Wilson, James command the screen in taut home invasion thriller ‘Becky’ (Movie review)

L

ulu Wilson has built up quite a resume of horror films and thriller TV, including “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” “Annabelle: Creation,” “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Sharp Objects.” She’s in those projects, and she’s good in them, but in the home invasion thriller “Becky,” she truly stars. Also revelatory in this violent, tense, taut and not remotely comedic little gem is Kevin James (yes, that Kevin James).

Continue reading “Wilson, James command the screen in taut home invasion thriller ‘Becky’ (Movie review)”

Affleck excels as ‘The Way Back’ puts on a deceptive full-court press of emotions (Movie review)

B

en Affleck is less interested in playing Batman nowadays and more interested in roles like fallen small-town hoops hero Jack Cunningham in “The Way Back,” where he’s the only big-name actor. In this well-crafted if familiar film, Affleck – along with piano and string work from Rob Simonsen – sells wordless scenes such as Jack drinking a beer in the shower and saying “f***.” We can tell he’s reflecting on how his life has come to this sad point.

Continue reading “Affleck excels as ‘The Way Back’ puts on a deceptive full-court press of emotions (Movie review)”

Lightly comedic ‘Palm Springs’ gets by on charming chemistry between Samberg, Milioti (Movie review)

A

ndy Samberg tones down his manchild shtick while retaining his Everyman charms, and he pairs wonderfully with Cristin Milioti in “Palm Springs,” a new Hulu release that gives us a pleasant option amid the shutdown of cinemas. It’s also unintentionally timely for this era when people don’t leave their homes as much: Samberg’s Nyles finds himself stuck at a destination wedding – he’s the boyfriend of bridesmaid Misty (Meredith Hagner) — repeating the day in a loop.

Continue reading “Lightly comedic ‘Palm Springs’ gets by on charming chemistry between Samberg, Milioti (Movie review)”

Apatow returns, Davidson breaks out in ‘The King of Staten Island’ (Movie review)

T

he King of Staten Island” is the most prominent of the few brave films that switched from theatrical release to video-on-demand amid the pandemic, and it’s also a good one. It had been long enough since I’d seen a good Judd Apatow movie – 2012’s “This Is 40,” the last film he both wrote and directed – that it’s a revelation to rediscover his sharp dialog and knack for showing that deeply flawed people are still worth rooting for.

Continue reading “Apatow returns, Davidson breaks out in ‘The King of Staten Island’ (Movie review)”

Period SF flick ‘The Vast of Night’ is a gripping, stylish debut from Patterson and his team (Movie review)

U

sually when a director drops his calling card, he has a few minor credits on his IMDB resume before that. But Andrew Patterson’s resume is empty other than “The Vast of Night” (Amazon Prime); the same goes for writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger. The film itself shows few signs of being helmed by first-timers, and not only in the sense of professionalism, but more importantly in its original sense of style.

Continue reading “Period SF flick ‘The Vast of Night’ is a gripping, stylish debut from Patterson and his team (Movie review)”

Vin Diesel’s ‘Bloodshot’ inoffensively launches Valiant superhero universe (Movie review)

I

don’t know if anyone keeps track of this sort of thing, but Vin Diesel must hold the record for most franchises for a B-list action star. Joining “Fast & Furious,”  “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “XXX” and “Pitch Black” is “Bloodshot,” the first entry in the Valiant Cinematic Universe. An actor who no one hates and no one lines up for, Diesel plays the title character (real name: Ray Garrison) who speaks gruffly and seeks vengeance for the murder of his gal Gina (Talulah Riley).

Continue reading “Vin Diesel’s ‘Bloodshot’ inoffensively launches Valiant superhero universe (Movie review)”

An outsider’s take on the ‘Fast’ saga: ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ (2019) (Movie review)

T

hrough the end of May, I’m looking back at the nine movies of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, watching most of them for the first time. Next up is the spinoff movie “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” (2019).

Continue reading “An outsider’s take on the ‘Fast’ saga: ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ (2019) (Movie review)”

‘The Invisible Man’ is more about Elisabeth Moss’ increasingly visible woman (Movie review)

L

eigh Whannell was a writer before he was a director, but “The Invisible Man” shows off his directorial skills more than his screenplay-penning talent. This third entry in what was originally intended to be a “Dark Universe” but is now just standalone films (“Dracula Untold” and 2017’s “The Mummy” were the first two) has the requisite moments of Cecelia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) being terrified of an invisible man in the room with her. That’s timeless monster-movie stuff.

Continue reading “‘The Invisible Man’ is more about Elisabeth Moss’ increasingly visible woman (Movie review)”

‘The Lodge’ is further proof that filmmakers aren’t dodging stories about mental illness (Movie review)

W

hen “Glass” came out about a year ago, it seemed like the last gasp of an era: No way would filmmakers continue to portray people with mental illness as villains after this. It’s not awfully PC, as a George Clooney-vintage Batman might say. But, speaking of Batman’s world, we got “Joker” later in the year. Love it or hate it, that film got people asking: Is the Joker bad because of his mental illness, or is he bad because he doesn’t have access to his medications? Is his behavior his fault or society’s fault?

Continue reading “‘The Lodge’ is further proof that filmmakers aren’t dodging stories about mental illness (Movie review)”

‘The Lighthouse’ is 109 minutes of a pair of lighthouse keepers losing their minds (Movie review)

T

he job of lighthouse keeper, from the long-ago days when the lights needed to be manned, has a pure and simple grandeur. The keeper had his list of daily duties — mundane, monotonous and lonely, yet essential for the survival of ships at sea. “The Lighthouse” (2019) – now on Amazon Prime — taps into some of the job’s reality, but it’s mostly a grim mood piece chronicling Robert Pattinson’s Ephraim being driven crazy by Willem Dafoe’s farting Thomas in the 1890s at an offshore New England lighthouse.

Continue reading “‘The Lighthouse’ is 109 minutes of a pair of lighthouse keepers losing their minds (Movie review)”