The fantastic opening credits sequence to After Yang, which ingeniously introduces the film's main characters as they perform dance moves in a family-based, massive multiplayer version of Dance Dance Revolution, won't prepare you for the slow, meditative sci fi drama that follows: the second feature from Columbus writer/director/editor Kogonada. Adapting the short story Saying Goodbye to Yang, After Yang takes… read more!
Movies Released in 2022 (in alphabetical order)
I knew almost nothing about Aftersun going in, except that its story involves a father and daughter going on vacation and that its star Paul Mescal received a surprise Best Actor Oscar nomination. (That this and another small, little-seen English film called Living scored two of the five coveted Best Actor nominations for 2022 really says a lot about the… read more!
All Quiet on the Western Front
It was just a couple of years ago when I finally caught the 1930 screen adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque's landmark World War I novel. (Its original German title, Im Westen nichts Neues, is more blunt: Nothing New in the West.) As directed by Lewis Milestone, it holds up remarkably well, and was quite… read more!
Partly inspired by real events, Amsterdam takes place only fleetingly in its titular city during an early flashback, set shortly after World War I; the bulk of the story is set in New York in 1933, where glass-eyed physician Burt Berendsen (a very likable Christian Bale) and attorney Harold Woodman (John David Washington, handsome and wooden as usual), best pals… read more!
Armageddon Time gets my vote for most disingenuous movie title of 2022. For those of you expecting a disaster picture, this is actually an intimately-scaled memory piece specifically set in Queens, NY in the autumn of 1980; its title is a riff on the Clash song "Armagideon Time", released a year earlier and played on the soundtrack but not especially… read more!
Avatar: The Way of Water
I was in no hurry to see this long-gestating Avatar sequel. I found the first Avatar to be one big cliché – sometimes exciting but mostly corny and dumb. Dances with Wolves in space. Noting that it fell off the cultural radar so soon after it conquered the box office, I wondered, as many did, whether audiences would really be… read more!
Babylon is basically a remake of Boogie Nights, except that instead of being set in the pornographic film industry in the 1970s and 1980s, it's set in the Hollywood film industry in the 1920s and 1930s. We follow an array of colorful characters as they fall from the sexy heights of their screen careers to the desperate depths, thanks to… read more!
The Banshees of Inisherin
I'm breaking my rules a little in that I missed The Banshees of Inisherin in theaters and caught it on streaming two months later, but I'm reviewing it anyway as the film is becoming an awards season frontrunner. So here goes. Taking place on the titular – and fictitious – Irish island in 1923, The Banshees of Inisherin opens with… read more!
Ever since Frank Miller revitalized the shopworn Batman character in 1986 with his four-issue comic book series The Dark Knight Returns, filmmakers of various stripes have tried to replicate its brooding, nihilistic tone. Tim Burton was first out of the gate but his 1989 Batman now seems as cartoonish as Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy, released a year later. Christopher Nolan's… read more!
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The development of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was an exercise in blockbuster creativity: how do you make a sequel to a superhero movie after the untimely death of its beloved star? Ryan Coogler, who directed both films and who cowrote Wakanda Forever's screenplay with Joe Robert Cole, made it clear that he would not recast the role of T'Challa/Black Panther,… read more!
The umpteenth dissertation into the wild allure and tragic life of Marilyn Monroe, Blonde – not a biopic but an adaptation of a novel by Joyce Carol Oates – is a hot mess. Miscast, overwrought, and pretentious beyond belief, it might have succeeded as camp if it weren't so damn bloated. Director Dominik, who also penned the screenplay, depicts the… read more!
Japanese writer/director/editor Kore-eda has made a lot of movies about different types of families, from the wholesome to the broken to the makeshift. And so it goes with Broker, an agreeable but minor work whose only major distinction is that it's set in South Korea. Indeed, save for Kore-eda and one of his producers, the entire cast and crew is… read more!
I honestly try to catch big budget movies that are not just sequels or entries in massive franchises (e.g., Marvel, Star Wars). I feel it's important to support "original" blockbusters in an era when such are few and far between. But it's frustrating that so many of them are so darn stupid. Case in point: Bullet Train. Based on a… read more!
Decision to Leave
Those accustomed to the perversity of Park's earlier films – Oldboy, The Handmaiden, et al – may be surprised at Decision to Leave's subtlety. While perverse in its own way, it contains none of the graphic sex or violence that one associates with Park's work. You'll either find its restraint refreshing or you'll feel slightly let down. Park Hae-il stars… read more!
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
I remember being underwhelmed by the first Doctor Strange movie, as well as by Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi's last feature as a director, which reeked of studio watering-down. So I was more cautious than optimistic when going in to watch what for the sake of brevity we'll call Dr. Strange 2. Happily, the film has undone the… read more!
Don’t Worry Darling
In this mashup of Mad Men and Black Mirror, Florence Pugh stars as Alice, a happy-go-lucky housewife in a circa 1960 community called Victory, where the men go off to work on some secret project while the women gossip, swim, guzzle cocktails, attend dance classes, and cook dinner. It all looks too good to be true, and of course it… read more!
Downton Abbey: A New Era
The only intriguing thing about Downton Abbey: A New Era is its title. For at least a couple of reasons – without ruining any of the film's minor plot points – it should really be called The End of an Era, as there's nothing "new" about the setting or its characters. Yet already there's talk of a third big-screen installment… read more!
A blockbuster about Elvis Presley should be the be-all, end-all of rock biopics. And considering all the gaudy kitsch associated with the King of Rock and Roll – Graceland! the pink Cadillac! those jumpsuits! – Baz Luhrmann, with his flair for the over-the-top, seems the perfect choice to take the Elvis story to the big screen. So does it pay… read more!
Emily the Criminal
Aubrey Plaza's career is a curious thing. Still best known for her role on the sitcom Parks and Recreation and her deader-than-deadpan demeanor, she's nevertheless been cranking out loads of well-reviewed but little-seen independent films in which he acting talents are widely praised. I haven't seen her in anything since Safety Not Guaranteed, in which she was pretty deadpan, so… read more!
Empire of Light
Sam Mendes is a veteran theater and film director who has worked with a variety of material written by others. 1917 was the first feature he cowrote, but its script was really secondary to its showy single-take acrobatics. Empire of Light marks his first produced solo screenplay – yet despite Mendes's vast experience on stage and screen, his writing is… read more!