Category: Oscar Contenders

Judy: There’s only one true Garland

When the term “Oscar bait” gets thrown around in film criticism, it’s usually in reference to a film like “Judy.” Typically a movie with one central performance based on true events featuring showy, clip-worthy monologues destined for an awards season reel, “Oscar bait” is a film cliché used to describe movies that wouldn’t exist if studios couldn’t buy their way to winning accolades. The … Read More Judy: There’s only one true Garland

Joker: Origins of psychosis and villainy

It can be said that there’s no true originality left in cinema. Everything seems pulled from pieces of movie history, homages or outright rip-offs of films gone by. Audacious and transgressive, Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is clearly influenced by the work of cinematic legend Martin Scorsese, particularly his 1976 classic “Taxi Driver” and the 1983 cult of celebrity dramedy “The King of Comedy.” It also … Read More Joker: Origins of psychosis and villainy

Ad Astra: Hello darkness, my old friend

In space, no one can feel your pain. At least, that’s the conceit of the latest space odyssey to hit the big screen, writer/director James Gray’s “Ad Astra.” Melancholy and malaise abound in a slow-burning film ripe with wistful soliloquies delivered as a character-informing score for Gray’s expressionless short story drawn out over two hours. Brad Pitt stars as Roy McBride, an astronaut tasked … Read More Ad Astra: Hello darkness, my old friend

Hustlers: Economics of the stripper pole

Sometimes a good movie is all about the performance, not the content. Once adrift on an endless cycle of middling romantic comedies and voice-over work, Jennifer Lopez delivers her best work in more than two decades as a stripper looking to swindle rich men at any cost. “Hustlers” provides the talented former Golden Globe nominee her most challenging role in years and is the … Read More Hustlers: Economics of the stripper pole

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