Review: Colossal

Larger Than Life?

Image via Neon/YouTube

If you are one of the lucky ones and haven’t the faintest inkling of what Colossal is about, please stop reading after this sentence and watch the movie, which will be more enjoyable if you go in cold. If you are reading this post aware of the central conceit of the film, I would still advise you to not read this review, because the story moves in powerfully unpredictable ways that extend beyond what can be inferred from the premise, some of which I spoil in the paragraphs below. In other words, this review is designed for people who a) have seen the film, b) don’t particularly care about spoilers, or c) know how the movie progresses but don’t know how it ends. If you fall into any of these last three categories—happy reading! Continue reading

Favorite Films of 2016

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Apologies for the extended absence from blogging. Other film writing opportunities and urgent planning for life after graduation have regrettably kept me from posting as frequently as I would have liked. Still, I am happy to be able to continue the annual best-film-of-the-year list-making tradition.

A few notes before we begin: Continue reading

Review: Southside With You

The “Southside” Part is Best

Southside with you

Watching Southside With You, I kept thinking, “Too soon!”

The film, which chronicles the courtship of a certain Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter), has a lot going for it. I jived with the film’s energy, its celebration of black culture, its nod to Do the Right Thing that made me reexamine my own interpretation of that film’s ending. I enjoyed how it emulates Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy without parroting it outright, using the walk-and-talk narrative model to explore the idiosyncrasies of South Side Chicago. I liked the two lead actors, who deliver their lines with conviction even when the screenplay stumbles into sappiness or the musical cues feel miscalculated. Continue reading

Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

Playing Seriously

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X-Men: Apocalypse works because it seems to take itself simultaneously very seriously and not very seriously at all. Whereas some movie are all grit and no grins and others take self-awareness to cloying extremes (think Deadpool, although that film saved itself with moments of genuine heart and humor that leaven an otherwise overly self-congratulatory air), Apocalypse manages to send up the genre it inhabits without losing faith in the seriousness of its characters’ psychological and moral struggles. Continue reading

Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Clash of the Titans

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In light of the heavy fire Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been taking from critics, I will say upfront that the film is a narrative mess. The main plotline follows Batman’s increasing distrust of Superman, whose battle against General Zod in Man of Steel caused huge and lethal amounts of collateral damage. Superman returns the sentiment, believing that Batman’s brutal brand of justice is a menace to law-abiding society, which in turn observes these two heroes with simultaneous appreciation and wariness. Continue reading

Review: Zootopia

Welcome to the Jungle

Zootopia sloth

My first thought after finishing Zootopia was that I had just seen an adult-oriented film masquerading as a children’s movie, and I mean that as a compliment. For all its visual resemblances to the likes of Rio, Madagascar, and Ice Age—which, though not lacking in appeal for older viewers, primarily target younger crowds—this animated flick takes groovy detours into intelligent, screwball dialogue and film noir intrigue. In pursuit of the latter, the film peppers its screenplay with clever references to everything from The Godfather to Breaking Bad, except Zootopia is also genuinely engrossing in its own right, with moments of legitimate horror and heartbreak. Continue reading

Best Films of 2015

Between school, stuff in my personal life, and catching up with recent films, I’ve dropped the ball on completing my Blindspot 2015 and wanted to apologize. I will make every effort to watch the three movies from that list that I still haven’t seen—The Maltese Falcon, Rebel Without a Cause, It’s a Wonderful Life—this coming year. The good news is, my foray into the films of 2015 have revealed to me some true cinematic treasures.

Below is a list of my favorite 10; below that, a handful of runners-up that just missed inclusion in the 10 but are nonetheless worth watching; and at the bottom of the page, the films I wasn’t able to see before writing up this post. In an ideal world, I would have watched them all before setting out on my annual list-making endeavor, but I thought I’d try to create my Top 10 before New Years for once, and the release schedule for many American independent and foreign films don’t reach theaters near me until early January (if at all). Plus, I had all those life-related and school-related things that prevented me from seeing as many films as I’d have liked. Anyway, between now and the Oscars, this list may change as I watch some of those 2015 films I missed—the most updated list will appear near the top of the post, below this paragraph, but without the mini-reviews of each film that accompany the original 10.

Anyway, here’s the list. Hope you enjoy! Continue reading