Harsh Texture

  • Springsteen On Broadway couldn't be called "Bruce Comes Clean". Springsteen shares stories about his life that trace his youth to adulthood. Despite plenty of anecdotes the man seems as inscrutable as ever. Director Thom Zimny similarly keeps the production low-key and straightforward.
  • In 1993 John Woo and Jean Claude Van Damme had a lot to prove. Van Damme was desperate to break out of the video store and establish himself as a box office A-Lister. Meanwhile no major talent from Hong Kong had managed to translate their success in Hollywood. John Woo was anxious to buck the trend. Both men threw everything they had into Hard Target, though not regarded as either's best work it remains a very fun and ambitious entry in their filmographies.
  • On this dark and stormy night a group of strangers spend the night in a Hotel haunted by the past. Bad Times at the El Royal is fun cinema if more of a confection than an engaging film. If it has substance at all its in its exhumation of the late 60s
  • It's Marnie Gummer against a stillborn script In Echo Park. Romance films live and die on the spark between the leads and there's just nothing here. To make matters worse there's an over reliance on montage sequences that eventually lose the thread of the narrative.
  • A anthropologist's obsession with tracking a mysterious gang in his new home of Los Angeles may imply that Nomads is made of the same stuff as Death Wish, but John McTiernan's debut feature is a canny repudiation of those themes. He questions the morals of a protagonist desperate to seek and search out a struggle, whatever the costs to his professional and family life.
  • Vivid, lurid, and bracingly modern, The Other Side of the Wind is an energetic outlier in Orson Welles' catalog. Despite the techniques on display the plot of an aging maverick director who uses his comeback feature to assert dominance is full of Welles-ian betrayals and abandonments.
  • Key & Peele's first cinematic feature kept its social commentary in the subtext, foregrounding a glossy action-comedy hybrid. Underneath the histrionics and George Michael references lies a dark story of African American conformity
  • For the Coen Brothers' first film for a digital distribution service they deliver a minor pleasure. Anthology films are rarely the stuff of greatness, a limitation of the format. The Coens use six Western stories to frame stark depictions of intergenerational conflict. Neither the young nor the old are any holier than the other.
  • For one brief sequence My Super Ex Girlfriend is revolutionary. Female puberty has long been the grist of horror films, from the Exorcist and Carrie, to Ginger Snaps. When seen from the gaze of primarily male storytellers, the ordeal is one of unavoidable tragedy. Female puberty in these stories either makes girl undergoing it into a beast or into a target. Superhero films, especially origin films are often metaphors for male puberty. Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, and the Hulk all dealt with young men who became bigger, stronger, and faster. They weighed with the responsibility
  • The victim of a concentrated smear campaign during its release, the Ghostbusters remake is fine entertainment, very eager to please and extremely deferential to the source material. The film does pull away from its roots in some notable ways though. Through the eyes of its new protagonists its world is less realistic and less forgiving than previous entries.