Category Archives: Film Reviews
Ali Soozandeh’s first film to get a U.S. theatrical release deals with a number of interlocking stories dealing with the antiquated religious beliefs in Iran that hold women back, while male dominance and sexism thrives.
“Considering how much of the film is about the power built into any sexual exchange, it’s interesting to see how Francis Lawrence avoids the easy ‘male gaze’ traps of the genre. The film doesn’t feel like it’s objectifying its star, who clearly shares a certain trust with her director,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Simply put, Black Panther is a thrilling fantasy-adventure with a vivid new palette, a superhero film that manages to feel like it packs in about eight different types of modern blockbusters into one big sprawling introduction to a world that is so big that it feels like the screen’s barely able to hold it all,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Once again, Netflix has spun gold out of creating a cultural disruption, and the movie at the center of the commotion almost doesn’t matter.,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Daniela Vega’s amazing performance as a trans woman dealing with grief after the death of her long-time lover is easily one of the best foreign language films in recent memory.
“It’s hard to believe this can possibly satisfy both the casual horror buff and the more diehard supernatural purist,” says Edward Douglas.
“The latest film from the Zellner brothers is slight and sweet and funny, but it manages to offer some really smart observations on the way men attach themselves to the idea of a woman rather than the actual woman,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Even if I don’t think Hereditary totally works in terms of what story gets told, the storytelling is commanding. As an experience, this was exactly what I look for from a Sundance midnight movie — a creepy exercise in control that sends the audience uneasily out into the frozen dark,” writes noted horror buff Drew McWeeny.
“Director Jason Reitman has become a punching bag for some critics, and unfairly. He’s had an uneven career, but it’s clear that the material he makes is material that speaks to him in a personal way… and I love that he seems to be willing to let his leads be terribly flawed without judging them,” writes Drew McWeeny
“While I think this film will play for every audience, and I think it’s one of the best overall movies I’ve seen at the festival this year, there is little doubt that being adopted made this a very uncomfortable emotional experience for me, and a personal one,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Emory Cohen has given several ‘good’ performances before now in films like Brooklyn and The Place Beyond The Pines, but I think it’s safe to say his turn here as Varg Vikernes is his first ‘great’ performance,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Two feature film directorial debuts offer an insightful look into personal and political issues using very different storytelling and filmmaking styles.
“Andrea Riseborough is great and Forest Whitaker is strong as a man of faith, but while Tom Wilkinson is good at conveying malice, he’s got that “English actor doing a Southern accent” accent that’s not really the right accent, but rather a weird approximation of it,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“This is as much a “movie movie” as something like Evil Dead II, and I don’t make that comparison lightly. By the time star Matilda Lutz assumes her final form in this film, she is as iconic in her way as Ash was with his chainsaw hand,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“I think this is a brave film precisely because it’s not about someone doing every single thing right. It’s not about someone who perfectly handles something. It’s messy. It’s frustrating. And, yeah, when it’s very good, it’s great. And important. And insightful,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Director Jesse Peretz seems to be growing as a filmmaker, and he’s got such a solid foundation in the form of the script by Tamara Jenkins and Jim Taylor that it gives him plenty of room to work,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Director Panos Cosmatos and his co-writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn absolutely know what movie they’re making, and they are after something that draws together all of the various things that have influenced them in a way that is personal and authentic, and not just about what looks cool,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood remains one of the definitive works of art in any medium about the way childhood imagination works,” writes Drew McWeeny, who said the emotional film “broke” him.
“This irresponsible trash is an inauspicious debut for director Christian Gudegast, who will have to try harder if he ever hopes to have anything to actually say,” writes Drew McWeeny.
Jaume Collet-Serra’s latest action-packed mystery movie is an exercise in wheel-spinning, and by February, it will have dissolved completely, like a snowflake on a tongue,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“The things that Ayer gets right in Bright are the tangible details of what it feels like to use magic in the world of the film, and there are some moments that are effective. But overall, it was impossible for me to fully give myself over as a viewer because I had a hard time understanding what the stakes and the rules were,” writes Drew McWeeny.
The feature debut from the Palestinian filmmaker looks at three different Arab women living in Tel Aviv and trying to juggle their jobs, romance and faith.
Edward Douglas calls the latest installment “a wasted opportunity to end on a high note rather than merely petering away.”
“Christian Bale is one of those actors who can easily tip into self-parody in the wrong role, but when he’s in sync with a filmmaker and the material is there, he can still surprise. He digs deep here, and watching the way he plays the gradual thaw for the protagonist of this Western is powerful,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Mark Wahlberg is completely miscast here, and the weird, vague threat of a romantic subplot involving Gail Harris (Michelle Williams) strikes me as both false and gross considering the circumstances,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“It’s ironic that two actual Disney Channel stars — Zac Efron and Zendaya — provide the one moment that transcends the sort of shiny, made-for-TV quality that suffuses the rest of the film,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“There’s an ugly heart to Downsizing and an ugly eye shooting it, and the result is dispiriting. For the first time, I feel like the knock against Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor as being condescending and misanthrophic, descriptors that have dogged them from the start, is starting to become immutable truth,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Much like I would say RoboCop is one of the great comic book movies despite not being based on a real comic book, this might be the best video game movie so far despite not being based on an actual video game,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“What is clear above all is that Star Wars is in good hands, and that the series retains the ability to both give us what we crave, and surprise us with choices,” writes Drew McWeeny.
“Phantom Thread is going to be with me long after the conversations about this year’s awards have faded, and for many viewers, this is going to be a film worth an obsession as focused as the one shared by its main characters,” writes Drew McWeeny.