September 28, 2022

Gentlemen Do Not Prefer “Blonde” (Review)

I was not necessarily excited to see Blonde, but I was certainly intrigued. I’d be hesitant to label this fictionalized take on the life of Marilyn Monroe, starring the sensational Ana de Armas, adapted from a controversial but well-regarded novel by Joyce Carol Oates as a recipe for success, but it got me into a theater seat, and thats enough for me.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Needless to say, Blonde has very quickly proven to be one of the most divisive films of the year. It’s highly experimental, constantly changing aspect ratios and color presentation, in addition to moving fluidly through time in an effort to show us as much of Marilyn Monroe’s tragically short life as they possibly can. And, perhaps for the first time in my budding film criticism career, I’m not using the vaguely-defined term “experimental” as a compliment. I can recognize and appreciate the artistic vision, but what’s actually on the screen never manifests in anything meaningful in terms of the actual story, which lacks the critical element of care. We’re supposed to care about Marilyn Monroe (oftentimes referred to in Blonde by her birth name, Norma Jeane) simply because of who she is as an iconic cultural figure — and if that isn’t enough, we’ll throw some explicit sexual trauma in there to make you feel even worse about it.

September 26, 2022

Murder Mystery Comedy “See How They Run” Innovates and Excites (Review)

Who can say why audiences find murder mysteries to be especially enticing? Perhaps it’s the thrill of being able to solve a conundrum along with the characters, or maybe it’s the unparalleled tension, where quite literally anything could happen — anyone can die, and anyone could be the killer.

Image courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

The more comedically-skewed
See How They Run presses every single one of those buttons. I’ve never been good at figuring out a mystery before it’s revealed, so I typically just sit back and allow the riddles and puzzles to unfold before my eyes, knowing full well the answers I crave for will come. Luckily, See How They Run falls into the Knives Out pile of hybrid murder mystery/comedies that knows its audience so well, it feels comfortable enough to trust them with the subtlety and nuance that has been missing from a fair number of films in the last few decades. Everything is intentional, and everything has a payoff, no matter how pointless it may seem at the time.

September 22, 2022

Retro Aesthetic Reigns Supreme in Fascinating Thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” (Review)

After a month of controversy surrounding a variety of (admittedly interesting) factors, both internal and external, Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, the follow-up to her 2019 comedy hit Booksmart, is finally here…but the buzz really has nothing to do with the movie. Did Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh not get along on set? Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine at the Venice Film Festival? The real answer is: who cares?

A film should never be defined by what happened behind the scenes, but it seems that fate is the destiny of Don’t Worry Darling. Who knows if the bad press is due entirely to these rumors, but I will admit I was very excited for this film based on the trailers and marketing alone. A mysterious thriller reminiscent of Pleasantville and the more recent WandaVision, starring a host of wonderful performers and the world’s hottest pop star? Sign me up!

September 17, 2022

Pre-Halloween Horror “Barbarian” is a Delightful Surprise (Review)

At a certain point, every film has been (and will be) derivative of others. Whether or not you subscribe to Georges Polti’s Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations or another adjoining theory, much of what we see in theaters and on streaming feels like something we’ve been before.

September 14, 2022

“Pearl” Struggles as a Prequel, but Thrives on its Own (Review)

Comparatively, few horror properties get a chance at a franchise, but in recent years, the name of the game seems to be ordering a trilogy right off the bat. The Fear Street series found success with this plan in the streaming realm, and it was recently confirmed that remake and sequel trilogies of The Strangers and The Exorcist, respectively, are on the way to theaters. These are all based on pre-existing multimedia franchises, so it only makes sense that an original horror film would, at some point, get a similar treatment.

After the credits rolled on writer/director Ti West’s taboo-shattering flick
X (released just six months ago), audiences were treated to the surprise reveal of a prequel, set sixty years earlier, centered around the early life of X’s primary antagonist: the embittered, elderly and lonely Pearl, who kills a group of pornography-producing youngsters on her farm in the 1970s with her husband Howard.