Lawrence.com

Lawrence.com is not a Tomatometer-approved publication. Reviews from this publication only count toward the Tomatometer when written by the following Tomatometer-approved critic(s): Eric Melin, Jon Niccum
Rating Title/Year Author
3/4 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Eric Melin Maybe the new sequels and spin-offs can be more adventurous, but The Force Awakens had me smiling, reminiscing, and critiquing all at the same time: It hits all the marks, without any real surprises. EDIT
Posted Dec 18, 2015
4/5 Dangerous Men (2015) Eric Melin With every new minute, there's another head-scratching choice that's bound to elicit some amazing out-loud responses, so this feels like a true party flick. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
4/5 Beasts of No Nation (2015) Eric Melin It focuses on one child's unique experience. It's not an issue film - it's a story about a boy who has a rich family life but then tragically loses it all and is left to fend for himself. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
3/4 Brooklyn (2015) Eric Melin From a dramatic standpoint, the film's biggest asset is also its biggest challenge: Brooklyn eschews showy conflict in favor of small character moments and a leisurely pace EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
1/4 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (2015) Eric Melin I understand that YA books succeed by transposing real teen concerns into life-and-death fantasy situations, but any connection to the characters that existed by the end of 2013's Catching Fire has been stripped away by these plodding Mockingjay movies. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
3.5/4 99 Homes (2014) Eric Melin A breathless thriller with expertly shot "you are there" camerawork and a rising score, but it also comes from moments of conflict that are pitched at a very high level. Emotions are high, lives are at stake, and something is very, very wrong. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
2/4 Spectre (2015) Eric Melin Most of the film plays like a game of Connect Four, piling up and grouping together characters and schemes from Craig's last three films in vaguely related ways, in the hopes that the connections to Bond's past will bring them some emotional heft. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
1.5/4 Our Brand Is Crisis (2015) Eric Melin Instead of a black comedy about powerful U.S.-government employed parasites pulling dirty tricks on foreign soil, we get a silly revenge story about two rivals who are supposed to be really smart - something we rarely see. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
4/5 Steve Jobs (2015) Eric Melin Plays fast and loose with the facts, but so did Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." I'm not comparing Sorkin's prose with the Bard's, but using a widely known culturally important figure as a way into telling stories with universal themes is, well, universal. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
4/5 Eraserhead (1977) Eric Melin Linear plots with easily defined cause and effect are the kinds of stories we are used to, but sometimes it's refreshing to enter a world where logic takes a backseat to purely evocative storytelling. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
5/5 Mulholland Dr. (2001) Eric Melin Because Lynch is playing with archetypes like the wide-eyed innocent, he's able to subvert them with a heightened reality that suckers us in. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
4/5 Goodnight Mommy (2014) Eric Melin Franz and Fiala's clever script doles out context in small, strategic doses, and keeps the audience guessing, even as the strange behavior on both sides increases and becomes more squirm-inducing. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
4/5 Bridge of Spies (2015) Eric Melin For the most part, "Bridge of Spies" is a sober reflection on America actually living its values and living up to its promise. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2015
2/4 The Walk (2015) Eric Melin Zemeckis jettisons most of the hard edges of Petit's character in favor of a wide-eyed follow-your-dreams story. Rendered in broad strokes, it falls more into the fairy tale category than anything else. EDIT
Posted Dec 11, 2015
3/4 Sicario (2015) Eric Melin There's not much emotional investment in any of the characters, and the film has little to add to any serious discussion of its subject matter - but as a pitch-black thriller, Sicario succeeds with style. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
4/5 The Martian (2015) Eric Melin If there's one fault to find in this inspiring tale, it's that Damon's just too smart and self-effacing to be real. But to say that would be too cynical: a trait this film is hiding away in the same cupboard, thankfully, with all of the schmaltz. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
4/5 Sleeping With Other People (2015) Eric Melin Leslye Headland has a knack for taking familiar rom-com situations and injecting into them a hardcore dose of truth. Truth can be uncomfortable, but as this movie illustrates, it can be riotously exhilarating as well. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
3.5/4 The Look of Silence (2014) Eric Melin Not as formally exciting as The Act of Killing but because it's so singularly focused, it's a more emotionally engaging story. And because its concerns are different, both films together are a richer experience and provide a more complete picture. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
4/5 Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015) Eric Melin With the will-they-or-won't-they tension, the densely plotted conflicts that rarely give you time to think, and the fact that everyone on all sides has a reason to stop Hunt, this is a satisfying Hollywood actioner that keeps you guessing. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
3/5 Terminator Genisys (2015) Eric Melin It's only when the funny callbacks, clever change-ups, and suspenseful action scenes pause for a moment that the wooden performances of its leads Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney become a weakness. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
3.5/4 Inside Out (2015) Eric Melin A brilliantly visualized concept anchors Inside Out in a way that ensures it will resonate for years to come. Kudos to Pixar for again reminding us that animated entertainment can appeal to all ages and speak to universal truths. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2015
1.5/4 Jurassic World (2015) Eric Melin Commentary on how audiences always want "bigger" over "better" is not enough. It's window dressing. You still have little kids in danger of being eaten by dinosaurs run amok and a guy who thinks he's the Dinosaur Whisperer. EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2015
3.5/4 Love & Mercy (2014) Eric Melin This has to be the best-sounding movie ever made, and like Brian Wilson himself, it's full of naked emotion, while still retaining an air of mystery. EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2015
3/5 The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971) Eric Melin Fassbinder is going for realism, but almost a heightened, stagey version of it. This strategy makes the film more deeply felt, amplifying the awkwardness. EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2015
3/4 Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2014) Eric Melin "Magician" is a brisk documentary that dismantles many Welles myths, some of them by the great man himself - as he tells the same story three different ways in different interviews. EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2015
3.5/4 O Silêncio do Mar (1949) Eric Melin Although the movie's narrative and acting style are typical of older films, "Le Silence de la Mer" has a modern sensibility and feel, embracing subtlety and ambiguity in a way that was idiosyncratic at the time. EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2015
3/4 Limelight (1952) Eric Melin It was Chaplin's last great film, and it showcases not just a love for the performing arts (she's a ballerina, he's a vaudevillian), but also Chaplin's effortless sentimentality. EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2015
2/4 Tomorrowland (2015) Eric Melin When Bird's movie clicks, it's easy to believe that human intelligence and ingenuity can overcome impending global disaster. That's why he should have given his audience more credit and not spelled everything out for them. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
4/5 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Eric Melin Like Greek gods before them, superheroes are our modern myths, so why shouldn't they examine issues of the classic texts in our time? The end credit sequence actually gives this idea a visual corollary, as it shows a giant Hellenistic statue. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3/4 White God (2014) Eric Melin When it's all said and done, "White God" delivers an indictment of both sides, and its one that, despite its canine (anti-?)heroes, rings with an undeniable sadness and human truth. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
4/5 Wild Tales (2014) Eric Melin I hope that Quentin Tarantino, whose obsession with revenge pictures has started to reveal kinks in his armor, has seen "Wild Tales." While it embraces elements of the spaghetti western as Tarantino's films do, it also finds new ways to explore them. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
2.5/4 The Wrecking Crew (2008) Eric Melin From a narrative standpoint, "The Wrecking Crew" is scattered, which limits its appeal to pop music aficionados. As one of those people, I enjoyed the film despite its lack of forward movement. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3.5/4 Ex Machina (2015) Eric Melin Garland's film sexualizes Ava to an embarrassing degree, which also is its entire point. His aim is to have his cake and eat it too, with images of female nudity literally created for the male gaze, subverted, and mined for maximum uncomfortability. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3.5/4 Secretary (2002) Eric Melin Shainberg sets up a restless quality in both characters, and he takes them very seriously but it still comes as a bit of shock to see what is normally considered to be sexist behavior finally and ultimately embraced. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3/4 Furious 7 (2015) Eric Melin The actors are completely secondary. The hoops they jump through to get to the next action scene are just that. The expositional dialogue [starts] only after the action scene has, because they know we don't care why they're there: We're already with them. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3/4 It Follows (2014) Eric Melin The only control the teenagers have in the situation is to pass on the curse - and increase their sexual guilt tenfold. It's a brilliantly clean metaphor, not just for sexual nervousness, but also the transience of youth. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3/4 What We Do in the Shadows (2014) Eric Melin The film has all the low-key charm of a Christopher Guest movie, but it also has the dynamic kick of seamlessly blending its faux-cinéma vérité style with the supernatural. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
2.5/4 Gone Doggy Gone (2014) Eric Melin A funny, low-budget indie that's at its best when it diverts from what is purported to be the main plot. It proves that Brown and Walter are talented comedic writers who aren't afraid to get more than a little absurd for a laugh. EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2015
3/4 The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) Eric Melin On one level, it is an engrossing character study about changing power dynamics in relationships. On another, it's simply a marvel of fluid, focused filmmaking - where everything in the frame is loaded with meaning. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2015
3.5/4 The Palm Beach Story (1942) Eric Melin It's about as breezy, carefree, and anarchic as romantic comedies get. Full of absurd comedic digressions and bookends that still don't quite make sense, this eccentric road trip comedy would likely never get made in today's Hollywood climate. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2015
2/4 American Sniper (2014) Eric Melin Too often in "Sniper," Eastwood kowtows to our basic need to have clear-cut good guys and bad guys. And when Kyle makes the impossible shot, it feels (in the limited context of the film) like we've actually won something. We haven't. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2015
4/5 Foxcatcher (2014) Eric Melin Miller has a keen eye for examining the intersection of class, money and ambition. The screenplay compresses the timeline, moves key scenes around, and favors character over action, but it absolutely stays focused on these difficult larger themes. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2015
2/4 Inherent Vice (2014) Eric Melin Anderson is too enamored with his terrific ensemble cast. Perhaps 2 hours 20 minutes were needed for the plot to make any kind of sense, but there still feels like a lot of dead weight, and he is unable to infuse it with the energy of his other films. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2015
3/4 The Interview (2014) Eric Melin It is indeed a lowbrow comedy, but it's not just some dumb movie - and the fictitious assassination of a living world leader is not even the most dangerous thing about it. EDIT
Posted Jan 3, 2015
1.5/4 Top Five (2014) Eric Melin When it feels loose and lived-in, it starts clicking into place. But when it pushes its characters toward unearned saccharine, it feels as fake as the industry it's supposed to be satirizing. EDIT
Posted Dec 31, 2014
2/4 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Eric Melin The sad irony is that - given the enormous familiarity with Jackson's cinematic Middle-earth and the almost identical structure and conflict of both trilogies - the sixth and final film is a slog of an exercise; one of stubborn inevitability. EDIT
Posted Dec 31, 2014
3/5 Death Metal Angola (2012) Eric Melin ... more than a treatise on the origins of this bombastic musical style. It's a story of hope. There's no reinvention of the form here, just a solid documentary on a subject you had probably never thought existed. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2014
4/5 Interstellar (2014) Eric Melin Despite some awkward pacing, easy sentimentality, and pandering it's still hard to resist. It's not just Nolan's ambition that should be admired. He actually pulls off scene after scene of unforgettable drama in colossal scale, both in space and on Earth. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2014
4/5 Love Is Strange (2014) Eric Melin It has plenty of conflict, but is virtually free from the demands of traditional plot-heavy films. It carries the ring of truth at least partially because its subtext is everything, and its scenes are rarely about what they're really about. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2014
2.5/4 My Old Lady (2014) Eric Melin My Old Lady doesn't break any new ground and sometimes feels too much like a play, but its actors help smooth over some of its more predictable patches with their estimable charm. EDIT
Posted Oct 17, 2014