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Let’s get one thing straight: “Moonfall” is a ridiculous movie. From poster promotions featuring various angles of a gigantic moon, to its absolutely wild explanation of what the moon “really is,” to its effective, self-descriptive title, “Moonfall” is a showcase of the dramatic excess that characterizes apocalyptic movies. The film demonstrates what happens when disaster director extraordinaire Roland Emmerich has fun.
This past Friday, the Hopkins Center for the Arts screened “Red Rocket” for a nearly full audience of students and community members. The celebrated film studio behind the movie, A24, released the dark comedy in December 2021, which was directed by Sean Baker (best known for his previous film, The Florida Project). Set in a Texan town on the Gulf Coast, “Red Rocket” centers on aging former porn star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) as he returns to his hometown, Texas City. Desperate and penniless, he arrives at the house of his ex-wife, Lexi (Bree Elrod), and despite some hesitation, she eventually lets him stay and soon rekindles their romance. Mikey settles into a rhythm in Texas City — running a weed business out of a local donut shop, biking around the town and driving to strip clubs with his awkward younger neighbor, Lonnie (Ethan Darbone).
One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” incited a mass exodus of fans from the comfort of their couches back to the theater’s big screen. With various spoilers circulating on the internet since the movie’s release on Dec. 17, the movie demands an in-theater viewing for the most genuine experience. Racing to see it myself, I was struck by the emotionality woven into the action of this film that celebrates Spider-Man’s legacy and future.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” introduces Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), the titular character, as the newest superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released in theaters on Sept. 3, Shang-Chi is the first Marvel movie to feature a predominantly Asian cast, have characters with Chinese names and incorporate Mandarin dialogue. The movie weaves classic Marvel action scenes with themes of love and family to create a film that is simultaneously fun and exciting but has the depth of a well-written story.
“The Green Knight” by David Lowery has been one of my most anticipated films of this year ever since I first saw the trailer for it in February of 2020 — a lifetime ago, in other words. I was excited to see it for a few reasons, and not just because of the fact that I’m a film minor and, as such, I’m contractually obligated to fawn over any and all A24 movies. I was excited because of my love for fantasy, my love for dark takes on well-trodden genres and because I greatly enjoyed Lowery’s last film, “The Old Man and the Gun.”
“Cherry” by Nico Walker, while refreshingly candid and meaningful in book form, suffers from its prolonged length and an overreliance on tropes in its adaptation to the big-screen. The directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, clearly tried to create something profound out of Walker’s sincere story, yet the two-and-a-half hour film ended up cheesy nonetheless. Every moment in the film is self-conscious, hindering the genuine story from shining through.
“Two of Us,” a French film directed by Filippo Meneghetti, feels at first like a simple love story. However, the film quickly evolves into a complex portrait of queer love, familial distance and loss. Meneghetti’s debut film is a harrowing yet stunning exploration of what it means to love in secret.
A decade after Argentinian director Juan José Campanella’s “The Secret in Their Eyes” won the 2010 Academy Award for best foreign film, Campanella made his return to live-action cinema with “The Weasel’s Tale” — a remake of the 1976 film “Yesterday's Guys Used No Arsenic.” Campanella’s dark comedy, offered through the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ “Film on Demand” series until Wednesday, follows former starlet Mara Ordaz, played by Graciela Borges, who lives with three filmmaking colleagues in a secluded mansion on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
The much-anticipated “Borat” sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” is as politically timely as it is funny. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and directed by Jason Woliner, the film, released Oct. 23, outdoes its predecessor with its bold, high stakes pranks and rich political satire. At its core, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” makes a powerful critique of how misogyny is frequently overlooked in President Donald Trump’s America.
“Enola Holmes” — one of the newest entries to Netflix’s catalog, based on the young adult series by Nancy Springer — is a fun, adventurous and action-packed film that brilliantly reinvents the Sherlock Holmes franchise. Directed by Harry Bradbeer and written by Jack Thorne, “Enola Holmes” centers on the life of the youngest Holmes sibling, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown), and her journey to reunite with her missing mother while forging her own sense of freedom. While the film contains some elements of the classic Holmes mysteries, it adds a new twist with its focus on social activism and female intellect. From start to finish, the film successfully creates a world that places a strong-willed heroine center-stage, offering a timeless lesson on female empowerment.
In late 2018, the production crew of “Mulan,” the latest soulless Disney live-action remake, began filming in the Xinjiang province of northwest China, home to the Uighur people. At that same time in Xinjiang, the Chinese Communist Party continued to sharply expand internment camps for ethnic Uighurs, camps that had already incarcerated up to one million members of the predominantly-Muslim minority group.
When I first watched “Indian Matchmaking,” I didn’t frown upon the premise of the show. Instead, I laughed at hilarious scenes between Indian American families redolent of my family. Released on July 16, this Netflix original is produced by the Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Smriti Mundhra, who communicates a middle way between arranged marriages and modern dating. “Indian Matchmaking” has polarized viewers, with some seeing it as perpetuating colorism, sexism and the caste system, while others perceive it as a lighthearted take on contemporary Indian culture that destigmatizes arranged marriages. I am in the second camp and let me tell you why.
“The King of Staten Island” is not a good movie. There. I’d like to get that out of the way. Unlike the 136 minutes stolen from me watching this snooze fest, it will only take me a second to get to the point of this review: “The King of Staten Island” is incredibly boring, self-indulgent and not worth your time or money.
Director and producer Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” released two weeks ago on Netflix, is an impactful Vietnam War story about the Black experience, following the journey of four middle-aged, Black veterans in the present day. In the film, the group returns to Vietnam to recover the body of their fallen captain and the buried treasure they left behind during the war.
On May 1, Netflix released Alice Wu’s “The Half of It,” a film that follows Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) as she navigates love and personal identity as an Asian American teenager. “The Half of It” transforms the common teen romance narrative into a funny, relatable and heartwarming work of art by pushing the boundaries of representation in mainstream romantic comedies.
On April 10, Netflix released Alan Yang’s “Tigertail,” a film inspired by the experiences of Yang’s father that follows the life of Pin-Jui (Tzi Ma), a Taiwanese-American immigrant. Despite a few flaws, “Tigertail” shares a touching, authentic and relatable story about the Asian-American immigrant experience.
As a wave of states introduced abortion restrictions last year, abortion rights have increasingly come under fire. Now, in the age of COVID-19 — with abortions deemed non-essential in some states — the right to choose is especially pertinent. With this in mind, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” a movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and can now be purchased on Amazon Prime, is even more timely than it would’ve been just two months ago.
It’s been so long since the explosive conclusion of “Breaking Bad” in 2013 that “Better Call Saul” — the 2015 prequel spinoff created by “Breaking Bad” masterminds Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould — feels like its own show. And I’ll admit, I was wary of its ability to stand out from its predecessor, most of all because Saul Goodman, the smooth-talking, comb-over-sporting strip mall lawyer played with electricity and heart by Bob Odenkirk, was largely a one-note side piece in the original show. A skeevy lawyer who helps criminals hide their money and avoid jail time — end of story. It didn’t seem substantive enough for its own show, and it seemed like “Better Call Saul” would be doomed to the spin-off junk pile in the wasteland of failed TV shows. But I had faith in Gilligan and Gould, so I approached “Better Call Saul” with tepid hope. Now, five years and almost five complete seasons later — the fifth season is currently underway — part of me loves “Saul” even more than “Breaking Bad.”
At the behest of a friend, I recently watched the sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” on Netflix. Titled “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” I found that even though I didn’t think the movie was particularly good, I still managed to find a kernel of satisfaction in watching it.
After taking center-stage in the 2016 film “Suicide Squad” as the charming ex-psychiatrist-turned-supervillain, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) returns fiercer than ever as she introduces a new version of herself — one separate from the diminutive label of “the Joker’s girlfriend.”