Battleship Pretension

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
Hotel Mumbai (2018) David Bax As in United 93 or Clint Eastwood's Sully, Hotel Mumbai argues that heroism and valor are actually common traits. Most of us simply remain lucky enough not to have had to draw on them. EDIT
Posted Mar 20, 2019
Five Feet Apart (2019) David Bax Five Feet Apart is a movie you go to for a good, cathartic cry and that's exactly what you'll get. EDIT
Posted Mar 14, 2019
The Aftermath (2019) Scott Nye It's programmatic programming, cinema meant not to occupy your mind but to shuffle you out of the theater with minimal fuss. EDIT
Posted Mar 14, 2019
Ash Is Purest White (2018) David Bax Eventually, we are treated to breathtaking shots of vast spaces that, along with the booming, percussive score and the elongated time frame, verge on qualifying Ash Is Purest White for the label of "epic." EDIT
Posted Mar 13, 2019
The Mustang (2019) David Bax By zeroing in empathetically on the psychological and emotional arc of her story, de Clermont-Tonnerre achieves power that far outweighs the predictability. EDIT
Posted Mar 13, 2019
The Mole People (1956) David Bax The estate of H.G. Wells could sue for how thoroughly The Mole People rips off The Time Machine's vision of Elois and Morlocks. EDIT
Posted Mar 13, 2019
Babylon (1980) David Bax Babylon is a pulsating document of a time and place as well as a piece of connective tissue from the past to the present. EDIT
Posted Mar 7, 2019
Captain Marvel (2019) David Bax We may learn Vers' true name and how she came to be a Kree warrior but we never learn enough about who she is, flaws and all, to make her anything more than another interchangeable hero in a shiny suit. EDIT
Posted Mar 6, 2019
Apollo 11 (2019) David Bax Appropriately for an account of a taxpayer-funded mission, Apollo 11 is a strikingly democratic movie. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2019
Transit (2018) Scott Nye It is one of the truly great films of the refugee era, reflecting a story and a time that we've defined in stark moral terms onto a time that is still very much in flux, but no less clear when addressed humanistically. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2019
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1931) David Bax Over a decade of German expressionist cinema meant that the craftsmen involved possessed the expertise to properly capture that shadowy, gothic black and white from which the secrets emerge. EDIT
Posted Feb 26, 2019
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) David Bax In a sense, these young, moneyed, unattached, attractive folks could just as easily exist in the universe of a Whit Stillman film. Yet Curtis and Newell ultimately have hearts too soft to deny them, or us, at least a bit of "true love" sentimentality. EDIT
Posted Feb 26, 2019
Isn't It Romantic (2019) David Bax Strauss-Schulson and screenwriters Erin Cardillo, Dana Fox and Katie Silberman want you to think they're ripping the genre open and letting you see the gears but, really, they're content to let those gears do the work for them without adding anything new EDIT
Posted Feb 13, 2019
Pájaros de verano (2018) Scott Nye Despite its cultural specificity, it can't help but feel like it's on a very specific trajectory from which it cannot deviate. EDIT
Posted Feb 13, 2019
Suburbia (1983) David Bax Spheeris' empathy and lack of judgment allow her to conform to the pace of the world she's entered, as opposed to trying to corral it into her own. EDIT
Posted Feb 12, 2019
Holiday (2018) Scott Nye Isabella Eklöf - best known for cowriting the similarly turgid Border last year - makes her directorial debut with Holiday, which finds a group of Danish gangsters on vacation, told from the point of view of their leader's much-younger girlfriend Sascha. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2019
What Men Want (2019) David Bax Ali's arc is not about learning to conform to men's expectations. Instead, it's about learning to think about others once in a while (not because it's more feminine, just more human). EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2019
Cold Pursuit (2019) David Bax Cold Pursuit is probably too satisfying to viewers' bloodlust to achieve the full potential impact of its criticisms. In other words, Moland lacks the convictions of Michael Haneke and his Funny Games. EDIT
Posted Feb 6, 2019
Cobra (1986) David Bax Cobra is the dumbest, most indulgent possible iteration of the "America has become a cesspool of crime" subgenre popularized by Death Wish and executed with an actual brain by RoboCop. EDIT
Posted Feb 6, 2019
Arctic (2018) David Bax The obstacles thrown in his path-including what we'll call Chekhov's polar bear, glimpsed from a distance early on-are not easily overcome and are shot, edited and mixed with an eye toward forcing you to lean forward in your chair. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2019
The Souvenir (2019) David Bax In mostly static, reserved frames, the camera steadfastly avoids subjectivity. Except, that is, for a handful of shots that are closer, looser and more forthrightly emotional and on a grainier stock. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2019
Piercing (2018) David Bax By the end of its short runtime, Piercing will become both the sexiest movie since The Handmaiden and the most unsettling since, well, The Eyes of My Mother. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2019
Pájaros de verano (2018) David Bax Gallego and Guerra's presentation may have taken the form of a more recognizable and palatable genre movie but its beauty and power still lies in its loving and patient portrayal of traditions of dance, clothing and, most importantly, values. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2019
The Image Book (2018) Scott Nye The Image Book is such an internal film, filled with the way we process, urging the audience at all times to process for itself. EDIT
Posted Jan 29, 2019
The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) Scott Nye The Kid Who Would Be King is in some regards a bold next step, and in others a regression to the tendencies that could have turned Attack the Block to pure nostalgia. EDIT
Posted Jan 29, 2019
Blinded by the Light (1980) David Bax Blinded by the Light's compassion and humanism remind us that, when you're a teenager, your favorite bands often feel like they're singing directly to, and for, you. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2019
Relive (2019) David Bax It would be bad enough for Relive to just be dumb. Unfortunately, though, it seems to think that its audience is as well. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2019
Photograph (2019) David Bax Photograph sidesteps condescension in depicting Mumbai's poor, even as it highlights what could be seen as their folksy wisdom. EDIT
Posted Jan 27, 2019
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) David Bax Joe Berlinger's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile ultimately fails in its mission to provide the viewer with anything deeper or broader than an adaptation of what they'd uncover in a Google search. EDIT
Posted Jan 27, 2019
Wounds (2019) David Bax Wounds teases the viewer early on with some cheap jump scares but those are just primers for the deeply weird, shiver-inducing, otherworldly terror of the fates that slowly befall Will and Carrie. EDIT
Posted Jan 27, 2019
The Death of Dick Long (2019) David Bax The Death of Dick Long is less about the mystery and more about the surviving band members' numbskulled plans to keep themselves out of trouble with the law. EDIT
Posted Jan 27, 2019
The Report (2019) David Bax Burns' commitment to verisimilitude is convincing, not to mention sometimes darkly, dispiritingly comic. EDIT
Posted Jan 27, 2019
To the Stars (2019) David Bax Most of the film's success comes from Stephens' deftness at painting local color and drawing specific, believable characters out of every member of her cast, not just the leads. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
The Nightingale (2019) David Bax It's famously difficult to make an anti-war war movie but the exhaustingly bloody The Nightingale suggests that winning the war for justice and equality will be a pyrrhic victory if it's won by cruelty. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
Honey Boy (2019) David Bax Refreshingly, Honey Boy avoids moralizing. Neither Labeouf's screenplay nor Har'el's direction feign shock at James' parenting, which includes, for instance, bribing his young son with cigarettes. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
The Mountain (2018) David Bax Alverson has made his least confrontational movie so far but also perhaps his most hopeless. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
We Are Little Zombies (2019) David Bax Honestly, the fact that there's so much going on beneath the surface of Makoto Nagahisa's We Are Little Zombies is just gravy, given that its aesthetic delights are more than enough to justify the two hours spent watching it. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
The Hole in the Ground (2019) David Bax As genre entries go, The Hole in the Ground operates within mostly recognizable genre tropes, to only sporadically effective results. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
Native Son (2019) David Bax Like most young punk rockers, Big treats his tastes as a substitute for a personality and, unfortunately, Native Son does the same. Johnson displays no sense of irony; he thinks Big is every bit as cool as Big does. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
The Edge of Democracy (2019) David Bax Though Costa has moved into a more journalistic mode of documentary filmmaking, she hasn't left behind her stylistic flair. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2019
El Paso (1949) David Bax Clay's descent into dubious enforcement of the law starts fun, with a lively montage of him learning to draw and shoot his pistols with speed. But it soon devolves into one miniature Ox-Bow Incident after another. EDIT
Posted Jan 17, 2019
Don't Come Back From the Moon (2017) David Bax It's useful to remind yourself from time to time that cinema is made to deliver, among other things, sensory delights. EDIT
Posted Jan 16, 2019
Girl (2018) David Bax If there's anything the increased visibility of transgender people in our culture has imparted above all, it's that gender is about more than genitalia. Girl, for all its pretensions toward allyship, regressively insists in the opposite direction. EDIT
Posted Jan 16, 2019
Glass (2019) Tyler Smith A film every bit as stupefying and meandering as Shyamalan's worst efforts. EDIT
Posted Jan 10, 2019
The Nun (1966) David Bax Rivette suggests that these institutions, even when their stated purposes are humble and charitable, exist first and foremost to prop each other up and form a monolith against individuals. EDIT
Posted Jan 4, 2019
Escape Room (2019) David Bax Escape Room lives and dies on its ability to execute its own conceit, which is does more or less flawlessly. EDIT
Posted Jan 3, 2019
A Twelve-Year Night (La noche de 12 años) (2018) David Bax A Twelve-Year Night serves its clearest purpose by illustrating how democracy and changes in policy slowly trickle down to effect everyone. EDIT
Posted Dec 27, 2018
Stan & Ollie (2018) Scott Nye Had it more wits, I'd call it cynical, but it's too lifeless to even be that. EDIT
Posted Dec 25, 2018
Vice (2018) David Bax Maybe McKay has been spending too much time on Twitter. With Vice, he's fallen prey to that platform's preference for smug dunks over insight, persuasion or comedy. EDIT
Posted Dec 24, 2018
Destroyer (2018) David Bax Destroyer is the best crime film of 2018. EDIT
Posted Dec 23, 2018