RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON Review

Disney Animation's Latest Offers a Grand Action/Adventure with Fresh Cultural Influences and Delivers in Spades if not Necessarily Breaking the Mold.

CHERRY Review

The Russo Brothers Follow-up the Biggest Movie of All Time with a Multi-Faceted Adaptation that is Ultimately Unable to Adapt One Art Form to Another.

THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY Review

Director Lee Daniels' Biopic is a Mess of a Missed Opportunity Whose Execution can't Match its Subject's Ambition or it's Stars Central Performance.

I CARE A LOT Review

Writer/Director J Blakeson Delivers a Scathing Indictment of how Twisted the American Dream has Become as Led by a Ruthless Rosamund Pike.

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH Review

Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield Lead this Powerful Story, Highlight an Overlooked Piece of History, and Inspire Real Change in Director Shaka King's Film.

SUPERNOVA Review

Harry Macqueen's Supernova opens with a demonstration of what the title refers to: a star exploding thus allowing its molecules and all the other fantastical, unknown elements it's made up of to fall from the heavens. Some of this dust is destined to make its way to the earth where one day it will help to make-up the organisms that populate the planet. An exploding star, a burning love...we're lucky if we experience either in our lifetime. The film fades from this demonstration to the serene, static shot of two men in bed together, their hands intertwined and their love apparent. A crossfade to an overcast sky where pillowy white clouds still manage to somehow pop through pans down and lands on an older model RV where the two men we first met a moment ago are now on a road trip together. Despite the quick-wit and sarcasm of one Tusker (Stanley Tucci) and the frustration of the other, Colin Firth's Sam, it's already been established this is not a tale of two aging, grumpy fellows on an adventure to sow their wild oats, but rather it is a tale of two lovers hoping to find some peace and solace in what is likely the last moments of their being together. We are first made aware of the reasons for this holiday when Sam stops at a grocery store on the side of the road only to return to find Tusker has disappeared. While Sam locates his partner shortly thereafter it is clear to both men that Tusker's early onset dementia is getting worse at a pace neither was likely prepared for. How could anyone ever be prepared for as much? No matter the amount of time given to process the pain it would never seem to cease. The film though, is a brisk and very tidy ninety minutes and that is all Macqueen requires to paint his sweeping yet pulverizing love story. It's almost astonishing really, how invested we become in both Tusker and Sam despite the brief running time and further, how many moments are absolutely a punch to the gut whether it be in the way Firth's voice cracks when he gets emotional or through as simple a gesture as one helping the other button his shirt. Anchored by these two effortlessly affectionate and grounded performances from Tucci and Firth (but especially Tucci, my God!), Supernova is a film about coming to terms with reality no matter how inequitable it may seem and the honest conversations that are eventually unearthed around it. A true portrait of companionship, a meditation on legacy, and the impact it all has on the lives of those most important to us.   

PALMER Review

I was raised in the south, in the middle to lower class though much closer to the lower than the middle with strong religious views imbued from my mother’s side and a versatile education environment that schooled me on cultures and classes outside my own. I bring this up not to highlight necessarily the point of view from which this review will be written, but more to say that movies became an outlet by which I experienced parts of the world I thought I'd never visit. Movies helped me meet different types of people I might have never met otherwise and they helped me gain different and varied perspectives that likely would have never crossed my mind without them. Perspective is the key word here as seeing through someone else’s eyes is important, but so is seeing different situations the world may throw at you as handled by someone you recognize. This brings us to Palmer. While the latest feature from actor/director Fisher Stevens may not seem the kind of revelatory product to change someone’s world view it may have very well done just that for me were I to have seen this film some fifteen to twenty years ago. Palmer doesn’t inherently feel like the groundbreaking sort because it does in fact feel rather familiar, but everyone has to get familiar somehow and needless to say, Palmer isn't a bad way to do so. Stevens' film, as written by Cheryl Guerriero, utilizes its familiarity to affectionately illustrate its well-meaning message and when I use that word I use it intentionally as Guerriero's script never makes mention of any key words or phrases (except for maybe "queer", I guess) specific to the issues the movie deals in, but rather it simply shows us - through action and interactions - that love is easier to come by than hate no matter who you are or where you come from. Purposefully set in the north shore of Louisiana (and primarily shot in Tangipahoa Parish), the premise of Palmer as it deals in a child saving an adult as much as that adult ends up actually having to save the child is as well-worn as the time-loop premise at this point, but the humbling details of how said premise comes to fruition are what consistently push the film toward the kind of acceptance our titular character could only hope for regarding his young counterpart. That said, it's not difficult to see where the movie will end up or even how it will get there, but the one-two punch of Justin Timberlake's solid yet restrained performance along with newcomer Ryder Allen's aura of absolute sweetness make Palmer exactly what it was intended to be: a simple reminder of what really matters in a world where such heart is easily lost, which, feels like a reminder we could all use these days. 

Official Trailer for GODZILLA VS. KONG


Originally set for a May 21st, 2021 release after its delay last year Warner Bros. recently announced that the showdown of all showdowns will be coming to theaters and HBO Max on March 26th. Not knowing much about either monsters mythology there is little indication as to who will ultimately be the victor here, if one will really "fall", or if this is even the end of WB and Legendary Picture's "Monsterverse" as it would seem to be. The upcoming installment of the franchise sees “fearsome monsters Godzilla and King Kong square off in an epic battle for the ages, while humanity looks to wipe out both of the creatures and take back the planet once and for all.” Though it seems highly unlikely either of the titular creatures will go down once and for all there is definitely a lot going on story-wise in this two and a half minute trailer and even more to take in from a visual perspective. At the end of 2017’s seventies-set Kong: Skull Island, Kong is on good terms with the team that came to his hometown, but it's inevitable the world would eventually become aware of his existence. At the end of 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we're treated to the titular kaiju taking up the mantle indicated in the subtitle with much of the world-building being done via newspaper headlines flashing across the screen over the credits; many of them hinting at Godzilla's control over these ancient titans, but a few notably questioning if the human race is due to be caught in the middle of a prehistoric grudge match. While I've largely enjoyed each of the three previous offerings in this "Monsterverse" it does feel as if there's been something missing from each. While Max Borenstein, who wrote 2014's Godzilla as well as Skull Island, wrote the script for Godzilla vs. Kong script with Black Widow screenwriter Eric Pearson what truly has me intrigued about this latest chapter is the fact it's directed by Adam Wingard who also made two unbelievably fantastic horror/thrillers in 2011's You're Next and 2014's The Guest. If the man can bring as much style and flair to finding out what a King ultimately is to a God as he did to those previous features then we're in for one hell of a ride. The Godzilla vs. Kong cast includes Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Shun Oguri, Demián Bichir, Brian Tyree Henry, Zhang Ziyi, Eiza Gonzalez, Lance Reddick, Jessica Henwick, Julian Dennison, and will be released in theaters nationwide and on HBO Max on March 26. Watch the first trailer below.

OUR FRIEND Review

I'd like to start with Jason Segel. I've always felt a unique affinity for his persona. This is a guy who has been oddly engaging yet completely endearing and - most importantly - both effortlessly funny and likable since his cameo as a high-school stoner who couldn't help Jennifer Love-Hewitt find Ethan Embry in Can't Hardly Wait. In many ways Segel is an unlikely movie star whether it be his awkward charisma, his laid back persona as opposed to the traditionally handsome and self-serious stars who are typically granted the more dramatic leading roles, but while "movie star" may be a stretch for anyone these days Segel has carved out a particular spot for himself among the recognizable faces on posters to which we now attribute the word "star". As one of the many funny guys doing as they please in Hollywood after originally making their bones in Apatow projects, Segel has had an interesting journey. He never had the headlining Apatow treatment necessarily but served enough time in supporting parts to garner an Apatow-production via a script that was obviously very personal to him. It was with Forgetting Sarah Marshall (some thirteen years ago now) that Segel finally came into his own with what fully displayed his personal brand of comedy and it killed. Absolutely destroyed, one might say. Sarah Marshall is one of the best comedies of the last twenty years and much of that has to do not just with Segel's willingness to be vulnerable which felt a lot more fresh and a lot more bold in 2008, but largely it deals in that extreme sense of sincerity the guy generates. One can't help but think Segel is probably a little strange, but that he also has this cool streak that makes you want to hang out with him. He's not an immediately striking presence, but the more you unravel his philosophy the more you want to hug him. The one-two punch of Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man seemed to set Segel's career trajectory in stone, but after a good mix of ill-performing studio productions (Gulliver's Travels, Bad Teacher) and better, more personal milestones (The Muppets, The Five-Year Engagement) Segel's ride seemed to culminate only some six years after it began with the bomb of a summer comedy that was Sex Drive and the fact his long-running hit sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, ended its run that same year. In 2015, Segel portrayed David Foster Wallace opposite Jesse Eisenberg in The End of the Tour, but while this served as a potential hint as to where the actor would take his career next he has since largely been absent from the public eye (only appearing in two Netflix films in 2017 and 2018). I say all of this to say that as Segel returns in a more substantial role both in film as well as in the public consciousness that it finally seems the space he now occupies personally has synced with the space he occupies onscreen. It's possible there isn't a more perfect part for Segel than that of Dane Faucheux as it utilizes his vulnerabilities, his comedic sense, and his genuine spirit to convey the wholly compassionate titular friend of Gabriela Cowperthwaite's Our Friend ; a man who visits his friends over Thanksgiving break and ends up staying with them for over two years in order to help care for the couple and their two young daughters as they deal with a terminal cancer diagnosis.