Chris Piper

Film Review: Cars 3

by Chris Piper on June 16, 2017

Horsepower and happy endings

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), center, tries to run down past glory, with Storm Jackson (Armie Hammer), left, and Cruz Ramirez, right (Cristela Alonzo).

Oh how quickly the young become old, the strong become weak, and the fresh, young, star becomes the stale, old, has-been. In the age of computer-generated animated features, oh how long ten years can be.

Sadly, Cars 3 proves this old axiom, as it leans heavily on the achievements of the first two films, and mostly settles on telling a very basic story in a fairly predictable way. Cars “purists” (wherever they are) will no doubt be satisfied, but the rest of us will leave the theater nostalgic for the spectacular achievements of Pixar’s earlier efforts.

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Film Review: Churchill

by Chris Piper on June 2, 2017

It’s never too late to grow up

Winston Churchill wrestles with a difficult decision.

In Churchill, opening in Bay Area theaters today, we’re asked to see the old English bulldog in a new and unflattering light as he attempts to bend the tide of history to his will. The film suffers from too narrow a focus, and an approach to story that is as simplistic as the former British prime minister was complex.

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In space, simply scary beats too much talking

The crew of the Covenant, in better times.

Alien: Covenant, the eighth of the Alien series of films, feels like an old friend from whom you’ve long since grown apart, but with whom you’ll still grab a beer and listen to the same stories and jokes. The film checks all the series boxes, and delivers all the same jolts, but ultimately cannot break out of its own constraints.  

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The healing power of a natural disaster

Dash Shaw’s film mixes genres and mediums.

To a teenager, the world is a boundless sea of experiences and hopes and fears and people and possibilities. But when the confines of a public high school, with its endless days of tedium, unquestionable authority, and worst of all – other teenagers – impose arbitrary bounds, the dramatic possibilities are endless, and have tempted artists of just about every medium, style, and approach.

My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, the first feature written and directed by graphic novelist and animator Dash Shaw, manages to jolt the venerable high school film genre with new life from some surprising places, and suggests that nothing short of disaster can save those between thirteen and eighteen years old.

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