quick Review: Captivating with its splendorously refined and imposing visuals, this ethereal, often magical tale of love, honor, desire, revenge, and swordsmanship, with a touch of tender romance, ruled by Ziyi's tour- de-force turn, sets the bar for wuxia genre by virtue of Lee's immaculate direction, whose key strength is the kinetic duels and kung fu combats, masterfully-choreographed by Woo- Ping, and gracefully elevated by the gravity-defying wirework.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

[5.00/10] Possessor (2020)

Possessor (2020)

Quick Review: High on concept, but lacking in execution, this numb, bizarre, moody, and soulless, sci-fi horror has a very intriguing premise, but "Possessor" tries too hard to be 'clever', but ends up so pretentious instead, as it's too slow-paced and muddled to sustain interest, it goes in no clear direction, leaving many questions unanswered, and fails to provide a satisfactory payoff at the end, plus, apart from all the gore and excessive violence, it has zero shock value whatsoever.

Friday, May 15, 2020

[7.00/10] Samurai Marathon (2020)

Samurai Marathon (2020)

Quick Review: It wouldn't be a true samurai flick if it hadn't sword duels, cut heads, and blood platter, which it delivers, but the best thing about "Samurai Marathon" is its atypical, refreshing, often quirky approach at telling an otherwise simple 'healthy run gone wrong' plot that goes from breezy to tense and tragic towards the end, helped by a few intriguing side stories, with the pretty interiors and exteriors, lush scenery and slick photography being as key stars as the A-list Japanese cast.

[5.75/10] True History of the Kelly Gang (2020)

True History of the Kelly Gang (2020)

Quick Review: Basically, it has it all to be an accomplished fictionalized western: a great cast with two stellar cameos by Crowe and Hunnam, a stylishly bleak cinematography that captures the grittiness, barrenness of the era, and a finely-written script following the life of Ned Kelly strictly as a legend, but this overlong biopic also suffers from being uneven due to pacing issues, besides, it's barely intense or thrilling, despite all of the crazy violence it features.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

[4.75/10] The Wrong Missy (2020)

The Wrong Missy (2020)

Quick Review: Introducing one of the most annoying, loud, and over- the-top characters, "Wrong Missy" a contrived, super-goofy rom-com with moronic humor and awkward laughs that's often painful to watch, due to Missy's 'creepy' facial expressions, utterly irritating laughter, and high- pitched voice, as well as the tons of embarrassing situations she gets in, but unlike her 'meh' co-star Spade, at least Lapkus seems involved in her role, becoming kinda likable in the 'emotional' third act.

[5.75/10] To the Stars (2020)

To the Stars (2020)

Quick Review: Though, in its core this is a story about true friendship between a misfit and a new girl, both from dysfunctional families and both with their adolescence issues, "To the Stars" explores themes such as sexuality, homophobia and bias, set in 60s Oklahoma, which is recreated with nice retro vibe and washed out colors, but the movie unfolds in an unsatisfying manner, ending up grim and rather bleak, and not even the gripping characters and good acting can make up for this flaw.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

[4.00/10] Capone (2020)

Capone (2020)

Quick Review: It's finely-shot, and the always superb Tom Hardy turns in an intimidating, chilling and eerie portrayal as the mentally, physically, and financially broke Al, but script- wise, this is a galling, revolting, and often mortifying depiction of Fonse's final year, in which you can see him peeing and pooping his pants, then smoking a carrot instead of a cigar, and wearing a dipper, which comes across more as grotesque, shaming and needless than shocking, not to say it's a dull, muddled and sluggish biopic devoid of tension.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

[5.25/10] Dangerous Lies (2020)

Dangerous Lies (2020)

Quick Review: Every bit as cheesy and generic as its title suggests, yet occasionally watchable and hardly boring, "Dangerous Lies" is way too contrived and filled with nonsensical situations often verging on absurd, and has a real sympathetic, if barely clever protagonist with no common sense, who makes poor decisions, but this mystery-lacking thriller really gets from bad to worse towards the end, after a series of cheap twists that inevitably make the whole thing even more preposterous.

Monday, May 11, 2020

[6.00/10] Valley Girl (2020)

Valley Girl (2020)

Quick Review: Cheesy, breezy and cheery in its first half, packed with foot-tapping '80s tracks that lift the mood and colorfully vibrant visuals that please the eye, if melodramatic in its second, love story-driven one, "Valley Girl" is delightfully nostalgic throwback at the era with vivid retro vibe, a charming on-screen pair who share sparkly chemistry, and some joyous musical numbers, but in the end, it's nothing more than a simply enjoyable romantic teen musical, led by an alluring character.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

[3.50/10] Z (2020)

Z (2020)

Quick Review: Taking on the tired and very common 'imaginary friend' subject, this low-grade, if well-acted, horror hardly brings anything new to the table, relying on weary cliches, and though "Z" throws a curveball midway through, attempting to head in a different direction, the twist itself is far from convincing and does not help the story to evolve, delivering one cheap boo scare after another and a few random, rather pointless deaths scenes, with Z himself being a poorly-crafted CGI creature that's more cheesy than eerie.

Friday, May 8, 2020

[5.50/10] Inheritance (2020)

Inheritance (2020)

Quick Review: Thoroughly absurd, verging on ridiculous, if entertaining to a fault, "Inheritance" kicks off in a frenetic fashion, but after revealing the 'shocking secret', its slows up its pace and switches to mystery mode, and though the puzzling plot is often intriguing, due to a bunch of twists along the way, every single bit about this captive thriller is so far-fetched, even Collins and Pegg struggle to portray their characters convincingly which makes the whole affair more comical than disturbing.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

[2.75/10] Dreamkatcher (2020)

Dreamkatcher (2020) 

Quick Review: Derivative, tedious, sluggish, trite, and containing pretty much every 'ghost story' trope you'd think of, "Dreamkatcher" is a poorly- executed supernatural gimmick that miserably fails in both - [k]atching your attention due to an uninspired, dragged out and been-there-done- that plot-line, and releasing any sort of scares, as it entirely lacks such, with Mitchell's solid acting being the only positive thing in this snoozefest which on top of it ends abruptly after 85 tiringly long minutes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

[5.00/10] The Wretched (2020)

The Wretched (2020)

Quick Review: After an intriguing opening, this mystical horror dealing with an ancient forest witch gets real generic plot-wise, unfolding around two basic 'neighbor' stories, refusing to provide any backstory to explain, or at least give a glimpse about the origin of 'dark mother', and though the latter looks truly sinister, and the eerie underground final act delivers some chills, The Wretched" remains a cheesy and unintentionally funny teen creeper with inane twist and an irritating main character.

Monday, May 4, 2020

[6.00/10] The Assistant (2020)

The Assistant (2020)

Quick Review: A decent attempt at minimalist film-making, if demanding for mass tastes, "The Assistant" is an understated and quietly intimate look at a lone, socially distant entry level employee and her struggles with oppression at her everyday job in a film production company, shot in a nearly voyeuristic style with great attention to detail, and led by Julia Garner's subtly anxious, profoundly genuine central performance, which makes this otherwise uneventful film so strangely absorbing.

Friday, May 1, 2020

[5.75/10] 1BR (2020)

1BR (2020)

Quick Review: Sure, it's preachy, it tries too hard to be provocative, and it choses a cruel way to deliver its moral message, but "1BR" is still an original and unnerving horror thriller with fairly clever take on urban cults and closed communities, which uses an unconventional, yet effective way of tormenting and subjugation, with the scenes of captivity being tense and particularly uncomfortable, and even claustrophobic, however, the final act is let down by predictability and lack of sheer climax.