Current Reviews (in alphabetical order)

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

When I first heard about Hidden Figures, I had high hopes: Hollywood making a movie about black women is rare enough. To make a movie about nerdy black women is incredible. (Though 2016 produced at least two such films: don't miss Queen of Katwe.) But then I saw the trailer, and it looked pretty corny. But then I started hearing from everyone about how great the… read more!

Jackie

Jackie

This semi-abstract portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy during the immediate aftermath of her husband's assassination is more a showcase for Natalie Portman than anything else. However, history buffs – specifically, Kennedy fetishists – will surely be drawn in. Chilean director Larraín likes taking risks with format: his breakthrough feature No, set in the late '80s, was shot on '80s-era video. This time he and his DP… read more!

La La Land

La La Land

From its opening number through much of the film, I have to say that I liked La La Land very much, but I could not love it. Writer/director Damien Chazelle caused such a stir with his incendiary first feature Whiplash that, when I heard he was following it up with an old-fashioned musical about Los Angeles, I couldn't wait. And who can resist the pairing… read more!

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

This is the third feature film from not-especially-prolific writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, following the lovely You Can Count on Me and the overrated Margaret. Like its predecessors, Manchester by the Sea explores what happens to ordinary people after tragedy strikes. It does so with honesty and a scruffy, foul-mouthed grace, even if its story unfurls over familiar ground. Casey Affleck is Lee, a taciturn Boston janitor… read more!

Paterson

Paterson

After years of films containing varying degrees of violence and/or cynicism, writer/director Jim Jarmusch returns to his mellow-hipster roots with Paterson. Though the rigid formalism of Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law has long since been abandoned, this is still vintage Jarmusch, with its lackadaisical pacing, its focus on the "unimportant" moments of real life, its love of a well-timed fade-to-black, and… read more!

Rogue One

Rogue One

If The Force Awakens was a shallow exercise in nostalgia, and the George Lucas-directed prequels were abominable CGI showcases, then Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie to feel truly connected to the original trilogy, especially the 1977 feature that started it all. Part of this is by design: the bulk of Rogue One takes place mere days before Star Wars, so unlike the… read more!

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann's premise is simple: Ines (Sandra Hüller) is a thirtysomething workaholic whose father Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is a practical joker. Concerned that his daughter is losing her soul to her job, Winfried dons a fright wig and some ridiculous false teeth, pretends that he is a freelance consultant named "Toni Erdmann", and insinuates himself into Ines's work life – all to add some humor… read more!