REVIEW: Isle of Dogs

Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Chris Luckett

There are three cinematic masters in today’s reigning generation of directors, who each rarely ever fail to produce masterpiece after masterpiece. Along with Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson is one of those elite few who seem to just churn out brilliance without having to even try.

When the idiosyncratic director of Rushmore tackled stop-motion animation with 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, he found his truest calling. In the wake of his Oscar-nominated Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson has now returned to the same arena of animation and it’s a masterpiece even when stacked against his best.

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REVIEW: A Quiet Place

Image: Paramount Pictures

Chris Luckett

I hate hyperbolizing in my reviews. Not only did I spend my teens paying for a childhood of calling each movie I saw “the best ever,” but words like ‘masterpiece’ and ‘classic’ can lose their power very easily with overuse.

Last year, though, I told people Dunkirk was quite probably the tensest movie I’d ever seen. I’d never outright said that about a movie I’d seen before, as no movie had impacted me like Dunkirk. Now a second movie has.

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REVIEW: Ready Player One

Image: Warner Bros.

Chris Luckett

It’s a Spielberg movie.

Truly, that should be enough. If any living filmmaker has earned the assumption that every movie of theirs will be, at the very worst, worth seeing — and at the very best, a masterpiece like E.T. or Raiders of the Lost Ark — it’s Sir Stevie. And sure enough, Ready Player One is, at the very least, worth seeing. More than that, it’s the most fun movie of 2018 so far.

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REVIEW: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Chris Luckett

In a just world, Frances McDormand would have the cult-like adoration other living legends like Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren do. Her performances are consistently things of brilliance. When the movies are weak, she’s the best thing about them; when they’re strong, it just makes her up her game.

Between her performances in Blood Simple, Mississippi Burning, Fargo, Almost Famous, Wonder Boys, North Country, and Olive Kitteridge, it was incredibly unlikely she could give a performance that surpassed them all. Then Martin McDonagh wrote Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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REVIEW: Lady Bird

Image: A24

Chris Luckett

Rotten Tomatoes is a fickle creature. It’s easy to think that because the site aggregates all the major reviews for a film and give a percentage of good reviews, it’s an accurate read on a movie’s reception.

Here’s the thing, though: Since they only attach a “fresh” or “rotten” label to each review, scores can look inflated when people universally land somewhere near the middle.

If 100% of critics feel a movie’s just not quite good enough to recommend, it gets a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Conversely, all it takes is every critic saying “it’s not bad” or “it’s worth watching once” for a movie to look like cinematic perfection.

Hey, unrelated question: Did you see Lady Bird got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes?

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REVIEW: The Shape of Water

Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Chris Luckett

“Adult fairy tale” is one of those suspicious terms often used to give more credit to a silly premise than it deserves — but every now and then, it’s actually used to defend a fantastical movie stuffy mainstream adults would likely dismiss otherwise, like 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth.

That triple Oscar-winner was directed by jack-of-all-trades Guillermo del Toro. It was the most powerful filtering of del Toro’s visions of an already-storied career. After a Hellboy sequel, Pacific Rim, and Crimson Peak, del Toro has now returned to that unnerving space between genres, crafting another adult fairy tale that reaches out to childhood emotions within audiences while still incorporating severed fingers and a dead cat.

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