Have a good weekend. See The Old Man & the Gun if you can.
Friday, September 28, 2018
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Four years ago, I interviewed Jeremy Saulnier just as his breakout film, Blue Ruin, was about to hit theaters. He and I chatted again about his new film, Hold the Dark. I like it, others don't. We talked about that, and several other things, including snow angels. The piece is up at MEL.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Lots to cover in this week's episode. Will and I review (and disagree about) Fahrenheit 11/9 and The Land of Steady Habits. I tell Will about The Sisters Brothers, and he tells me about Life Itself. Then, in our Reboot segment, we look back at Student Bodies, a comedy I can't believe I missed in the early 1980s. The whole thing is down below.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Over at SyFy, we're saluting the best films adapted from TV shows. (How many people are unaware that The Fugitive used to be on television?) Check out the results here.
Saturday, September 22, 2018
The Robert Altman classic hit theaters almost exactly 25 years ago. In honor (dishonor?) of Life Itself, I wrote about why Short Cuts remains the gold standard of movies about how we're all connected. You can read it over at Rolling Stone.
Friday, September 21, 2018
The reasons why this song has been lodged in my head lately are too long to get into. But enjoy.
Thursday, September 20, 2018
It's impossible not to be affected by Assassination Nation, a brazen, angry film that channels the spirit of the #MeToo movement into an action-horror-thriller about some young women in a fight for their lives. Too bad the movie's not better. My review is up at Screen International.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
There were a decent amount of happy discoveries across this year's Toronto Film Festival. Top among them might have been Her Smell, which is now my favorite Alex Ross Perry film. It's a grueling, alienating experience, telling the story of an out-of-control indie rocker (Elisabeth Moss) who puts everyone around her through hell. And, yet, where it goes is deeply moving. It's an imperfect but incredibly rewarding film.
In other words, it's the kind of movie you live for at a festival.
My rankings cover every film I saw that screened in Toronto, including ones I'd seen earlier at Sundance and Cannes. Links lead to individual reviews...
44. A Million Little Pieces
42. Green Book
41. The Predator
40. Boy Erased
39. Fahrenheit 11/9
38. Giant Little Ones
37. The Hummingbird Project
36. A Faithful Man
34. Birds of Passage
29. Everybody Knows
28. White Boy Rick
26. The Image Book
25. The Kindergarten Teacher
23. First Man
22. 3 Faces
21. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
20. The Sisters Brothers
18. The Wild Pear Tree
15. The Old Man & The Gun
14. Monsters and Men
13. Long Day's Journey Into Night
12. 22 July
11. Ash Is Purest White
9. Hold the Dark
8. Her Smell
6. Vox Lux
5. If Beale Street Could Talk
3. Cold War
And now, a few caveats. I didn't include Suspiria or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which both premiered in Venice but skipped Toronto. Also, I couldn't tell you with any certainty where any of the films in my Top 10 will ultimately land. Widows and Burning were practically a coin toss. So too were Cold War and Roma. Was Vox Lux's higher ambitions and shakier execution ultimately better than Olivier Assayas' relatively slight but pretty wonderful Non-Fiction? Have I yet to fully wrap my head around If Beale Street Could Talk? I don't have any answers, just vague guesses.
Is there anything else to add? I wrote a brief thing for MEL that encapsulated my on-the-fly observations about this year's Toronto. And I look forward to catching up with High Life, which (because of a festival schedule error) I had to miss. But I'll get to it ... and, hey, if I had seen High Life, I wouldn't have had time to fit in Her Smell. That's the way it works sometimes.
Monday, September 17, 2018
We're back after a week off. We diss The Predator and stick up for White Boy Rick. I talk a little about the Toronto Film Festival and A Simple Favor. And then we delve into Mandy. The whole episode is down below.
Friday, September 14, 2018
The definition of slight, A Faithful Man is a French comedy-drama about a young man (director Louis Garrel) who is dumped by his girlfriend (Laetitia Casta) after she announces she's pregnant from one of his friends. Years later, though, something happens that brings these characters back into each other's lives. My review is up at Screen International.
It's a dirty little secret of the Toronto Film Festival that the Canadian movies aren't very good. But I was charmed enough by Giant Little Ones, from writer-director Keith Behrman, about a popular teen who starts to question his sexuality. My Screen International review is here.
Here's where I fully acknowledge what a Jesse Eisenberg stan I am. The Oscar-nominated actor does his usual thing in the interestingly esoteric thriller The Hummingbird Project. I came around to enjoying this film's quirkiness, as I explain over at Screen International.
I never get over how weird festivals are. Because they're filled with movies nobody's seen, the range of responses tend to be starker. We're all just responding in unfiltered ways, as opposed to reacting off other people's responses.
I bring this up because I saw Freaks before Toronto. I spoke to no one before writing my pan. Much to my surprise, though, some people really like this mediocre amalgam of genre cliches. Go figure. My review is up at Screen International.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
As a rule, I don't think film critics should tell directors what type of movie they should have made; our job is to evaluate the one they did make. But A Million Little Pieces is an odd little thing. You remember that book, right? Written by James Frey about his harrowing drug addiction and recovery? It was a huge deal? Then it turned out he made a bunch of it up? Well, Sam Taylor-Johnson has adapted the memoir, but without really addressing the controversy. Why tell this story straight? My Screen International review is here.
My understanding is that some people think Jeremy Saulnier has laid an egg with his latest, Hold the Dark. I am not one of those people. I reviewed the defiantly loopy, surreal thriller for Screen International.
Matthew McConaughey and Richie Merritt make for a solid father-and-son duo in White Boy Rick, which opens Friday. I saw the film in Toronto, and my Screen International review is right here.
Mia Hansen-Love has a new film that's gotten almost zero buzz. I find that shocking. Maya isn't one of her best, but it's good. I make the case for this romantic drama over at Screen International.
I think Green Book is going to be a massive hit. The true story about an accomplished black pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his white driver (Viggo Mortensen) tooling around the South in the 1960s is a crowd-pleaser. It's just not that good. My review is up at Screen International.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Nicole Kidman doesn't want you talking about her Destroyer wig. I get it: Her performance in this gritty L.A. noir is more than that. I reviewed the film for Screen International.
The Old Man & the Gun might seem like an odd follow-up to David Lowery's terrific A Ghost Story. But to me, they're both about the same thing: the need to find meaning in one's life. Also, Robert Redford is really good in it. My review is up at Screen International.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
"Melissa McCarthy Gets Serious" is probably going to be the angle that most stories take for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which stars the Oscar-nominated actress as Lee Israel, a biographer who got into forging when her writing career dried up. My review is up at Screen International.
Boy Erased suffers from an excess of good intentions. This story about a young man (Lucas Hedges) shipped off to a gay conversation therapy center has its heart in the right place. But I just don't think the film works. I explain why over at Screen International.
I saw A Simple Favor before Toronto. I barely remember it, so thank goodness I wrote my review while it was still fresh in my mind. I know this: The movie isn't good. You can read my thoughts over at Screen International.
Monday, September 10, 2018
Is it as great as Moonlight? No. But is If Beale Street Could Talk pretty terrific nonetheless? Yes. My review is up at Screen International.
Saturday, September 08, 2018
Blaze (a biopic of country singer Blaze Foley) has collected lots of good festival reviews starting with Sundance. I think it's pretty darn good, but I have some reservations. I talk about all that over at Screen International.
Because I've been running around like a crazy person, I was not aware that the reviews for Donnybrook have been incredibly divisive. Well, put me in the fan column. I dug it quite a lot. My review is up at Screen International.
Friday, September 07, 2018
Greetings from Toronto. First up is my review of the new Michael Moore documentary, which takes aim at Donald Trump and a whole bunch of other things. Check it out over at Screen International.
Thursday, September 06, 2018
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
In the 1960s, young people had Jagger, the Beatles and Dylan: young guys like themselves. In the '90s, it was Nirvana and Pearl Jam. But these days? Rock's biggest acts aren't in their 20s; they're older dudes like the folks in Foo Fighters. That changes a listener's relationship to the music he grows up loving. I wrote about it for MEL.
Paul Greengrass, the man behind United 93 and Captain Phillips, takes on another harrowing true story: the terror attacks that shocked Norway in 2011. In some ways, this story is terribly, awfully familiar. But Greengrass finds new things to say with this subject matter. My review is up at Screen International.
Tuesday, September 04, 2018
Over at MEL, I wrote about....
3) The St. Louis Cardinals
4) Kansas City's mob history
5) The Family Fang
6) All of the above
If you guessed (6), you are correct. My thoughts on the latest season of Ozark can be found right here.
Monday, September 03, 2018
For this week's episode, we talk about the films we're most curious about at this year's Toronto Film Festival. (I'm heading there Wednesday.) Then, in our Reboot segment, we take a look back at The Thin Red Line. Hear the whole thing down below.
Sunday, September 02, 2018
Jacques Audiard makes his first English-language film with The Sisters Brothers, a Western starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as siblings hired to kill people. I think the film maybe moseys a little too much, but it's quite affecting. My review is live at Screen International.
Saturday, September 01, 2018
Dakota Johnson is enigmatic, Tilda Swinton is artsy, Luca Guadagnino is fevered, and the Suspiria remake is half-mad. My review of this flawed but pretty enticing film is up at Screen International.