Entries by Bob Marshall

The Last Duel – 7

A 21st-century morality tale set in 14th-century France that would scarcely pass the credibility threshold if it were not, somehow, “based on true events.” The plot is more a short story, elongated over two hours by being told thrice. And being an American movie (very Ridley Scott), there is not much subtlety or nuance. Conversely, […]

A Hero – 8

Very real people–largely played, in fact, by non-professional actors–are faced with a series of moral dilemmas and almost always make the wrong choice. The remarkable Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, wants his audience to keep asking themselves questions after the film is over, and in this he succeeds. His best move is making the hero, Rahim, […]

Cry Macho – 2

Clint Eastwood has forgotten more about acting and directing than I will ever know, and based on this movie he seems to have forgotten most of it. In the twenty minutes or so we watched, every character, scene, plot point and bit of dialogue was more absurd than believable. It was amateur hour with a […]

In the Same Breath – 9

I thought I didn’t need, or want, to see anything more about Covid but was totally transfixed by this documentary based on the outbreak as it happened in Wuhan. To have simply obtained the footage of Chinese citizens struggling to obtain medical treatment, of hospitals trying to provide care, and of officials trying to sanitize […]

White Lotus – 7; Unforgotten – 8

We watched both six-parters in tandem as they were released Sunday nights on, respectively, HBO and PBS. As usual, the American series was populated by broad caricatures, while the British presented complex and real people. White Lotus can be forgiven its lack of subtlety, as it aimed for social satire, and a week at the Four […]

Summer of Soul – 7

I marveled at the quality of this documentary: the concert footage from 50 years ago was phenomenal, and the larger story of Black history and culture was woven in seamlessly. The crowd shots, albeit a tad repetitive, were worth the price of admission, as was Sly and the Family Stone’s rendition of “Everyday People.” In […]

In the Heights – 6.5

Not exactly Rent, not quite West Side Story, but a clear precursor to Hamilton. The story was far too thin to support the boatload of production numbers that followed on each other’s heels–so many that, despite their individual brilliance, they became tiresome. “How about a good song, instead of another ensemble dance?,” I found myself thinking. Unless you […]

Small Axe – 9

Although I gave Mangrove my vote for (co-)best film of 2021, I haven’t separately reviewed the other four installments of Steve McQueen’s five-part reminiscence of West Indian life in racist London in the ’70s and ’80s. Each film stands on its own, although all share a common venue and sensibility: Black Londoners trying to get along […]

Undine – 6.8

More style than substance, Christian Petzold’s fourth film was a disappointment after his remarkable earlier trio of Barbara, Phoenix and Transit. The title plus a Wikipedia search clued you in to the possible water-spriteness of the female lead (the excellent Paula Beer), but the myth in question didn’t track the plot, nor was it clear why Undine […]

The Father – 8

A gem of a movie, narrow in scope but enlarged by the great acting of Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. By confining the set to, basically, two rooms and a hallway, we were forced into the mind of the father, struggling absent-mindedly with dementia. The film is mercifully short, as we get the picture early […]