Movies

Movie Review: FANTASY ISLAND

FANTASY ISLAND movie poster | ©2020 Sony Pictures

Rating: PG-13 Stars: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Michael Rooker, Parisa Fitz-Henley Writers: Jeff Wadlow & Chris Roach & Jillian Jacobs, based on the TV series created by Gene Levitt Director: Jeff Wadlow Distributor: Sony/Columbia Release Date: February 14, 2020 FANTASY ISLAND spends most of its running time urging viewers to try to figure out what’s going on here. This isn’t a problem of coherence, but rather setting up a mystery of how four seemingly unconnected plot strands will come together, and how exactly the island works. Consequently, FANTASY ISLAND […]Read On »

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Movie Review: BIRDS OF PREY (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

BIRDS OF PREY movie poster | ©2020 Warner Bros.

Rating: R Stars: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina Writer: Christina Hodson Director: Cathy Yan Distributor: Warner Bros. Release Date: February 7, 2020 A movie about Batman villainess/Joker paramour Harley Quinn doesn’t exactly sound like a blast. Harley is sometimes depicted as a creative sadist and sometimes as a completely dizzy engine of destruction, both devoted to the Joker and neither someone who seems like a good figure to build a movie around. Well, surprise. BIRDS OF PREY has found the right balance for Harley (Margot Robbie, reprising the character […]Read On »

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Movie Review: COME TO DADDY

COME TO DADDY movie poster | ©2020 Saban Films

Rating: R Stars: Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, Martin Donovan, Madeleine Sami, Garfield Wilson, Michael Smiley Writer: Toby Harvard, idea by Ant Timpson Director: Ant Timpson Distributor: Saban Films Release Date: February 7, 2020 COME TO DADDY is the kind of movie that causes a reviewer to think long and hard about how difficult it is to complete a movie and secure distribution. These things are no small achievement, and filmmakers who reach this finish line deserve congratulations. With this in mind, it should be noted that COME TO DADDY is shrewdly cast, very well-acted, and has clever twists, great production […]Read On »

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Movie Review: THE LODGE

THE LODGE movie poster | ©2020 Neon

Rating: R Stars: Riley Keogh, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone Writers: Sergio Casci and Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz Directors: Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz Distributor: Neon Release Date: January 31, 2020 The directing/writing team of Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz (they share script credit here with Sergio Casci) undeniably know their way around horror imagery and atmosphere. Eerie empty hallways, dolls that look too much like people, paintings that seem to sit in silent judgment – THE LODGE has it all. THE LODGE also has a good premise, but by the time what it is becomes […]Read On »

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Movie Review: GRETEL & HANSEL

GRETEL AND HANSEL movie poster | ©2020 Orion Pictures

Rating: PG-13 Stars: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Samuel Leakey, Jessica De Gouw, Charles Babalola Writer: Rob Hayes Director: Osgood Perkins Distributor: Orion Pictures Release Date: January 31, 2020 GRETEL & HANSEL is Exhibit A for the argument that it’s possible to make an excellent movie from source material that everybody already knows, so long as the filmmakers have a strong point of view and actually care what they’re doing. Yes, director Osgood Perkins and screenwriter Rob Hayes are bringing us another version of the Hansel & Gretel story. GRETEL & HANSEL actually feels somewhat spiritually akin to filmmaker Robert Eggers’s […]Read On »

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Movie Review: THE GENTLEMEN

THE GENTLEMEN movie poster | ©2019 STX Films

Rating: R Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Tom Wu, Chidi Ajufo, Eddie Marsan Writer: Guy Ritchie, story by Guy Ritchie and Ivan Atkinson & Marn Davies Director: Guy Ritchie Distributor: STX Films Release Date: January 24, 2020 THE GENTLEMEN boasts a mostly welcome return to early form by filmmaker Guy Ritchie. With THE GENTLEMEN, Ritchie is back in the realm of British crime, which he played with so successfully in his first feature, LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, and just slightly less delightfully in his follow-up SNATCH. Ritchie directed […]Read On »

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Movie Review: THREE CHRISTS

THREE CHRISTS movie poster | ©2020 IFC Films

Rating: R Stars: Richard Gere, Peter Dinklage, Walton Goggins, Bradley Whitford, Charlotte Hope, Kevin Pollak, Julianna Margulies, James Monroe Iglehart, Stephen Root, Jane Alexander Writers: Eric Nazarian & Jon Avnet, based on the book THE THREE CHRISTS OF YPSILANTI by Dr. Milton Rokeach Director: Jon Avnet Distributor: IFC Films Release Date: January 10, 2020 THREE CHRISTS is neither theological nor Biblical. Instead, it’s a (seemingly loosely) fact-based drama set largely in a Michigan medical institution in 1959 and 1960. Director Jon Avnet and his co-screenwriter Eric Nazarian have taken Dr. Milton Rokeach’s nonfiction book THE THREE CHRISTS OF YPSILANTI and […]Read On »

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Year in Review: 10 BEST MOVIES OF 2019

1917 movie poster | ©2019 Universal Pictures

Yours truly doesn’t claim to be the ultimate arbiter of films, just a watcher and chronicler who has opinions. This list, then, is according to those opinions, with no claim to empirical scale. 1917 – This slightly dreamlike World War I drama is crafted so that it appears to take place in a handful of long tracking shots that swirl around the characters. We feel that we are there on the ground with a couple of young, determined English soldiers as they try to prevent an ambush, at the same time that we sometimes think we may be hallucinating. It’s […]Read On »

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Movie Review: CLEMENCY

CLEMENCY movie poster | ©2019 Neon

Rating: R Stars: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Wendell Pierce, Richard Schiff, Michael O’Neill, Vernee Watson, Danielle Brooks Writer: Chinonye Chukwu Director: Chinonye Chukwu Distributor: Neon Release Date: December 27, 2019 CLEMENCY, written and directed by Chinonye Chukwu, is a movie we haven’t exactly ever seen before. There are certainly innumerable character studies, and plenty of movies about death row. But there aren’t many (if any) others from the point of view of the prison warden, and we haven’t met onscreen any wardens like Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard). Bernadine is thorough and dedicated to carrying out her job by the book. […]Read On »

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Movie Review: LITTLE WOMEN

LITTLE WOMEN movie poster | ©2019 Sony Pictures

Rating: PG Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Bob Odenkirk, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Chris Cooper, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell Writer: Greta Gerwig, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott Director: Greta Gerwig Distributor: Sony/Columbia Release Date: December 25, 2019 This reviewer has long known of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel LITTLE WOMEN, and its multiple film, TV and stage adaptations without ever reading/seeing any of them. Therefore, this review of the new iteration, directed by Greta Gerwig from her screenplay, has been written with no basis for comparison. Strictly on its […]Read On »

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