Category: Oscar Contenders

American Factory: The price of globalization

There have been a number of exceptional documentaries released in 2019 covering a range of political, historical and pop culture topics. Perhaps none sits quite on the threshold of where the United States stands currently in an everchanging global economy than the latest Netflix release, “American Factory.” A top non-fiction film and award winner to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this … Read More American Factory: The price of globalization

The Souvenir: Love and other drugs

Joanna Hogg doesn’t make life easy on her audience. Subtlety and layers of hidden context abound in her latest feature, “The Souvenir,” a semi-autobiographical drama she wrote and directed about a young film student’s destructive love affair with an older man set in the 1980s. Audiences are shown bits of Julie and Anthony’s time together in a piecemeal, fragmented way that’s part slice of … Read More The Souvenir: Love and other drugs

The Farewell: The value of a good lie

Many of the best films are personal, whether they be exact recreations of past events in the lives of those making them or simple adaptations of real life. Writer/director Lulu Wang took a unique cultural moment from her own life for her second feature film, “The Farewell.” “Based on an actual lie” as the film’s title card states, “The Farewell” fictionalizes a pivotal moment … Read More The Farewell: The value of a good lie

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Tinseltown fantasy

“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” is everything one might come to expect from a Quentin Tarantino film and yet somehow, it’s also nothing like what one might expect from Quentin Tarantino. Reflective of a man who grew up in the movies engrossed in every aspect of filmmaking, Tarantino’s ninth feature ramps up the dialogue and nonlinear storytelling while tempering down his trademark rampages … Read More Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Tinseltown fantasy

Toy Story 4: To infinity and beyond

Children don’t appreciate kids’ movies. Good writing, top notch animation, quality vocal talent to bring characters to life, these things are unimportant to a child. They just want to be entertained. “Toy Story 4,” the latest feature from Disney-owned Pixar Studios, may not be the most entertaining movie. It’s one heck of a piece of cinema though. After Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest … Read More Toy Story 4: To infinity and beyond

Late Night: The headline of my analysis is complacency

Most moviegoers will see acting legend on the big screen this weekend as the head of an organization protecting Earth from aliens in the blockbuster sequel offshoot “Men In Black: International.” Where they should be her, however, is the underappreciated gem “Late Night,” a dramedy that sees Thompson as a late-night talk show host about to get the boot from a new network CEO … Read More Late Night: The headline of my analysis is complacency

Rocketman: Fantastical voyage

Director Dexter Fletcher’s new film is not a biopic of iconic musical genius Sir Elton John. “Rocketman” captures all the fantasy and majesty of John’s enduring legacy in a unique and magical way, cranking up the tunes in a dream-hazed jukebox portrait that lives and breathes the man’s identity without worrying all too much about historical accuracy. Theatricality and performance reign supreme in a … Read More Rocketman: Fantastical voyage

Us: The terror within

Are we our own worst enemy? Jordan Peele’s latest film, “Us,” contemplates deeply personal, introspective ideas through the lens of horror. The film’s main conceit, an ever precarious internal balance between good and evil, is pushed to the surface quite literally as a family on vacation are confronted by ominous doppelgängers of themselves, the violent opposite of their seemingly normal existence. Peele’s second feature … Read More Us: The terror within

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Easy rider: Academy rewards safe biopic ‘Green Book’ with Best Picture

Newly crowned Academy Award winner for Best Picture “Green Book” is like clanging a cowbell at the end of Shoshtakovich’s seventh. Everyone who doesn’t understand what that means believes it’s perfect. There’s nothing particularly wrong with “Green Book,” a well-acted and competently made film, yet completely ordinary by comparison to other features in the Academy’s Best Picture category. It’s just that a film like … Read More Easy rider: Academy rewards safe biopic ‘Green Book’ with Best Picture

If Beale Street Could Talk: Poetry in motion

Intertitles, text at the opening of the film, explain how for celebrated author James Baldwin, “every black person born in America was born on Beale Street, born in the black neighborhood of some American city.” “Beale Street,” he said, “is our legacy.” Within the first five minutes of director Barry Jenkins’ latest film, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” adapted from Baldwin’s 1974 novel of … Read More If Beale Street Could Talk: Poetry in motion

On The Basis Of Sex: A remarkable life made average

Every year it seems, Hollywood races out historical docudrama meant to be a rallying cry to remind or influence Americans about a current political topic. Last year, Steven Spielberg rushed through a good, not great feature on The Washington Post’s work on the Pentagon Papers as a defense for freedom of the press amid rampant allegations of “fake news.” That film, “The Post,” felt … Read More On The Basis Of Sex: A remarkable life made average

Vice: Second in title, first in command

Three years ago, director Adam McKay broke free from his straight comedy roots with “The Big Short,” a darkly humorous, yet revealing examination of the 2008 U.S. financial crisis. With big banks in the crosshairs, the film was largely an apolitical (or at least bipartisan) thrashing of the series of events that led America to the mortgage crisis and great economic downturn. McKay has … Read More Vice: Second in title, first in command