casey allen

Two men standing back to back with guns in front of a cityscape on a movie poster.
Courtesy of "Tenet" movie

Oscar-nominated director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, 2017) is evidently still enjoying his obsessions with complicated action sequences and non-linear storytelling. 

Courtesy of 'Tesla' movie.

 

Tesla is a historic, biographical drama on the life of pioneering engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla, whose ideas changed the world at the turn of the 20th century and beyond (his work included the alternating current electricity system, a thermo-magnetic motor, and the Tesla coil.) 

'Waiting for the Barbarians' Review With Casey

Aug 14, 2020
Courtesy of "Waiting for the Barbarians" movie.

Waiting for the Barbarians is a historical period drama based on the award-winning novel of the same name by South African writer J.M. Coetzee first published in 1980. This newly released film (premiered on August 7th) tells the story of a Magistrate, played by a soft-spoken and dignified Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, 2015), who manages a small settlement in a foreign, quiet desert on the far edge of an unnamed empire (presumably the British Empire).

Courtesy of "The Rental" movie.

Aren't weekend getaways a blast? They're especially fun when they have dangerous secrets, hidden cameras, a hot tub, and dead bodies. Actor Dave Franco, mostly known for light-hearted comedy and action films like The Disaster Artist (2017) and Now You See Me (2013), has his feature-length directorial debut with The Rental currently playing in select movie theaters throughout Utah after its nationwide release on July 24th. 

Courtesy of "The Old Guard" movie.

 


 

The Old Guard was released on July 10th this year and has become one of the most popular original films streaming on Netflix this month. Adapted from a graphic novel series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez that was first published in 2017, The Old Guard follows a group of expert, world-weary (and refreshingly diverse) mercenaries who travel the globe killing terrorists, hiding their identities, and speculating on immortality (hinting at this film's gold mine twist).

Courtesy of "Blow Down the Man" movie.

 

 

One half crime procedural and one half Shakespearean tragedy, Blow the Man Down tells a contemporary, noir-inspired drama of two twenty-something sisters who cover up a murder in a small coastal town of Maine. But their cover-up leads them into unexpected secrets, money, and danger. Lobster traps, fishmongers, and chowder are clever bits of decoration that portray the calloused lives of Down Easters.

Courtesy of "Palm Springs" Movie

Palm Springs was released July 10th of this year and is currently available for streaming on Hulu. This R-rated comedy is set in the magical desert of Southern California where a man and a woman meet at a Palm Springs wedding and become eternally linked to each other...and to the same repeating day. The leading stars Andy Samberg (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, 2016) and Cristin Milioti (Breakable You, 2017) give likable performances with a few moments of funny dialogue.

'Vivarium' Review With Casey

Jul 13, 2020
Courtesy of "Vivarium" movie

 


When a young loving couple visit a pristine suburb looking for a new home, they become trapped in a mysterious world of quiet isolation turning their casual visit at a possible starter home into an endless nightmare. The title is a real word meaning a living space where plants or animals are kept under observation (hint hint), and just like this fancy word, this film is not for everyone.

Courtesy of "Irresistible" movie.

Irresistible is a satirical comedy about an out-of-touch political strategist (a predictable Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy, 2018) who moves from Washington D.C. to rural Wisconsin to help a conservative farmer (a laconic Chris Cooper, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, 2019) run for mayor. 

'Buffaloed' Review With Casey

Jun 26, 2020
Courtesy of 'Buffaloed' Movie

When the opening shot of a film is a close-up of a young woman's face screaming an expletive slightly above the camera, it's a good sign viewers have started a crass, biting comedy that will keep them mostly entertained. Actress Zoey Deutch (Zombieland: Double Tap, 2019) plays a loud, street smart hustler determined to get out of her blue-collar life in Buffalo, New York through her passion for money and her even bigger passion for scamming people. 

'The Kindergarten Teacher' Review With Casey

Jun 22, 2020
Courtesy of "The Kindergarten Teach"

I usually address a newly released film in my weekly reviews, but this week I'm writing about a brilliant 2018 film called The Kindergarten Teacher currently available through Netflix. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, 2008) plays an unsatisfied kindergarten teacher in New York City who thinks one of her students is a gifted prodigy of original poetry. But the teacher's nurturing guidance slowly, and unnervingly, transforms into passionate infatuation. 

Courtesy of "Shirley" movie


Actress Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man, 2020) appears to be on a mission continually portraying serious female roles in dark, emotionally arduous films (like The Invisible Man from earlier this year, The Kitchen from 2019, Us from 2019, and The Handmaid's Tale TV series from 2017 to today). And like a contemporary Greta Garbo, Elisabeth has succeeded again diving bravely into a richly complex, unlikeable, unglamorous title role in Shirley.

Courtesy of "The Painter And The Their" Movie

The Painter and the Thief is a documentary released on May 22nd of this year and available on Hulu. When two expensive paintings are stolen from an art gallery in Oslo, Norway, the artist privately reaches out to one the convicted thieves to try and locate her paintings. But the thief does not remember anything about his crime.

Courtesy of "The Lovebirds" Movie

When watching the R-rated comedy, The Lovebirds, it starts out with a very romantically casual mood, but that mood is soon smashed like a cockroach under a boot as a loving couple (a.k.a. lovebirds) is launched into a dangerous mystery of dead bodies, hot bacon grease, and a secret sex cult. 

Courtesy of "Adam" movie.

Sometimes a film gains attention for great acting performances or for new special effects technology, and sometimes a film gains attention for controversy. Adam has made a mark as a controversial film.

Courtesy of "The Lodge" Movie

 

Although the weather outside is sunny and breezy right now, it makes for an interesting time to watch a film full of snow, ice, and terror.

 

After enduring a family tragedy, a young brother and sister are "encouraged" to spend their Christmas holiday with their father and his new strange fiancée in their family's remote vacation lodge. But work calls the father away for a few days, forcing the children to spend time with this woman they hardly know while surrounded by miles of frozen New England forest. Strained family relationships are the impetus of this psychological horror full of secrets, nightmares, and major religious baggage.   

'Give Me Liberty' Review With Casey

May 13, 2020
Courtesy of "Give Me Liberty" Movie

Oftentimes film critics describe what they see by categorizing films into genres or styles. But then films like Give Me Liberty come along that achieve such a uniqueness it's difficult to specify any genre boundaries. First released in August 2019, and now available through Netflix, Give Me Liberty is a gem of independent filmmaking that takes viewers on a hectic, crowded, one-day journey. 

'Waves' Review With Casey

Apr 24, 2020
Movie poster for Waves
A24 Films

 

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night, 2017) is successfully spreading his roots in telling interesting, rich, current stories. Waves is Shults' latest entry in the independent film canon, and like a hot slice of lasagna, it is layered, filling, and wonderful. 

Courtesy of "Tigertail" movie

Recently, I watched the drama Tigertail. Growl! But everybody calm down. This film has nothing to do with the documentary miniseries Tiger King currently on Netflix. 

 

'Lost Girls' Review With Casey

Apr 13, 2020
Movie poster for Lost Girls
Netflix.com

 

Lost Girls is a dark murder mystery based on a true story and adapted from the 2013 non-fiction book by Robert Kolker called Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery. This film was released in March 2020 and is currently available through Netflix as part of their original content.

 

'Big Time Adolescence' Review With Casey

Apr 3, 2020
Movie Poster for Big Time Adolescence
hulu.com

This film started at Sundance in January 2019 and was fully released to the world on March 13th this year through the personal streaming platform Hulu. Big Time Adolescence is an R-rated, coming-of-age comedy about an awkward teenage boy and his friendship with a pot-smoking, aimless, college dropout in his twenties.

Movie Poster for Horse Girl
IMDB.com

Since movie theaters are closed to everyone, I watched a film through the streaming platform of Netflix called Horse Girl (released earlier this year). Sometimes a film is described as "mainstream" to explain its wide-ranging appeal and entertainment value to the largest audience possible. Horse Girl is not one of those films. So far, Jeff Baena has only directed darkly twisted comedies like The Little Hours (2017) and Life After Beth (2014). But Horse Girl is a quiet experimental drama about grief, isolation, and mental illness.

'The Hunt' Review With Casey

Mar 20, 2020
Movie poster for The Hunt
Universal Pictures

 

When a group of random strangers wake up outside together scattered across a lightly forested meadow, it's not long before bullets start whizzing and blood starts splattering. Surprising deaths and blunt punchlines fill this dark comedy as unwitting Americans scramble for survival. But the literal hunt of this film is not an ordinary fight with just guns and knives. The gleefully nasty violence is also delivered with arrows, grenades, stiletto heels, and kitchen utensils. 

Movie Poster for The Way Back starring Ben Affleck
wikipedia

Ben Affleck (Gone Girl, 2014) is evidently not afraid to embrace a difficult leading role in this plaintive drama directed by Gavin O'Connor (The Accountant, 2016). Ben Affleck's movie star power was almost lost forever in the mess of the DC Comic films Justice League (2017) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). But The Way Back has shown us he can still offer good performances. Affleck plays a lonely aching man who begrudgingly accepts an offer to coach basketball in his former high school in southern California to help the immature players improve their game.

Courtesy of "The Invisible Man"

Universal Studios officially launched a new movie campaign in 2017 called Dark Universe advertising upcoming films retelling classic monster stories through a contemporary lens. This campaign began with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, and it was one of the worst movies of 2017. The Dark Universe campaign ended as soon as it had begun.

'The Call Of The Wild' Review With Casey

Feb 27, 2020
The Call of the Wild movie poster
Courtesy of The Call of the Wild

Based on Jack London's novel first published in 1903, this book has been the homework for many junior high and high school English students. The Call of the Wild centers on a mischievous domestic dog who is kidnapped from his home, taken to the outskirts of Canada, and sold as a sled dog to work in the unforgiving winter of the Yukon Territory during the Gold Rush of the 19th century. As various humans pass through his life, the dog learns perseverance and courage in the differing faces of danger and gradually embraces his wild ancestral nature. This book is based on the author's own experiences working as a gold prospector in uncharted areas of Canada.

Birds of Prey Movie

 

First of all, let me clarify the full title of this film shown on the poster and in the film's credits. 

It's Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. I know this title might seem excessively long to some of you, but it actually fits nicely. It fits nicely because this movie felt so long, so superfluous, and so tedious even though its actual running time is only 1 hour and 49 minutes. 

 

Courtesy of 'The Rhythm Section' movie

When a place crash kills a young Englishwoman's family, she spirals into depression and prostitution (and not the fancy kind with leather boots and perfume). Actress Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, 2018) shows us she can embrace the "de-glam" of a woman come undone. But the spiral stops when the young woman learns the plane crash was orchestrated by terrorists. Vengeance will be hers!

 

'Just Mercy' Review With Casey

Jan 30, 2020
Courtesy of 'Just Mercy' movie

People might think they've seen this movie before, but the passion and realism in it might make you think again. Just Mercy is based on Bryan Stevenson's 2014 book titled Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption about the author's experience moving to rural Alabama as a Harvard Law graduate in 1989 to offer free legal representation to men wrongfully convicted or unfairly sentenced to death row. Being an idealistic, young, black man, the new lawyer in town has to survive discrimination against him as well as his clients. Just Mercy feels like a neighbor between two other real-life, legal, racism dramas To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Ghosts of Mississippi (1996).

Courtesy of "1917" movie

Something about the genre of war films always seems to create a catalyst for exciting and different storytelling, and our latest example of this catalyst is 1917. Two young British soldiers make a dangerous journey into enemy territory during WWI to deliver a message that will stop their fellow fighters from entering an outnumbered battle.  

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