Harsh Texture

  • 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.
  • 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