Joel has written 51 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2015.

  • Bridge of Spies

    Bridge of Spies

    ★★★½

    The newest Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg collaboration follows James Donovan, a New York lawyer(Tom Hanks) tasked with defending a Soviet spy, Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance). This is only one-third of the film though as a US spy is captured by the Russians forcing the US to send Donovan to make the prisoner exchange. The film does feel like two separate film rolled into one as the court aspects concludes and the espionage angle begins.
    The story does focus more on the…

  • Grandma

    Grandma

    ★★★½

    The dramedy about a pregnant girl Sage(Julia Garner) that must elicit the help of her grandmother(Lily Tomlin) to get the $600 needed for her abortion and this film can be summed up in four words: The Lily Tomlin Show as she literally steals every scene she's in. The great thing about her character is that she can bring this humor to all these more somber situations but also feel like a real person with her honest performance. She also plays…

  • Pawn Sacrifice

    Pawn Sacrifice

    ★★★½

    Another film that tackles the story of chess prodigy Bobby Fischer and the "match of the century", Pawn Sacrifice brings a lot of tension and suspense to a story thats been told before thanks to a good screenplay by Steven Knight. Tobey Maguire seems to bring the same performance that he does to a lot of his roles, but it seems to work well here. Liev Schreiber is good in his role as the Soviet opposition, but I didn't really…

  • Goosebumps

    Goosebumps

    ★★★½

    Jack Black plays a more subdued version of himself in the character of R. L. Stein, the creator of the Goosebumps, whose creations are real and get released by a new neighbor on a fateful night and must be captured again in a wild horror like story that seemed great for families in the halloween season.
    The film has this great light hearted feel to it, Jack Black is funny without having to go into the over the top kind…

  • Miss You Already

    Miss You Already

    ★★★½

    Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette star as Milly and Jess, two lifelong friends that follows through them through their lives' ups and down as they stay loyal to each other.Collette and Barrymore bring great performances to the role and they share great chemistry with each other (even if one is usually just falling back into a background supporting role in scenes while the other owns the scene). The film also works better when they are able to work off each…

  • Inferno

    Inferno

    ★★★½

    Hoop-tober film#2

    A continuation of the lore and backstory that weren't as developed in the first film of the trilogy(Suspiria), Inferno just doesn't have as great of a narrative of the former, but those great Argento visuals and amazing music his films are known for are still here and the film acts as a fairly decent companion piece to Suspiria but on its own, feels like a slightly weaker installment in his overall filmography and therefore is only good instead of great.
    7/10

  • The Gift

    The Gift

    ★★★½

    The surprise hit of the summer, The Gift stars and is directed by Joel Edgerton(in his directorial debut) as Gordo, a man who enters the life of a couple(played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) and seems like a innocent face from the past but not everything is as it seems. Watching the trailers, it looked like this would be a very typical thriller but the film really delivers cerebral suspense with some very nail biting tension and a lot…

  • Trainwreck

    Trainwreck

    ★★★½

    A great collaboration between director Judd Apatow and comedian/screenwriter Amy Schumer about a woman played by Schumer that believes "monogamy is not realistic" and a man she meets(played by Bill Hader) that might just help her change her ways.
    The film is definitely filled with raunchy comedy, but Schumer's performance and comic timing feels honest here and her chemistry with Hader is the heart and soul of the film. Some of the best performances come from the small performances John…

  • While We're Young

    While We're Young

    ★★★½

    Noah Baumbach once again delivers a cool indie comedy that unlike Mistress America is starring much bigger Hollywood names with an older couple(Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) meeting a young couple(Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) and taking them under their wing. The comedy feels natural in that the atmosphere dictates the jokes instead of the jokes feeling forced or out of place.
    Ben Stiller feels like he's doing the same thing he's being doing for years(and may be played out…

  • What We Do in the Shadows

    What We Do in the Shadows

    ★★★½

    Just when you thought the vampire genre had been done to death, a film comes along that bring new life genre. What We Do In The Shadows is a fun satirical look at the vampire community and with the hilarious performances from Flight Of The Concords Jermaine Clement and Rhys Darby along with the generational look at vampires and the clever script and dialogue, this movie is just a fun ride and only really falters by maybe being too niche for a larger audience. The narrative is tight and it never outstays its welcome.
    7.5/10

  • Mistress America

    Mistress America

    ★★★½

    A funny movie that falls back on the strong directing by Noah Baumbach and the great acting that Greta Gerwig brings to the film along with her chemistry with Lola Kirke's Tracy. There is a lot of this film where it feels like the characters are just talking at each other but I just attribute that to how those characters are and where they are in their lives. The best part of the film is when Gerwig's Brooke goes to…

  • The Little Death

    The Little Death

    ★★★½

    A comedy anthology that is what Movie 43 should have been:Funny.
    This comedy balances light hearted humor with raunchy humor just perfectly with subjects like rape, sex lines and child abuse being targeted but done in a way that won't offend and brings out the comedy perfectly in every scene.
    The actors are all basically unknowns(with Justified's Damon Herriman being the notable standout) but everyone delivers in their performances. The stories are better if you go into the film blind…