Documentarian Morris has always been attracted to eccentric characters, and he found a doozy in Joyce McKinney, the subject of his latest feature Tabloid. I'd say that the less you know about McKinney in advance, the more fun you'll have with this wild documentary about her life, but here's the basic summary: In 1977, this would-be model from North Carolina,… read more!
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Matt Damon plays Tom Ripley, a New York nobody who is sent by a millionaire to Italy to bring back that millionaire's son, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law, terrific), who's spending his inheritance loafing on the beach with his whiny girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow, well cast). Ripley winds up befriending Dickie... then falls madly in love with him. After something horrible… read more!
Though some critic beat me to the punch with the suggestion that a better title for this film would be Girlfriends in a Coma, if you think this is just a stuffy art film about two men sitting by the bedsides of their comatose lovers, nattering on endlessly into their deaf ears, you're either going by the wrong review or… read more!
Tár opens with a POV scene in which someone covertly records a video of superstar conductor/composer Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) asleep on an airplane while texting someone else. One writes: "She's haunted". The other: "Are you still in love with her?" We're never told who is communicating, so we are left to gnaw on this mystery for a few minutes… read more!
Jonathan Caouette's autobiographical documentary reportedly cost him just $218.32 to make, as it is essentially a montage of his own home movies and various found footage that he edited together on his boyfriend's computer using Apple's free iMovie software. Of course, the movie you actually see cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more - not just for the 35mm blowup… read more!
Pretty much all I have to say is "The South Park guys made a puppet movie" and you know what to expect: ribald humor, razor-sharp sendups of American culture in general and American celebrity culture in particular, and songs. Copping the "supermarionation" style made famous by the 1960s British TV show Thunderbirds, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's marionettes embody the… read more!
Writer-director Harry Shearer is a very talented comic actor and commentator, best known for his numerous voices on The Simpsons (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, et al) as well as his role in This Is Spinal Tap. So how does he fare as a filmmaker? Let me put it this way: don't quit The Simpsons just yet, Harry. A broad satire,… read more!
In this engaging French mystery/thriller, a humble pediatrician named Alex (François Cluzet, whose resemblance to Dustin Hoffman is uncanny) goes on a vacation to his family farm with his wife. One night he hears her scream out in the woods. Rushing to her aid, he is suddenly knocked into a coma and thrown into a lake. His wife's dead naked… read more!
Call him arrogant, but you've got to hand it to Christopher Nolan: Despite a worldwide pandemic shutting down cinemas, he wasn't going to let his new blockbuster Tenet debut on some streaming service, or wait until the coast is clear in 2021 (or even 2022, at the rate things are going). It would screen in theaters only – on 35mm,… read more!
Like most, I was skeptical when I first heard that Terminator 3 was in production. Why would anybody want to see a new Terminator installment, twelve whole years after James "Jimbo" Cameron fashioned Terminator 2 into the ultimate action film? What could another sequel have to offer? ("Look, the enemy Terminator is now a girl. Yawn.") Even though I can't… read more!
Terminator Salvation, now the fourth film in the series, is the first to take place after the mythical "Judgment Day", when evil computer network Skynet becomes self-aware and launches a nuclear attack on humanity. This brings about a years-long war between the human resistance and the machines, with the nigh-unstoppable Terminators serving as the latter's weapon of choice. We finally… read more!
A young Copenhagen police officer (Jakob Cedergren, who looks like a blonde Ben Affleck) is transferred to a small Danish town in the middle of nowhere after he commits a disturbing act back home that is hinted at in the first moments of Terribly Happy but only revealed near the end. Not that it's that shocking a revelation. Small towns… read more!
Aaron Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, a smarmy lobbyist for the tobacco industry and self-described "merchant of death" whose job it is to convince Americans that cigarettes won't kill you. During the first few zippy minutes of Thank You for Smoking, Naylor is at the top of his game – smooth talking and quick thinking. Soon, though, as he tries to… read more!
This fictional account of British filmmakers making a propaganda drama during the early days of World War II takes an intriguing premise and bogs it down with clichés. But your mom will love it. Gemma Arterton stars as Catrin, a Welsh writer conscripted into the Ministry of Information's film division in order to add a "woman's touch" to their new project. Her task: to adapt the… read more!
Maybe it says something about me that the Paul Thomas Anderson film I like best is the one that nobody else likes: Punch-Drunk Love. For I found both Magnolia and Boogie Nights – still hailed by most film geeks as classics – bloated and irritating. Still, I think Anderson is an interesting director and I looked forward to There Will… read more!
In 2014, Peter Jackson was recruited by the UK's Imperial War Museums and the BBC to make a documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War I. Apparently, all he was given was hundreds of hours of vintage footage shot between 1914 and 1918, and no particular agenda beyond that. Finally using his craze for… read more!
A Catholic priest (Song Kang-ho), yearning to be of greater service to people, volunteers to be a guinea pig in a vaccine test against a deadly virus in Africa... and the vaccine turns him into a vampire. The plot thickens when the priest returns to South Korea and becomes involved with an unhappy woman (Kim Ok-vin) who feels enslaved by… read more!
This purposefully harrowing drama about a self-destructive thirteen-year-old is not much more than an extreme variation on your standard after-school special: Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), a 7th grader with good grades, nice friends, and promise (as a poet, naturally), falls in with bad influence Evie (Nikki Reed, whose precocious cowriting credit is the film's primary claim to fame), her junior… read more!
Documentary filmmaker and CalArts alumnus Kirby Dick sets out to unmask the anonymous raters at the MPAA – the people who slap the "PG", "PG-13", "R", and most controversially "NC-17" ratings on movies targeted for American distribution. As the only legit censorship board in the United States (although it is not a government entity), there's something obviously creepy about these… read more!
As a Norwegian American, I've always had a soft spot for the Marvel superhero Thor, even though frankly he always struck me as silly, with his long blonde hair, his winged helmet, and his hammer. With the comic publisher-turned-movie studio frantically churning out feature film adaptations of every character it can before Stan Lee kicks the bucket, Thor seemed a… read more!