“The Game”

7.7

Not quite “Seven,” but close. David Fincher at play in the sandbox he knows best. Causing the audience to wince at every twist and turn because we’re worried what’s around the corner. Or what’s in the box. A really solid psychological thriller, with a great score and shot perfectly to ratchet up the tension from beginning to end. I still didn’t believe the ending, even as the credits were rolling. I was waiting for one last rug to be pulled out from under me. The sign of a story well told and world well constructed.

*the bottom video was me through most of this one.

“Broker”

7.9

An… inspirational movie about human trafficking… with heart? Yep. I’m just as surprised as you are.

A murder mystery, buddy cop movie, and family drama all wrapped into one film. With a dash of “the hangover” story arc with the baby Carlos. Such an odd cast of characters’ paths colliding to form unlikely bonds and twists of fate from beginning to end. Similar to “Parasite,” it holds a mirror up and shines a light into a dark corner of humanity that we all are aware of, but also too often ignore. The messiness of humanity is on full display here, but also the tremendous power of love and camaraderie that can exist between veritable strangers, connected by nothing more than the common thread that connects us all as fellow humans. Well worth the subtitles, this leaves you with great questions and a good feeling towards our ability to coexist on this earth as people. Another great sleeper hit of this year’s Oscar season.

“The Whale”

8.7

As a wise friend and fellow movie aficionado Brennan stated, “It’s great, but you won’t ever want to watch it again.” That hit the nail on the head. This movie is fantastic, but one viewing is enough to sear it into your memory forever. The subject matter here is as heavy as they come, and the performances are for the ages.

Both the best and worst of humanity are on full display for two hours, and play off of each other in a beautiful mess reflective of the humanity that it’s commenting on. Brendan Fraser deserves every reward possible for his performance, but so do the rest of this cast. Every member, no matter how much or how little time they spend on screen, provides a tremendous value to the viewer and contributes immensely to the narrative.

Do not watch if you’re not ready for a good cry. By the time the credits rolled, every person in my theater, myself included, was some degree of sobbing. It was a wild experience, and a fantastic movie. Another A24 homerun.

“Summer School”

7.8

Turns out Gibbs from NCIS used to have a fun side. And a solid Hawaiian shirt collection.

This type of movie has always held a special place in my heart. In the vein of “Teachers,” “The Great Outdoors,” and “One Crazy Summer,” this film is a coming of age tale for, well, the ages. The incredible breadth and depth of the character pool here takes the zaniness and grounds it with an incredible sense of heart. It’s not winning an Oscar anytime soon, but makes tough subjects approachable in a way that Oscar-bait films consistently miss the boat on. Movies are supposed to, on the whole, be fun, and this movie is definitely an hour and a half of that. So lace up your roller blades and don your radio headphones, and head out for a missed Hawaiian vacation turned quintessential summer adventure classic.

Side note: I can vouch for not only learning English, if some Italian to hit up the Italian foreign exchange student. Fond high school memories of a maiden from Milan once upon a time came to mind… I hope things worked out for Chainsaw after his time in summer school.

“The Offering”

6.1

I don’t think anyone offered anything… after the first idiot who unleashed this horse/deer/centaur demon thing. Don’t carve ancient symbols into your hardwood floors and you wouldn’t have these problems, people. Sheesh. And of course it’s the taker of children.

The story was pretty by the numbers, and the jump scares predictable. Not bad, but not great. A movie they release in January that you forget by February.