By Tony Beal
The Black Phone
A young boy receives calls from the dead after being kidnapped by a serial killer.
The Black Phone does a very good job at managing to keep a fast pace despite its locations being limited. You’re enthralled by the imprisonment of Finney and his attempts to get out, while simultaneously seeing the supernatural side play out with his sister and her sort of detective story. All of this is obviously helped by the actors, specifically the child leads and Ethan Hawke’s rare turn in a villain role. But also, director Scott Derrickson gives the film the creepy, urban legend vibe that’s grounded by the 1970s setting. It’s the kind of pulp that still has some meat on its bones that was common from the horror genre 30 to 40 years ago, and it’s one any genre fan can enjoy.
The story of the king of rock and roll from beginning to end.
The musician biopic has been done to death at this point, and Elvis follows the traditional promising start followed by struggles route. However, like Rocketman before, it’s elevated by the unique approach to it, namely in how director Baz Luhrman makes the film feel like a rush, like we’re inside Col. Tom Parker’s dying fever dream as he retells his and Presley’s story. Hanks is quite good as the devious total POS of a manager. Austin Butler steals the show as the title character in a performance that’s more resurrection than imitation. The over two-hour runtime does feel bloated in the middle section, though showing Elvis’ struggles with his aspirations towards activism makes it much more interesting, as well as the surprisingly somber note it ends on. It’s a nice reminder of a movie that shows how even the same stories can feel exciting with the right hook.
Crimes Of the Future
The next stage of human evolution through organ metamorphosis is shown in the stories of three individuals.
David Cronenberg’s return to movie making is well-timed, and the focus on pollution and climate change and how it will affect our bodies is a horror that’s presented as a morbid beauty from the perspective of our characters. Characters who will change their organs for art, pleasure, or to eat plastic, and each of the actors showcase those emotions from fascination to despair. Léa Seydoux and Viggo Mortensen are of course excellent as a patient-doctor couple, but Scott Speedman stands out as an odd, sniveling figure whose life and work is falling apart around him. Howard Shore’s booming score is the defining feature to the apocalyptic world that’s just barely held together. This is another reminder of what Cronenberg is capable of and how impactful his tales of human disasters are.
Fire of Love
The story of Katia and Maurice Krafftt, two scientists obsessed with volcanoes and their secrets.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen home movies as beautiful as the Krafftt’s works shown in Fire of Love.
Visuals that showcase what might as well be from another world, but also a showcase of just how truly driven and passionate these two were—that pursuit of the discovery of something grand while keeping a loving relationship that still was a tightrope walk for the two of them. Miranda July’s narration is a perfect bow on top, to bring home the melancholic feel of it all. What a wonderful way to tell an underseen story.
• Bullet Train (Theaters)
• Easter Sunday (Theaters)
• Bodies Bodies Bodies (Theaters)
• Sharp Stick (Theaters)
• They/Them (Peacock)
• Prey (Hulu)
• Mack & Rita (Theaters)
• Emily The Criminal (Theaters, Limited)
• Day Shift (Netflix)
• Beast (Theatrical)
• The Invitation (Theatrical)
• Samaritan (Amazon Prime)
• 892 (Theatrical, Limited)
• Three Thousand Years of Longing