Friday, September 28, 2018

Jackson C. Frank - "Blues Run the Game"

Have a good weekend. See The Old Man & the Gun if you can.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

My Interview With Jeremy Saulnier, Director of 'Hold the Dark'

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.

'The Hate U Give' Review

I'd heard good things about The Hate U Give out of Toronto. I've now seen the movie, and while it has its wobbles, it's darn affecting. My review is up at Screen International.

Monday, September 24, 2018

What's Michael Moore's Best Film?

We answer that question over at Vulture.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Fahrenheit 11/9,' 'The Land of Steady Habits' and 'Student Bodies'

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

Movies Based on TV Shows

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

An Ode to 'Short Cuts'

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

Gladys Knight & the Pips - "Midnight Train to Georgia"

The reasons why this song has been lodged in my head lately are too long to get into. But enjoy.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

'Assassination Nation' Review

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

Paul Simon, New York and the End of a Touring Career

On Saturday, Paul Simon plays his final show ever. For AM New York, I wrote about the man's enduring legacy and why he's the quintessential New York artist. Check it out here.

Is the Predator a Lame Movie Monster?

I say yes. I make the case over at MEL.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Toronto 2018: The Wrap-Up and the Rankings

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
43. Freaks
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
35. Destroyer
34. Birds of Passage
33. Climax
32. Maya
31. Mid90s
30. Colette
29. Everybody Knows
28. White Boy Rick
27. Dogman
26. The Image Book
25. The Kindergarten Teacher 
24. Wildlife
23. First Man
22. 3 Faces
21. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
20. The Sisters Brothers
19. Donnybrook
18. The Wild Pear Tree
17. Capernaum
16. Donbass
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
10. Shoplifters
9. Hold the Dark
8. Her Smell
7. Non-Fiction 
6. Vox Lux
5. If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Roma
3. Cold War
2. Burning
1. Widows

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

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Predators, 'White Boy Rick' and 'Mandy'

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.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger Isn't the Terminator

For SyFy, we looked at Arnold's career away from his most iconic character. It's time for a new Debate Club.

Some Thoughts on 'Norm Macdonald Has a Show'

Over at MEL, I share some thoughts about Norm Macdonald Has a Show. I also talk about Colonel Sanders. It makes sense, I swear.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Toronto 2018: 'A Faithful Man' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'Giant Little Ones' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'The Hummingbird Project' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'Freaks' Review

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.

Del the Funky Homosapien - "Mistadobalina"

This song was featured in a film I saw in Toronto. Now it's stuck in my damn head.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Toronto 2018: 'A Million Little Pieces' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'Hold the Dark' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'White Boy Rick' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'Maya' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'Green Book' Review

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

Toronto 2018: 'Destroyer' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'The Old Man & the Gun' Review

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

Toronto 2018: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Review

"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.

Toronto 2018: 'Boy Erased' Review

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.

'A Simple Favor' Review

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.

Some Thoughts on 'Kidding'

The new Showtime series Kidding is a maddeningly uneven affair. But I'll keep watching because of Jim Carrey. I go into that, and some other things about the show, over at MEL.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Toronto 2018: 'If Beale Street Could Talk' Review

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' Review

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.

Toronto 2018: 'Donnybrook' Review

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

Toronto 2018: 'The Predator' Review

Did you want another Predator? Well, too bad, because you are getting another Predator. For Screen International, I reviewed The Predator.

Toronto 2018: 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Review

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.

Thom Yorke - "Suspirium"

You've already read my Suspiria review. Now, enjoy this song from the soundtrack.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The Many Sides of Dolph Lundgren

For this week's Debate Club, we took a look at Dolph Lundgren's career, which is a very strange one. Check it out over at SyFy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Rock Music's Age Gap

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.

Venice 2018: '22 July' Review

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

Some Thoughts on the Second Season of 'Ozark'

Over at MEL, I wrote about....

1) Denial
2) Snobbery
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

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Previewing Toronto and 'The Thin Red Line'

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

Venice 2018: 'The Sisters Brothers' Review

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

Venice 2018: 'Suspiria' Review

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.