Cinema

​Love on the Run

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | December 4th, 2019

Queen & Slim screenshot

The politics of race in contemporary America inform the text and subtext of “Queen & Slim,” a vivid feature debut from music video director Melina Matsoukas. Described so often in “The Player”-style shorthand as “Bonnie and Clyde meets Black Lives Matter” that the tag unfairly deflates some of the character-based nuance surrounding the love-on-the-run tragedy of the central duo, Matsoukas’ stylish road movie should be destined for cult status as an object of cool. Unlike…

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​Heller Does Mister Rogers for Grown-Ups in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 26th, 2019

Neighborhood screenshot

Of the three feature films directed by Marielle Heller, all of which are based in one way or another on biographical source material, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is the least successful. But that opinion doesn’t mean her newest work is a bust; the movie’s curiosity about the blurry lines between childhood innocence and grown-up cynicism rhymes with similar themes in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.” And the exploration of authenticity and role-playing, central to…

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​Bong’s ‘Parasite’ Infiltrates Year-End Best Movies Lists

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 20th, 2019

Parasite screenshot

“Parasite” will be the top-grossing foreign-language film at the 2019 American box office, and deservedly so. Joon-ho Bong’s most satisfying and accomplished movie since “Mother” in 2009, “Parasite” is the first Korean film to win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or. A perfectly-tuned, midnight-black fairy tale of two families -- one wealthy, one struggling -- Bong’s story treats poverty, class, and class warfare in parallel brushstrokes to the literal…

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​Mike Flanagan Does King by Way of Kubrick in ‘Doctor Sleep’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 13th, 2019

Doctor Sleep screenshot

Nearly forty years after Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film conjured thousands of nightmares, director Mike Flanagan wakes up the belated sequel “Doctor Sleep,” the strongest work of his promising career. Smartly striking a balance between the iconic status of Kubrick’s sound and vision and the Stephen King signatures that spread out to connect many people, places, and things — as seen, for example, in Andy Muschietti’s sprawling telling of “It” — Flanagan threads the…

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​Eggers Unlocks ‘The Lighthouse’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | November 6th, 2019

Screenshot of The Lighthouse

Fans of Robert Eggers’ brilliant feature debut “The Witch” have been waiting impatiently for “The Lighthouse,” and while the filmmaker decidedly avoids any kind of sophomore slide, the new movie will probably not attract the widespread fervor and devotion bestowed upon Black Phillip, Thomasin, and company. In “The Witch,” Eggers applied dialect evoking 1630s New England, and “The Lighthouse” follows suit with some wonderfully inscrutable 19th-century nautical nonsense.…

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​Fleischer Gets the Gang Back Together for ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | October 30th, 2019

Zombieland screenshot

Ten years later, Ruben Fleischer returns to the apocalyptic landscape of his funny, fresh, and winning feature debut “Zombieland,” but the “Double Tap” fails to live up to the quality of the inaugural outing. The principal quartet of performers -- three Oscar nominees and one winner -- are game, but the screenplay by Dave Callaham and original writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, leaves Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and…

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​Julia Hart Powers Up with ‘Fast Color’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | October 23rd, 2019

Screenshot of Fast Color

Julia Hart’s “Fast Color” moved quickly and too quietly from South by Southwest debut to skinny theatrical engagements via Lionsgate’s “Codeblack home” video. Several articles have already lamented the disappointing 77K box office take, wondering how such an intelligent spin on the indie superhero genre failed to make a bigger splash with viewers. Whatever the reason, the movie deserves a close look, especially from fans of kindred spirit Jeff Nichols, whose “Take…

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​Animators Tiernan and Vernon Pay a Call on “The Addams Family”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | October 16th, 2019

Screenshot of The Addams Family

Admirers of previous television and film incarnations of Charles Addams’ legendary collection of macabre icons have another variation to contemplate, but the computer-animated feature from “Sausage Party” directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan fails to measure up to either the 1960s ABC series or the pair of Barry Sonnenfeld-directed features released in the early 1990s. Certainly, the new movie could be much worse, but very little of Addams’ brilliant satire is on display.…

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​Lynn Shelton Goes South in ‘Sword of Trust’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | October 9th, 2019

Screenshot of the movie Sword of Trust

Birmingham, Alabama-set “Sword of Trust” is filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first feature to be located outside the Pacific Northwest, and the change of scenery results in what might be the writer-director’s most satisfying movie to date. Sharing screenplay credit with “Saturday Night Live” writing veteran Mike O’Brien, Shelton continues to encourage the improvisational work of her cast members. That approach can often backfire, but the impressive skills of the ensemble turn the…

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​Joanna Hogg Directs a Dazzling Honor Swinton Byrne in ‘The Souvenir’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | October 2nd, 2019

'The Souvenir' screenshot

A carefully crafted and intensely observant fictionalization of writer-director Joanna Hogg’s experiences once upon a time in film school in the early 1980s, “The Souvenir” is essential viewing for devoted cinephiles. Semi-autobiography may be an appropriate descriptor for the movie, but “The Souvenir,” which collected the World Cinema Dramatic Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, should not be confined to a lone category like memoir. Hogg’s wide embrace folds around…

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