Movie Titles: B

The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia

I'm one of few filmmakers to go to bat for Brian De Palma. It's so unhip to like his films, but I think he's churned out a number of underrated gems, including Casualties of War, Carlito's Way, even Snake Eyes. That said, he's helmed some misfires too, and The Black Dahlia is one of them. While beautifully filmed by the… read more!

Black Mass

Black Mass

This run-of-the-mill gangster saga covering the 1975-1985 heyday of South Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) reminds me very much of 1990's State of Grace, also about Southie mobsters, and 1997's Donnie Brasco, an FBI-meets-Mafia drama also starring Depp. All three films take strong casts and potentially exciting crime elements, then bog them down with gloomy scripts and unremarkable direction. Love or hate The Departed, at… read more!

Black Panther

Black Panther

This is one of those "what more needs to be said?" reviews. Everybody who sees Black Panther seems to love it. And why not? It's a satisfying superhero movie. Its majority black cast – most heroic, some villainous, all complex and interesting – answers the prayers of a lot of moviegoers who have been pining for more diversity in the… read more!

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

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!

Black Snake Moan

Black Snake Moan

Inherently weird, unclassifiable movie, set in rural Tennessee, about a former blues musician (Samuel Jackson) who takes a bloody, beaten white girl (Christina Ricci) under his wing, only to find out that she suffers from some sort of nymphomania. So he chains her to his radiator in order to "cure" her. What follows is a unique if awkward blend of… read more!

Black Swan

Black Swan

Icky psychodrama about a neurotic ballerina (Natalie Portman) who's been cast as the lead in a New York production of Swan Lake in which she is tasked to play both the innocent white swan and her evil twin, the alluring black swan. The story of Black Swan is basically Portman's character's descent into madness, as the pressure of trying to… read more!

Black Widow

Black Widow

Black Widow could be called a "midquel" in that it takes place in the middle of Marvel's since-concluded Avengers saga: shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War forced some of the Avengers to flee, including Natasha "Black Widow" Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). But it opens in 1995 Ohio, when nine-year-old Natasha, her six-year-old sister Yelena, and their parents are… read more!

BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman

Incredibly, this is the first Spike Lee film I've ever reviewed on this site, after 19 years; I believe 1995's Clockers was the last Lee "joint" that I caught in theaters. (I have since seen a few on video.) Ergo, a meager online review by a little-known filmmaker and amateur critic – that is, me – is a testament to BlacKkKlansman's status… read more!

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

I have a confession to make: I never really liked the original Blade Runner that much. I've seen it at least four times, in all its various cuts. It's an incredible-looking film: every single shot is perfectly lit and framed, every bit of the production design is awesome. For 1982, it was way ahead of its time, and I don't… read more!

The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project

I almost feel sorry for The Blair Witch Project. As the most buzzed-about independent film in history, there's no way it could have lived up to its hype. Perhaps if it remained a small, little-seen film, relying solely on word of mouth rather than mountains of publicity, then it could have been judged based on its own merits. But with… read more!

Blancanieves

Blancanieves

After The Artist captured the public's imagination in 2011, I wondered if it would open the door to a new wave of silent films. Well, I wondered only half-seriously, because although it was a charming movie, The Artist was also clearly designed to be a novelty. So no, it wasn't the start of an exciting retro trend, and nobody should… read more!

Blindness

Blindness

It's a rare treat to like a movie that most critics hate. Usually I see eye to eye with at least some reviews, but in the case of Blindness, all I found were negative notices – and yet I was determined to see the film anyway. Why? Because I am fascinated with blindness. I think losing one's sight is second… read more!

Blonde

Blonde

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!

Blow

Blow

Blow follows the rise and inevitable fall of real-life drug dealer George Jung (Johnny Depp), an easy-going schmo with varying luck who started with a small marijuana-selling operation in late-'60s Los Angeles and became one of the key players in the popularization of cocaine in the decades following. Stylistically and thematically, this film falls somewhere between Goodfellas and Boogie Nights as another… read more!

Blue Is the Warmest Color

Blue Is the Warmest Color

This three-hour drama about a lesbian relationship between young student-turned-teacher Adèle (played by Adèle Exarchopoulos) and slightly older painter Emma (Léa Seydoux) immediately begs the question: Why three hours? It's a question that, having seen the film, I am still asking. Blue Is the Warmest Color is essentially a collection of lengthy slice-of-life scenes, following the shy Adèle as she… read more!

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine

This bitter drama is essentially Woody Allen's update on Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. In Blue Jasmine, Streetcar's deluded Blanche DuBois is reborn as Jeanette "Jasmine" French (Cate Blanchett), a broke and broken New Yorker who, after the imprisonment and death of her corrupt millionaire husband (Alec Baldwin), has relocated to a dull corner of San Francisco to live… read more!

Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine

Marketed as a gritty, emotionally draining drama about a disintegrating marriage, Blue Valentine is really a gritty, emotionally chilly drama about a nice guy (Ryan Gosling) whose frigid wife (Michelle Williams) hates him. Cutting back and forth between the ugly final days of this couple's relationship and the first few weeks of their budding romance six years earlier, the film… read more!

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody

The box office success of Bohemian Rhapsody is something I couldn't have foreseen. Can you blame me? First, most music biopics don't do that well; they are designed not as blockbusters but as awards fodder for movie stars. Next, Bohemian Rhapsody spent years in turnaround, with various actors – including Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw – poised to play… read more!

Boiler Room

Boiler Room

Crackling drama about a young New York hustler (Giovanni Ribisi) who's dropped out of college to make a small fortune running his own casino in his apartment, but, due to his father's (Ron Rifkin) consistent disappointment, decides to go "straight" by joining up with a hot shot stock brokerage on Long Island, where each broker (all male, all under 30)… read more!

Bombshell

Bombshell

I never thought I'd describe a film as "simultaneously disturbing and breezy", yet Bombshell is precisely that: a based-on-fact narrative about rampant sexual harassment at Fox News that somehow whizzes on by, its 108 runtime a half hour too short. Taking place during the 2016 Republican primaries, Bombshell follows three Fox News employees: A-list anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron, spot… read more!