Inside shows an unhinged performance from Willem Dafoe.

A high-end art thief becomes trapped inside a luxury, high-tech penthouse in New York’s Times Square after his heist doesn’t go as planned. Locked inside with nothing but priceless works of art, he must use all his cunning and invention to survive.

Inside is definitely a strange one, in a lot of ways it did surprise me quite a bit. For a movie about a guy who gets trapped in a high-tech penthouse this movie does have quite a few different ideas floating around. 

To get the obvious out of the way Willem Dafoe is truly fantastic here, he absolutely nails it with him being a one man show and even with several scenes that don’t have any dialogue he’s able to show his character Nemo’s thoughts and actions masterfully. There’s a lot of symbolism going on here that really gets you invested the more it goes on and it really starts to fuse together into this very atmospheric narrative. 

Speaking of which the atmosphere is very well done, it’s dark and has this sense of being trapped in a very limited space that Nemo desperately wants to get out of. During the film Nemo slowly but surely goes into madness, where Dafoe starts to give a very unhinged performance that really makes the movie standout quite a lot. There’s a lot of gross scenes that admittedly did make me cringe and absolutely did catch me off guard, which If I had to guess show the desperation of Nemo in his situation. 

Finally there’s the last bit of the movie that perfectly sums up Inside quite well, at this point Nemo has gone completely insane and is at his limit, it’s truly interesting to see how far the penthouse pushed him and his dedication to escape. The more I think about Inside the more I like it, it’s most certainly not going to be for everyone. But if it does sound interesting to you I do recommend giving it a go. 

Inside is available in theaters. 

8/10 B+


Boston Strangler is a solid enough true crime drama.

Reporter Loretta McLaughlin becomes the first person to connect a series of murders and break the story of the Boston Strangler. She and Jean Cole challenge the sexism of the early 1960s to report on the city’s most notorious serial killer.

Boston Strangler as a true crime drama I definitely think it goes the job done well enough, the problem is it could have been so much more than just well enough. 

Kiera Knightley and Carrie Coon are both really solid here and give some quite raw performances at times that easily capture some of the movie’s best moments. There’s some solid dialogue that captures the overall disturbing nature of the crime as well as some very dark atmosphere that much like the dialogue captures the disturbing nature of the crimes committed. 

It is sort of impossible to talk about this movie without brining up the clear as day David Fincher elements used some people can and have made the argument that it really comes off as a rip-off particularly to Zodiac and Se7en. Which I really can’t help but agree that there are Fincher elements used some scenes almost feel identical just nowhere near as effective as they were in Fincher’s films. I would normally write off a movie doing that right there, but at the very least Boston Strangler does make up for it with some really engaging scenes that does bring in the viewer. 

The third act definitely crumbles at the end, it’s very much a case of the path to getting to the third act was much more interesting than the final act itself, it sort of just tacks on ending and calls it a day. Really comes off as if there were a few scenes missing. 

Despite my review sounding a bit negative I actually did have a decent enough time with Boston Strangler, it has strong act, great atmosphere and dialogue and engages the viewer well enough. 

Boston Strangler is available on Hulu 

6/10 C+

Chang Can Dunk has a heart but is lacking in the script.

Chang, a 16-year-old Asian American high school student in band, bets the school basketball star that he can dunk by homecoming. But before he can rise up, he’ll have to reexamine everything he knows about himself, his friendships and his family.

Why does anyone care if Chang can or cannot dunk? Jokes aside I was definitely expecting the worst with Chang Can Dunk, in some ways it’s a bit better than I thought and in others well it’s exactly what I expected it to be. 

The performances are fine enough, particularly Bloom Li who’s given a script that is on the level of a bad Disney Channel Original Movie. He does what he can with it and I definitely respect him for that, Dexter Darden is decently fun as well and I actually liked Zoe Renee despite her ultimately just being the love interest and that’s it. It’s definitely one of the better made Disney+ movies, it goes for this bigger in scale type of feel which I will admit is kind of surprising to see from this sort of movie. 

Unfortunately just about everything else is either terrible or falls into the forgettable category, the writing as I said earlier is not that much different from a Disney Channel movie it’s just a bit more mature with it’s tone and that’s pretty much it, the movie is very predictable to the point where you can guess what is going to happen within the first 10 minutes. The movie attempts to go for a coming of age sort of feel which doesn’t work nearly as well as they thought it did, which again comes down to the writing. 

We aren’t given a whole lot of character moments with any of the characters even with Chang himself, we are given very surface level information that a lot of these Disney+ movies tend to give and then the movie decides to move on to the next scene. Part of what makes a good coming of age movie is character development and character moments, where we learn about the character, how they feel, what their goals are, who they are as a person and much more. 

I can definitely respect that Chang Can Dunk at the very least attempted to try and be a coming of age movie (something you really done often see in modern Disney movies) but it doesn’t do it well here unfortunately, I definitely think with a much more focused and better written script there could have been something really great here. 

Chang Can Dunk is available on Disney+

4/10 D+

80 for Brady is a charming movie with a fantastic cast!

Four best friends live life to the fullest when they embark on a wild trip to see their hero, Tom Brady, play in the 2017 Super Bowl.

80 for Brady was one of those movies I immediately wrote off as “this is going to be terrible” due to the trailer and just the whole concept alone, I did not think they were going to be able to execute the premise all that well. 

But as I have said in the past in my reviews I like to be proven wrong and that’s the case here, for starters the main four Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field and Lily Tomlin are all quite great. They combine their character’s personalities and make the movie incredibly charming, the Guy Fieri cameo is also pretty fun as well. I haven’t been a really huge fan of cameos as of late but I will give credit where credit is due the Fieri cameo was at least very fun. 

The movie’s strongest parts come from the interactions the main four have with each other and the other characters, there’s a lot of genuinely charming scenes that you just can’t help but smile at and some scenes are actually pretty funny as well. I don’t think the movie really succeeds in the comedic department as a lot of the humor is very hit or miss, but I do think it most certainly makes it up with charm. 

As far as execution on the idea the movie does it fine enough, the movie executes it the best it could have possibly could, sure there are some missed opportunities when it comes to humor. But as it stands 80 for Brady is a fun little comedy that has a very charming cast. 

80 for Brady is available on all VOD platforms. 

6/10 C+

Sweetheart is a charming coming of age story.

A socially awkward, environmentally conscious teenager named AJ is dragged to a coastal holiday park by her painfully ‘normal’ family, where she becomes unexpectedly captivated by a chlorine smelling, sun-loving lifeguard named Isla.

I really don’t have much to say about Sweetheart, it’s a very sweet little film (no pun intended) about trying to figure out who you are with some family dynamics. 

The performances are all quite great and really move the film at a satisfying pace, the direction is solid enough to the point where it captures plenty of heartfelt moments. The family dynamics in the film are quite interesting and really give the film the extra push it needs. 

Admittedly Sweetheart is very familiar in a lot of areas, if you have seen a lot of coming age films in the past you probably know what to expect. However I still can’t help but feel that the movie is still genuinely interesting. I’m not exactly sure why but I think it’s mainly due to the writing, which does actually feel like it captures how teenagers or everyday people talk.

Overall Sweetheart is a cute little movie that for the most part accomplished what it was sent out to do, it might not be one of the best coming of age stories. But it’s still a very satisfying little movie. 

Sweetheart is available on all VOD platforms. 

6/10 C+

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a weak addition to the trilogy

Mike Lane takes to the stage once again when a business deal that went bust leaves him broke and bartending in Florida. Hoping for one last hurrah, Mike heads to London with a wealthy socialite who lures him with an offer he can’t refuse — and an agenda all her own. With everything on the line, he soon finds himself trying to whip a hot new roster of talented dancers into shape.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is the third installment of the Magic Mike trilogy, the Magic Mike movies aren’t something I’m not that huge of a fan of. But I can still appreciate the work that was put into them and a lot of the filmmaking in general. The first two movies are solid movies with a lot of chemistry and charm that really work, so how does the third one stack up? 

You would think with Steven Soderbergh returning as director (he directed the first) that this would repeat the quality of the first movie, unfortunately that’s not the case here. Magic Mike’s Last Dance starts out promising enough, with some really great charm and chemistry between Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek. Those first several minutes are by far some of the best moments of the movie. 

After that however is when the movie starts to take a nosedive, while the choreography is fantastic and there’s some solid song choices here that do match the movie. It’s mostly the writing and chemistry that are completely missing, there are a lot of moments where it really did feel like the writers had no idea what to really do so they threw a bunch of ideas at a all to see what sticks. The chemistry between Tatum and Hayek just doesn’t work here, after the beginning the chemistry starts to fall apart and doesn’t reach the sort of chemistry that the other movies had (in terms of Tatum’s character with the other characters from the previous movies.)

There’s just a whole lot missing here that is very noticeable after the opening, the movie itself is well made and has a lot going on in terms of choreography and music. But lacks when it comes to storytelling and writing. I definitely don’t think Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a bad movie, it’s just a very noticeable drop in quality from the other two movies. 

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is available on all VOD platforms. 

5/10 C

Marlowe lacks in story and writing.

Detective Phillip Marlowe becomes embroiled in an investigation with a wealthy family in Bay City, California after a beautiful blonde hires him to find her former lover.

Out of the sea of Liam Neeson movies that have been coming out like crazy, Marlowe stood out as the one with the most potential. It’s based on the 2014 novel The Black Eyed Blonde by Jon Banville who writes under the pen name Benjamin Black. The cast seemed quite good and Neil Jacobs is a pretty solid director. 

Marlowe does have it’s good parts which mostly comes from the performances and the style of the movie. While it doesn’t completely nail the film noire style, it does it pretty well and actually has some quite transformative moments that do put you into the atmosphere of the movie. Between Liam Neeson’s performance (one of the best he’s given in awhile) and the atmosphere it does a decent job of creating a film noire type style. 

What ultimately drags this down is everything else, the story becomes way too generic and starts to repeat what a lot of better films in the film noire have done already. The writing falls incredibly flat towards the end with a lot of pacing that is just way too slow for it’s own good, by the end it starts to become your usual Liam Neeson action movie. Which would be fine if this was trying to be something like The Commuter, but that’s not the case here as it’s trying to be a film noire mystery. 

Overall Marlowe has great style and acting, it’s also better than a lot of other Liam Neeson movies that have been coming out the last few years, but unfortunately it falls short when it comes to just about everything else. 

Marlowe is available on all VOD platforms. 

4/10 D+

Emily has lines that blur fiction and reality.

Imagines the transformative, exhilarating, and uplifting journey to womanhood of a rebel and a misfit, one of the world’s most famous, enigmatic, and provocative writers who died too soon at the age of 30.

Emily could have been just another biopic but luckily there are a handful of things the film does a bit differently. Emily is a part fictional portrait of English writer Emily Brontë, which really does sum up this film quite well. 

For starters Emma Mackey is truly fantastic here, she gives so far one of the best performances of the year and truly hits it out of the park whenever given the opportunity. There’s these moments where the lines of fiction and reality are blurred, Mackey takes those moments and only makes them stronger with her incredible acting ability. 

The cinematography is gorgeous and gives the film a more gothic period piece type aesthetic which is very pleasing to the eye and really compliments the film quite well, the attention to detail with the costumes, background and foreground is truly sharp and creative as well. There’s so much to look at in each scene even if there is just a shot of one person in frame. 

When it comes to directing Frances O’Connor really nails it down, this is actually her directional debut which is quite impressive and really shows the upcoming talent really well, O’Connor creates a real but also fictional world. It has this playful atmosphere towards the beginning but at the same time has this dark atmosphere of tragedy which ultimately does come up in the film. It’s impressive to see how quickly O’Connor can capture so many different types of moods really well. 

The only main flaw is the movie does go on for a bit too long towards the end, however that doesn’t stop Emily from being such an interesting film that is truly beautifully told and done. 

Emily is available in theaters. 

8/10 B+

Alice Darling is a powerful film about abusive relationships.

Pushed to the breaking point by Simon, her psychologically abusive boyfriend, Alice rediscovers the essence of herself and gains some much-needed perspective while on vacation with two close girlfriends. However, Simon’s vengeance is as inevitable as it is shattering, and once unleashed, it tests her strength, her courage, and the bonds of deep-rooted friendships.

I’ve said before in my reviews that some of the hardest topics to talk about in film are sexual assault and abusive relationships, Alice Darling not only nails the topic down very well but it keeps things at a very grounded level. 

Let’s address the obvious and if you have heard people talk about this film you probably already know this by now, but Anna Kendrick gives such a fantastic performance. She gives a heartbreaking and very raw performance that really sticks with the viewer and she does such a fantastic job of portraying the behaviors of what people go through in abusive relationships. Such as wanting to deny they are abused, show how scared they are, say things are fine when in reality they really aren’t. All of that is portrayed here in a very grounded and raw feel that really captures the atmosphere and feel of the film, Kaniehtiio Horn and Wunmi Mosaku play the friends of Alice (Anna Kendrick) they both give tremendous performances and have very investing conversations with one another. 

The film really does such a great job of portraying friends who are very worried for one another when one of them ends up being abused. In this case Tess (Kaniehtiio Horn) and Sophie (Wunmi Mosaku) are very worried for Alice and ask if everything is okay and ask about Simon (Charlie Carrick), these scenes lead to a lot of very real conversations and really shows the power of friendship especially towards the end. 

The film doesn’t show any violence take place it more so describes what Alice is going through, she is constantly worried about not “screwing up” and even with the smallest mistakes she freaks out, which is painful to really see. It’s a bit uncomfortable at times and can really get to the viewer, but that’s how it succeeds it shows the reality of how horrible these abusive relationships really are. 

Alice Darling is available on all VOD platforms. 

9/10 A

Bruiser is a coming of age film with powerful themes of family.

14-year-old Darious explores the boundaries of his manhood with Malcolm, his strict but loving father, and Porter, a charismatic drifter. When Darious learns Porter’s true identity, he is thrust into a conflict between the two men.

Bruiser is one of those coming of age stories that has a lot more to it when you really look at it. The film starts out as one, but evolves into a film that tackles a lot of themes that really compliment the film well. 

The performances are all really strong here particularly Jalyn Hill, Trevante Rhodes and Shamier Anderson all three really compliment each other well and have some of the strongest moments I’ve seen so far this year. Jalyn Hill previously portrayed Emmett Till in last years Till the absolute mind blowing range between portraying Emmett Till and this role is quite fascinating and really shows Hill’s talent quite well. Two completely different roles that have very different meanings and he hits them both out of the park flawlessly. 

Bruiser is also a directional debut from Miles Warren and it’s one hell of a directional debut for sure, Warren captures a lot of the usual coming of age movie elements but makes them his own and puts in a lot of family elements and wanting the family to connect to one another. He also shows the effects of fighting, how it can damage families, bonds or relationships. The film does this in a way that while has been done before is still very investing and really grabs the viewer’s attention. 

The only major flaw is the ending mostly, it doesn’t compliment the rest of the movie very well and it doesn’t quite give the striking powerhouse blow that the rest of the movie had shown previously and does come off as a little rushed. 

However that doesn’t take away that Bruiser is such a strong film, it’s a very investing film that really holds your attention with a lot of strongly portrayed themes. Definitely be sure to check this one out. 

Bruiser is available on Hulu. 

8/10 B+