CVIndependent

Sun08252019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Reviews

22 Aug 2019
by  - 
It takes big balls to release a movie like Good Boys in today’s PC environment. Kids in the film swear like sailors, unknowingly sniff anal beads and run across busy highways without looking both ways. It might just be the all-time cinematic winner for child-delivered profanity, topping the likes of the original The Bad News Bears. Actually, I should delete the word “might”: It’s the winner for sure. Jacob Tremblay, the cute little dude from Room, goes full stank-mouth mode as Max. He’s a member of the Beanbag Boys (they call themselves that because, well, they have beanbags), along with pals Lucas (a scene-stealing Keith L. Williams) and Thor (the wildly funny Brady Noon). Their junior-high social activities consist of bike rides and card games—but things are taken up a notch when they are invited to a party that will include, gasp, a kissing game. The trouble then begins, involving…
15 Aug 2019
by  - 
Alvin Schwartz’s collection of short horror stories for kids gets a big-screen adaptation with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, directed by André Ovredal and produced by Guillermo del Toro. The original three books gathered together stories from folklore and urban legend; Schwartz put his own spin on them, and even instructed readers on how to scare friends while reading them aloud. They were quite short, sometimes grisly and had no connecting thread. They managed to make their way into campfire stories in the 1980s; I distinctly remember somebody getting me with “The Big Toe” one summer’s eve. Rather than do an anthology movie, like a Creepshow for kids, Ovredal and del Toro opt for a framing device that is a direct nod—one could also call it a rip-off—of Stranger Things/Stephen King’s It-style nostalgia involving plucky kids dealing with various horrors. The resulting film feels derivative, disconnected and boring,…
08 Aug 2019
by  - 
While the poster for Hobbs and Shaw declares it is presented by Fast and Furious, it has very little in common with that franchise other than the participation of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, reprising their characters from the Furious films. In other words … REJOICE! Leaden, dreary Vin Diesel is nowhere to be seen in this movie! Hobbs and Shaw is a bizarre hybrid of spy thriller, action pic and science fiction. While Fast and Furious movies are certainly outlandish, they remain somewhat grounded in reality (with the notable exception of a car jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper). Hobbs and Shaw, however, completely abandons realism. It’s too damn long (137 minutes!), but when it works, it works well. It also functions as a comedy in that Johnson and Statham have great timing and work well together. Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Statham) are protecting Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby of…
01 Aug 2019
by  - 
The ninth movie from Quentin Tarantino is a dreamy doozy—his most unapologetically Tarantinian film yet. History and conventionality be damned: QT is behind the camera, and he favors mayhem and artistic license over conventionality and facts. Set in 1969, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood captures the 1960s film scene and culture as it is dying—and dying hard. Through the Tarantino storytelling lens, they die in mysterious and hallucinogenic ways. We get Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as insecure, has-been actor Rick Dalton, and his trusty stuntman, Cliff Booth. Dalton’s career has devolved into playing bad guys on weekly installments of TV’s F.B.I.—past his prime and blackballed. Booth is delegated to driving him around and being his confidante. The setup allows Tarantino to go hog wild with ’60s visuals and songs. Hollywood is a monumental achievement on art- and sound-direction fronts. Some of Tarantino’s soon-to-be most-famous shots are in this…
24 Jul 2019
by  - 
Machismo and sanctioned violence get a sinister, satiric kick to the face in The Art of Self-Defense, the new dark comedy from writer-director Riley Stearns. Meek accountant Casey (a totally on-point Jesse Eisenberg) is a nerdy wimp on all fronts. His co-workers can’t stand him, and French tourists mock him while he sits in a café—completely obliterating him in a foreign language. The exclamation point: He has just learned French via books on tape, so he understands all of the jabs being thrown his way … and he says nothing. Nerdy wimp personified. Casey runs out of dog food for his adorable dachshund and must take a long, lonely walk to the local grocer in the dark of night. A motorcyclist with a second rider stops, asks if he has a gun, then rides away. On his way back from the store, that same motorcycle duo kicks the unholy shit…
23 Jul 2019
by  - 
Alex Holmes delivers a solid documentary with Maiden, about a woman named Tracy Edwards, who started her sailing career as a cook and eventually found herself leading the first all-female crew to ever sail the Whitbread Round the World Race. Holmes uses archive footage, including some amazing sequences during the more perilous points of the journey, along with new interviews to tell the story. Simply put: Edwards is a charming and engaging storyteller, whether she’s in footage old or new, and as the story unfolds, and the team’s accomplishments become more and more amazing, you will find yourself rooting hard during an event that happened 30 years ago. Of course, the team took a lot of crap from their male counterparts, and the fact that they even competed is astonishing, considering most of the crew was fairly green. It’s a gripping underdog story that will surprise—because you probably didn’t even…
18 Jul 2019
by  - 
Alligators get their due as nasty cinematic monsters with Crawl—the biggest surprise so far this summer regarding simply having a damn good time at the movies. It puts Godzilla: King of the Monsters to shame. Southern Florida is getting walloped by a hurricane, and collegiate swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) hasn’t heard from her dad (Barry Pepper) as the storm grows into a Category 5. Despite foreboding radio warnings, Haley drives to her old family home in an attempt to locate her wayward father and put other family members’ minds at ease. With the family dog tagging along (of course), Haley ventures into the basement/crawlspace, where dad is unconscious with a suspicious wound. We’re not too far into the movie when the alligator baddies are introduced—and these toothy demons are using the rising waters as an excuse to swim around and…
11 Jul 2019
by  - 
After two feature-directing credits, it’s safe to declare writer-director Ari Aster a master of horror. Midsommar, the sophomore effort after his masterpiece Hereditary, is 2 1/2 hours of nerve-fraying terror, staged mostly in broad daylight—and it’s a thing of demented beauty. Dani (Florence Pugh, who is dynamite) and Christian (Jack Reynor, who is excellent) are having relationship issues. Dani is super-dependent on Christian during a major time of need; her sister is constantly bombarding her with toxic emails. Christian halfheartedly provides what he tries to pass off as sage advice, but his heart isn’t in it—and he’s starting to think a break-up might make sense. Tragedy then strikes Dani’s family, and it’s time for Christian to step up. His solution? Take Dani along on what was supposed to be a bro trip to Sweden for a traditional family summer festival. He sort of asks her to go; she sort of…
11 Jul 2019
by  - 
Tom Holland cements his status as the best-ever Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the goofiest—but still quite fun—Spider-Man movie yet. Jon Watts once again directs as Peter Parker tries to vacation with his friends in Europe after the events of Endgame. When a strange breed of elemental monsters start striking the planet, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) interrupts Peter’s sojourn and gets him back into the swing of things. Jake Gyllenhaal enters the shenanigans as Mysterio, a crime fighter from another dimension who slides right into the Tony Stark mentor role. Holland is good fun as Spidey, giving the character a nice, youthful effervescence to go with Holland’s great comic timing. Zendaya rules as MJ; Jon Favreau gets a lot more screen time (a good thing) as Happy; but alas, the film doesn’t have nearly enough Marisa Tomei. Far From Home is a bit lightheaded at times, but it’s…
04 Jul 2019
by  - 
If movies had faces, I would have wanted to punch Yesterday in its stupid, stupid face for nearly its entire running time. It takes an interesting premise—a world in which the music of the Beatles doesn’t exist—and totally squanders it. Danny Boyle (127 Hours, 28 Days Later …) directs the story of Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a wannabe musician working part-time in a grocery store while also busking on street corners and playing small gigs with his trusty guitar. Jack’s burgeoning music career is managed by Ellie (Lily James), who is fostering a decades-old crush on Jack. While riding his bike home from a gig, the world suffers some sort of momentary power loss, and Jack gets hit by a bus, knocking out a couple of teeth and sending him to the hospital. Just before his accident, Jack swore to end his music career—a good idea, because he totally sucks.…
27 Jun 2019
by  - 
Toy Story 3 seemed like a definitive end to the story of Woody (the voice of Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and company. That movie was, in a word, perfect in the way it tied up the story of Andy and his lifelong toy companions. I’m someone who thought Toy Story 3 should’ve been the final chapter in the franchise. And I’m now someone who is fine with one more chapter, thanks to the totally satisfying Toy Story 4. Pixar and director Josh Cooley (making his feature directorial debut with the studio’s most-precious franchise) chose to mess with perfection and extend the story of Woody and friends. The results are less than perfect, but still very worthy of Toy Story lore; this is a welcome breath of fresh air in a summer movie season that thus far has been a series of big franchise stink bombs (Godzilla: King of…
20 Jun 2019
by  - 
Men in Black: International, the fourth film in the MIB franchise, is the second-worst of the group, after Men in Black II. The original and Men in Black 3 were good; International, meanwhile, is a wasted opportunity—an admirable attempt to restart things that doesn’t hit all its marks. Replacing Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, as agents H and M. H is the bold, brash, super-hot dude of MIB; he saved the world years ago, with Agent High T (Liam Neeson) of the London MIB branch, from an evil alien force called the Hive. M is the latest recruit, having found MIB’s secret headquarters after years of searching. As a child, M witnessed an alien encounter (and saw her parents getting their minds erased), starting a curiosity fire that doesn’t get put out until Agent O (Emma Thompson) gives her a chance…

Page 1 of 53