CVIndependent

Sat08182018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Reviews

16 Aug 2018
by  - 
Kelly Macdonald is terrific in Puzzle as Agnes, a mother of two and wife to Louie (an also-excellent David Denman). Agnes is loved by her family, but they tend to not pay attention to her at times—and she’s beginning to lose interest in their mundane routines. She finds solace in jigsaw puzzles, and realizes she has a talent for putting them together fast. She sees a posting for a person looking to find a “puzzle partner,” gives him a call, and strikes up a friendship with Robert (Irrfan Khan), an eccentric millionaire with a shared fascination for puzzles. As the two meet twice a week to train for a puzzle competition, things go beyond friendship, and Agnes is forced to make some decisions about her home life. Marc Turtletaub’s minimalist direction is perfect for this story, which plays a lot better than it sounds. Macdonald is first-rate during every second…
15 Aug 2018
by  - 
The great Spike Lee has returned with BlacKkKlansmen, his best film since Malcolm X came out 26 years ago. Based on a true story—with some significant tweaking—it centers on Ron Stallworth (John David Washington, son of Denzel), a black police officer in Colorado who, on a whim, decided to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan by posing as a redneck. It wound up being a two-man sting, with Stallworth pretending to be a white man on the phone while sending in a white partner (depicted here by Adam Driver) to do the face-to-face work. Stallworth’s investigation eventually leads to him being named the head of a local chapter of the KKK, and direct dealings with David Duke (Topher Grace), Grand Wizard of the KKK and major asshole. The movie is as crazy as the story was, with Spike perfectly balancing intense drama and humor. Washington is fantastic, and Driver continues to…
16 Aug 2018
by  - 
It’s been more than two decades since author Steve Alten released his big shark story Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, the first of many Meg books. From the moment the book hit stands, producers have been attempting to make a movie out of it. Many directors have flirted with the movie, including Jan de Bont, Guillermo del Toro and, as recently as 2015, Eli Roth. It eventually ended up under the directorial guidance of Jon Turtletaub, the guy who made Cool Runnings, the National Treasure movies and 3 Ninjas. The result? A movie as misguided, sloppy and boring as you would expect from the guy who directed 3 Ninjas. Let’s get the obvious problem out of the way: The Meg is rated PG-13, and as it was made, it probably could’ve pulled a PG. This is not a horror film; it’s an undersea adventure with a big, messy CGI…
09 Aug 2018
by  - 
A young man shows up for his first year at college—and gets greeted as if he’s been there before. Eventually, someone figures out he’s the identical twin of a former student; this brings about a reunion of the two siblings. It becomes a big story in the newspaper, and then another young man sees the boys and instantly notices a resemblance. Boom … the three identical brothers, all adopted by different families, find each other as young adults in New York. This is the fascinating tale behind documentary Three Identical Strangers. I lived in Long Island, N.Y., when the story broke about these guys. They became a sensation, showing up on talk shows and even opening their own restaurant. Sadly, as Tim Wardle’s documentary shows, when the boys found out the real reason for their separation at birth, things took a sad and ultimately tragic turn. The documentary is set…
09 Aug 2018
by  - 
Every decade, it seems like one great movie is made about growing up. In the 1970s, it was The Bad News Bears. In the ’80s … The Breakfast Club. In the ’90s, I’ll go with Rushmore. The ’00s, it was probably Superbad. Here in the ’10s, or whatever the hell you call this decade, we now have Bo Burnham’s incredibly awesome feature-writing and feature-directing debut, Eighth Grade. This movie is a masterpiece in so many ways, from its perfect casting, to its crafty camerawork, to its immersive electronic score by Anna Meredith. But most of all, this movie is fantastic due to its central performances from Elsie Fisher as Kayla, and Josh Hamilton as her dad. Going into this movie, I didn’t realize Fisher was already a cinematic hero of mine: It turns out she’s the voice of Agnes from the first two Despicable Me movies. (Agnes is the “It’s…
02 Aug 2018
by  - 
Tom Cruise is his maniac self in Mission: Impossible—Fallout, the sixth installment in the steady franchise—and proof that Cruise is certifiably insane. The movie is one “Wow!” moment after another, and the guy shows no signs of slowing down, even though he’s now 56 years old. The movie stacks stunt after stunt, featuring Cruise doing everything from jumping out of airplanes, to scaling cliffs, to piloting his own helicopter. It also shows Cruise leaping from one rooftop to another and breaking his ankle against a building—a stunt that shut down production for weeks, but remains in the film, in all its bone-breaking glory. Do we really care about the plot when some of the best stunts and action scenes ever are here? Thankfully, the plot is a fun, twisted story, so you’ll be interested even when Cruise isn’t risking his life. Yes, there are a lot of, “Hey, haven’t I…
26 Jul 2018
by  - 
In a summer of endless sequels, Equalizer 2 has the distinction of being both unoriginal and predictable. Yes, it stimulates that part of your brain that likes to see things go boom and bad guys get pummeled—but the part of your brain that likes to solve things and seeks intellectual depth will take a nap during this film. However … Equalizer 2 also has a guy named Denzel Washington in it, supplying his every line with grace and punching up the quality of a rote script simply by being onscreen. He and director Antoine Fuqua team up once again and make this sequel to a cinematic update of an OK TV show worth your time. It’s fast food … but it’s good fast food. Washington returns as Robert McCall, a former special-ops guy with a taste for vigilantism and tea. He’s just sort of hanging out in Boston, working as…
26 Jul 2018
by  - 
Gus Van Sant gets back into fine directing shape with Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, his best effort in years. Joaquin Phoenix gets much of the credit; he’s terrific as real-life cartoonist John Callahan, an alcoholic who wound up in a wheelchair after a car accident with a friend (Jack Black). Van Sant jumps around with his timeline—but the film is never confusing, no matter where it goes. We see Callahan pre-accident, drinking tequila first thing in the morning. We also see him during one of the film’s framing devices, a convention at which Callahan is sharing his story. Most effectively, we see him in group-therapy sessions led by Donnie (Jonah Hill), a free-spirited, generally kind man who, nevertheless, isn’t going to give you many breaks as your sponsor. Those sessions have a documentary-like feel, and Hill is especially good (and nearly unrecognizable) in them. Phoenix is…
19 Jul 2018
by  - 
First-time director and screenwriter Boots Riley (leader of musical group The Coup) creates one of the craziest movies you will ever see with Sorry to Bother You, a hilarious, nasty and even scary showcase for the talents of Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson. This is comedic satire at its screwiest, with sci-fi, fantasy and horror elements inserted in such a way that Riley completely shatters the rules of conventional filmmaking. Stated simply: There are tons of “What the fuck?” moments in this movie. Cassius Green (Stanfield) is living in a garage owned by his uncle (Terry Crews), looking for a better life and a job. His performance-artist girlfriend, Detroit (Thompson), encourages him to pursue what he wants—but tells him not lose his sense of self. After procuring a job at a mass telemarketing agency, Cassius finds himself striking out with call after call. It’s here that Riley employs an ingenious…
18 Jul 2018
by  - 
Ben Foster—currently tied with Ethan Hawke for the title of World’s Most Improved Actor—is phenomenal in Leave No Trace as Will, a homeless vet living in an Oregon park with his daughter, Tom (an incredible Thomasin McKenzie). Will trains his daughter to live off the land—and how not to be seen. When a jogger sees and reports them, the two wind up in the social-services system, undergoing a barrage of tests and eventually being relocated to a work commune. While Will simply can’t adjust, Tom starts liking being indoors. When Will takes them back into the forest, their two worlds start to truly separate. Directed and co-written by Debra Granik, the movie poses some serious questions about PTSD should be handled, and what freedom really is in America. Foster is tragically sad as Will, a man we know very little about, although we know something has really messed him up.…
19 Jul 2018
by  - 
I’m all for giving Dwayne Johnson a chance to truly act and emote. I think he can do more than just run around and raise that eyebrow. (In fact, I loved him in Pain and Gain.) So … asking him to be solemn and humorless in a movie about a crazy skyscraper catching fire, Towering Inferno-style, is a huge, massive mistake. Skyscraper sucks the life out of Johnson as he plays Will, a high-dollar security man who lost a leg in his prior occupation. He takes a job in Hong Kong as head of security in the world’s tallest building. Shortly after getting the gig, an evil crime lord sets the building on fire—although the building is largely unoccupied except for its owner (Chin Han), his entourage, some nasty European criminals and, of course, Will’s wife (Neve Campbell) and children. Will, outside of the building, races to save his family’s…
12 Jul 2018
by  - 
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun continuation of what returning director Peyton Reed started with Ant-Man three years ago. I whined a bit about the decent original; I wanted it to be more subversive, knowing that Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) was originally supposed to direct it. I’m over it: Reed is kicking some Marvel ass, and his sequel is actually better than the first. After the well-done but gloomy Avengers: Infinity War earlier this year, Ant-Man and the Wasp joins the likes of Thor: Ragnarok as a fun, slightly eccentric diversion from the serious Marvel shit. This one, for the most part, just wants to have a good time, and it succeeds. As the title implies, this is no longer a one-man show for the always-entertaining Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. Evangeline Lilly returns as Hope Van Dyne and gets a bigger part of the limelight as the…

Page 1 of 48