‘Venom’ Mini-Review

Why is Venom, the alien symbiote who bonds with Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), named Venom in the movie Venom? I mean, why does he call himself Venom? Why does another symbiote, this one named Riot, call Venom by the name Venom? I don’t mean this in a gotcha, Why are these weird aliens speaking English sort of way, …

‘A Star Is Born’ Review

A Star Is Born is a perfectly acceptable harvesting of previously tilled territory, one that highlights Bradley Cooper’s impressive dramatic range and Lady Gaga’s dynamic vocals without bringing anything particularly exciting or memorable to the table, save one pop song that will undoubtedly go down as a “banger” that “slaps.”

‘The Sisters Brothers’ Review

Eli and Charlie Sisters (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, respectively) announce themselves early on in The Sisters Brothers. The camera focused on a stretch of dark prairie land, we hear them announce themselves (“We’re the Sisters Brothers!”) before demanding that those holed up inside toss out whoever it is they’re hiding unless they want violence to commence. Violence, of course, commences, and the brothers Sisters kill everyone inside.

‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ Review

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House with a Clock in Its Walls, the adaptation of a beloved children’s book, is directed by Eli Roth. The same Eli Roth who made the Hostel movies, which practically defined the term “torture porn,” as well as Cabin Fever and the recent Death Wish reboot and the cannibalism-oriented eco-horror film The Green Inferno. The same Eli Roth who played the baseball-bat-wielding Bear Jew in Inglourious Basterds and directed Knock Knock, a film in which Keanu Reeves is first seduced and then tortured by a pair of naughty school girls.

‘Mandy’ Review

Mandy

There’s a shot midway through Mandy that’s about two minutes long and acutely sums up the last 10 years of Nicolas Cage performances. Red Miller (Cage) has just awoken from a nightmare, one inspired by the violent death of his lover, Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough), at the hands of Children of the New Dawn, a band of religious fanatics.

‘Peppermint’ Review

Peppermint

After a decade or so of what might be referred to as “mom roles”—the adoptive-mother-to-be in Juno; the pregnant girlfriend in Draft Day; the mother of a dying child in Miracles from Heaven—it is easy to forget that at the start of the millennium, Jennifer Garner was, arguably, the greatest female action star in Hollywood. Alias, Daredevil, Elektra, The Kingdom: Garner was as handy with a gun as she was at hand-to-hand combat.

‘The Happytime Murders’ Review

There’s a moment, I don’t know, maybe three or four or only one or two minutes into The Happytime Murders, when a puppet says “fuck you” to a human. The audience I was seeing it with dutifully laughed because, obviously, it’s deeply, deeply funny when puppets use bad words. Because puppets are for children, you see, and the frisson of hearing something designed to entertain children drop the f-bomb is inherently funny.