Shazam! (2019)

Where so much of the superhero genre of films feels loaded with bathos in how films will undercut their own stakes and concepts with irreverent humour poking at the essential silliness and vapidity of their own construction, “Shazam!” feels more like the superhero films nearly two decades its junior; the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. Those…

Pet Sematary (2019)

A gloomy tragedy that foregrounds the hamartia of its protagonists then sets about methodically pulling down its characters into the appropriate misery and madness. Initially only the leading wife explicitly rejects death, the husband a scientifically-minded doctor that finds the concept perfectly peaceable, but as their move to a wishfully calmer backwoods town doesn’t result…

Us (2019)

[spoilers for the film] Where Jordan Peele’s first film, “Get Out”, was a focused, direct horror imbibed with specific social commentary, his second film, “Us”, is a murkier entity. It’s much more a genre piece, focused on visceral scares and weighed down by that structural loop of simpler horror affairs (a fright, normalcy simmers down…

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

The lead-up to the film saw arguments over whether it would lean more on the charming and remarkably self-sustained (that is, not affected with prequel-itis) documenting magical beasts story, or the nascent magical fascism civil war story. Insanely, the film seems not too interested either, and much more interested in droning explanations of magical bloodlines…

First Reformed (2018)

A gnawing sense of tension slowly ramps up throughout the entirety of “First Reformed”, until the last twenty minutes became unbearable in their oppressive dread. Ethan Hawke’s Reverend Toller has lost his son, his sense of purpose, the love of self needed to maintain relationships, the institutions of the world have failed him, and his…

Eighth Grade (2018)

The empathy quotient for this film is so high it’s legitimately difficult to watch. The veracity and verisimilitude with witch director Bo Burnham and revelatory star Elsie Fisher imbue the film is so real it feels unreal; everything, from the cast playing their actual ages, to the realistic stumbling and odd noises in dialogues, to…

Stan & Ollie (2018)

A charming little bittersweet look at the latter years of Laurel and Hardy, more an excuse to have Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly do their takes on them more than anything else I suspect. The film’s own story, dwelling mostly in their less successful 1950s after a brief prologue of their success in the…