By A.D. Beal

IN THEATERS “Nightmare Alley”
A con man’s rise and fall told in two acts, from the circus to the highest part of society, as he schemes his way with his fake psychic powers. Guillermo del Toro has always made films that can best be described as dark fairy tales, with their heightened sense of reality and unique designs and visuals. With his new film, he changes it up, slamming the film into harsh, wet reality, with only his heightened production design remaining. “Nightmare Alley” is a cold, bleak movie with little hope or light to be found as we watch our characters kill, cheat, and abandon each other for their gain. The actors perfectly reach their different levels of habitability, watching them slowly get further into the underbelly of the world they live in. Slow is a good word to describe this movie, one that wants you to experience every second of its ugly reality. It’s a watch that requires you to be patient, but if you stick with it, it rewards you well.

“Red Rocket”
A down-and-out actor’s journey to success as he moves back to his hometown. The events in “Red Rocket” are like a very humorous accident, one you can’t look away from as it gets worse and worse. Simon Rex’s performance as Mikey Saber is one of the best “scumbag” lead characters I’ve seen in recent years; a character that completely lacks self-awareness and is filled with delusions of grandeur. The supporting cast is filled with other colorful characters played by all sorts of discoveries by Sean Baker. The director does a good job showing us their lives day by day as they continue to destroy themselves and each other, convinced some salvation still awaits them. It’s funny, uncomfortable, and tragic all at once—the best kind of film.
Twenty-five years after the original murders, a new killer arrives, forcing the original survivors to unite with a new generation to stop them. I’m likely biased in this case as, outside of the fourth film, I’ve never really cared for “Scream” and only saw this new film due to the involvement of the filmmakers behind 2019’s excellent horror-comedy “Ready Or Not.” With this new installment, you get a meta take on legacy sequels and their family relations in typical “Scream” fashion (even despite the new directors and writers). As per usual with these movies (beyond the surprisingly clever fourth film from 2011), it’s obnoxious, to say the least and doesn’t have anything of intrigue to bring up. The directors do bring some good set pieces with the chase scenes and kills, but the writing only provides laughable connections to the original film and the usual “Scream” archetypes, giving their actors little to work with (though Jack Quaid and Jenna Ortega stand out well). By the end, it leaves you feeling, if not empty, unfulfilled, and sad watching all that talent wasted.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
A retelling of Shakespeare’s iconic play. As an exercise in visuals, Joel Coen’s solo debut as a director works. The minimalist production design is a sight to behold and, mixed with the black and white photography, it reminds one of classic German expressionism. Beyond that, if you’ve seen a prior version of Macbeth you’ve basically seen this one, as there’s little that this version offers to differ from prior versions. The main difference is the bigger stars than other film adaptations, and unfortunately, the main two leads, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, are miscast and don’t fit the devious nature of the characters. The other actors fare better, but the filmmaking and performances feel better made for the stage than film.


February 4
• “Moonfall”
• “Jackass Forever”
• “The Worst Person In The World” (Limited)
February 11
• “Marry Me”
• “Death On The Nile”
• “Blacklight”
February 18
• “Dog”
• “Uncharted”
February 25
• “The Devil’s Light”
• “The Outfit”
• “Studio 666”
• “Big Gold Brick” (Limited)