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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Zero Days 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

Zero DaysDirector: Alex Gibney
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: David Sanger, Emad Kiyaei

Zero Days is my latest review. It begins with a car exploding and a creepy, modulated voice speaking (hello "lawnmower man"). That's the vein of its excitement. At nearly two hours, this is a overly talky documentary, bent on chronicling the Stuxnet computer virus and how it posed a threat to Internet access all over the world. Stuxnet was a malicious worm. It involved the nuclear proclamations of the U.S. and Iran. Sadly, an insurance seminar is "Zero's" equivalent. A college disquisition is its symposium. This is painstakingly educational stuff.

Director Alex Gibney takes his account all the way from 1979's Iranian flag burning to said Stuxnet Trojan Horse in 2010. His docu skills aren't sloppy yet his flick crawls around in circles. Zero Days is very thought-out, very calculated, soberly streamlined, and intelligent to a fault. It gets to the point where Gibney makes Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, and Steve James out to look like slipshod artists. In truth, you wonder if he actually required multiple takes with the real-life experts he was talking to.

Now does Alex keep his audience alert to his conspiracies, his swift ending, his relentless use of news archives, and his barrage of uniform, cinematic techniques? That remains to be seen. Does his methods channel his elongated film to accrue true greatness? Not exactly.

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Alex "I'm taking vigorous notes" Gibney fills the screen with lots of interviews (people are either not revealing much or hiding their faces), locales all over the world, slight visual storytelling, and images of code with Matrix-like tendencies. He goes off on tangents, even projecting an ocular segment akin to Blade Runner's cityscape. Ugh. In jest, there's almost too much information to take in. I'm no dummy but I was a bit addled. The eerie musical score helps a little but whatever entertainment value exists, it could only satisfy hardcore, cyber geeks. Oh and I almost forgot, Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush are all in the cast credits. Too bad you never really hear from them based on their scattershot, newsreel appearances. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Edge of Seventeen 2016 * * * 1/2 Stars

The Edge of SeventeenDirector: Kelly Fremon Craig
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

The Edge of Seventeen is my latest review. And no, I'm not talking about the Stevie Nicks pop hit from the early 80's. "Seventeen" is an insightful film that's raw, real, and one of 2016's best. Mean Girls becomes "keen" girls. Heck, She's All That becomes "she's" a doormat.

Anyway, towards the middle part of this vehicle, a main player quips, "rise above yourself Nadine". Well "Seventeen" "rises" above almost every teen farce and/or drama that's come out in the past fifteen years.

Filmed in British Columbia and featuring an intelligent, often complex screenplay, The Edge of Seventeen gives lead Hailee Steinfeld the chance to equal her brilliant turn from 2010's True Grit. She succeeds. Steinfeld plays unflinchingly, a coming-of-age, 17-year-old girl named Nadine Franklin. Nadine is a spunky 11th grader who can't seem to connect with people her own age. To add insult to injury, her father died unexpectedly four years ago. She has one best friend named Krista (played by Haley Lu Richardson), a dopey mom who she barely interacts with (Mona Franklin played by Kyra Sedwick), and a popular brother she can't stand (Blake Jenner as Darian Franklin). When she confides in someone with various problems, she ends up going to one of her teachers named Mr. Bruner (played by Woody Harrelson).

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As "Seventeen" shifts out of its 10 Things I Hate About You/Clueless-like territory (in the first half hour or so), Nadine finds out that said best friend is actually dating her perfect brother. This throws Nadine into a tailspin. She contemplates suicide, tries to form relationships with two guys, and all the while sort of finds her battered self along the way.

Now make no mistake about it, The Edge of Seventeen is not some cutesy high school flick that is deemed appropriate for young teenagers. No this is a darker affair with various sweet moments kind of buried beneath the R-rated raunch and the R-rated angst. The writing is nevertheless crisp, the casting is almost spot-on, and there are some adequate character revelations.

The director of "Seventeen" is Kelly Fremon Craig. With the exception of just three writing credits to her dossier, this is the first thing she has ever helmed. Watching The Edge of Seventeen, you realize that the happenings pertaining to her Nadine, might have been from her own personal experience as a confused Generation Z (with a smidgen of social anxiety disorder). I might be speculating but everything Steinfeld's trouper goes through comes off as detailed, bona fide, and authentic. In jest, Craig might have wanted to translate her brooding nature through her muse's seasoned acting ability. What can I say, it just works.

In conclusion, I asked myself two questions after last night's screening of "Seventeen": Would this film garner some Academy Award nominations? Maybe. Would this film give Miss Steinfeld a well deserved nomination for best actress? I sure darn hope so. Playing Nadine, you can tell that she's digging deep. Her mannerisms, her body language, her feeling of malaise, it's just so darn genuine. Rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 2016 * * Stars

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkDirector: Ang Lee
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker

Ang Lee is a very pronounced director. He has made a handful of movies that are quite divergent from each other. All of Lee's work is unique and sumptuous. He can excel at sped up action sequences, visual artistry, effectively oppressed troupers, the whole shebang.

In Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (my latest review), he creates a film that is part present-day and part flashback. Working from a screenplay by rookie Jean-Christopher Castelli, Lee sans a consistent background score. He instead dons plenty of actor closeups, drifting camerawork, and a Robert Zemeckis brand of lush framing.

Despite a perfectly realized Joe Alwyn in the lead, Lee digging up the thespian bodies of Chris Tucker and Steve Martin, and casting director Salah Benchegra stealing Vin Diesel from the bowels of Fast and the Furious, "Halftime" is not that hard hitting in the emotions department. Heck, it's far from being the best thing Ang has ever done. I can say this though, it probably has one of the most intriguing promo posters I've viewed in many a moon.

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The story is as follows: Private Billy Lynn (Alwyn) and his brethren of U.S. Army soldiers, are being honored at a nationwide, NFL football game. Just recently, they were all in Iraq, fighting for their country and surviving a tense battle that eventually deemed them newsworthy. As said NFL game progresses, Lynn looks back on his time as an Army specialist. He has maimed, he has killed, and he may or may not have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lee centers the chief heroics on Lynn and re-enacts Iraqi engagement scenes with gusto. The dialogue is minimal yet sticks, the bullet piercings punctuate, and everything sends up to be at least, self-serious. Sadly, these moments are short lived and fail to fully let the viewer in. When the film cuts forward to 2004 (the year of the football halftime show), "Halftime" spends a majority of its time with the now at ease, Bravo Squad characters. With the exception of Billy Lynn and his Jack Handey-style deep thoughts, they come off as jokey, unlikable and to a point, prickly. They keep us the audience, at a distance. We are unable to freely root for them.

Image result for Billy lynn's long halftime walk movie scenesBottom line: Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk at times, feels almost satiric or like a takeoff of an anomalous war picture. Don't go in expecting a complex drama like Ang Lee's 1997 film, The Ice Storm. Don't go in expecting a harrowing, technical treat like his Life of Pi. Don't go in expecting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and well, just don't go in expecting. "Halftime" is unintentionally hokey, a movie themed in Thanksgiving tradition that just happens to be released two weeks before Thanksgiving Day. In all honesty, it's merely a cinematic "walk" in the park. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

(Cole's Take) Arrival 2016 * * * 1/2 Stars

ArrivalDirector:
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars (Click on the rating link to see Cole's on-site review)
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Written by Cole Pollyea

In the month of December, equally important to re-watching our favorite holiday films and sampling ones we’re unfamiliar with is getting to the theater to see new releases. And that is because of the glorious Oscar season (early November to late December), when studios release the most critically touted films of the year. I am here to discuss one particularly interesting and thought-provoking film that is considered a “frontrunner” for the Best Picture Academy Award in 2017. That movie is Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival; and it is spectacular.
Arrival follows Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who is teamed with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and recruited by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to decode and interpret a foreign language used by aliens who have peacefully landed in 12 different locations across the globe. To tell more would be to spoil any of the fascinating twists and turns that the movie makes. That would be a grave mistake, for Arrival is a masterful sci-fi film that demands a totally uncorrupted viewing.

I must first note what entered my mind upon my viewing of Arrival: here is a movie that took a few ideas out of Steven Spielberg’s playbook. It undeniably resembles Close Encounters of the Third Kind with respect to plot, characters, and set design. And I couldn’t have enjoyed it any more. The great Martin Scorsese once said that directing is what one can “smuggle in” from other films. That is evidenced here by director Denis Villeneuve, who successfully pays homage to “Close Encounters” while at the same time creating an original work all his own.

Among Villeneuve’s other work includes 2013’s Prisoners. Like in that absorbing drama, in Arrival, Villeneuve creates a cerebral, chilling atmosphere and fills the screen with soft grey colors. The musical score is enigmatic and repetitive. All of the necessary components for the foundation of a disturbing, thoughtful sci-fi film are here. Fortunately, the movie takes advantage of them.

One of the ways in which Arrival excels is its performances. Amy Adams has the most screen time and gives one of her more memorable performances as the reputable professor and linguist. She articulates the complex emotions of her character through her aware facial expressions and her sensitive delivery of lines. Jeremy Renner is solid, as always, as her supportive and caring colleague. His character has more everyman values than his usual roles do; and I believed him for every second. What’s more, Forest Whitaker as the order-following colonel is extremely effective and his convincing performance here is yet another testament to his versatility as an actor.
It almost goes without saying that most first-rate sci-fi films of the 21st century offer knockout visuals. Arrival is no exception. Beyond the incredible CGI, the movie offers a certain mystique to what we see. We never quite get a full view of the aliens because of an eerie white mist and, in many close-up scenes, there is only focus on certain portions, or characters, on screen. This manipulation of background and camera focus is used to great effect by the director to produce an additional layer of intrigue.

My uncle and colleague wasn’t as enthusiastic about this film as I was. He complained that it was like a puzzle with a number of pieces missing. I obviously disagreed. But I did feel that the movie wasn’t long enough. Some of the most memorable sci-fi films of the recent past, like  Interstellar, run at well over two-and-a-half hours and Arrival is only 118 minutes long. This is not to say that a contemporary sci-fi film cannot be successful with a short running time. This is just to say that when Arrival’s credits rolled, I was settled back into my chair expecting at least twenty more minutes of elaboration.

Arrival is PG-13, family-appropriate for the most part, and certainly targets a more general audience than Interstellar (a more intricate and complex sci-fi film) did. Perhaps this shorter length that irked me will make viewing Arrival a more enjoyable experience for a family.

Written by Cole Pollyea

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Billionaire Ransom 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

Billionaire RansomDirector: John Gillespie
Year: 2016
Rated NR
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Jeremy Sumpter, Phoebe Tonkin, Sebastian Koch

Every trouper in Billionaire Ransom (my latest review), is virtually unknown to me. I mean I have never seen any of these people in any other movies. Oh well, at least the producers got some of them to look like actual celebrities. Lead actor Jeremy Sumptor, is pretty much a cross between Hugh Jackman and Ryan Phillippe. Curly locked Phoebe Tonkin, is a dead ringer for Rebecca Gayheart. Lastly, villain Billy Speck (played by Ed Westwick) sure does give off the whole Justin Timberlake vibe.

Anyway, "Billionaire" plays like two separate films altogether. The first hour is all about spoiled, rich kids being taken to a remote, reform school as opposed to going to jail. The last 40-50 minutes are about these same Richie Rich, twentysomethings trying to escape hardened criminals who want to hold them hostage at the same darn school.

Echoing 1993's Cliffhanger, Ransom, and The Maze Runner, Billionaire Ransom is by turns violent, bloody, and unabating. It has moments of suspense and relegated strain. However, this British thriller is only mildly compelling compared to Mel Gibson's 1996 hit and Sly Stallone's backyard brawl of an actioner.

Image result for billionaire ransom movie scenesReleased in August, filmed in Wales which is made to look like Scotland, and originally titled Take Down, "Billionaire" hasn't found much of an audience. Based on its current box office state, it might not find much of one on DVD either. Sadly, the budget constraints, the nameless cast, and the action movie cliches might be to blame (I hate it when law enforcement conveniently arrives after everyone has been shooting at each other and bodies are already lying on the ground).

In regards to "Billionaire's" character development, well the actor/actress portrayals are unlikable, snide, and defensed. We're talking about young protagonists here and their wealthy parents. These are the people you're inclined to root for. The hostage takers don't count. They're supposed to be vexatious for Pete's sake.

As for "Billionaire's" look, undoubtedly it's ultramodern and lush, with the scenery of counterfeit Northern Isles really taking over. The film's musical score by trip hop band Hybrid, makes it feel all Bourne-like as things stir along at a breakneck pace.

All in all, Billionaire Ransom senses to be a bit uneven until the gun-filled, second act takes over. And it has a slight twist at the end that almost feels like filler (a rich kid's brother makes a few secret phone calls to the bad guys, hint hint). Bottom line: Based on everything I have just written, the whiff of a rental is exactly what you'll get with Billionaire Ransom. I give it a two and a half star "payoff". Ha!

Written by Jesse Burleson

Saturday, November 12, 2016

(Jesse's Take) Arrival 2016 * * 1/2 Stars

ArrivalDirector: Denis Villeneuve
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Containing a numbing, techy soundtrack, made for the widescreen, and distributed by Paramount Pictures, Arrival (my latest review) chronicles the modern day event of mysterious spaceships touching down via twelve different places in the world. With the U.S. Military being baffled by said event, a team of scientists (played by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner) are assembled to negotiate with the extraterrestrials to find out what they truly want. Question: When did Earth's denizens become so darn afraid of alien species? That's what I asked myself a half hour into this 116-minute flick.

Anyway, in relation to Arrival, I have never seen a science fiction vehicle take itself so seriously, so pensively. Semantic symbols, decodes, language translation, mathematics, etc. In truth, I thought I was watching a high school film strip or secretly conducting a science project for Mr. Wizard. Who knew large spacecraft looking like half-eaten pistachios, could so profusely churn the mind's eye.

Now Arrival with its jumpy narrative and ode to the workings of a Pink Floyd music video, is directed by Denis Villeneuve. And as with his moderately successful Prisoners, no one does dark and dim quite like Villeneuve. Discarding violence and death by penetrative lasers, he tries to reinvent the close encounter wheel here and comes up with the first sci-fi, art film since 2002's Solaris. He also creates a thinking person's Independence Day as well. In certain scenes, Villeneuve uses rack focusing to capture various shots. Occasionally, he goes panoramic with other shots. He likes to mess with you, to have you linger, to turn the tables on your understanding of what manageable storytelling is.

Image result for Arrival movie scenesHis Arrival at first, feels slow, educational, and even a little pretentious. In the second half, it digs deeper. Flashbacks upon flashbacks, manipulation with the audience's perception of time. Arrival in the end, doesn't really project itself like a film about alien invasions. It unwieldy turns into a character study for one Dr. Louise Banks (played with nerve ending efficiency by Adams).

In hindsight, my speculated cognizance of Banks, is that not only is she a linguist but she can also see into the future (spoiler). When you start to ask questions about her, the movie ends rather frustratingly and on a sad note. Therefore, I didn't come out of Arrival thinking it was a flat out masterpiece. However, I know that it's the type of cinematic peppery that I just have to see again. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hacksaw Ridge 2016 * * * Stars

Hacksaw RidgeDirector: Mel Gibson
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington

Having read feedback from other critics and having seen bits and pieces of The Passion of the Christ, I knew Mel Gibson was going to make a bloodily violent war film with 2016's Hacksaw Ridge (my latest review). I was right. Mel puts the "hack" in "Hacksaw" with men-at-arms having their limbs severed, their heads dismembered, and their fragile bodies being pierced by razor sharp bayonets. When Gibson perpetrates violence, it's to glorify, to sensationalize, to make you turn away in disgust. Oh and did I mention he includes several sequences of rats nibbling on decomposed body parts. Eek!

Anyway, his Hacksaw Ridge at two hours and 18 minutes, is kinda like his own starring vehicle, We Were Soldiers. Its got that earned R rating but without all the harsh language and disrespect between Battalion members. This film is split up into two halves. The first half is part Lifetime movie and part boot camp symposium. The second half is more akin to Windtalkers or Rambo. Mel Gibson with a standard canvas and minimal technical efficiency, gives us an unsettled action film that at times, tries to desensitize "Hacksaw's" true story of real-life WWII medic, Desmond Doss (played by a likable lead in Andrew Garfield). In the end, the whole thing seems to work anyway. That's thanks to closing credit interviews involving the actual Doss and his actual Captain known as Glover (played by Sam Worthington). Other thanks goes to screenwriter Andrew Knight for including the invigorating line, "lord, help me get one more". "Help me get one more!"

Now Gibson fresh from starring in this year's Blood Father, becomes a more improved Peter Berg here (remember Deepwater Horizon?). No stilted camera work, less military numbness, and a little more genuine emotion. Hear, hear! And despite a miscast Vince Vaughn (he plays a soldier fighting in the Battle of Okinawa) and war cliches like the mean drill Sergeant, the picture of some GI's girlfriend/wife tucked away, and the notion of boot camp enemies becoming best buds later on, "Hacksaw" is still worth a recommendation.

Image result for hacksaw ridge movie scenesHacksaw Ridge's story, which spans a decade between Desmond's childhood till his being drafted by the U.S. Army in 1942, is about pacifism, the notion of going into battle without carrying so much as a single weapon. Desmond Doss possesses this trait and his Army brethren try to get him kicked out before all are shipped to the islands of Japan (via World War II). Doss eventually saves over 75 infantrymen in battle and is awarded the first Medal of Honor as a conscientious objector (someone who refuses the aspect of performing military service).

All in all, the scenes of Desmond's rescue methods are Gibson's high point as a filmmaker. He depicts them as tunnel lights in the face of morbid brutality. As an audience member, you feel elated and exultant despite being turned off by his slight grandstanding of blood and guts. Therefore, I feel you should definitely see Hacksaw Ridge. It's a popcorn, combat relic that might be too commercial to sway the Academy. No matter. It manages to get a three star rating from me.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Duel 2016 * 1/2 Stars

The Duel
Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Alice Braga

I'm not sure what director Kieran Darcy-Smith was going for when he made 2016's The Duel (my latest review). Muddled yet scenic, draggy yet periodically violent, "Duel" is one unclear Western.

At a running time of 110 minutes, "Duel" sure does feel like three long hours. It takes place oh about 100-plus years ago with vague, plot elements from Gang of New York and bearings straight from 1978's Days of Heaven. Star Woody Harrelson plays a creepy preacher and talks with a Southern drawl for the millionth time. Co-star Liam Hemsworth plays a pretty Texas Ranger and has a bland disposition in the acting department. Finally, Alice Braga plays Hemsworth's character's wife, a non-outlaw who becomes mysteriously ill and feels downtrodden. Oh yeah, there's another Days of Heaven reference I forgot to mention. Braga looks a little like Brooke Adams. Adams was Terrence Malick's cutesy muse from back in the day.

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Anyway, the story is as follows: David Kingston (Liam Hemsworth) has been tapped to investigate some murders and disappearances in a small, Old West frontier town. He also has been sent to keep an eye on the town's chief officer, Abraham Brant (Woody Harrelson). Brant looking kinda similar to Harrelson's own Mickey Knox, killed Kingston's father over twenty years ago. Is Kingston bent on revenge towards Brant? Is Kingston just doing his job as a responsible Ranger? Is Brant gonna have another sermon with snakes being passed around in his congregation? Is this movie ever gonna lead somewhere? Oops, I'm going off on a tangent. Sorry.

In conclusion, The Duel is slow-burning and almost devoid of conflict. And whenever said conflict does exist, well it is artificially forced upon us, the audience. There's the occasional stabbing, a final gunfight amidst rock formations, a couple of killings by way of game-like shooting, and a dark, saloon standoff between good and evil. If you don't fall asleep during "Duel", you'll occasionally catch these moments (only briefly though). If you do fall asleep during The Duel, well you aren't breaking any laws. Do yourself a favor, rent something from Clint Eastwood or George Stevens instead. Rating: 1 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nerve 2016 * * * Stars

NerveDirectors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Dave Franco, Emma Roberts

The brother of famed actor James Franco. The niece of Oscar winner Julia Roberts. Together they make an adorable screen duo in 2016's Nerve (my latest review).

Nerve has cinematography in the form of bright colors. It has extras in it with helmets and bandanas to hide their faces. It has a catchy techno soundtrack, and finally, it has a high-flown concept of social media. Truthfully, this movie feels like it's ahead of its time. And based on its lukewarm box office reception, it also feels like a movie that we as an audience, aren't ready for yet. At just over an hour and a half, Nerve is feverishly directed by two people (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman). Watching it, I would've thought it was made to order by members of electric mongered, Daft Punk.

Now for reasons unknown, Nerve is dystopian without being set in the near future. Fast-paced, entertaining, and full of life, it still leaves you a bit frustrated. As I viewed it, I wanted to call for an all-out banning of smartphone, Skype, and Facebook applications. Yeah this film may be bona fide and happily neon. However, it gives off the whiff of America being in a sad state of affairs (primarily with twentysomethings). Young people these days have some sort of technological device with them at all times. Lets hope it's never used in the way it's remorselessly portrayed here.

Anyway, Nerve's opening scene projects itself like the beginning of 2014's Unfriended. Not that Unfriended is a bad movie but you feel relieved when Nerve veers away from just being a mouse clicking, email-minded endeavor.

Image result for nerve movie scenesThe story is as follows: High school senior Venus "Vee" Delmonico (played Emma Roberts), leads a ho-hum life with her protective mother in Staten Island, NY. She's reluctant to attend college in California in fear that she'll be away from said mom and some close friends. Not much of a risk taker and on a whim, "Vee" decides to partake in a truth or dare video game called Nerve. She can participate either as a "watcher" or a "player". She chooses "player" and gets thrown into a world where other "watchers" give her challenges to accept for feasible amounts of money. Everything has to be captured on video for her to receive anonymous payments to her bank account. Examples would be trying on a $3500 dress, kissing a stranger for five seconds, hanging from a skyscraper scaffold with one arm, and walking across two high-rise buildings by way of a ladder. Venus eventually teams up with another "player" in Ian (played by Dave Franco). The two of them form a whimsical bond. I won't give anything away only to let you know that Nerve the game, sooner or later gets out of hand. Look out for a mild twist that occurs in Nerve's ending (ha-ha). Also, look for a pivotal motorcycle riding sequence (with a blindfolded protagonist at the wheel) and a quasi-romantic subplot courtesy of Roberts and Franco. In jest, out of the fifty or so movies I've seen this year, I would definitely rank Nerve in the top fifteen.

All in all, Nerve nearly has that trait of being a new classic. As its running time flies by, you almost sense that it lives in a sort of fantasy world as opposed to being rooted in forgone reality. Nerve's only hiccups for me, are its sometimes choppy editing, its tendency to portray its characters as annoying tech-heads, and its thankless use of Juliette Lewis as the dorky mother to Emma's "Vee". Bottom line: I liked Nerve to the point where I'm gonna have to recommend it. It's unlike anything I've ever seen movie-wise and that gets points from me. With its look similar to 1995's Strange Days and its representation of New York City as an icy, unsupervised underworld, Nerve does have verve. Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson