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Film

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood

This film is an eloquent love letter to the golden age of Hollywood while shying away from the romanticized aspects of the time. Though it may confuse true crime fans who are deeply invested in the Manson family story, it’s a wonderful bromance between two of America’s greatest actors. For those unfamiliar with the time (and the Manson family), do your homework—Tarantino doesn’t give much background. One minute you’re watching the characters be themselves, and the next, you’re watching them film an entire TV pilot in front of your eyes. Finally, the final 20 minutes torch your understanding of history.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Crawl

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Crawl

High Tension director Alexandre Aja’s latest film is an efficient, lean thriller. Following a father and daughter (Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario) who are trapped in a house by alligators during a Florida hurricane, Crawl melds well-placed scares and pathos. Backstory informing their strained relationship allows the audience to care for them, a necessity in genre pictures of this variety. Surprisingly, some characters miraculously retain limbs despite great injury. Although pacing and tone issues exist, the film serves as a textbook example on how to effectively build and release tension. Most importantly, Crawl reawakens our fear of being eaten alive.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / The Farewell

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / The Farewell

The Farewell is based on events from Lulu Wang’s own life; and, as real life does, the film stands outside of genre. The film mines uncomfortable humor from its central premise (a family decides not to tell an aging grandmother about a terminal diagnosis), but it’s not interested in shock, which makes Awkwafina an unexpectedly perfect center for the film. She’s not the boisterous showstopper of Crazy Rich Asians, but neither is she maudlin or mopey. She, like every other moment of this film, is real.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Godzilla: King of the Monsters

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers on the action with plenty of kaiju fighting. Godzilla going thermonuclear and Mothra are worth the price of admission. However, its human element becomes lost due to a nonsensical plot and cardboard-thin characters. It is truly a shame how the film wastes the potentials of Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe, who reprise their roles from Legendary Pictures’ 2014 reboot. Similarly, it cribs elements from other Godzilla films and inserts them without context. Check your brain in at the door for this orange-teal-gray color-timed CGI slugfest. Let’s hope next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong fares better.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Rocketman

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Rocketman

Elton John’s music defines my life. When Rocketman was announced, I was equally excited and skeptical. Thankfully, the film is whimsical fun with its inspired musical numbers, thanks to Lee Hall’s (Billy Elliot) script. But Rocketman is also emotionally honest about Elton’s struggles with love, fame, and addiction. While I can forgive the film for not being entirely accurate, pacing is an issue; many important events feel rushed. At its best, it reminds us why his music holds a special place in our hearts. I hope the Academy is listening; Taron Egerton deserves an Oscar for portraying my musical hero.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

John Wick really knows how to kill people. He can use anything as a weapon: katanas, guns, knives, horses, belts, his bare hands, the immortalized pencil. But that’s only half the battle. The latest entry in the series goes deeper and reminds us that honor and integrity are not synonymous with morality and friendship. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum delivers on the action, expands the mythology of the criminal underworld’s High Table, and introduces a character you’ll despise, the Adjudicator. Sorry, George Miller. John Wick unequivocally ousts Mad Max as the most consistent franchise in control of its original creators.

FILM / The Tale: What Fox’s Narrative Structure Can Teach Us About Writing True Stories / Laura Valeri

In one of the most brilliant and revealing moments in this exquisite use of the technique, the 13-year-old Jennifer tries to persuade her 48 years-old self that she was in control of that relationship the entire time. The 13-year old claims that breaking up with Billy, who continued to write her for years afterwards, proves that she was not a victim. She casts herself as master of her own fate.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

While Zac Efron makes an impressive Ted Bundy, it doesn’t save the film. While this incredibly long-titled flick does a good job re-enacting Bundy footage, it doesn’t have a strong perspective. We are forced to view the Bundy murders like the fangirls who sit behind him in court. We see his charm and charisma, but are only shown a snippet of Bundy kidnapping and attacking one, unnamed victim. Instead, it focused on a non-murdered victim (his girlfriend), while it nearly ignores the 28 women who lost their lives.

It does get one point across: he was one smooth-talking SOB.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Avengers: Endgame

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame represents the culmination of an unprecedented era of success for Marvel, so you can forgive them the indulgence of a victory lap, which is what the final hour of this film is. All the big moments are there, including some payoffs you’d forgotten you even wanted. Even a story as jam packed as this one doesn’t quite justify a three-hour running time (the middle hour sags with self-satisfaction); but the capper, a battle of unprecedented scale, reminds you of the magnitude of the achievement and delivers beautifully on a promise eleven years in the making.