Kate is built out of too many other movies to be its own movie

Slicker than goose shit, Netflix’s #1 trending new film Kate is stylishly brutal and will probably be praised in some quarters accordingly, but it leaves us wanting more. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is laconically terrific as Kate, an assassin who gets poisoned and spends the remainder of the movie, and the rest of her shortened life, searching for the yakuza higher-up who gave the order. Kate kills her way through Japan, coughing and injecting herself with stimulants to keep going. …


Joann Sfar’s Little Vampire is an affable ooky-spooky romp

Sometimes we want a movie that isn’t going to make us worry too much, and the amiable French animated all-ages fantasy Little Vampire falls squarely in that category. It’s good-hearted and has abundant charm, though not a lot seems to be at stake (no pun intended). Essentially it’s about friendship and finding one’s way, packed with enough monsters and goth beauty to keep fans of (early) Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro happy for a while. …


Peter Szewczyk’s Behemoth is little more than a demo reel

Peter Szewczyk (credited here as Sefchik) is a digital-effects artist who has worked on a few Star Wars films and Avatar. So in his feature directing debut Behemoth, we know the monsters and other effects will be first-rate. Unfortunately, everything else in this underpopulated mash-up of paranoid corporate thriller and trippy supernatural horror is second-rate at best. Joshua (Josh Eisenberg) is a father driven around the bend by grief and guilt over his ailing little daughter, whose disease may have been caused by the chemical company he used to work…


John Landis’ bid for greatness turns 40

An American Werewolf in London (which turned 40 on August 21) is not only the most compulsively watchable movie in writer/director John Landis’ portfolio; it is also one of the all-time great horror movies, a pitch-perfect mix of belly laughs and genuine scares fifteen years before Scream. Landis’ stroke of genius was to make his lycanthropic protagonist David Kessler (David Naughton) a witty college student as well as a Nice Jewish Boy. Like Landis, David has seen all the old werewolf movies on late-night TV and can’t quite take his situation seriously. But American Werewolf is far from a self-referential…


Val examines the pains and frustrations of an artist’s life

Not long before the lights go down on the raw and somewhat depressing videography Val, its subject, Val Kilmer, in character as Mark Twain, offers a question — perhaps, for him, the question: “What are the words that heal a broken heart?” Kilmer, whose peak as a Hollywood actor probably ran from 1984 (his debut Top Secret!) to 1995 (Batman Forever), has lost a great deal in his life. He appears to us now as a rumpled but unbowed version of his younger self, humbled but also possibly delivered into…


Michael Sarnoski’s Pig benefits from Nicolas Cage in somber mode

Frustrated viewers may pick apart Pig until there’s nothing left. Pig is one of those quietly opaque art-house wonders, in which volumes of meaning are meant to be expressed by what’s not said. But more often than not it just comes across as muffled and boring, despite Nicolas Cage’s implosive restraint in the lead. Cage plays Robin Feld, who lives off the grid in the Oregon woods with his beloved pig. The pig is great at sniffing out truffles, and Robin sells them to a Portland food supplier (Alex Wolff)…


John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II is solely about dread and adrenaline

John Krasinski, we might imagine, sat in his office chortling at all the headaches he put the characters through while writing A Quiet Place Part II. On the set, directing all the chaos, he may have chuckled even more. Krasinski had more fun, I hope, than we do watching the film — it’s grim and stressful and relentless, but comes off even more hollow than the first film (which Krasinski also directed and co-wrote). What is the deeper point of the story? Is there even more story…


Fear and Loathing in Aspen reloads the beloved old crank once more

They keep dredging up Hunter S. Thompson’s bones, even as the passage of time pegs him as a cautionary tale, an Icarus who flew too close to his own inner sun. This time his skeleton is being made to speak for a good cause, I guess — the importance of voting. Fear and Loathing in Aspen is a largely fictionalized and aimless account of Thompson’s run for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, in 1970. The story has been told before, in Thompson’s own “The Battle of Aspen” —…


Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner tries to make sense of a void

The suicide asks the world, “Why?” The question has levels: Why me? Why am I here? Why should I go on? And the suicide, most often, is answered by the same word with a different meaning: Why did you go? Why did you leave us? Why wasn’t I enough to save you?


‘Werewolves Within’ just doesn’t amount to much

Something about Werewolves Within doesn’t sit right with me. It’s a horror-comedy, which often means that people and even dogs die and you’re not asked to care much, but even so, this is a glib and breezy affair. We may find ourselves asking why we care if the characters live, either. The script, by memoirist Mishna Wolff, based on a video game, hands the actors lumpy mouthfuls of dialogue that they mostly turn into sentences that sound like real people might say them.

The cast is likable and game; the lead, Sam Richardson, is a large and huggable bundle of…

Rob Gonsalves

I see movies and write about ’em. Old, new, makes no difference.

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