Be afraid of Fear Street, but watch No Sudden Move

click to enlarge No Sudden Move
No Sudden Move

Soderbergh's Move one of year's finest

Director Stephen Soderbergh has never suffered fools. Even his more light-hearted efforts (Ocean's 11, Logan Lucky) are smarter than you expect, while his best films are multi-layered narratives that challenge the viewer to follow a complex narrative that slowly reveals itself with one subtle revelation after another (Traffic, The Laundromat). His latest, No Sudden Move, a labyrinthine noir throwback is one of the latter, as well as a sly commentary on race and corporate greed.

A trio of hoods (Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Kieran Culkin) are hired to convince a corporate accountant (David Harbour) to retrieve a document from a safe at his workplace. Holding his family hostage convinces him to do so, his thievery setting off a series of double-crosses, narrative switchbacks and moments of dark humor that will keep you guessing as to who did what and for why until the very end. To be sure, there are times when you may be asking yourself just what's going on, but Soderbergh rewards your patience with a devastatingly cynical conclusion that ties all of the seemingly loose ends together. Uncommonly smart and entertaining, this is a must for crime film fans. Streaming on HBO Max.

Fear Street: 1994 a grating homage

The first in a trilogy of films inspired by R. L. Stine's popular book series, Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a shrill homage to slasher films that manages to hit every single gratuitous note of the genre without an ounce of wit or style. The setting is Shadyside, a town that's been living under a witch's curse for over 300 years. Every decade or so, someone there snaps and goes on a murderous rampage. The carnage in question here takes place at a mall where a series of murders takes place one faithful night, leaving the friends of the victims to track down the killer.

While there is an occasional meta reference to the rules of the genre, director Leigh Janiak isn't interested in making a post-modern on the horror film in the vein of Wes Craven's Scream films. No, she's only interested in spilling blood in copious amounts and cranking the soundtrack to ear-shattering levels. None of the characters are appealing, and the story is woefully predict

Pugh shines in bloated Widow

I have a feeling fans of the Marvel Films Universe will go easy on Black Widow. Having gone over a year without seeing one of their favorite four-color characters on the big screen, I think they'll be eager to embrace anything the studio throws their way. Likely the faithful will be initially dazzled by this long-delayed stand-alone feature focused on Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), but on second viewing, they'll see how thin the story truly is.

Seems a batch of serum that breaks the brainwashing spell the Soviet's Black Widow Corps is under has been stolen. Natasha and her estranged sister and fellow assassin, Yelena (Florence Pugh), set out to track it down as well as take out Dreykov (Ray Winstone), the head of the Widow program.

Ostensibly a long chase film, the movie gets bogged down by one extended lackluster action scene after another. While there are thrills here and there, the movie is just a blur. The highlight is Pugh, who steals the film from Johansson, supplying a sense of barbed humor as well as humanity to her character that's welcomed amidst all the chaos. In theaters.

able, qualities that need to be improved on in the upcoming entries. Streaming on Netflix.

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