James Clay

James Clay
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema. His works can be found at FreshFiction and CutPrintFilm. Film is my first love and it shall be my last.
Publications: Fresh Fiction, Byline Houston

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
C- 69% Teen Spirit (2019) Bottom line, TEEN SPIRIT is a phony piece of filmmaking that wants a seat at the table. Rather than making a film that feels organic, its fight against its more empathic instincts and falls prey to its shortcomings. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
B 79% The Wind (2019) The best horror turns the mirror on ourselves. This outing has flashes of fright, but it falters a bit on the editing front. Either way, I can't wait to see what [Emma] Tammi has up her sleeve next. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 8, 2019
B 80% Olympic Dreams (2019) OLYMPIC DREAMS bridges the gap between athlete and artist; the weighted sensation of self-doubt is inextricably linked between the two professions and the chance of making it may never happen. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 18, 2019
B+ 95% Villains (2019) VILLAINS is a ton of fun with its genre thrills and the surprisingly potent love affair between Skarsgård and Monroe. This is such a sinister little film that has these couples playing off one another brilliantly. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 18, 2019
A- 100% The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) As we go on this journey, it's easy to settle into the dangerous yet relaxing vibes of the deep south. At the end of the tunnel is a romanticism for life, to drink it all in with a smile on your face and to expect the impossible. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2019
C 91% Gloria Bell (2019) Gloria Bell lives her life in all caps, and bless her for that. The material put into play needed to have more connective tissue. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2019
C 92% Little Monsters (2019) The story is so rich with thematic elements that the zombie element could have been cut out of the film entirely. Then again, the zombies are what will sell the tickets. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2019
B 72% Triple Frontier (2019) On a surface level, TRIPLE FRONTIER is an action thriller that provides teeth gritting scenes that cause the palms to get a bit sweaty. To call this film intense is an understatement, but Boal's script just barely scratches the psyche of these guys. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2019
A- 53% The Beach Bum (2019) THE BEACH BUM would easily make for a good session of sensationalized reality television, but under the umbrella of Korine it becomes a hang session that exists outside beyond construct of time. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 10, 2019
B+ 89% Long Shot (2019) Like recent socially charged films, LONG SHOT asks its viewers to drop the agenda and celebrate equality and moving forward. This is one of the more refreshing creative collaborations to hit mainstream comedy in a while. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 10, 2019
B+ 94% Us (2019) Peele's film is destined to be the perfect conversation starter at your next dinner party, trip to the water cooler, cook-out, or wherever as he's a filmmaker plugged into the American consciousness unlike anybody working in Hollywood today. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 9, 2019
C 88% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) The glitchy, hyper-sugared brand of animation is stressful, and it appeals a bit too much to child-like sensibilities. However, that's not to say the sequel, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, isn't without its creative triumphs - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 2, 2019
A- 98% Apollo 11 (2019) For nine days, this team at NASA were perfect, and that perfection is a point of pride not just for Americans, but for the human race. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 2, 2019
B 57% Greta (2019) It's successful as a B-movie thriller, but there's an emptiness with the conclusion. Even for all its faults, GRETA will have you hooked. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 2, 2019
B+ 68% Happy Death Day 2U (2019) A rare sequel that not only expands the story but outright takes the series in a different direction this is a form of escapism worth repeating. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2019
B 63% Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) The film finds its identity in being a shrewd look at blending the world of high art with the low brow aesthetic of a Lifetime made for TV movie. - Byline Houston EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2019
B+ 71% Lords of Chaos (2019) Jonas Akerlund's film works as the biopic from hell by depicting the reckless abandon of youth in horrifying and gratifying ways. Part cautionary tale, this acts as a version of A STAR IS BORN for the age of toxic masculinity. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
B- 19% Serenity (2019) On an emotional level, SERENITY is a rather elusive film, one that never fully congeals, but morphs into rather weird territories that, by the end, changes the film's perspective altogether. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
C 37% Glass (2019) GLASS' lackluster vibe hints at a director who has become uninspired. It's shocking, but shouldn't be so surprising that the buildup for GLASS ended up being a shattering disappointment. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2019
D 41% The Upside (2019) There are ways to forgive frivolous behavior, but not like this. These characters only exist to perpetuate stereotypes that are apparently unbeknownst to the creators. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2019
B 81% Ben is Back (2018) There are no easy answers when it comes to addiction, but here, there is still room left for love to open the door to recovery. This is the kind of story that shows you some relationships are worth being saved. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
B+ 66% Vice (2018) VICE warns a cautionary tale of power that breaks the fourth wall, throws the rules of cinema out the window to become one of the most creative and entertaining films for adults this year. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
B- 53% Once Upon a Deadpool (2018) This neutered version of DEADPOOL 2 has no reason to exist on its own terms, as literally everything content wise you most likely have at home already, but the charm is still there. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
C+ 96% Roma (2018) This Netflix original lacks agency within its' character beats that have a frustrating passivity to the narrative. [Alfonso] Cuarón's film comes to the brink of being cruel to its setting and characters. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
B+ 84% Creed II (2018) CREED II find a legacy through making mistakes. It's messy, and we don't always bring out the best parts of ourselves. The trick is to breathe, listen, open up. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
B 100% King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen (2018) The documentary directed by Steve Mitchell comes from a place of absolute love for this filmmaker who paved the way for many artists who came after and he inspired a generation of filmmakers to produce greatness on the fly. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
C 73% Destroyer (2018) [Karyn] Kusama's film has an appealing grittiness to its subject matter, yet somehow in execution, this hard-boiled tale become a bit too stale with tropes that have been seen in this genre before. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
B+ 71% Hold the Dark (2018) It's a shame that the masses won't get to see this on the big screen, but those looking to access a meditative campfire tale will be more than thrilled. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
B 80% Overlord (2018) Maybe the studio is to blame for wanting to reign in its filmmakers quite a bit. However, there's enough madness to keep any Nazi hater satiated. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
B+ 75% The Perfection (2019) This film is an absolute blast. It's an empowering message marred in horror, tragedy and overall WTF gasps. It's surely one of the most riveting films of the year and will be burned into your brain long after its ghastly crescendo. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
C+ 71% Kursk (2019) Moments of suspense are abound here, but not abundant. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
C 77% Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018) [The film] is attempting to accomplish too much human growth at one time, which ends up coming across as meandering, even if there are true nuggets of wisdom buried underneath. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
B- 51% Equalizer 2 (2018) [Denzel] Washington doesn't bring anything novel to his acting tool belt, yet it has enough focus to become a successful B-movie, even if it is weirdly preachy. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
F 59% Unfriended: Dark Web (2018) Its laziness is only topped by its sadistic (and terribly problematic) approach to putting its victims in peril for the sake of its viewers. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
B 100% Leave No Trace (2018) Narratively, LEAVE NO TRACE falls flat, yet [Thomasin] McKenzie's performance is unlike anything that's been shown this year. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
C 54% The First Purge (2018) This is a film that wants to be junk food for the genre crowd while attempting to operate on a not-so-subtle plain offering up political allegories. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
B+ 63% Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) This isn't a cautionary tale; just a story of horrific happenstance, which is all the more chilling given the stark reality of this systemic problem. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
B+ 88% You Were Never Really Here (2018) YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE beautifully blends the visual and aural power that cinema has to offer. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
A 90% Isle of Dogs (2018) It's an overwhelming experience to see how man and dog have magnetic pulls on one another, but the journey to get to that place of trust isn't as easy as giving a dog a bit of a "Puppy Snap." - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B+ 99% Eighth Grade (2018) Anxiety is only one click away. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B 81% Early Man (2018) The film finds its largest success in its beautifully British disposition and its singular animation style. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
D 14% Geostorm (2017) This low-rent disaster film doesn't even have the campy charm that could and should make a movie called GEOSTORM have some form of value. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B- 74% Mom and Dad (2018) MOM AND DAD won't be an instant cult classic, but it will make you think twice before being rude to your parents at dinner. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B+ 92% The Shape of Water (2017) [Guillermo] del Toro's love of nostalgia gets in the way of moving the story forward. It has a familiarity that hinders the newness and excitement of the downright incredible moments of character. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B 89% I, Tonya (2018) This isn't a story of a life lost, but she could have been so much more and that is the real tragedy. This is about as American as it gets. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B- 28% Suburbicon (2017) Despite its roundabout way of making a point on racial ethics, the film is dipped into a half-baked murder mystery that's oddly daring and quite possibly incompetent (although the material works in a head-scratching kind of way). - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B 89% Bodied (2018) The hyper-stylized world [Joseph] Kahn creates has an artistry that barrels its way into the social consciousness in a manner that few films would ever attempt. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
C- 48% Porto (2017) PORTO is more of an academic exercise, rather than a film with a thesis. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B+ 99% Lady Bird (2017) Gerwig's film isn't quirky for the sake of quirks; she connects her themes of family, faith, and freedom into a wheel of curiosity that allows you to travel along and gain a unique perspective... - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
B+ 77% Last Flag Flying (2017) LAST FLAG FLYING tackles what goes on the minds of not-so-happy veterans without serving the jingoistic conservatism that so many military films find themselves worshipping. - Fresh Fiction EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018