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FILM / On the 30th Anniversary of My Obsession with Midnight Run / Michael Green

In the movie’s major turning point, set on a freight train, Jack finally admits that he’s stuck in the past because he can’t let go of his loved ones, even though they let him go long before. Jack Walsh in an empty box car moving through the desert at night, confronting the enormity of his grief, regret, and loneliness, became the movie’s central moment for me.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Pet Sematary

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Pet Sematary

Fans of the original Pet Sematary bawl at any and all changes to their beloved 1989 horror classic, but believe me when I say the major change only strengthens the plot of this bleak Stephen King adaptation. While some of the pacing doesn't sit well with me (Rachel's telling of her relationship with her sister, Zelda, seems hurried in particular), the acting-- particularly from Jeté Laurence, is great. The major horror at the heart of this reimagining is grief, and this movie is steeped in it. It's worth your time and your dollars.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Us

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Us

Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out is a film we all don’t know we need to see until we actually see it. Us is by no means perfect. Peele juggles too many ideas but they don’t all coalesce. But that doesn’t make it a bad movie. While there are instances where Peele’s narrative has us struggling to tether subliminal clues—before attempting to explain the conceit with clunky exposition—there are moments of pure cinematic inspiration. Its humor is pitch-perfect, its cinematography claustrophobic, and its central family comprised of sympathetic protagonists with which we as an audience can become fully invested in.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Captain Marvel

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Captain Marvel

The Marvel franchise always veers in quality, but rarely has an installment shifted as jarringly in tone as Captain Marvel, a film as confused as its amnesiac lead character. In the rush to make Carol Danvers Tony Stark, the writers forgot that Downey’s vulnerability sells his one liners. A few moments toward the end showcase Larson’s natural strengths, but the push to make Carol 90’s cool just makes her feel like warmed-over Starlord. If you’re looking for a version of Captain Marvel who’s cocky but compassionate you’ll need to pick up a comic book, because she’s not on screen.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Alita: Battle Angel

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Alita: Battle Angel

Appropriately for an action flick about a cyborg, Alita feels cobbled together from spare parts of blockbusters past, but what the film lacks in originality it makes up for in heart - like, seriously, this girl’s heart is a fairly major plot point. Alita’s facial effects may reside in the uncanny valley, but the action is fast and elegantly choreographed (if choreographed is the right word for something this CGI-heavy). Director Robert Rodriguez may or may not get the franchise he’s pushing, but he has at least delivered what might be the most purely entertaining film of his career.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot

Sam Elliott gives his all as aging WWII veteran Calvin Barr. Barr’s secret assassinations of Hitler and Bigfoot serve as mere bookends to this quiet and moving character study about how his duty to country resulted in loss and regret. While the film has less in common with its Nazi- and Sasquatch-ploitation roots than its title makes out, there is plenty of action. The film boasts luscious cinematography and a stellar supporting cast to dress up writer-director Robert D. Krzykowski’s pulpy script. Leave your expectations at the door and have fun. It’s the most outrageously entertaining genre offering since Mandy.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Cold War

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Cold War

Draped in gorgeous cinematography and masterful mise-en-scène, Cold War marches through the long, frigid years of post-war Europe, following the intertwined lives of two Polish musicians who fall in love and struggle to keep a hold of one another in the face of Eastern Bloc politics, jealousy, ennui, and insatiable desire. Galvanized by a stunning soundtrack, Cold Wars ends with a hammer blow sacrifice, proving love is a prison we make for ourselves, and though we may fight to break out, in the end we are our own wardens. What’s more, some sentences are for life, and beyond.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Glass

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Glass

Unbreakable was phenomenal; Split was clever (and that "twist"!), and now we have Glass, the third installment of a trilogy spanning 20 years. Yes, Sarah Paulson is tiresome, and yes, there seems to be a few things that don't quite stick, but forget what you've read: Glass is a worthwhile use of two of your precious hours. I was delighted to see Spencer Treat Clark reprise his role as Dunn's faithful and proud son, and Anya Taylor-Joy and Charlayne Woodard are always amazing. Don't wait for that Shyamalan twist: just enjoy the conclusion of a story of three people who are extraordinary.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Bumblebee

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Bumblebee

The unseen villain in Bumblebee (which for the sake of our collective sanity we can call the only installment in the Transformers franchise) is Michael Bay who, in 1987, when the film takes place, was working his way up the Hollywood ladder. With Bay still fetching coffee for Spielberg, director Travis Knight and star Hailee Steinfeld are free to have as much fun as possible with this admittedly silly concept, a concept that works considerably better when you can tell what's happening on screen. After all, a little fun was all 80’s kids ever wanted out  of these movies.

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Aquaman

100 WORD FILM REVIEWS / Aquaman

Aquaman drowns a bit under the weight of its own spectacle, and there were moments when I found myself needing sonar to find one character amidst a screen of CGI fish. But if you’ve always wanted to see Patrick Wilson riding a battle shark, hop in – the water’s fine. The Atlantis mythology is dense, and partly magical, partly silly. But it’s an agreeable silliness, to which Jason Momoa and Amber Heard bring a boatload of earnestness and charm, especially in their lower key scenes together. Plus there’s Nicole Kidman eating a pet goldfish right out of its tank.