Posted in: Review

Bumblebee

The Transformers franchise gets a welcome jolt of eighties nostalgia and heart with Bumblebee, an Earth origin story for the fan favorite VW Beetle who evolves into a Camaro. Director Travis Knight (the acclaimed Kubo and the Two Strings) and screenwriter Christina Hodson (Unforgettable, the upcoming Birds of Prey) wisely jettison political machinations, world takeovers, […]

Posted in: Review

Vice

Perspective is the key to any comprehensive study of a historical figure – anyone tackling such an endeavor has to consider whether there is enough distance and hindsight to properly contextualize the person’s actions and role in the scheme of history. When Oliver Stone made W. in 2008, one key criticism – among the myriad – […]

Posted in: Review

Destroyer

Nicole Kidman’s face has been the centerpiece of discussion on Destroyer since production stills were first released. It makes sense as an eye-grabber, the ravaged, craggy visage in such stark contrast to the porcelain perfection with which we usually associate Kidman. Indeed, Kidman’s face is the canvas on which the film is painted, a portrait […]

Posted in: Review

Cold War

As a pair of dispassionate musicologists and a government official conduct American Idol-style auditions among peasants in 1949 Poland, the vibrant and slightly devious young singer Zula (Joanna Kulig) immediately captivates Wiktor (Thomasz Kot) with her ambition, beauty and boldness, and it takes just a single look across a crowded room for them to form […]

Posted in: Review

Ben Is Back

Ben is Back is a very present-tense title, not just a name but an active occurrence. That makes sense since it’s a very present-tense film, a moment-by-moment family drama that builds with the tension of a thriller. It doesn’t unfold in “real time,” so to speak, but feels like it operates on a ticking clock for […]

Posted in: Review

Mary Poppins Returns

In the midst of Disney’s IP regeneration bonanza, as the studio proceeds to unearth its hallowed classics and reformat them as modern-day mega-blockbusters, Mary Poppins Returns takes a sort of refreshing turn for the nostalgic. Make no mistake, this 54-years-later sequel to one of Disney’s most celebrated films is obviously a bottom-line cash-in move for the […]

Posted in: Review

The American Meme

Documentaries have been made about celebrities before, even about celebrities who are famous for no reason whatsoever. (The TV show Keeping Up with Kardashians, of course, is the pinnacle of this trend.) But serial documentarian Bert Marcus, with The American Meme, does more than just profile celebrities that include Brittany Furlan, DJ Khalid, and Josh Ostrovsky, aka thefatjewish. […]

Posted in: Review

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The visually inventive animated adventure Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse pops off the screen like a comic book come to life. Rectangular panels spell out characters’ thoughts. Action and scenery pulse with neon colors, ink splatters, even Ben-Day dots. But this joyous concoction isn’t just a fanciful lark. It reaches into multiple dimensions, shows there’s more […]

Posted in: Review

If Beale Street Could Talk

There is no Beale Street in If Beale Street Could Talk, and that’s the point: when James Baldwin wrote the novel in 1974, the street name was a symbol for any street in any “black neighborhood,” a center of black population, exemplifying black culture and experience, in all its joy and grief, its glorious bravado […]

Posted in: Review

Elephants

All romance movies sink or swim based on whether or not the audience is invested in the central relationship. That’s where Elephants directs most of its effort and screen time: getting us to understand and sympathize with its two leads. The result is an uncluttered film that shines with subtle charm. Elephants follows two twentysomething […]