Despite its grandiose title, Almodóvar's latest is an intimate and – no matter how much you know about the writer/director's life – obviously personal film. Almodóvar devotees will appreciate it. Others may find it boring. Although Almodóvar himself has been cagy about just how autobiographical this film is, its story is centered on a famous Spanish filmmaker (Antonio Banderas) whose… read more!
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Todd Solondz is one of those talented writer/directors whose work I don't personally like, but I'll watch nonetheless. (Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson are two others.) Maybe it's because I keep hoping he will finally make a film that truly speaks to me. Or maybe I'm just maintaining my cultural literacy. Known for his sadistic storylines, Solondz opens his latest… read more!
During this Covid lockdown, the line between what is a "theatrical" film and what is a "TV" film is fuzzier than ever. And so the rules I once had, regarding what qualifies for a movie review on this website, are out the window. Accordingly, there's no rush to discuss Palm Springs, which was sold to Hulu before the pandemic even… read more!
Pitch-dark fable that takes place in 1944 Spain, shortly after Franco's Fascists won the civil war. A young girl is taken to a castle-like structure in the forest where she is to live with her pregnant mother and her stepfather, a particularly brutal captain in the Fascist regime who is overseeing the obliteration of the last few Republican partisans in… read more!
Childlike comedian Charlyne Yi, whose claim to fame heretofore has been a small but funny role as a stoner girl in Knocked Up, joins forces with director Nicholas Jasenovec to make a documentary about love, and why people fall in love, and why Yi is unable to. At least it purports to be a documentary. In what could be called… read more!
Paradise Hills opens with a lavish wedding in the distant future: based on the hair and wardrobe, you could imagine this story unfolding amongst The Hunger Games' Capital City elite. A docile young woman named Uma (Emma Roberts) is the bride, and as she sings a vow of wifely obedience to her rich, smug groom, we're immediately clued into Paradise… read more!
Quietly moving (and troubling) drama about two ordinary Palestinian men, good friends, who have been drafted by a secret "freedom fighting" organization to become suicide bombers in nearby Tel Aviv - the very next day. Agreeing to the job without argument - as much due to the frustration of their own personal lives as to any hatred of Israelis or… read more!
Another lovingly-shot tone poem about disaffected youth from Gus Van Sant, Paranoid Park will remind many of the director's earlier, stronger Elephant, though it is even more abstract and less disturbing. The movie follows a teenage skateboarder named Alex (Gabe Nevins, a newcomer like most of the rest of the Portland-based cast), basically a good kid, as he is quietly… read more!
Enjoyable stop-motion spookhouse adventure from Laika, the Portland-based animation company responsible for Coraline. If you dug their previous film, you'd probably enjoy ParaNorman - it's the Blue Boy to Coraline's Pinkie, with the titular 11-year-olds seemingly made for each other, even if their stories practically take place in different universes. With Norman the only kid in his Massachusetts town (clearly… read more!
A lower class Korean family is struggling to make ends meet. When the teenage son suddenly lands a cushy job as an English tutor for a rich girl, his inner con artist comes out and he hatches an elaborate plan: One by one, he will get the rich girl's gullible parents to fire their son's art tutor, then their chauffeur,… read more!
This is an "omnibus" or "portmanteau" film, in which twenty international directors were assigned to each make a short filmed in one of Paris' 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) – although two were dropped from the final film as their shorts apparently didn't fit in. Nevertheless, as with most features like this, you're not really watching one movie as much as you… read more!
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!
A truly unique film: A black and white animated autobiographical feature, and among the few comic book adaptations to actually be helmed by the comics' own creator (Satrapi). Adapting and condensing her four books of growing up in Iran during the '70s and '80s (with a few troubled teenage years in Vienna), Satrapi, with codirector Parronaud, lifts her stark, simple… read more!
Rene Liu plays Du, a pretty young ophthalmologist who suddenly quits her job and decides she wants a husband, so she places an ad in the local newspaper's personals section expressing her intentions. For the bulk of this quiet, low-budget film, Du meets an endless variety of Mr. Wrongs, all at the same teahouse that becomes a second home to… read more!
After a pair of exceptionally baffling films – The Master and Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson returns with an original story that is much more accessible, if a little perverse. Phantom Thread concerns a fashion designer in 1950s London with the preposterous name of Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis in what the actor insists is his final role.… read more!
While walking away from the well-done The Pianist, I wondered aloud to a friend, "We've now been so saturated with Holocaust dramas, can anybody – even someone of Roman Polanski's caliber – really add any new angle, any fresh insight, as to what happened, or how it affected people?" The answer, of course, was "No." At least not unless you… read more!
The Piano Teacher is a gut-wrenching character study of its titular heroine (Isabelle Huppert, superb as usual), a sexually repressed woman who treats her piano students with the utmost contempt, has a hostile, unresolved relationship with her live-in mother (Annie Girardot), and, most notably, has a fondness for some seriously sketchy masochism. If you think that sounds like fun, try… read more!
This inscrutable, overtly dreamlike fable is only the second live action feature from celebrated UK-based stop-motion animators (and identical twins) Stephen and Timothy Quay in ten years; their first, Institute Benjamenta, was poorly received by many critics, some of whom called it "legendarily boring". Personally I loved Institute Benjamenta, so I was quite excited to see The Piano Tuner of… read more!
This dystopian allegory of privilege and greed is something of a cousin to Snowpiercer. Set in a country (ostensibly Spain) that could be the future or could be today, The Platform takes place inside a multistory prison complex – rather like a gigantic elevator shaft – in which a pair of prisoners is randomly assigned to a different floor each… read more!
Fast-paced Gallic suspenser about a nurse's assistant (Gilles Lellouche) whose pregnant wife has been kidnapped and who has been ordered to release a wounded criminal from his hospital if he ever wants to see her alive again. The thrills that ensue are non-stop, with plenty of dark little twists and turns and just the right amount of emotional manipulation. Point… read more!