The first half of Straight Outta Compton is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. Tense, incendiary, tightly directed by F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen, The Italian Job) and beautifully acted by an ensemble cast fronted by Corey Hawkins (Non-Stop), Jason Mitchell (Contraband), and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube’s actual son), Compton is fierce and unrelenting and explosive. …Until it downshifts about halfway through and becomes a chronicle of contract disputes, and then it loses all momentum and limps across the finish line, hobbled by a genre it outstripped within the first twenty minutes. It’s a worthwhile movie for a lot of reasons, and definitely worth seeing even if you don’t care about the history of rap, but the lame second half throws a big bucket of ice water over the fire and rage of the legitimately brilliant first half. Continue reading
A group of punk kids steal a sheriff’s car and he then pursues them like a lunatic. Looks awesome.
The problem with boxing movies is that there are only two possible stories to tell: 1) A boxer trains hard, overcomes adversity, and wins, or 2) a boxer trains hard, overcomes adversity, and loses. Occasionally you get a boxing movie that throws a little extra juice into the formula, either by supplying a twist (Million Dollar Baby), or by using side plots as co-dependent metaphors—boxing is life and life is boxing!—like in Rocky and The Fighter. But no matter how you tinker with it, boxing movies only ever come in two varieties, win or lose, which means escaping clichés is virtually impossible. It’s the inherent problem of boxing movies, and it’s a problem that Southpaw, written by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), can’t overcome. Also Southpaw is incredibly stupid on a fundamental level. Continue reading
A week late, oops.
Bro this movie is terrible, bro.
After a thirty year hiatus director George Miller returns to cinemas with the long-awaited fourth installment in his Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road. This movie had a famously troubled production, going over budget and falling behind schedule, but sometimes nightmarish film shoots end up producing true cinematic gems (see also: Apocalypse Now, Jaws, The Hurt Locker), and this is undoubtedly the case with Fury Road. It’s a gonzo blockbuster of epic scale that pushes reset on the CGI-dominated spectacle of mainstream movies. It’s simultaneously a dumb movie about people in a wasteland chasing each other in souped-up cars, and a smart movie about feminine assertiveness and agency. Fury Road is gorgeous and exhilarating, but it’s also an elegantly told story that requires no exposition to understand. Continue reading