Harsh Texture

  • 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.
  • In John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarzenegger's second pairing, the sheer bloat of the feature suffocates its merits. What is sold as a wish fulfillment for a lonely boy who finds escape in action films curdles into bitter rebuke for the genre and its fans, wedded to a midlife crisis parable. Last Action Hero ultimately marked the beginning decline of action films.
  • Spike Lee comes out swinging in his most successful feature in decades. Here two police officers work together to infiltrate a local KKK chapter. What would be straight hagiography for any other director instead invites a critical eye. Naivety here is just as dangerous as racism and the protagonists and their cause do not escape scrutiny.
  • A disgraced former detective must wrestle with the darkness that grew in his daughter as he searches for her
  • 80's American films, particularly the gaudy actioners of the period, were the fuel for a vibrant bootleg trade in communist Romania. A clandestine activity at its peak, this documentary relies on the accounts of those who grew up watching the grainy videos in private viewing parties.
  • Another strong feature from Villeneuve, who once again conjures a nightmare world out of the familiar. An FBI agent is drafted into a extra legal war against Mexican drug cartels. Even if the twist is announced in the title, it still mars an otherwise effective genre thriller.
  • The Maltese Falcon is the first true Film Noir feature, and thus one of the most influential movies ever released. Aside from the great cast and strong direction, Falcon can paradoxically be enjoyed for just how many genre tenets it disregarded as well as established.
  • Dheepan arrived at the right moment as a fully-formed look at the refugee experience in Europe as the migrant waves threatened European Union like nothing else in peace time. It follows at a battle scarred Tamil Tiger who assumes a new identity and family while searching for safety in France. Conflict again threatens his new existence and calls on him to act.