(mostly) long film reviews from a slightly movie-obsessed teen
Charlie Kaufman has conjured up quite a few bizarre cinematic visions over the years (most notably, 1999’s Being John Malkovich, which ironically stands as the most accessible work I’ve seen from him), but if I’m Thinking of Ending Things isn’t his strangest film yet, it is certainly his most oblique. Released on Netflix while the streaming platform was mired in controversy, his newest film can be fittingly described as atmospheric, haunting, unpredictable, and even challenging… though perhaps the most fitting term for it is “divisive”.
Though I fully understand why not everyone has walked away intrigued or satisfied with Kaufman’s take on Reid’s much-acclaimed novel of the same name (in fact, it took me two watches to really sort out my feelings about it), this isn’t a film you can just watch once and be done with, but revisit, study, and ponder over—or, at the very least, look at someone else’s interpretation of it—in order to truly appreciate…[continued here]
As the only non-religious member of my otherwise Christian (and, in my dad’s case, Jewish) family, reviewing—or even watching—faith-based movies has proven to be a bit of a challenge. I’ve never shied away from expressing my honest opinions about pieces of media I see, but in the case of films like these, this has occasionally proven to upset others around me. So agreeing to watch and review War Room (which my mom had been wanting me to see for a while) is a bit of a gamble, but as a form of personal catharsis, it’s well worth it. Also, it’s easily one of the worst faith-based movies I’ve ever seen, so that makes venting my frustrations with Christian cinema a lot easier.
I want to stay as positive as I can here, so let’s get to the good stuff first…[continued here]
On August 11, 2017, a pair of moviemakers known as the Safdie Brothers posted an essay on A24’s website about the release of their film Good Time. Despite saying many insightful things about their love for cinema (particularly how films made an impact on them when they were younger), what really stuck with me the most is when they referred to Time as “our first Movie-Movie”, despite them already making 5 full-length movies at the time (including the 2013 sports documentary Lenny Cooke, which followed the former high school basketball player of the same name).
Despite not having seen any of their work besides that particular film and the later Uncut Gems, I can confidently say they’re right: Good Time undoubtedly feels like the first fully formed vision from two of the most potential-filled directors in A24’s repertoire, the first major step towards a long and successful career for the both of them…[continued here]
Before watching Feels Good Man (which, for those of you wondering how I was able to see it before its official release date of September 4th, I caught a backdoor screening of on August 29), the year’s best documentary thus far, I had next to no idea what Pepe the Frog was. All I knew was that he was a cartoon frog that became a popular meme around the Internet, and was deemed a “hate symbol” by the Anti Defamation-League because of some less-than-nice ways in which more than a few people have used him.
And it’s here that I’d like to stop and address some of the negative attention Feels Good Man has received online, mostly (I’m guessing) from those who hadn’t even seen it in the first place…[continued here]
During these past few months, if you had asked me what movie I was the most excited to see, I probably would have chosen this one. Maybe this was because it was a popular source of discussion over the Internet, or because somebody as well-known as Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) directed it, or simply because I’m drawn to really, really weird or divisive movies. Either way, however, Enemy was near the very top of my “must-see” list… and I knew almost nothing about it.
I didn’t see any trailers, didn’t read any online reviews, and didn’t even research any information about the film other than its basic premise…[continued here]
From what I know, there were very few movies my parents saw together that they turned off less than midway through. The 2006 dark road dramedy Little Miss Sunshine, however, was one of them, mainly because, in their own words, the whole thing was so “depressing” (particularly since “everybody was always arguing”) that they couldn’t bear it any longer after the half-hour mark. They may have seen an overly downbeat slog, but finally watching it with my dad (who still gives it a 6/10), I saw one of the freshest, funniest, and most genuinely affecting “feel-good” films in a very, very long while.
And yes, despite my parents’ opinions, this is what I’d consider to be a feel-good movie…[continued here]
The first—and, with any luck, the last—remake of the ’80s slasher classic Child’s Play has left me somewhat split. On one hand, I want to praise it for at least trying to do something a little different in an era where so many remakes/reboots blandly copy what was laid out before them, but on the other, the “different” things this movie tries really just don’t work.
Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill here) is no longer an ordinary doll possessed by a psychotic serial killer, but a high-tech, non-possessed “Buddi”—read: “smart”—doll that can control many of the technological devices in someone’s home (and even those completely separate from it)…[continued here]
The title for At Close Range may be a pretty big misnomer (despite my immediate assumptions, it is not a corny action movie or spy flick—though that didn’t stop me from going in expecting one of those things anyway), but ironically enough, it may actually be the most fitting one for a film of this subject matter. It is based off a startling true story of crime and violence, but also one of family, and the impact that parents can have upon their children. This may not make it sound too far from something like The Godfather, but trust me, it actually is.
Even so, despite the massive talent involved (a young Christopher Walken, a really young Sean Penn) and its admirable willingness to stick to most of the actual details of the matter [NOTE: HEAVY SPOILERS IN LINKED ARTICLE] (I’ll get to what didn’t happen—and what’s really too implausible to be true anyway—later), if it weren’t for my dad’s interest in seeing it again, I might not have even bothered with this film at all, both because of that title and its real obscurity (in fact, prior to him bringing it up a few days ago, I hadn’t even heard of it at all)…[continued here]
Confession time: despite fully understanding the appeal they may have upon some people (particularly among a few members of my family), I simply can’t bring myself to watch most romantic comedies. Not that all films in the “rom-com” genre are inherently bad, but most of the ones I’ve seen are generally so listless, unfunny, and just plain unromantic—especially the abysmal Failure to Launch—that I really don’t bother with any of them. So in theory, Palm Springs (a Hulu exclusive co-distributed by NEON) shouldn’t have been a movie that I would like, let alone even watch in the first place. But spurred on by the large amount of praise it received, I eventually did make myself watch it. And as a matter of fact, I actually liked it. Yes, I’m completely serious here.
Admittedly, the “one-day time-loop” plot device upon which everything hinges on is nothing new—1993’s Groundhog Day used it to more memorable effect, and dug far deeper into its characters than this film even comes close to doing…[continued here]
It can obviously be tough to get exactly right, but great writers really tend to make great writing look easy. Take a look at Kurt Vonnegut (one of my all-time favorite authors), for instance: his unmistakable blend of still-timely satire, pitch-black comedy, and humorously tragic stories cannot be replicated by anybody else, yet in his best work, it flows off the page so smoothly that I can’t help but think of it as anything but effortless. The same thing goes for Charlie Kaufman, whose excellent screenplay for the wonderfully strange Being John Malkovich gave me the impression that he could literally make a great script out of anything.
As a matter of fact, he couldn’t—at least, not for Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, which left him facing writer’s block…[continued here]
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