April 28, 2022

An Interview with “Crush” Director Sammi Cohen

I had the opportunity to speak with director Sammi Cohen about her new film Crush, which features an aspiring young artist (played by Rowan Blanchard), who is forced to join her high school track team, later discovering what real love feels like when she finds herself falling for an unexpected teammate.

Image courtesy of Hulu

Cohen is an American director best known for directing thirty-four episodes of CollegeHumor originals and multiple Dropout original series. She was an excellent interview, and her personal connection to the film’s themes and messages, including the politics of coming out and the importance of art and free speech, make for a wonderful discussion.

April 26, 2022

Awe-Inspiring “The Northman” is a Viking Epic for the Ages (Review)

I’ve found that films tend to be a better experience when the director actually gets to make the movie they want to make, as opposed to a mess of a feature hastily glued together with reshoots and studio interference. Hollywood politics are tricky, but I think it’s safe to say we would be getting a lot more originality if every director’s innovation was maintained to their preference.

Image courtesy of Focus Features

One director who’s had more success than not with preserving his artistic vision — with the three features he’s produced thus far — is Robert Eggers, writer/director of 2015’s The Witch, 2019’s The Lighthouse, and now The Northman, a Viking-centric story emblematic of Hamlet which allows Eggers to dive into the endlessly deep well of Norse mythology. Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth (the name being one of the more obvious parallels with its Shakespearean influence), a Viking prince whose young life is uprooted when his uncle Fjölnir (Dracula’s Claes Bang) kills his father Aurvandill War-Raven (Dead Poets Society’s Ethan Hawke) and takes the throne, kidnapping Amleth’s mother (Being the Ricardos' Nicole Kidman) in the process. Amleth manages to escape, armed only with a mantra anyone who saw a trailer for this movie in theaters can likely quote verbatim: “I will avenge you, father! I will save you, mother! I will kill you, Fjölnir!”

Two decades later, as Amleth has grown into the much beefier Skarsgård, he finally begins to make progress on his promise. The traditional hero’s journey is punctuated with vivid Green Knight-esque side quests and increasingly violent distractions. Woe befalls anyone who crosses his path, whether they be undead warriors or egotistic cousins, and the adventure only gets better as it nears its end.

April 24, 2022

“The Baby” Presents a Twisted View of Motherhood (Review)

Image courtesy of HBO

When someone refers to an infant as a “little monster,” they never mean it literally. The Baby, a limited series co-produced by HBO and Sky Atlantic, takes a concept so innocent and corrupts it into a violent, disturbing and oddly hilarious fantasy about motherhood.

April 20, 2022

Buckle Up for “The Flight Attendant” Season Two (Review)

Back in 2020, HBO Max still had a long way to go in proving themselves to be a worthwhile streamer. On top of all their shared content with HBO and Warner Bros, they introduced numerous original series and films, beginning the journey in becoming the best streaming service out there.

Image courtesy of HBO Max

One of its premier series was The Flight Attendant, a comedy/thriller starring Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden, the titular flight attendant who finds herself involved in an international conspiracy scandal. Just in case it didn’t get picked up for a second season, the first tied a neat bow on the story and our main characters, ensuring that it could work well as a limited series. It also happened to be one of the most engaging series I’d ever seen, proving that — once again — HBO (Max) doesn’t miss, and has always been reliably consistent in producing excellent content.

April 19, 2022

The Lenient Critic Podcast Episode 22: Ambulance, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore


Alice is back for some very important discussions on AmbuLAnce, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Guess which won Alice loved! Plus, previews of upcoming releases and what they’ve been watching lately.

Dont forget to subscribe to the podcast and give us a rating on Apple Podcasts!

April 17, 2022

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is the Ultimate Nicolas Cage Flick (Review)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent kicks off with a couple watching a Nic Cage movie in a posh, decked-out bedroom. This isn’t out of the ordinary in any particular way — Nicolas Cage is a beloved actor, if a confounding one — but when it’s the beginning of a film hinged on the audience’s love of that very same actor, it also serves as the introduction of a meta element that will never stop telling you exactly what kind of movie you’re watching.

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

A Cage-tastic opening can only be followed by…you guessed it…more Nicolas Cage! Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself in Massive Talent, fighting for relevance and ready to quit acting. While I highly doubt that would ever be an option in real life, Massive Talent’s Nic Cage is preparing to take that step when he begrudgingly accepts an offer to attend the birthday part of Javi Gutierrez (The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal). As you might expect — especially if you’re seen the trailer — things very quickly get out of hand, and soon Nic finds himself fighting both for his family and himself.

April 15, 2022

Random Musings: “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”

The not-so-fantastic Harry Potter spinoff series welcomed a new entry this week with The Secrets of Dumbledore, and I didn’t have a chance to cover everything I wanted to in my review. Here are some other thoughts I had about the film that didn’t quite fit into the review — and keep in mind, there are major spoilers ahead.

April 13, 2022

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” is a Step in the Right Direction (Review)

After the disappointment of 2018’s Crimes of Grindelwald, the Wizarding World has returned with a new Fantastic Beasts sequel that has the potential to either save or destroy the franchise. With some cast changes (and some bizarre mainstays), The Secrets of Dumbledore could be a glimmer of hope for fans of the series…or it could be the final nail in the coffin.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros

Despite being confused about its own timeline — a character claims that the first film took place a year before, when that’s almost certainly not the case — we apparently pick up with our favorite characters in 1932, as the followers of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (played here by Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen, replacing Johnny Depp) are growing in number, and a war in both the magical and non-magical worlds becomes more an eventuality than a possibility. Just as with its predecessor, there are far too many characters to follow, but at least The Secrets of Dumbledore has a concrete idea of how to use each one and make their parts important in the grand scheme of its story.

April 12, 2022

The Lenient Critic Podcast Episode 21: The Harry Potter Series

In preparation for The Secrets of Dumbledore, Foster returns to the podcast to properly discuss the entire Harry Potter franchise, from 2001 to 2018, and imagine (somewhat nihilistically) what might come in the future.

Dont forget to subscribe to the podcast and give us a rating on Apple Podcasts!

April 8, 2022

“Sonic the Hedgehog” Returns in a Pleasant but Familiar Sequel (Review)

A sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog was inevitable. Because of pandemic shutdowns, it finished third in the domestic box office at the year’s end, placing sixth worldwide. My special connection comes in the fact that it was the last film I saw theatrically until May 2021, and for that reason Sonic the Hedgehog will always hold a special place in my heart.

That said, I’ve never been one for video games, and so there was a limit to my anticipation for the sequel. It came more from a place of traditional expectations — I enjoyed the first film (perhaps more than it deserved), and its follow-up looked like a lot of fun. Nothing more, nothing less.

Happily, Sonic 2 measured up almost exactly to those expectations. Nearly every named character returns from the first film, and in that way Sonic 2 is perhaps one of the best direct continuations when it comes to children’s films. There’s a surprising amount of carryover from its predecessor, especially when it comes to character dynamics, leading to some genuinely hilarious moments.

April 6, 2022

“Starstruck” Continues its Streak in Season Two (Review)

Starstruck is an interesting beast. With each season running just six short episodes in length, a lot of ground and character work needs to be covered in an impossibly short time. The debut season, released on HBO Max last summer, essentially did it perfectly, and so Season Two has a lot to live up to.

Creator and writer Rose Matafeo once again stars as Jessie, a New Zealander who, in the first season, had a one-night stand with a man who turned out to be movie star Tom Kapoor (Nikesh Patel). After subsequent fits of passion and subsequent break-ups, Jessie and Tom are back together, with her completely abandoning her plans to permanently relocate home to New Zealand in order to be with him. In a Graduate-style sequence, the two sit together at the back of a bus without a care in the world about what their lives will be like in the days, weeks and months afterward.

Season Two covers those days, weeks and months. After an idealized and romantic ending, the real world rears its ugly head, and Jessie and Tom have to deal with the fallout of her impulsive decision, the return of her ex-boyfriend and the realities of living together. Their worlds once again clash, and they (along with the audience) begin to once again ask the question of “why are these people together?”

April 5, 2022

The Lenient Critic Podcast Episode 20: Morbius, The Lost City, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Apollo 10½, The Bubble

This is a week of shit, but also a week of excellence! Shane Conto returns to the podcast to discuss the morbid Morbius, the dashing Lost City, the spectacular Everything Everywhere All At Once, the charming Apollo 10½, and the beautiful failure The Bubble. Plus, their top five standalone sequels or spin-offs, and what they’ve been watching lately. 

Dont forget to subscribe to the podcast and give us a rating on Apple Podcasts!