A half-century into his storied career, Steven Spielberg proves he still has the ability to surprise by offering us an intimate and cautiously revealing semi-autobiography. The resulting motion picture is as fun to analyze as it is to watch. Cowriting the screenplay with Tony Kushner, Spielberg rechristens his own family the Fabelmans, with budding young artist Steven here called Sammy,… read more!
Movie Titles: F
This film is based on a Charles Bukowski novel. That's probably all that needs to be said about Factotum, but if you're unfamiliar with the late writer's work, this adaptation concerns the ins and outs of Bukowski stand-in Henry Chinaski (nicely played by Matt Dillon), an unrepentant drunk who gets fired from job after job while he drinks, slacks, gambles,… read more!
Moore's entertaining, emotionally-charged indictment of the Bush administration and its handling of the events of September 11, 2001, as well as the ensuing invasion of Iraq, will offer no surprises for those who have harbored suspicions about the administration's actions over the last four years (read: Moore's regular liberal audience). The film's true goal must instead be to convince those… read more!
Intriguing dramatization of the so-called Valerie Plame Affair, in which covert CIA operative Plame (Naomi Watts) was publicly outed by enemies in the George W. Bush Administration after her husband, ex-diplomat Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), wrote an article declaring that his government-sponsored trip to Niger turned up no evidence of any sales of uranium to Iraq – even while the… read more!
Lengthy, endlessly depressing saga of infidelity written by film god Ingmar Bergman. On a remote Swedish island, a lonely old writer named "Bergman" (Erland Josephson channeling you-know-who) is visited by Marianne (Lena Endre), a 40-year-old woman who is a mixture of artist's muse, wandering ghost, and psychiatrist's patient. She proceeds to tell the old man the tragic tale of the… read more!
I have one regret about seeing The Fall: I waited too long, and so I caught it late in its run at the miserable Beverly Center, and the morons who staff the place started the movie about ten minutes early – whereas I showed up on time. So I missed the first few minutes of this thing, which is a… read more!
Fantastic Mr. Fox
I've never been a huge fan of Wes Anderson's films: the more formalistic and stylized they got, the less they interested me. But I do enjoy stop-motion animation, and it turns out to be a good fit for Anderson's OCD visual style, where he can finally have his characters do exactly as he pleases, because they are literally puppets; in… read more!
Far from Heaven
A heartfelt re-creation of 1950s "women's pictures", those Technicolor melodramas made famous by the likes of Douglas Sirk, Far from Heaven delves deeper than the surface crises of those earlier films' well-to-do heroines, exploring racial and sexual issues that would have been unheard of in Hollywood films of that time. Set in 1957 Connecticut, the story centers around emotionally torn… read more!
Moviegoers are clearly starving for a good old fashioned indie film in 2019, which may explain why writer/director Lulu Wang's second feature The Farewell has earned more money per theater in its opening weekend than Avengers: Endgame did. (Of course, we're comparing four theaters to four thousand, but still.) So is The Farewell worth all the hype it's gotten since… read more!
At first I wasn't keen on seeing The Father; do we really need another drama about Alzheimer's? My sense was that the film would be just a soppy showcase for Anthony Hopkins. A showcase it may be, but soppy it is not. Hopkins plays a retired engineer, coincidentally named Anthony, who is deep in the throes of dementia but is… read more!
Greek enfant terrible Lanthimos's latest outing is his least squirm-inducing as well as his most visually daring – perhaps because he is, for once, not working from his own script. The Favourite was written by an unlikely duo: Australian TV scenarist Tony McNamara and British historian/first-time screenwriter Deborah Davis, who for twenty years had been pitching a dramatization of the… read more!
I've been convinced that the next generation of film geeks will revere the work of Brian De Palma just as their counterparts of today do Sam Fuller, because De Palma is one of the only people making studio films that feel like true "B movies". Though his films have big (well, semi-big) stars and multi-million dollar budgets, there still seems… read more!
Every once in a while, I'll see a pretty good movie spoiled by one really bad scene. Fight Club is such a movie. Edward Norton stars as an anonymous narrator who hates his job, his life, and the world around him. He is, in particular, profoundly angry and depressed by the rampant consumerism that surrounds him. Then he bumps into… read more!
Hollywood's love affair with Massachusetts continues with what is at least the fifth 2010 drama set in the Bay State, joining other prestige pictures such as The Social Network, The Town, The Company Men, and Shutter Island. The energetic Fighter heads upstate from Boston and unfolds its story mostly in the town of Lowell, home of boxer Micky Ward (Mark… read more!
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
To get the most out of this film, it helps to be familiar with the work of 1950s Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, as this fair-to-middling biopic about the last two years of Grahame's life is pretty esoteric: it was a passion project for producer (and James Bond rights holder) Barbara Broccoli, who not only knew Grahame and her lover Peter… read more!
The Filth and the Fury
Entertaining documentary about the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols, a quartet of working class London lads who, in 1976, banged away on their instruments, offended a lot of people, invented punk rock, and arguably changed popular music forever. Director Temple's involvement with the band dates back to his 1980 mockumentary The Great Rock & Roll Swindle, which was… read more!
Who isn't ambivalent about the idea of a Pixar sequel? Sure, sometimes it works. But the studio is so adept at producing fantastic original material that I want to scream, You've got the talent, you've got the money, you've got the audience's good will – why waste time rehashing the old when you could be taking more risks? The answer, of course, lies within the Pixar/Disney… read more!
The annoying thing about living in the Hollywood area is that Walt Disney owns the El Capitan theatre on Hollywood Blvd., and whenever one of their animated features is released, they show it there – charging at least $15 for it – and make it otherwise unavailable in the vicinity. You have to travel out to the burbs to see… read more!
Curse you, Finding Neverland.Curse you for being a shamelessly manipulative tearjerker. Curse you for every note of your sappy soundtrack coming in at just the right moment to reduce your audiences to a blubbering mess. Curse you for hauling out every hoary old trick in the book and still turning me into a choking, sobbing idiot just like everybody else… read more!
After The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, and countless fictional astronaut dramas, it's surprising that Neil Armstrong, history's most famous spaceman, hadn't been the subject of a Hollywood biopic until now. But after seeing First Man, a painstakingly accurate, vérité-style account of Armstrong's life and career between 1961 and 1969, I can see why: Armstrong, who passed away in 2012, was… read more!