Copycat (1995, Directed by Jon Amiel) English 6

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, Harry Connick Jr., William McNamara, J.E Freeman, Will Patton

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Effective. Suspenseful. Strong.

After a violent attack by a psychopath, Dr, Helen Hudson (Weaver) is traumatized and rendered agoraphobic, never leaving her state of the art apartment. A year later, a serial killer terrorizing San Francisco makes a point of involving Helen. She notices that the killer is copying a different infamous slaying with each murder, reluctantly teaming up with detectives Monahan (Hunter) and Goetz (Mulroney). The female leads give strong performances and the film’s biggest strength is their fully rounded characters. Apart from that, Copycat is by-the-numbers but well done. It’s an interesting premise that delivers; gripping and suspenseful.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(552)

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019, Directed by Rob Letterman) English 6

Starring Justice Smith, Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, Rita Ora, Omar Chaparro, Bill Nighy, Ken Watanabe, Suki Waterhouse

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(6-Good Film)

Engaging. Lively. Loud.

Tim Goodman (Smith) lives a quiet, dull existence as an insurance salesman in a world where millions of Pokémon roam. After the death of his police detective father, Tim travels to Ryme City for some closure, but stumbles into a conspiracy and meets his father’s Pokémon partner, Pikachu (voiced by Reynolds). The two find that they can understand each other, and reluctantly team up to get to the bottom of what happened to Tim’s father. The first thing going for this film, surprisingly the first live-action adaptation of the Pokémon franchise, is the first-rate design of its fantastic creatures. Pikachu is wonderfully brought to life. Consider what we’ve seen of Sonic in his upcoming film, and rejoice at the work of these animators. Ryan Reynolds brings a joke-a-second energy to the role and though only a small percentage of them land in my view, it keeps the proceedings fun. The plot isn’t as grand or deep as the best mystery films, and its solutions are easy and obvious, but I love noir and the premise is good enough and executed well enough to make Detective Pikachu worthy entertainment.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(541)

The Bat (1959, Directed by Crane Wilbur) English 6

Starring Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon, Lenita Lane, Darla Hood, John Sutton

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(6-Good Film)

Entertaining. Involving. Campy.

Two murderous plots are afoot in the small, seemingly sleepy town that mystery writer, Cornelia van Gorder (Moorehead), spends her summers in, and both appear to revolve around a fortune in money missing from the local bank. Vincent Price plays a doctor and the only one who knows exactly where the money’s hidden (since he killed the man who stole it). Then there’s a figure being called “the bat,” terrorizing the town with a string of murders. It all blends together rather simply and the main whodunnit plot is obvious in my opinion, but The Bat is entertaining. The confined setting and cast of older female leads are terrific.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(539)

Game Night (2018, Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein) English 6

Starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Jesse Plemons, Kylie Bunbury, Lamorne Morris, Sharon Horgan

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(6-Good Film)

Fast-paced. Funny. Fun.

A married couple, Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams), love to host game nights for their friends-Ryan (Magnussen), Kevin (Morris), and Michelle (Burnbury)-but when Max’s hotshot brother, Brooks (Chandler), comes to town, he hijacks the party. Relocating game night to his mansion, he sets up a more dangerous game involving a kidnapping and detective work, but things become a little more intense than planned, and the rest of the party begin to wonder what’s real and what’s just part of the game. Rapid-fire dialogue and cultural references, a devious, ever-spinning plot, and excellent performances, especially from the very loveable leads Bateman and McAdams, make Game Night a blast.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(520)

Gorky Park (1983, Directed by Michael Apted) English 6

Starring William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Joanna Pacula, Brian Dennehy, Ian Bannen, Richard Griffiths

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(6-Good Film)

Solid. Intriguing. Unsurprising.

In Soviet Moscow, Police Detective Renko (Hurt) investigates the brutal murder of three young civilians. It looks like a KGB job, but why would the KGB have any interest in the three deceased? Renko uncovers a conspiracy that involves American businessman, Jack Osborne (Marvin), and is drawn in by the mysterious beauty, Irina (Pacula), who has ties to the three murdered. Very solid thriller despite its generic mystery plot thanks to a strong cast, an exciting femme fatale in Irina, and a fresh setting (Soviet Russia). The English speaking cast all affect Russian accents which are a little silly if you think too hard about it.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(514)

Il Mostro/ The Monster (1994, Directed by Roberto Benigni) Italian 7

Starring Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Michel Blanc, Dominique Lavanant

(7-Very Good Film)

Clever. Silly. Appealing.

Inspired comedy playing off of Hitchcock’s classic, Frenzy, Loris (Benigni), through a series of misunderstandings, becomes the lead suspect in a string of sexual murders. As the lead cop, Nicoletta Braschi (Benigni’s real-life wife), investigates, she finds herself falling in love with the man. Showcases Benigni’s skill at physical humor and clever use of comic foreshadowing. Much fun.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(506)

The Faculty (1998, Directed by Robert Rodriguez) English 7

Starring Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Famke Janssen, Shawn Hatosy, Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Jon Stewart, Usher Raymond, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth, Christopher McDonald

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(7-Very Good Film)

Entertaining. Clever. Messy.

What Scream was to slasher films, The Faculty hoped to be to sci-fi horror classics like The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with its cast of teen stars and a surplus of pop culture references. Written by the same scribe, Kevin Williamson, and directed by a young Robert Rodriguez, the result is an often ridiculous, always a blast film, with a fantastic cast and a handful of bad special effects. Elijah Wood stars as a nerdy student at Harrington High, Casey, who first discovers the weird happenings afoot, hiding in a closet next to mean girl, Delilah (Brewster). An alien race is not so slowly taking over the bodies of Harrington High’s faculty and they’re coming for the students next. Of course, no one believes them, except for jock, Stan (Hatosy), outcast, Stokley (DuVall), bad boy, Zeke (Hartnett), and the new girl, Marybeth (Harris). Rodriguez isn’t what I would call a master of suspense, and The Faculty isn’t very scary at all, but he knows how to entertain, and The Faculty is one of his most entertaining films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(499)