Category: Reviews

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The Draughtsman’s Contract

1982’s The Draughtsman’s Contract would kick off a fruitful decade for director Peter Greenaway. The muralist turned director, renowned for his strict formalist style and provocative themes, would be among the 80’s most celebrated and most polarizingRead Full Review

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The Way Back

I don’t necessarily believe that Ben Affleck is an underrated actor. To the degree that his judgment can be questioned when accepting roles like the ones he chose in films like Gigli or Paycheck, I’m not sureRead Full Review

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Emma

The wits of Jane Austen have graced the movie screen so often, you’d imagine the works have perhaps gone stale. After all, her body of work is not vast as say Shakespeare or Stephen King,Read Full Review

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The Traitor

There’s a degree to which The Traitor understands how the movies have a large responsibility toward the connection people make between Italians and organized crime. In telling the true to story of Tomasso Buscetta (played wonderfullyRead Full Review

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The Assistant

Labelling Kitty Green’s The Assistant as a ‘#MeToo Movie’ suggests that her latest film is somehow attached to a trend as opposed to a glaring document of longstanding tradition. The film takes place in a ManhattanRead Full Review

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Decent Maybe Awards for 2019

Best Director Gold: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood Silver: Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir Bronze: Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse Best Actress Gold: Alfre Woodard, Clemency Silver: Elizabeth Moss, Her Smell Bronze: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers Best Actor Gold: Antonio Banderas, PainRead Full Review

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1917

World War I – humanity’s greatest foible, a complete failure of dignity and reason, a brutal testament to the fatal power of ego and pride – is often judged too complicated for the movies to tackle.Read Full Review

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Just Mercy

I will hear criticisms of Just Mercy. Those who will say that its adherence to a traditional story arc meant to highlight a typical hero’s journey cheapens the substance of its subject matter. That its legal proceduralRead Full Review

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Bombshell

If nothing else, Bombshell is a feat of movie make-up. The amount of work in transforming this cast into a selection of contemporary media figures feels quite impressive. The film’s performances, led by Charlize Theron, areRead Full Review

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Frozen II

The fervor with which 2013’s Frozen caught fire (froze over? I’m sorry) can be attributed to its songs and proves that there is a much bigger audience for musicals than people think. I’m not sure whyRead Full Review

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Clemency

Dramas about capital punishment should not be easy to sit through, but even in this regard, Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency stands out. This slow burn feature focuses, with great patience and clarity, on the rippling nature andRead Full Review

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Little Women

There’s a reason Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel, Little Women, is so often adapted. Its portrait of an American family rings true today, even as its story takes place over a century and a half ago. GeorgeRead Full Review

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

**My wife – a noted Star Wars fan – has told me that I should include a SPOILERS warning at the beginning. So here is that. Proceed with caution.** It’s apparent that Rian Johnson wasRead Full Review

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The Two Popes

The Two Popes finds a lot of humor within the humanity of its title characters, who despite their papal designations, are still left to deal with life’s small humiliations, such as ordering plane tickets over theRead Full Review

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A Hidden Life

A Hidden Life is the sixth film from rarified filmmaker Terrence Malick this decade. He had made only four total in the four previous decades. This burst of prolific activity has had its ups andRead Full Review

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Uncut Gems

The Safdie brothers universe is somewhere in between the gritty verité of 70’s William Friedkin and the neon pastiche of 80’s Michael Mann, and yet their films always escape feeling derivative. Their singular vision isRead Full Review

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Portrait of a Lady on Fire

There are few characters in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and scant dialogue. Feelings are expressed through glances and averted eyes, passion is displayed through slight, nearly imperceptible acts – the touch of a hand,Read Full Review

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Knives Out

The main detective in Knives Out – Rian Johnson’s masterful whodunit murder mystery – is man named Benoit Blanc. Blanc speaks in a hilariously affected Southern American drawl (at separate points he’s referred to as ColonelRead Full Review

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Queen & Slim

The two characters at the heart of Queen & Slim don’t really like each other in the beginning. They’re on a Tinder date and they’re eating in a run-of-the-mill Cleveland diner. He orders breakfast (his eggsRead Full Review

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Dark Waters

Dark Waters, on the surface, may seem like a departure for director Todd Haynes, whose films more often cover transgressive subject matter with striking, conceptual filmmaking. His latest is a legal thriller, a ripped-from-the-headlines story aboutRead Full Review

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The casting of Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers seems a bit like a stunt, a stacking of one famously decent person atop another. The announcement of Hanks’ casting in Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in theRead Full Review

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Varda by Agnès

Inspiration. Creation. Sharing. These are the three things that legendary filmmaker Agnès Varda cites as most important in her creative career. Varda passed away in March of this year, two months before her 91st birthday. VardaRead Full Review

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Ford v Ferrari

Despite its title, Ford v Ferrari is less a tale about a storied Twentieth Century battle between two titanic auto manufacturers – it is partially about that – but more a showdown between strident male egos, allRead Full Review

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Waves

Throughout the three feature films by Trey Edward Shults, families face tragedy and trauma, in both past and present tense. They seek survival, and sometimes they find it. Sometimes, uncovered truths only bring further pain,Read Full Review

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Marriage Story

Marriage Story is the most violent movie that I’ve seen this year. Its characters are measured, intelligent, nice people turned ruthless by the anxiety of a divorce lawsuit. This is the latest release from NoahRead Full Review

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Harriet

Is there a more courageous story in American history than Harriet Tubman’s? You’d be hard pressed to find one. Her struggle and sacrifice speak to the best and worst of this country’s history, and yet,Read Full Review

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The Irishman

I admire the fact that there isn’t any version of “Based on Real Events” in or around Martin Scorsese’s latest feature, The Irishman. The robust new film is filled with the recollections of a man namedRead Full Review

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Jojo Rabbit

Nazi comedies are a bit of a third rail as far as mainstream comedies are concerned. To the extent that a few of them have been successful (The Great Dictator, The Producers, to a certain degree Inglourious Basterds),Read Full Review

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Pain & Glory

It’s tradition for storied filmmakers to look back later in life, and craft something “autobiographical”, though Pedro Almodóvar has seldom been described as traditional. Pain & Glory catches the Spanish filmmaker at his most reflective, following anRead Full Review

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Parasite

The satire at the heart of Parasite is not a difficult one to parse. Its ideas are shouted pretty clearly, even bluntly. In a way, the film is almost about the limits of satire, its inabilityRead Full Review

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The Lighthouse

It feels odd to call a film like The Lighthouse beautiful. After all, it takes such refuge in its unseemliness. Its imagery is bleak, soiled and occasionally violent. But director Robert Eggers (The Witch) knows exactlyRead Full Review

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Dolemite is My Name

The arrival of Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name has an exciting ring to it. It is both a return for Murphy toward more dangerous, R-rated comedy as well as a platform to showcase theRead Full Review

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Where’s My Roy Cohn?

Where’s My Roy Cohn? features several interviews with the title figure, Roy Marcus Cohn. Cohn was a very media savvy figure, and more importantly he liked to be in front of a camera. Bombastic andRead Full Review

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Ad Astra

Ad Astra is a perfect illustration of the paradox of Brad Pitt. He’s a born movie star who wishes desperately to be a serious character actor. He prefers idiosyncratic characters, to show off a range thatRead Full Review

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Hustlers

The women in Hustlers want independence more than anything – independence from men, specifically. They have no problem working for men – or working them over – but the film goes out of its way to showRead Full Review

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Ready or Not

The billionaire family at the center of Ready or Not made their fortune from games. As the patriarch explains in a monologue near the beginning of the film, what started with one man selling playing cardsRead Full Review

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Luce

Who is Luce? You can watch the entirety of Luce, the new film from Nigerian filmmaker Julius Onah, and not really have a solid clue. The title character from this film is a touted high schoolRead Full Review

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Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino is now part of the Hollywood elite that he used to fantasize about. The very films and filmmakers that he used to skewer and homage are now his peers, even the dead ones. HeRead Full Review

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The Lion King

I don’t think the existence of this “live action” (“live CGI”?) version of The Lion King means that Disney thinks it has improved upon the original 1994 film. That movie is one of Disney’s definitive masterpieces,Read Full Review

the-farewell-movie

The Farewell

Everybody knows that they’re going to die. This knowledge accounts for a lot in life; some good, most bad. Our daily existence depends on how much we ignore it, planning for tomorrows that aren’t guaranteed.Read Full Review

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The Art of Self-Defense

The roles of men within The Art of Self-Defense are all dual caricature: frightened nancy boys and fierce, strapping burlymen. Even a dog, a small dachshund with sorrowful eyes, is framed as an anxious coward. Another oneRead Full Review

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Toy Story 4

I remember a previous decade when Pixar was considered to be the best of the major Hollywood studios. The only mainstream film company interested in making consistently good films, who cloaked deep, moving stories withinRead Full Review

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Midsommar

Ari Aster’s last two films – last year’s Hereditary, and this Summer’s Midsommar – are both bleak, complex stories about the human mind’s ability to process horror. Not simply odes to the horror genre (though they areRead Full Review

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Late Night

Late Night is a movie about a talk show host who is told several times to embrace political tension in order to make her show more relevant. It’s telling that the film doesn’t accept thisRead Full Review

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Wild Rose

The main character in Wild Rose – played with great charm and grit by newcomer Jessie Buckley – loves country music. A young Scottish woman just released from a twelve-month prison sentence, she is not yourRead Full Review

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Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

I fear that the audience for this documentary – a fantastic film which focuses on the life and impact of one of America’s greatest Twentieth Century literary figures – will not expand much further past fans ofRead Full Review

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The Dead Don’t Die

A legend within American independent cinema, writer-director Jim Jarmusch has gained that reputation because of his penchant for unique, often odd experiments in narrative filmmaking. His interest in examining characters or story is often missing,Read Full Review

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

The mythology built within 2014’s John Wick felt so overwhelmingly refreshing. There was a simplicity to it: its protagonist was a ferocious man, known for being an unstoppable killing machine while also being equally un-killable. AndRead Full Review

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Booksmart

The concept of ‘one crazy night’ high school films has become one of Hollywood’s greatest fantasies. It taps into the imaginations of different people and age groups, so it makes sense that they keep gettingRead Full Review