The Yards Review: The Understated Richness of James Gray’s Crime Drama

✯✯✯✯½

The Yards is a very personal statement from director James Gray, but it also shows where the American filmmaker’s delicate and painterly style has found itself more fully realized. It’s a personal testament for him, especially in its own setting within the train yards of New York City – but how the backdrop even plays a big factor in allowing something so grand and cathartic to come forward also says a lot for what the filmmaker can be like at his very best. This only being the American filmmaker’s sophomore film, The Yards is a very special sort of crime drama, one whose most beautiful moments have went completely understated, yet there’s always something to be drawn into. If there’s ever a more fitting description for the work of James Gray, you can already feel as if the core of what makes his films so beautiful is there, but maybe it’s not flashy – though I think they’re better off that way. And fittingly enough, I felt convinced enough that I had for the longest time been underestimating his work.

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Tully Review: A Tender Film About the Challenges of an Idealized Motherhood

✯✯✯✯

I think I’m starting to find myself appreciating Diablo Cody’s writing far more than I initially would have thought I did, because her writing style seems to have grown far more beautifully within time. Although the rather blunt self-awareness can still be annoying (I still think that this is the case with Juno), there’s already been a clear sense of growth in her partnership with Jason Reitman for I’m only finding myself impressed by what the two of them bring to the screen together. After two misses for director Jason Reitman, it’s nice to see that he’s finding himself coming back onto the right track with Tully – something that I’d been waiting for after how dreadful his previous two films were. For not only is this Jason Reitman’s best film since Up in the Air but for another collaboration between Reitman and Diablo Cody, this feels like the perfect follow-up for Young Adult.

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Atomic Blonde – Review

✯✯½

I’m still not sure how exactly did something like Atomic Blonde, carrying so much unexpected promise from the idea of one of the original directors of John Wick going solo to helm this, with Charlize Theron leading the way, with a soundtrack that goes from The Clash, New Order, Depeche Mode, and David Bowie – would end up becoming as disappointing as this. After Chad Stahelski has found himself achieving success from directing John Wick: Chapter 2 solo, I’m not sure what is left of David Leitch’s future after this, because the lack of Stahelski by his side shows that there’s still something missing in what could have made itself a female equivalent to John Wick. And given as it was exactly what I was hoping for, I was disappointed that it wasn’t a female equivalent in such a sense, more just a hollow imitator.

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Prometheus – Review

✯✯✯½

Ever since James Cameron laid his name on the Alien franchise with his more action-oriented sequel, Aliens, I’ve only grown less fond of the direction that the series has moved for. The very idea behind Alien was always one that I enjoyed most when it was confined, and although a fantastic sequel in itself, Aliens was also home to what would eventually become one of the biggest problems with the Alien franchise as a whole: the universe ended up becoming far too big for its own good. With Prometheus it feels nice that Ridley Scott wants to return the franchise back to the roots of where it all had begun, yet it still suffers what’s plagued the universe ever since Aliens had come along. The success of the original Alien was clear from how little we knew about how the creature worked before it started killing off its victims, but as more films come by, said approach has become worn out and lost.

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The Last Face – Review

½

Wasting talent is one thing, but associating all of that with something nearly half as unforgivable as The Last Face is a whole other level. Sean Penn’s first directorial effort after Into the Wild has found the actor-director sinking himself down to a new low, maybe even the lowest that he’s hit in his entire career. And somehow, the word “exploitative” isn’t even enough to describe what’s wrong with The Last Face on just about every level because even an element that would make itself to appear as slightly redeeming irrelevant when discussing the product as a whole. It’s been a long while since I’ve come across something of such a rare sort of ugliness on a screen of any sort – and I’ll be amazed if I find anything else of this kind come out within this year. Penn is clearly a wonderfully talented actor and maybe his directing isn’t on the same level, but this sort of thing is just baffling for someone of his own kind.

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Kubo and the Two Strings – Review

✯✯✯✯½

Laika’s latest offering, Kubo and the Two Strings is a film that is motivated through what it is about, the power of storytelling. Showing influence from the work of Hayao Miyazaki, what’s offered through Kubo and the Two Strings shows not only from the beauty of the animation left behind, but also from an evident love for its own inspirations are, but only a fraction of the beauty arises from there. If one were to tell me that Kubo and the Two Strings was indeed a stop motion feature as it were directed by Hayao Miyazaki, I would believe it on the spot, because this sort of beauty which I’ve found in here is something almost indescribable as it splashes all the more with imagination right as it drifts along. I don’t think I’ll see another animated film from this year that will ever be as gorgeous as this. Continue reading →