Posted in: Review

Pain and Glory

Pedro Almodovar’s films thrive on the imbalance between brash idiosyncrasy and eloquent introspection. The Spanish auteur is a master of carefully-controlled chaos, of purposefully overwrought melodrama presented against a brightly colored backdrop with a winking nod to the inherent zaniness, somehow kept earthbound by its melancholic thematic underpinnings. Almodovar’s canvas elevates from the screen, but […]

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Terminator: Dark Fate

James Cameron’s 1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the Godfather Part II of action blockbusters, a sequel that both surpasses and enhances its predecessor, opening up a narrative and emotional world in ways only hinted at in the original. So it’s no surprise that further installments in the Terminator series have struggled to live up […]

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Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton has said that he called in every possible favor from his entire Hollywood career in order to get Motherless Brooklyn made, and his sprawling adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel feels very much like a passion project, both for better and for worse. Norton, who wrote, directed and plays the lead role, makes […]

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Zombieland: Double Tap

Of all the films to become subject to a superfluous sequel, Zombieland is one to approach with about equal parts excitement and apprehension. Why mess with perfection? The original 2009 film remains an untarnished gem, a lightning-in-a-bottle scenario that brought together the perfect mix of cast and creative talent to deliver something unique and special. […]

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

If Disney uses the Marvel movies as a gatekeeper of modern pop culture, I suppose the Maleficent franchise (since everything, apparently, must be a franchise) is the arbiter of humanity’s darkest ills. Whereas Marvel is the brightly colored happy machine, Maleficent is the bleak engine that chugs through cultural decay and human suffering. I suppose […]

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Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit may have been undermined by its own marketing campaign. The acclaimed comedy filmmaker (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok) has been touting his movie as a bold satirical comedy about Nazis since it was first announced, and the movie’s posters bill it as “an anti-hate satire.” The movie itself […]

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Sunday Girl

Sort of a deadpan version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the main character of Sunday Girl breaks up with five of her artisanally crafted hipster boyfriends in a single day in writer-director Peter Ambrosio’s twee, sardonic indie romantic comedy. Dasha Nekrasova is appealing as the seemingly cool and detached Natasha, who chain smokes as […]

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Gemini Man

With Gemini Man, Ang Lee cements his place among A-list directors whose fixations on technological advancements have eclipsed their instincts for quality storytelling. Filmmakers like Robert Zemeckis, George Lucas, Peter Jackson and James Cameron have all, to varying degrees, let their drives for innovation in moviemaking take precedence over narrative and character development. The more […]

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The Addams Family (2019)

The Addams Family reboots the satirically spooky family last seen in live-action form in the early 1990s. Although not as kooky as longtime fans of the Addamses might want, it’s ooky enough in parts to endear youngsters to the family’s amusingly macabre humor. The Addams Family starts promisingly, with the wedding of Morticia (Charlize Theron, […]

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Joker

It can only be viewed as some cruel cosmic swirl that in the immediate wake of Martin Scorsese’s dismissal of comic book movies as “not cinema,” but “theme parks,” the world has now been bestowed a film that leverages its iconic comic book inspiration to shamelessly imitate Scorsese’s late-‘70s/early-‘80s era of festering psyches in a […]

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Judy

The Judy Garland of Judy is not the fresh-faced child star of The Wizard of Oz, nor the larger-than-life performer who filled concert halls for decades. Both of those Judys show up in the movie, but director Rupert Goold and screenwriter Tom Edge (adapting the Tony-nominated play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter) are […]

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Abominable

The third major animated movie about yetis in the past year, DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable is far less annoying than 2018’s Smallfoot (from Warner Animation Group) but not nearly as inventive and witty as Laika’s Missing Link from earlier this year. Abominable falls into a bland, safe middle ground, placing a yeti nicknamed Everest into a familiar story about a […]

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Hustlers

Based on a true story that went viral in a deep and revealing 2015 New York Magazine article, Hustlers takes a very specific story of former strippers building their own empire by poking holes in the golden parachutes of their wealthiest clientele and spins it into a rollicking swirl of female empowerment amid an interminable class struggle. […]

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Monos

The final shot of Alejandro Landes’ Monos encapsulates everything that the film could have been but isn’t. A group of military troops have just flown over a jungle in Colombia and rescued Rambo (Sofía Buenaventura), a former child soldier in a FARC-esque guerrilla movement called “The Organization.” As the group prepares to land in an […]

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It Chapter Two

It Chapter Two can’t decide whether it wants to chase after Stephen King or Steven Spielberg. Sure, to a certain extent those two media monoliths occasionally cross paths at the intersection of serial adventure and emotional nostalgia. However, there’s a disconnect when the slick visual polish and swelling musical score is applied to painful emotional trauma […]

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Human Capital (2019)

The title Human Capital sounds like it should accompany a heavily researched social-issue documentary about the way that people have been turned into commodities. But Marc Meyers’ adaptation of Stephen Amidon’s 2004 novel is more of a soap opera than a polemic, although it does deal indirectly with income inequality and the dehumanizing effects of […]

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The Riot Act

It’s hard enough to capture contemporary life in a low-budget movie, so attempting authentic period detail with very limited resources is always a dicey prospect. Writer-director Devon Parks takes a big risk by setting his small-scale indie production The Riot Act in 1903, as electricity was just becoming widespread and most people still traveled via horse […]

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Don’t Let Go

The Blumhouse logo at the opening of Jacob Aaron Estes’ Don’t Let Go promises the potential for some creative budget-conscious thrills, but Don’t Let Go is unusually downbeat and somber for a Blumhouse genre movie, with a plot combining stock police-procedural elements and a supernatural twist that might have been passed over for the recent […]

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Ready or Not

They say there is no movie without the screenplay, and that’s absolutely true…but of course a film is made up of more elements than just the words on the page. Ready or Not is an incessant 90-minute reminder of that fact, since this cleverly conceived, sharply scripted, wonderfully acted film constantly undercuts its many strengths with […]