‘The Gentlemen’ is Surprisingly Homoerotic, But at What Cost?

With The Gentlemen, writer/director Guy Ritchie follows his tepid Aladdin (2019) remake with the farthest thing from family-friendly: a mob of men murdering each other over money, marijuana, and megalomania. 

The story is told through the lens of Fletcher (Hugh Grant), a private detective/screenwriter who oozes sleaze. He’s got dirt on Ray’s (Charlie Hunnam) boss Mickey (Matthew McConaughey), an American looking to make money off the incoming weed boom that’ll hit the U.K. once the plant is eventually legalized. After a break-in jeopardizes the profitability of his marijuana farm, Mickey decides to sell it and retire early with his smokin’ wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery). 

Enter Matthew (Jeremy Strong, Succession sweetheart), a Jewish billionaire, and Dry Eye (Henry Golding), a Chinese gangster –– both want to buy out Mickey’s business. This is where it gets messy, and blackmail, bribing, murder plots, and much more quickly ensue. 

Continue reading “‘The Gentlemen’ is Surprisingly Homoerotic, But at What Cost?”

‘Marriage Story’ is an Emotional Tempest that Expertly Blurs the Line Between Realism and Camp

Noah Baumbach’s latest feature is a heartbreaking AU in which actress Gena Rowlands divorces her director husband John Cassavetes in order to move to LA and further her film acting career. Kidding, it’s a fluorescent law procedural detailing the absurdly high expenses, both financial and emotional, that unjustly come along with divorce. No, really, it’s a deconstruction of the apocryphal myth that the perfect parent, the perfect marriage, and the perfect career all exist. 

Continue reading “‘Marriage Story’ is an Emotional Tempest that Expertly Blurs the Line Between Realism and Camp”

Review: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ is Just Fine, but Not Gay Enough!

Let’s get this right off the bat: no, Kristen Stewart does not kiss a single girl even though her hair looks like that. It does, however, open with her character Sabina choking a man between her thighs. After that, it veers off the tracks into forgettability, which is especially disappointing because I was rooting for this one. We were all rooting for this one.  

Continue reading “Review: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ is Just Fine, but Not Gay Enough!”

LFF ’19: ‘Babyteeth’ Is a Poignant Subversion of Cancer Drama Stereotypes

There’s few things more unfair than cancer.

It’s a particularly cruel demon, a greedy and indiscriminate condition that cuts lives too short and too harshly. Perhaps cancer’s worst sin is its tendency to provide hope that it quickly snatches away; the cycles of remission cut every bit as deeply as the initial blow, if not even more violently. This is the tragic reality for many of those with cancer and their families. The long process of your own body turning against you prepares you for your end, but are you ever really prepared?

Continue reading “LFF ’19: ‘Babyteeth’ Is a Poignant Subversion of Cancer Drama Stereotypes”

‘Parasite’ is Bong Joon-ho’s Best to Date, Richly Layered with Metaphor and Socio-Political Satire

People will tell you that Parasite is best if you dive in with no knowledge whatsoever of the story. Respectfully, I disagree. If you’re familiar with Bong Joon-ho’s more mainstream oeuvre such as The Host (2006), Snowpiercer (2013), and Okja (2017), you’d probably expect this to be an action-packed sci-fi flick –– even the title of “Parasite” suggests a gruesome creature feature. Instead, Bong keeps the satirical elements of his previous work while simultaneously ensuring the constantly-shifting-but-mostly dark tone stays consistently grounded, making his latest feature feel more akin to his Korean-language crime-drama Mother (2009) than anything else he’s made before. The one aspect every single one of Bong’s films have in common? An incisive injection of spot-on socio-political commentary. And this is his sharpest yet. 

Continue reading “‘Parasite’ is Bong Joon-ho’s Best to Date, Richly Layered with Metaphor and Socio-Political Satire”

TIFF ’19: ‘Hustlers’ Knows What the F*ck Is Up

As Janet Jackson would say, Hustlers is a story about control. Jackson’s voice literally carries that message over the film’s first scene—her 1986 empowerment hit “Control” bumps through the elite Manhattan strip club where Constance Wu’s Destiny is trying to learn the ropes and take back her life. This pairing of song to scene is brass and unsubtle, but why shouldn’t it be? Hustlers knows it’s brass and unsubtle, and it knows exactly how to blend these elements, otherwise limiting in the wrong hands, into a dangerous concoction too delicious to resist. 

This cocktail of fun and energy and star power might trick you into thinking Lorene Scafaria’s latest film isn’t worth taking seriously, but you’d be dead wrong. Hustlers is big and uproarious, yes, but it’s also a for-fucking-real crime story with enough style, intrigue, and pinpoint emotional accuracy to compete with the films of Soderbergh and his ilk that have thus defined the ensemble heist genre. Thanks to the unique vision of women in control on both sides of the camera, Hustlers is a triumph—and one of the best films of the year.

Continue reading “TIFF ’19: ‘Hustlers’ Knows What the F*ck Is Up”

TIFF ’19: Family Epic ‘Waves’ Is a Visual Flood with Shallow Meaning

About halfway through the second spin of the merry-go-round camera that opens Waves, you start to get dizzy enough to look away. Some classic Tame Impala reverb bounces through the background, the blues and whites of the Florida sky glow unnaturally bright, and Euphoria sweetheart Alexa Demie hangs out her boyfriend’s car window, flashing a smile. It’s a 2019 film about teenagers, baby—if you didn’t know, now you know.

Waves writer-director Trey Edward Shultz isn’t afraid to dive headfirst into this bold style, accusations of parody and sameness be damned, and his commitment pays off. With Euphoria and Thunder Road cinematographer Drew Daniels by his side, Shultz delivers over two hours of consistently stunning visual narrative, each sequence challenging and creative, yet perfectly balanced and self-assured. These visuals mesh seamlessly with an electric score by Nine Inch Nails duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as an overloaded soundtrack of thumping Kanye and Frank Ocean tracks. It all leads you to believe Waves could be a great movie.

Continue reading “TIFF ’19: Family Epic ‘Waves’ Is a Visual Flood with Shallow Meaning”