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Joshua has written 30 reviews for films during 2016.

  • Son of Saul

    Son of Saul

    ★★★★★

    Upon just finishing it:
    This movie has shaken me in ways no other film has in a long while. Although the shallow depth-of-field obscures it, the pervasive chaos of destruction and death that revolves around Saul is very difficult to sit through. And the tragic beauty of that last sequence, holy shit. The whole film is heartbreaking. I don't know what to say. In no way is this enjoyable. Honestly, at some points, the shaky-cam almost drove me mad. But getting through almost feels like a right of passage, in a way, maybe? To be able to feel relief when it steadies? I don't know.

  • Perfect Sense

    Perfect Sense

    ★★★★½

    Wonderful concept here. Occasionally goes overboard with the score trying to make the audience feel, even as the viewer is already feeling in spades. Not perfect, but man, out of all of the "carpe diem" films out there, this one is my favorite.

  • Blood Simple

    Blood Simple

    ★★★★

    Sort of like David Lynch without the surrealism here. None of the characters are real people, with the Coen brothers amping up their eccentricities so that they are disturbed Southern caricatures, really. Still, a fun, visually engaging thriller. I'll buy the Criterion probably just to have a midnight movie on my shelf.

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★½

    Oh-so-close to being perfect. It's very hard to include certain elements and maintain believability here. Amy Adams does a fantastic job, giving us an almost heartbreaking performance. approaching the alien concept from a unique angle (linguistics) rather than making it your typical action flick. I will say that while Enemy and Sicario were so unique that they stood on their own, Arrival will draw some parallels to Interstellar, both in its subject matter and weaknesses, although Arrival is better thought out and, in the end, more emotionally affecting. But damn. Go see this.

  • Moonlight

    Moonlight

    ★★★½

    As much as I enjoyed this film for its immersive cinematography and grasp of its own internal language, towards the end it leaves you a bit wanting. Despite the film centering around the growth of its main character into adulthood, I missed the essential point of Chiron's character development, when he speaks of "building himself from the ground up", and becoming tough. The film had a wonderful opportunity to investigate how a gay man interacts (or doesn't) with a stereotypically…

  • The Night Manager

    The Night Manager

    ★★★★

    Last two episodes succumbed to editing and sound design that was trying to hard to be effective. Here we have a solid cast with a slow burn story that ratchets up tension. Wether the ending works is debatable, but granted, Le Carre is rarely concerned with satisfying endings. Still, the delivery felt rushed when compared to the meticulous ness that they set up the stakes. Here, you get a solid espionage thriller, very enjoyable.

  • Scream 2

    Scream 2

    ★★★

    Even though the Scream series is nothing special, I really enjoy its refusal to take itself seriously. Nothing much more to say.

  • The Birth of a Nation

    The Birth of a Nation

    ★★★★

    Trying a bit too hard to be Oscar bait, but still very good. There is some wonderful imagery here, and a powerful story. The score, however, is a bit too present here, with swells of emotion sometimes distracting us from actually feeling the impact of the scene. Aside from that, still very enjoyable. Not something you'll really need to unpack, or see more than twice, but still.

  • Sicario

    Sicario

    ★★★★½

    Good turnaround here. Still not too particular to the sympathetic subplot, but I understand why its there, and why the director found it to be important.

  • Children of Men

    Children of Men

    ★★★½

    First of all, the cinematography is first rate. Lubezki manages to set up many vivid, layered shots with a very shallow depth of field, and it works very well. As far as the action sequences are concerned, they're unexpected, and actually create a fair bit of tension, since the audience has been given time to invest in these characters and in the gravity of their situation. Cuaron is always giving us the vital information right before we need it, and…

  • When a Stranger Calls

    When a Stranger Calls

    ★★

    Some well lit sequences, but not much else. Too many moments of tension built for no release. We have no reason to actually care about the main character put in the middle of all this. The villain is never given any apparent rationale or context. I knew it was a B-movie, but man, a good hour of chromatic "oh shit here it comes" violins could have been cut and made the film bearable at least.

  • Mission: Impossible III

    Mission: Impossible III

    ★★★

    Typical MI popcorn flick, one of the few popcorn flicks I still seem to enjoy. I was especially excited for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, however his character, while a definite presence in the film, was underwhelming. The script gives us no sense of Hoffman's motivation, and being the prime villain in the film, that seems extremely important. Abrams did a good job with creatively using artificial light to make certain chase sequences more disorienting. Definitely one of the grittier MI films presentation wise, which was a nice change of pace from the very sleek most recent installments.