Category: Suspense/Thriller

“The Card Counter”

7.9

“Any man can tilt.”

An Abu Ghraib movie the weekend of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Ballsy move, but one I think pays off by the time the credits roll. What begins as “Molly’s Game” quickly turns into an Oliver Stone documentary, pulling back the curtain on the complicated nature of morality, the role of the United States in history, and the human costs of war. Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish cement themselves as leading cast members. A masterclass in framing, tension building, and impactful filmmaking.

“Heat”

8.4

This is one of those monumental films that suffers from its own success. Similar to “Psycho,” “Halloween,” or “JAWS,” it kicks off a revolution of a genre and reimagines the craft of cinema, but then is copied so much that it eventually becomes a watered-down version of itself. I saw so many action tropes in this film and was reminded of the late 90’s action boom and the grandness of epics such as the Dark Knight trilogy, “Titanic,” and “Pearl Harbor.”

This film separates itself because the cast is so overflowing with talent than it does the micro exceptionally well. The intimate, deeply personal scenes, such as the scene in the coffee shop between Pacino and De Niro, are just as awe-inspiring as the grand scale action scenes. The heists and shootouts are some of the best tension-filled directing I’ve seen in quite some time. Shout-out to the Amazon Val Kilmer biopic “Val,” for leading me to this gem!

“New Order”

“Parasite,” but with guns.

Instead of the class war only affecting a household, strap in and get ready to spend the next hour and a half trying not to spill your popcorn as you rush to turn away from a story that turns extremely violent exceptionally quickly. As the country collapses, we follow this family and their… employees… into the madness and the darkness. We watch the growing pains of a nation in transition as one governing party is overthrown and a new one violently installed through force—the struggle between new money and old money. A countries government is in turmoil, under the thumb of a much larger, more sinister old guard that wields the true power. The ending was not at all what I expected when shit began to hit the fan about 20 minutes in. I’m not sure anyone’s a winner in this one.

All things considered, a solid political thriller with well directed action and drama.

“A Quiet Place: Part 2”

8.7

This film’s premise is almost a cheat code for suspense. However, it’s so well done, I don’t care. The balance between heartfelt moments between characters and razor-sharp suspense that leaves you clinging to the edge of your seat… this movie is another masterclass.

Just enough expansion of the story and the world around the characters without losing claustrophobia. Just enough character development without losing the essence of the characters and their relationships with each other. Just enough new characters to keep you invested in the old while adding the intrigue of new.

They were able to play with the monsters much more this time around since there wasn’t as much shock value, but the film also doesn’t beat you over the head with them. The chemistry of this film’s story, the cast, and the brilliant cinematography and sound design immerses you in trusting discomfort.

The only nitpick I really had was when characters would take the stance of “that’s pretty risky, I don’t know…” Come on. Living in silence in a Demogorgon-infested hellhole running out of supplies while you die a slow and painful death of either starvation or loneliness? Spare me. Risk it to get the biscuit.

“Profile”

6.2

Entertaining enough, but fell flat in the end. I and the rest of row B spent most of the third act laughing at the stupidity of the reporter’s actions. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Hundreds of lessons of “what not to do” in the realm of personal security. Especially if you’re catfishing a terrorist. Like, come on!

Technically speaking, I understand why they chose this format for the film, but the screen capture genre seems to have met an appropriately timely death. It had a great deal of novelty in early indie horror films but now feels like it’s a cheap gimmick used to trim the budget of a poorly written project. The sleight of hand doesn’t cover for a story you won’t want to believe is based on a true story by the end. It’s similar to watching a video of a bullfighter being gored by a bull… We in row B left with a feeling of “what did you think was going to happen?”