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 […]

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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 […]

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The Favourite

There is much to chew on and savor in The Favourite– kinky asides, intriguing isolated moments, loopy dry humor adding spice to the regal period setting. There is so much marginal quirkiness, in fact, that I fear it’s obscuring the unfortunate fact that there isn’t much substance on the bottom line. It is a compelling […]

Posted in: Review

Shoplifters

Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda’s films often focus on the beauty of unexpected or unconventional families, and his latest, Shoplifters (which won the Palme d’Or, the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), starts out as another small-scale family story, before eventually revealing just how far from typical the central family really is. From the […]

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Creed II

When Ryan Coogler’s Creed debuted in 2015, it had the advantage of not coming off as just another Rocky sequel or a cynical exercise in branding. It was a passion project for the director and co-writer, who originated the idea of depicting the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed as a next-generation boxing contender to be […]

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Instant Family

Director and co-writer Sean Anders based Instant Family on his personal experiences of fostering and later adopting a group of siblings, but that doesn’t mean that he and longtime co-writer John Morris ignored their instincts for loud, hacky comedy. Instead, they simply applied those instincts to equally broad sentiment and family bonding, making Instant Family […]

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Boy Erased

Boy Erased is about as well-intentioned as a movie can be while still shamelessly misrepresenting the subject it so staunchly supports. There’s no question that its heart is in the right place, that writer-director Joel Edgerton is a fierce supporter of the LGBTQ community. But on the basis of the finished film, which alternates between uneasy […]

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The six segments in Joel and Ethan Coen’s omnibus feature The Ballad of Buster Scruggs are each introduced as stories from a dusty old book of Western tales, and while that book is entirely made up, it’s not hard to believe that the Coens could have adapted this material from an obscure contemporary of Louis […]

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

The story of The Nutcracker seems like the kind of thing that Disney would have adapted decades ago, making the new The Nutcracker and the Four Realms one of the studio’s many cash-in live-action remakes of its beloved animated classics. But somehow The Nutcracker (from both E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 short story and the 1892 ballet […]

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

As we exit the Halloween season, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is something of a fright fest for writers, this real-life story of a notable published professional whose well runs so dry that she must concoct a criminal scheme in order to pay the bills and attain artistic fulfillment. Thankfully, the horror is blunted by […]

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Suspiria (2018)

Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic Suspiria is a masterpiece of atmosphere and color, but it doesn’t exactly, you know, make sense. In taking on a remake (or reimagining, or however it’s being designated) of Suspiria, director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) and screenwriter David Kajganich have preserved all the weirdness of Argento’s original […]

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Mid90s

As one who came of age in the 1990s, it’s surreal to me that we have now moved far enough beyond that decade to look back with nostalgia, to set a film in the ‘90s and accurately refer to it as a period piece. We now even have a film explicitly titled Mid90s, though curiously […]

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Johnny English Strikes Again

It’s a little hard to believe that there have been three Johnny English movies since the character debuted on the big screen in 2003, but Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling secret agent remains quite popular in his native U.K., where Johnny English Strikes Again is already a box-office hit. Here in the U.S., the spy-comedy series is […]

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Halloween (2018)

Having original “final girl” Laurie Strode return to the Halloween franchise after decades away is not a new idea, although given the underwhelming way it turned out in 1998’s Halloween H20, you can’t really blame director and co-writer David Gordon Green for taking another crack at it. Like H20, Green’s simply titled Halloween ignores previous […]