BLACKkKLANSMAN Review – ****

BlacKkKlansman is the kind of film whose trailer prepared me for a rather different film than I ended up getting. I expected a pulpy thrill ride—a blast, you might say—and it took me some time to adapt to the film’s true flavor; while certainly boasting its share of humor and excitement, it’s much more of a…

CHI-RAQ Review – ***

When I was in Chicago for Thanksgiving, the subject of Chi-Raq came up at dinner, and my uncle’s girlfriend dropped her voice to a whisper, noting that the city fathers of Chicago had condemned the film, starting with its title, a damning nickname for a city long infamous for violence and crime, which Spike Lee…

THE LEARNING TREE Review – ***½

(Apologies if this review is a little scattered. I meant it to be a journal entry and it ended up reaching the length of a full review.) Not many films have been made in the corner of America I grew up in. But one very talented man, Gordon Parks, was born and raised not half…

ALOHA Review – *½

I knew from the trailer that Aloha would be a pretty pathetic excuse for a film–any film that highlights one of its worst jokes (the hysterically dated Flava Flav reference) and then drops that joke from the final film doesn’t have its head in the right place, and neither did Cameron Crowe, whose writing and direction are…

SELMA Review – ****

The historical drama film carries a certain kind of baggage. There’s always the risk that history will be distorted, often for the sake of a more “dramatic” narrative, or that the historical figures will be depicted as more saintly–or demonic–than they truly were. Selma is the kind of film which manages to be both compelling…

BIRDMAN, or THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE Review – ****

To what degree can a few seconds impact an entire film? In his review of Thelma and Louise, Roger Ebert argues that the climactic shot ends a few seconds too soon, and as such robs the film as a whole of just enough power that it doesn’t get **** from him. And in the case of Birdman, there are a…

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE Review – ****

In the midst of a tense confrontation under the guise of an academic warning, President Hutchinson (Peter Syvertsen) tells campus firebrand Sam White (Tessa Thompson) that she longs for the days of lynchings and Jim Crow, because that would give her something to truly fight against. As ignorant and hateful as Hutchinson, he’s more right…

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH Review – ***½

Going into 20,000 Days on Earth, I knew fairly little about Nick Cave. I knew he was a musician, but hadn’t listened to his music, and I knew he written a few screenplays, but had only seen one of the resultant films (the underwhelming Lawless–though his rejected Gladiator 2 script sounds awesomely ridiculous). So I might have been justified in…

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR Review – **

I didn’t get to see the original Sin City in theaters, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it beginning to end–but I know of its painstaking stylization, its grotesque violence, its gruesomely tragic characters. I liked it. But when the sequel was announced, and delayed and delayed, finally being pushed back from last October to last…