First Man (2018)

A 2018 biopic titled “First Man” invites expectations of, if not a chest-thumping celebration of NASA and its success in landing men on the Moon, then at least a celebration of the life of Neil Armstrong, the titular man itself. The film is neither. It’s not a celebration at all. It’s an relentlessly interior dive…

I Saw the Devil (2010)

“I Saw the Devil” starts out as a well-executed, particularly gruesome revenge horror/thriller movie, with the sort of tropes and violence that come with that. When it turns to the “by the protagonist pursuing revenge, they are in fact becoming like the monster they are pursuing!” morality play in the second act, it feels a…

The Invitation (2015)

Self-assured and very conscious of its pacing in every sense, “The Invitation” is a sombre, tense take on the “dinner party from hell” mystery/thriller/horror subgenre. The film does an excellent job of building up its tension and layering its character relationships so when the ugliness of the third act begins, it feels as much catharsis…

Venom (2018)

From the poster to the tone to the tie-in song, “Venom” feels like it could have come out fourteen years ago. The utter edgy shlock of it all, the poster riffing off Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2”, the Eminem title track, even the utter lunacy of Tom Hardy’s deranged, Jim Carry-esque performance. What a complete delight.…

Searching (2018)

A first-person Internet thriller, told entirely from the vantage point of a computer screen (the film commits impressively to this, never abandoning the conceit at all, even if it means the trope of “watching news footage on a website” is overused at times), and told with unusual detail and care. As a kind of cousin…

Mandy (2018)

A glorious, facemelting psychedelic rock and roll descent into horror. As much crazy dream as unforgettable trip. Gonzo and surreal, and made with awe-inspiring amounts of style. A screed against the might of cosmic destructive forces (the film opens with deforestation but it’s a memorable monologue about Jupiter, as well as space landscapes, that make…

Jobs (2013)

A limp, by-the-numbers biopic that looks all the worse for Danny Boyle’s masterful film take on the title character having come out only two years after it. Perhaps this one was rushed into production after Steve Jobs’ death? The film coasts off actor similarity to real-life figures, the parade of photo contrasts between the actors…