By A.D. Beal

Velvet Buzzsaw
A group of art traders and exhibitors face the consequences of greed when a collection of art pieces is found to be cursed.

Dan Gilroy took what is essentially a slasher film under the cover of a high brow horror that’s about killer art. If that’s not enough to convince you, it’s got smart social commentary on the backstabbing and fake nature of those who will do anything to get what they need. There are great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, and more. And there are fantastic kills too. What’s not to love?

*Available on Netflix

The worlds of Unbreakable and Split collide when the three leads are contained in a psychiatric hospital.

Glass is M. Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece. This is a movie about gaslighting, trickery & those who will do anything to keep “natural values.” Instead of helping those in need or at a disadvantage, they push them down, and present those in need as villains when they have nowhere else to go. It doesn’t absolve the sins of the ones in need, but it makes you empathize even with the villain characters. The combination of the characters from the preceding two films feels natural, and the main three (Bruce Willis, James McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson) are incredible. As if the cast couldn’t get any better, they are joined by Sarah Paulson. The atmosphere of isolation and loneliness is captured perfectly by Shyamalan and DoP Mike Gioulakis. The score by West Dylan Thordson is amazing, and literally adds a ticking clock feeling to the film.

Alita: Battle Angel
500 years into the future, a cyborg made up of technology long thought to be missing is rebuilt and becomes a bounty hunter in the metropolis of Iron City.

Alita is clearly the passion project of producer and co-writer James Cameron. While he didn’t direct it, his influence is felt throughout it, to the point that actual director Robert Rodriguez’s style is lost save for a few select moments, his chaotic and anarchic glee gone. However, he does a great job transitioning into big budget filmmaking, especially in regard to action, where the editing and camerawork compliments it. As far as the cast goes, Rosa Salazar is fantastic as the title character. We watch her go from a wide-eyed, child-like performance to a genuinely badass fighter. The characters in the supporting cast aren’t as developed, but the cast is just so good that it makes up for it. Plot wise, it is a generic origin story and doesn’t do much different, but it’s the production design and VFX that almost makes up for it and immerses you into the world. The cyborgs in particular are impressive with how the human parts so naturally fit with the inhuman ones.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Five years after the events of The Lego Movie, Emmet must save what’s left of Bricksburg and his friends when an alien species invades.

A sequel that definitely tries to be greater than the original, it does sometimes feel overstuffed in trying to be a musical, continuing Emmet and Lucy’s stories and its own themes. But there are just so many good aspects here. The songs are fresh and exciting, and the musical angle feels right within the Lego universe. It also addresses the misconceptions of “Everything Is Awesome” in a clever way. Lastly, it manages to tackle themes of insecurity, feelings of being unloved and how age differences can affect the relationships between siblings. All of this in a funny, all ages friendly adventure with charming animation.