By Tony Beal
“Magic Mike’s Last Dance”
The ex-dancer known as Magic Mike teams up with a British socialite to put on a stage show.
Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum once again managed to make a lovely and charming film in a series that’s often (and unfairly) seen as just two hours of eye candy. “Last Dance” is about Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault’s characters, directionless in their middle ages, trying to do something with passion that they can share with everyone else. Soderbergh showcases this through his visuals (under the pseudonym Peter Andrews) that are warm and cold depending on the mood of the scene, and you feel that with the characters. Meanwhile, while the film has gone far from the grounded nature of the first film, the more heightened, musical feel works and meshes well with the dramatic tone. It’s hard to not watch this film without having a smile on your face throughout the film, and you’ll never want it to end. While keeping the film in the same world and hardships of the stories before, it feels like the right step, showing the light at the end of the tunnel.
An author attends a European resort whose unique rules lead to horrific debauchery.
An early contender for the funniest movie of the year, Infinity Pool reminds me a lot of “Funny Games” in how you can’t help but laugh at the horror when the characters don’t take it seriously. Clear in its satire of the wealthy, director Brandon Cronenberg still manages to not let that completely take over the tone the film is going for, balancing that humor with an uncomfortable nature even in the same scenes. Complemented by the decision to give the exotic resort a dreary look, we witness a cast of entitled individuals stretch the limits of what their privilege and money can get them. You’ll love to hate all of them thanks to the actors, particularly Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth. Topped off with the nightmarish editing and visuals, Cronenberg delivers 2023’s first truly incredible film.
“Knock at the Cabin”
A family find themselves held captive by a group claiming they must sacrifice someone to prevent the apocalypse.
M. Night Shyamalan’s best work has always found a way to make the most unnerving stories that still manage to make you empathize with characters not commonly depicted in genre films. “Knock at the Cabin” continues that, with every actor delivering some career-best work here, notably Dave Bautista’s soft-spoken leading invader and Rupert Grint’s tortured and nervous companion. All the while, Shyamalan flips the typical apocalypse story on its head, interrogating society’s treatment of certain individuals, like our main couple played by Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge, while also asking them to save the world too. You can’t help but feel the sorrow as much as fear for everyone here, even our invaders who are, like our couple, ordinary people put into an extraordinary situation. In the end, you’re left with as much a feeling of worry as hope. It’s a truly remarkable film.
A comedy that’s also a modern day look between interracial relationships and the differences that come from families.
It’s hard to watch a bad comedy, but it’s tougher when that comedy also wants to be socially relevant. “You People” never finds that balance between humorous and serious, and instead comes off as a childish presentation. At times, it even irresponsibly plays into stereotypes. Even if you try to look at it more as pure entertainment value, it wastes an incredibly talented cast and has some of the worst and most distracting editing from a comedy in a while. It’s a film that aims high, and collapses on every level.
“Luther: The Fallen Sun” (Netflix)
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods”
“The Magician’s Elephant” (Netflix)
“John Wick: Chapter 4”
“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”
“A Good Person”
“A Thousand and One”
“Murder Mystery 2” (Netflix)