REVIEW: Hustlers (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – STXfilms

The following is a review of Hustlers — Directed by Lorene Scafaria.

Based on Jessica Pressler’s New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers tells the story of how a group of fed-up female strippers drugged and robbed Wall Street money-men when they visited their club. The film stars Constance Wu as Destiny, a woman who strips to support her grandmother and pay off her debts. When she initially struggles to find success at the club she works at, Destiny teams up with the wildly successful, knowledgeable, and experienced stripper, Ramona (played by Jennifer Lopez), a single mother who takes Destiny under her wing — or, under her fur coat, so to speak (which is a reference to one of the most memorable scenes in the film) — and shows her the ropes. When the financial crisis of the late 2000s strikes, they come up with a new risky scheme to fleece potential customers. Continue reading “REVIEW: Hustlers (2019)”

REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Doctor Sleep — Directed by Mike Flanagan.

How do you please the fans of two very different masters of storytelling (i.e. Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick) when the storytellers’ understanding of The Shining differs so much that the author, Stephen King, once disowned director Stanley Kubrick’s extremely popular adaptation? How do you continue the story of The Shining on the big screen, when King and Kubrick’s endings are in conflict with each other? Those questions made the adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to his hit novel The Shining, an incredibly daunting task exactly because audiences would expect it to also be a sequel to Kubrick’s beloved masterpiece. Mike Flanagan, a promising horror filmmaker who adapted Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game into a terrific Netflix film, was eventually chosen for the difficult task. Ultimately, I think Flanagan, who both wrote, directed, and edited Doctor Sleep, did an outstanding job. Flanagan has confidently united two clashing visions in this quite satisfying, but undeniably unnecessary sequel. Continue reading “REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (2019)”

REVIEW: Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Columbia Pictures

The following is a review of Zombieland: Double Tap — Directed by Ruben Fleischer.

Belated comedy sequels scare me. They certainly don’t scare me as much as the flesh-eating living dead can, but whenever I hear about a sequel to a comedy that came out a decade ago, or longer, I get a chill down my spine. I watch these trailers with a concerned look on my face, and I’m always ready to cover my forehead with my palm if the trailer frustrates me. 2014’s Dumb and Dumber To was a terribly disappointing belated sequel to Peter Farrelly’s 1994 comedy classic, and Ben Stiller’s 2016 sequel to Zoolander might be one of the worst comedy sequels that I’ve ever seen. So when I pressed play on the first trailer for Zombieland: Double Tap, which has been released ten years after the original comedy hit came out, I was more worried than I was excited. To tell you the truth, I absolutely hated that trailer, which is exactly why I was so pleasantly surprised to see that Zombieland: Double Tap is one of the rare belated comedy sequels that actually works. Continue reading “REVIEW: Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)”

REVIEW: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Paramount Pictures / Buena Vista International

The following is a review of Terminator: Dark Fate — Directed by Tim Miller.

Just a couple of years ago, Terminator Genisys broke my heart. Nevertheless, on Friday, I found myself in a movie theater ready to watch the next Terminator-film in its opening weekend. Terminator, a long-running franchise that hasn’t found a lot of success since James Cameron left the film series’ director’s chair and let multiple others sit in it, has been run into the ground. The first two films, which were both directed by James Cameron, are both iconic and Terminator 2: Judgment Day might be my favorite action film ever made. Since then Jonathan Mostow, McG, and Alan Taylor have all tried and, to varying degrees, failed to resurrect and reboot the film series in a successful and satisfying way. Continue reading “REVIEW: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)”

REVIEW: Judy (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – LD Entertainment / Pathé

The following is a review of Judy — Directed by Rupert Goold.

Rupert Goold’s Judy is a biographical picture about the final year of Judy Garland’s life. The biopic is based on the Peter Quilter stage musical End of the Rainbow, and the film mostly takes place in 1969 when Judy Garland (played by Renée Zellweger) relocated to the United Kingdom for work and to be able to afford a potential custody battle in court. The multi-talented star is, at this point in her life, a wreck. The American industries that made her a star now see her as unreliable, she is unable to pay her bills, she doesn’t eat, she is severely depressed, and she suffers from issues related to substance abuse. Her job in London represents one last moment in the spotlight to dazzle, use her stardom, and make the money she needs to keep her family together. Though she often hesitates to go on stage, it is only on the stage that she can find energy and satisfaction in her last year. Continue reading “REVIEW: Judy (2019)”

REVIEW: Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Dolemite Is My Name — Directed by Craig Brewer.

In 2006, Eddie Murphy, one of the greatest American comedians of all-time, was about to have his big moment in the spotlight as an actor. His performance in Dreamgirls given him industry recognition and critical praise. He had now finally won a Golden Globe and, realistically, he had set his sights on the golden statuette handed out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Eventually, though he was nominated, he lost the award to Alan Arkin. Back then, it was speculated that his appearance and performance in the critically panned Norbit was to blame for him having missed out on his Oscar. It’s ironic, really, that perhaps comedy had cost Eddie Murphy the most coveted award in cinema. With that having been said, comedy can take him back to Academy Awards. Because Dolemite Is My Name is a hoot and Eddie Murphy genuinely gives an awards-worthy performance in it. Continue reading “REVIEW: Dolemite Is My Name (2019)”

REVIEW: Wounds (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Wounds — Directed by Babak Anvari.

A couple of years ago, Babak Anvari’s underseen and underappreciated Persian-language horror film — and directorial feature film debut — Under the Shadow was rightfully selected to compete for the foreign-language film award at the Oscars as the British entry. Anvari’s debut was a great surprise and a film that I have recommended to many people over the years. Even though poor word of mouth preceded its release on Netflix, I was still excited to see his second effort as a director of feature-length films. Unfortunately, Wounds, his first English-language feature film, is a messy, dreadful, and disappointing sophomore film. Continue reading “REVIEW: Wounds (2019)”