In Review: The Climb

On-screen male friendship is well-tread material in revealing the exploits of compulsively bad men. In Husbands, John Cassavettes detailed toxic male behavior to spiritually and physically exhaustive extent, mining deep pathologies about how men goad and bolster their worst impulses in the name of friendship. Todd Phillips’ The Hangover series reflected all of the misogyny and violence of the very worst kind of bro-y male bonds, and aggressively condoned them. The problem with The Climb, Michael Angelo Covino’s debut feature, is that it thinks it’s the former with the dry wit, but it’s actually the latter with a straight face.

Continue reading “In Review: The Climb”

In Review: Ammonite

After delivering a stifled and stoic romance with God’s Own Country, Francis Lee returns with a film that is largely similar to his previous effort. Ammonite is a new closeted duet mired in harsh natural elements and punctuated with hungered sexual catharsis., and centered on a protagonist of few words. Again, Lee makes an unfeeling physical world to embody the limitations faced by gay people in a straight world; here it’s all crashing waves, frozen stone, and shaly mud. But Ammonite takes us back nearly two hundred years, offering a fictionalized account of paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and a love affair with the married Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan).

Continue reading “In Review: Ammonite”

In Review: Kindred

An unnerving family dynamic is at play in Joe Marcantonio’s Kindred, a psychological thriller musing on motherhood and madness. Young Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance) is only tensely welcomed by her boyfriend Ben’s (Edward Holcroft) established, but insular small family unit, with Ben’s mother Margaret (Fiona Shaw) wordlessly clutching to whatever domain she still holds over her adult son. Hovering about is Ben’s step-brother Thomas (Jack Lowden), always cooking and maintaining a strict schedule. Margaret’s home is a stately manor of faded affluence and the beginning signs of major disrepair, much too much house for so little life. Instead of company, it’s filled with expectations.

Continue reading “In Review: Kindred”

In Review: Let Him Go

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are on an interstate road trip to Yikes-ville in Let Him Go, a dopey new vigilante drama collecting dust on screen faster than your grandmother’s knick knacks on a shelf. Like a Norman Rockwell painting of a public execution, Let Him Go is awfully quaint about the casual violence it accepts as everyday. As the film gets progressively more grim, it almost pathologically leans in toward chicken soup sentimentality to mind-boggling effect. You half expect its high body count finale to end by tunefully rhapsodizing the virtues of waking up to Folgers in your cup.

Continue reading “In Review: Let Him Go”

In Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Fourteen years have passed since Sacha Baron Cohen crashed cinemas with Borat, skewering American Bush-era xenophobia to, as the titular Kazakh journalist would say, “great success.” By now, the ability of Cohen’s stereotype amalgam to reflect American bigotry and idiocy has aged, as most flash-in-the-pan comedy sensations do. Immediately following the film, things got seemingly better in terms of the national climate; later that veneer was unmasked, and the exact psychosis Cohen was lampooning proved to have only gotten even worse. 

Which makes for the potentially perfect time for Cohen to revive his retired character in sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, if only to mark the evolution of America’s white nationalism and misogyny over the past fifteen years. But what Cohen and director Jason Woliner underestimate is how dangerous his clueless subjects have become, how naive it seems to position their witlessness as impotent or without grave consequences. 

Continue reading “In Review: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”