“Captain Marvel” and “Lords of Chaos” on Spoilerpiece #243

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) pre-Captain Marveling

Hey, gang! I’m recovering from my bout with pneumonia so I hit the mic with Kris Jenson and Evan Crean (as I usually do when I’m not sick) for the latest Spoilerpiece Theatre episode. We talk Captain Marvel (which they saw) and Lords of Chaos (which we all saw). Plus, we have a Patreon page where you can get exclusive audio. The weekly eps are always free, of course. Listen below!


Oh, and follow me – daveseesmovies – on Twitter.

“The Kid” with Ethan Hawke and Dane DeHaan (review)

TheKid_103 (DD, EH)
“Don’t you have a history report due, kid?” Dane DeHaan, left, as Billy the Kid, and Ethan Hawke as Pat Garrett. Photo Credit: Lionsgate.

Whew! It’s been a long time since I posted here. New baby, night feedings, then I had pneumonia, blah blah. Anyway, here’s a short review I wrote for Salt Lake City Weekly about Vincent D’Onofrio’s The Kid, a new-ish take on the Billy the Kid story.

Rio Cutler (Jake Schur) and his sister Sara (Leila George) kill their psycho father and hit the prairie with their evil uncle (a surprisingly dark Chris Pratt) in hot pursuit; because this is the movies, they naturally cross paths with Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan) while he’s on the run from Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke). Killing ensues.

Read the rest at SLC Weekly.

“The Equalizer 2” review


When we last left Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), he had killed the shit out of the entire Boston-based Russian mafia in order to save teen prostitute Chloë Grace Moretz and his co-workers at a Home Depot knock-off. It was an update of the 1980s TV show that would have done Edward Woodward—the original McCall, himself a bad-ass, just with an English accent—proud. Washington, director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Richard Wenk return for the sequel, and despite the similar cool gadgetry and Denzel’s blend of humor and cat-toying-with-doomed-mouse energy—there’s even a wayward youth he has to protect, well played by Ashton Sanders—nothing here seems quite as dangerous. Perhaps that’s because his enemies this go-around are a bunch of old CIA buddies and not the Russian mob. In this day and age I’d be more worried about the Russian mob. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some fun and some good killin’, with McCall dispatching more than one person with knives (yeesh). But there’s something too predictable about McCall wasting a bunch of people who’ve crossed him. Don’t they know he’s smarter and better-trained than they are?

This review first appeared in Salt Lake City Weekly.

“The First Purge” review


The Purge series has a simple premise: A fascistic American government allows all crime to be legal for 12 continuous hours once a year. It’s also a small miracle, in that the dumb original—a been-there done-that home invasion story—has been followed by better movies, including the two direct sequels that increasingly painted Purge Night as class war in which the rich live and the poor die. Smart. This prequel finds the government paying Staten Islanders to participate in what they call “the experiment.” When the experiment results in few deaths, the government sends in militias. A drug dealer named Dmitri (thoughtfully played by Y’lan Noel) sits out the purge until it becomes clear the government is using the experiment as an excuse to kill welfare recipients. There’s some sloppy filmmaking—windows break and doors open without explanation—but once the action gets rolling, it rolls, man. The jump scares are effective, the action is fierce and the costume design leaves no doubt as to what kinds of people would hunt the poor for pleasure. I don’t know where this franchise is headed next, but I’m in.

This review first appeared in Salt Lake City Weekly.

None More Bleak: Movies to remind you that, hey, it could always be worse


It’s bad out there. Sometimes, it’s so bad it feels dystopian. I work in news, and there have been days, even weeks, when I avoid reading headlines, much less full articles.

But thankfully, there are movies that make me realize someone always has it worse, whether it’s a colonial American family struggling in the wilderness or a person who is bred for one specific purpose. It’s as soothing as a Calgon commercial, but without the casual racism.

The following films depict characters who are living lives that are (likely) worse than anything we’ve experienced. Watch and sigh with relief. (Note: I pitched and wrote the bulk of this piece before news broke that children and parents were being separated at the southern U.S. border. For some, reality will always be worse than anything on the movie screen, and in no way do I intend to make light of that.)

IDIOCRACY—Sure, living in a future when everyone is so dumb they water crops with sports drinks would be terrible. What might be even more terrible is that director and co-writer Mike Judge seems to be tacitly supporting eugenics, the idea that selective human breeding ensures more desirable traits in future generations. You might remember eugenics from when you studied Nazism.

The Purge

THE PURGE SERIES—The First Purge is upon us, and—spoiler!—as of this writing I haven’t seen it. The Purge presents us with a United States in which a political party called the New Founding Fathers has won a landslide election and made all crime legal for a 12-hour period once a year. Murder, rape, nun-beating, you name it. The first movie is a dumb home-invasion story, but its sequels up the ante by featuring a protagonist (Frank Grillo) out for vengeance inAnarchy,then fighting alongside a senator (Elizabeth Mitchell) in Election Year to end Purge Night. These movies are better than they should be. Aside: I used to think The Purge series was too fantastical—rich people murdering poor people for sport—to ever be possible. These days, I’m not so sure.

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom

SALÒ OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM—Taking inspiration from the Marquis de Sade (that’s your first warning), director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s final film is an indictment of fascism without thesatisfaction of any of the fascists getting his comeuppance. Perhaps that’s the point. But be warned: This movie contains, in no particular order of awfulness, graphic coprophilia, scalping, eyes being gouged out, tongues being sliced off (not larks’ tongues) and two soldiers waltzing among the horror.

The Witch

THE WITCH—In 17th-century New England, William (Ralph Ineson) and his family build a homestead in a wilderness that, unfortunately for them, is populated with witches. And perhaps the devil in the form of a goat called Black Philip. Writer-director Robert Eggers makes the wise decision to keep things that go bump in the night limited to a colonial settler’s fears; it’s sinister and creepy.

Never Let Me Go

NEVER LET ME GO—The most heartbreaking movie of this bunch,this adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novelis a romantic drama about people who are bred specifically for the purpose of donating their organs to the rich, and thus die early deaths. Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield sell it. Take Kleenex.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES—Any movie so rigid in its direction, cinematography and pacing isn’t exactly “minimalist,” but that word is thrown around a lot for Chantal Akerman’s masterpiece. Jeanne (Delphine Seyrig) is a widow who fills her days completely so there’s no variation to them (and therefore no time for her to spend thinking about her life’s emptiness). But then something happens that throws Jeanne’s schedule and routine off track and results in a horrifying ending. It all makes sense; imagine living in her shoes. You’ll have three hours and 15 minutes to do it.

A Serbian Film

A SERBIAN FILM—This film ties with Salò for any award that begins with the phrase “Most Depraved.” Here, a retired porn star is hired by shady investors to act in an art film that turns out to be a series of snuff films. There are images in this movie so shocking—think necrophilia, but worse (or don’t)—that it took me several days to wade through its 100 minutes. Making the film feel yuckier is that it’s crafted with considerable skill. I wonder what else director/co-writer Sran Spasojevi could have made instead of this fuggin’ thing.


DREDD—This Alex Garland-written dystopian nightmare features Dredd (Karl Urban), a one-man judge and executioner, who ventures into a 200-story apartment building to find a drug kingpin named Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Dredd kills a lot of people, nastily, while avoiding being killed himself by Ma-Ma’s many, many henchmen (or the mutants living outside the city in a radioactive wasteland).

Solaris (2002)

SOLARIS (1972) and SOLARIS (2002)—These two movies adapted from the same novel have wildly different takes on the material. The first, made in the Soviet Union by master Andrei Tarkovsky, is a meditation on what makes us human. The second, made by Steven Soderbergh, explores similar themes, but with a bucket of ice cooling everything along the way. In both, Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis/George Clooney) journeys to a space station orbiting planet Solaris, which can make visions of dead loved ones appear. One could argue the movies have happy endings. They don’t.