Thursday, January 31, 2019

Sundance 2019: Michael Jackson and Harvey Weinstein Face the Music

For MEL, I wrote about the eerie similarities between Leaving Neverland and Untouchable. Michael Jackson and Harvey Weinstein were very different monsters ... but their strategies for praying on their victims had disturbing amounts of overlap. My essay is here.

(This great artwork is by MEL's own Sam Dworkin.)

Some Thoughts on 'Conversations With a Killer'

I watched the new Netflix docuseries about Ted Bundy, and I have some thoughts ... about handsome serial killers, The Killing of America and Some Kind of Monster. My piece is up at MEL.

Sundance 2019: 'Them That Follow' Review

Them That Follow embeds us with an extreme Pentecostal community, one that engages in snake-handling. This tense drama is well-acted, but it's also a bit suffocating, as I explain in my Screen International review.

Sundance 2019: 'Official Secrets' Review

Between movies like Spotlight and The Post, we've become accustomed to true-life dramas like Official Secrets. This Gavin Hood film still works pretty darn well, though, starring Keira Knightley as whistleblower trying to keep the U.K. and U.S. from invading Iraq in 2003. You can read my review here.

'Miss Bala' Review

I didn't love the original Miss Bala, but I much prefer it to the remake, which stars Gina Rodriguez as a woman who finds herself in a desperate situation that just keeps getting worse. My review is up at Screen International.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sundance 2019: 'Fighting With My Family' Review

I was pleasantly surprised by Fighting With My Family, not least of which because Florence Pugh is great in it. She's been excellent in her previous work, but she gives a movie-star performance here. My review is up at Screen International.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

'Press Play With Madeleine Brand': Talking About the New Michael Jackson Documentary

I'm still at Sundance, but I got on the phone to talk to the great Madeleine Brand about Leaving Neverland. You can hear our conversation here.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sundance 2019: 'Give Me Liberty' Review

"Like the passengers in the van which is Give Me Liberty’s primary form of transportation, viewers of this compassionate, sometimes disjointed drama need to hang on and go along for the ride, no matter the bumps and unexpected detours that may occur." That's the opening line of my review, which you can read here.

Sundance 2019: 'After the Wedding' Review

Susanne Bier's After the Wedding was Oscar-nominated. Now comes the English-language remake starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. Stick with the original. My review is up at Screen International.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Looking Back at '25th Hour' and 'Galaxy Quest'

I'm at Sundance. Will is home. So for this week's episode, I asked him a little about Serenity. Then we did two Reboot films: 25th Hour and Galaxy Quest. Hope you enjoy.

Sundance 2019: 'Honey Boy' Review

As a Shia LaBeouf fan, I was curious about Honey Boy, which is based on his own contentious relationship with his father. Alas, the movie doesn't quite work.

Sundance 2019: 'To the Stars' Review

Small but lovely, To the Stars was one of the Sundance films that was screened for me in advance of the festival. I'm glad people here in Park City are enjoying it as much as I did. My review is over at Screen International.

'Cold Pursuit' Review

Liam Neeson drives a snowplow in Cold Pursuit, which wants to be a bizarro revenge thriller. It doesn't quite get there. I reviewed the film for Screen International.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Slamdance 2019: 'High Flying Bird' Review

I'm usually down when Steven Soderbergh decides to go low-budget and experimental. But I was disappointed by High Flying Bird. I explain why over at Screen International.

Sundance 2019: 'The Lodge' Review

The Lodge is probably the most divisive film of this year's festival. Put me in the "huge, huge fan" category. Riley Keough is terrific in this deeply unsettling horror movie. My review is up at Screen International.

Sundance 2019: 'Leaving Neverland' Review

Leaving Neverland is four hours. It needs that much time to tell its story, which is devastating. I reviewed the documentary for Screen International.

'The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part' Review

I much preferred the first part. For Screen International, I reviewed The Lego Movie 2.

Sundance 2019: 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' Review

Greetings from Park City. I reviewed the new Ted Bundy biopic, which stars Zac Efron as the serial killer. Extremely Wicked has a clever premise, but only so-so execution. I get into all that here.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Le Tigre - "Get Off the Internet"

This song is getting more and more real with each passing year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Some Thoughts on 'Glass'

Glass really annoyed me, for personal reasons, which I get into over at MEL.

My Interview With Chris Smith, Director of 'Fyre'

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened gives us the blow-by-blow account of what went wrong with 2017's Fyre Festival. For MEL, I spoke with Chris Smith, the director of American Movie and Jim & Andy. We talked about Instagram, millennials and what the media got wrong about the festival debacle. Hope you enjoy.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Glass,' 'Fyre,' Sundance and 'What We Do in the Shadows'

Lots to cover in this week's podcast. We both rip on Glass and praise Fyre. (No, not the Hulu documentary. The other one.) I give a little Sundance preview, and then we look back at What We Do in the Shadows. Hear the whole episode down below.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Nicholas Britell - "Agape"

This Beale Street soundtrack is just an absolute killer.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My LAFCA Awards Presentation for Steven Yeun

On Saturday at the InterContinental in Century City, I was given the enviable task of presenting the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Best Supporting Actor award to Burning's Steven Yeun. (All our winners, and runners-up, are here.) Here's what I said from the stage:
Movies teach us how to spot monsters. They’re the creatures who have horns on their head or hockey masks on their face. But in real life, they’re not so easy to recognize because they look like us. And sometimes they come bearing a smile. Even worse, they may not be monsters at all—it just depends on your perspective.

Ben, the enigmatic playboy of Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, doesn’t enter the story until the half-hour mark, but once he does, he recalibrates this magnificent film’s internal rhythms. Ben doesn’t achieve this with a machete or an evil plan. All he needs is a noncommittal grin and a slightly condescending air. 

Like so much of Burning, Ben is a bundle of mysteries, whether it’s the origins of his wealth or his intentions with Hae-mi, the film’s leading lady. Those mysteries float and linger within the character, and they’re brought to remarkable life by Steven Yeun.

Yeun plays Ben like a disguise, inviting us to project our own feelings and assumptions onto him. Jong-su, the film’s ostensible hero, views Ben as a romantic rival, and there’s something archetypal about Yeun’s portrayal: For many insecure guys, Ben represents that cooler, more confident and sophisticated man that we can’t ever hope to compete with. But is that superiority? Or is there something far more menacing behind his eyes?

Yeun seduces us in this film, refusing to give up his character’s secrets. Ben could be a psychopath or just a guy who likes torching greenhouses. He may be someone who’s never cried—or just the kind of person who says that to try to impress others. He may be Burning’s monster or maybe its most misunderstood character. Ben’s mysteries remain—but what I know for sure is that Steven Yeun is an absolute killer in this incredible film.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating our Best Supporting Actor winner, Mr. Steven Yeun.
To have him and director Lee Chang-dong, whose Burning won Best Foreign-Language Film (alongside Shoplifters), in attendance was a thrill. May that film continue to find its audience.

(Photo by Matt Harbicht.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

Every year, Rolling Stone previews 50 films worth getting excited about for the new year. Always a pleasure to take part in this list. Check out the whole thing here.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'The Upside,' Oscar Nominations and 'Idiocracy'

We're back! On this week's episode, we differ on The Upside, which was a surprise No. 1 hit over the weekend. Then, we make our predictions for the Oscar nominations. And then we confess to each other that we don't really like Idiocracy. Hear the whole thing down below.

My Interview With Robert Englund

The new issue of Revolver is devoted to dreams and nightmares. What a perfect time to speak to Mr. Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. We talked about what keeps him up at night, among other things.

Some Thoughts on 'Sex Education'

This Netflix series got good reviews ... although I'm not sure why. I talk about that over at MEL.

The Worst Sci-Fi Remakes

Egads, these are bad .... and they're over at SyFy.

The History of the Geezer Buddy Comedy

In honor of The Last Laugh, I wrote about Hollywood's fascination with old guys palling around with their old buddies. It's over at MEL.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Snail Mail - "Pristine"

It just feels like
The same party every weekend
Doesn't it? Doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The 2019 Movies That Aren't Based on Anything

Adam Sandler and the Safdies! Brad Pitt and James Gray! Matthew McConaughey and Harmony Korine! New Jordan Peele! Whatever Knives Out is! So much Robert Pattinson! Here's my preview of this year's most intriguing (and completely original) films.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

My Interview With Lucas Hedges

For Screen International, I chatted with the very talented, very young Lucas Hedges. We talked Boy Erased, Ben Is Back and learning how to deal with downtime. (He's as bad with it as I am.) Hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Sharon Van Etten - "Comeback Kid"

"I'm getting Kate Bush/Siouxsie Sioux vibes from this," notes one YouTube commenter. I agree. I've had a hard time connecting with Sharon Van Etten's earlier work, but this one has a little more juice to it.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

The MEL Movie Awards

These are very silly, but I had fun writing them. Hope you enjoy.

The Best Sci-Fi Remakes

Debate Club is back for 2019. Over at SyFy, we sing the praises of some darn good remakes.

Is Netflix Telling the Truth About 'Bird Box' Being a Phenomenon?

I talk about that over at MEL, and I also have thoughts about Susanne Bier's career and why I wouldn't make it too long in a post-apocalyptic thriller.