If Beale Street Could Talk – 6

2019-01-07T22:50:57+00:00January 7th, 2019|Reviews|

Beale Street is a long, slow street we're asked to walk, without a happy end in sight. There is one scene that crackles, when the future in-laws come over to hear the news, but if that record plays at 78, the rest is 33-1/3. The two lead actors are bland in their goodness, and the [...]

Vice – 7.8

2019-01-03T05:02:19+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Reviews|

Watching this, I was two-thirds ashamed to be an American, with our recent history running from Richard Nixon through the phony justifications of the Iraq invasion, but one-third proud to live in a culture that could produce such a clever, popular takedown of a living public figure. Some caricatures misfired - especially Steve Carrell's Donald [...]

Shoplifters – 8

2019-01-02T01:36:50+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Reviews|

A meditation on family, Shoplifters also hits home as a reflection on what counts as progress in Japanese society since Yasujiro Ozu's very similar films in the 1950s. Most obvious is the style of filmmaker Kore-eda, shooting from tatami-level. Then there is the plot of everyday family matters, one vignette of daily life after another [...]

Vox Pop – 3.5

2018-12-23T06:14:03+00:00December 23rd, 2018|Reviews|

The opening ten minutes was a bracingly, convincingly staged school shooting and aftermath that gave me hope for an original, relevant film. The pre-Natalie Portman Celeste character then sings her original song in response to the terror, it goes You-Tube viral and the film collapses into cliche and the movie version of life. Her song [...]

The Favourite – 7

2018-12-23T06:02:05+00:00December 23rd, 2018|Reviews|

A hysterical drama of little historical import, featuring lush scenery, gorgeous costumes and three actors at the top of their games: Emma Stone, Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz. Unfortunately, the characters they play aren't very nice and they get progressively more unpleasant as the story unfolds, leaving one with no one to root for or [...]

Widows – 5

2018-12-18T06:07:34+00:00December 18th, 2018|Reviews|

Better than Ocean's Eight, but not by much, this female heist movie had improbabilities piled on implausibilities, with enough loose threads to make a mitten. Viola Davis and Liam Neeson seemed an unlikely pair from the get-go (with Neeson overexposed in the trailers before the show), but the idea that the other widows would go [...]

At Eternity’s Gate – 3

2018-12-18T05:56:24+00:00December 18th, 2018|Reviews|

Unwatchable. Director Julian Schnabel gives us a portrait not of an artist, always hard to do, but of a tortured soul. In the name of art, his art not van Gogh's, he uses a hand-held camera, bounces between French and English, repeats voice-over dialogue and shoots a lot of scenes ostensibly through Vincent's eyes. But [...]

Green Book – 8

2018-12-07T05:32:37+00:00December 7th, 2018|Reviews|

The "feel-good" movie of the year, with scene after scene of the good guys standing up to the bigots, one great song after another filling the soundtrack, and an almost entire cast of characters the modern, educated audience could feel superior to. Danish-American Viggo Mortenson was splendid as the minor Mafioso Tony Lip and Linda [...]

Roma – 7

2018-12-03T03:08:52+00:00December 3rd, 2018|Reviews|

Alfonso Cuaron's paean to his childhood nanny in 1971 black-and-white made me think, for different reasons, of The Bicycle Thief and Proust's Francoise, but it clearly meant more to him than to me. I kept waiting for something to happen, and when I realized that wasn't the point, it was too late. I was more [...]

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – 7.9

2018-11-22T03:58:45+00:00November 22nd, 2018|Reviews|

There's only one Coen Brothers - well, actually, there are two of them, but their vision is singular and unique. They are also masters of the craft of filmmaking; you feel they can do whatever they want, and you luxuriate in the experience. For the Coens, violence is an art, genres are meant to be [...]