Co-Written & Directed By: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, & Lupita Nyong'o
STARS: 3.5 out of 4
Brief Description: Having seen Black Panther three times now, I can confidently say this film is my favorite of the year. Sure we have traditional Marvel action set pieces like a car chase through Busan, Korea or a third act fight sequence that involves genetically engineered rhinos, but we also have thoughtful discussions about what it takes to be a man and a leader, and what is the best approach to rule a country that is obviously the most powerful in the world. We sympathize with the villain Erik Killmonger because we agree with his approach for how Wakanda should run (and because Michael B Jordan can convince us to do anything), if not knocking the execution. There are so many ideas and themes in Black Panther that it easily rises to the top of being one of Marvel's best and earning the top spot on my list for the top ten films of 2018.
Directed By: Bing Liu
Starring: Zach Mulligan, Kiere Johnson, & Bing Liu
STARS: 4 out of 4
Brief Description: Minding The Gap is a beautiful and haunting documentary about the generational cycle of abuse through the lens of three skateboarders from Rockford, Illinois. Director Bing Liu set up his camera in front of his friends as we watch the extremely charismatic Zach and the thoughtful Kiere as we're painted a picture of life skateboarding in the middle of the country. Quickly we learn that the skateboarding is a way to mask the pain of the harsh reality. All three of of these boys have been physicallyu and emotionally abused, and it's soul crushing to watch how this abuse has manifested itself as these three boys become men. Bing uses the film as therapy whereas Zach turns to alcoholism and Kiere tries to push past it as a way to build a life for himself. Zach impregnates his young girlfriend and we see the cycle start all over again. You can watch the film exclusively on Hulu, and I highly recommend seeking this one out.
Written & Directed By: Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, & Steve Carell
STARS: 3.5 out of 4
Brief Description: I love the fact that Vice has it's own unique style and that you can tell this is an Adam McKay feature. Besides the quick cuts to Jesse Plemmons as our narrator or a lion chasing down and killing a gazelle, you know you are watching an Adam McKay feature has he has an incredible knack for turning mundane history lessons into entertaining works of art. Dick Cheney the man is not very interesting, and is in fact very, very secretive, but by telling his rise parallel to the rise of the Republican Party and how they created the America we see today, we leave the theater is equal parts awe and disgust. I find any criticism that McKay ends up humanizing Dick Cheney or that we find sympathy for the man, because the film obviously loathes the man, but Adam McKay loathes someone in the only way he knows how: by making great movies.