Category: Movies

2008, Movies

Entre les murs aka The Class (2008, Laurent Cantet)

This is a French version of the “How can I reach these kids?!?!” genre, a genre I really, really dislike. But, I must say, this is a pretty excellent variation in part because it avoids most of the pitfalls of the American style.

2017, Movies

La caméra de Claire (2017, Sang-soo Hong)

This is an extraordinarily slight film rendered sophisticated in the eyes of some by its unconventional narrative structure and the presence of Isabelle Huppert. Ever watch a critically acclaimed film where you wonder if the critics and you watched the same film? Well, it’s one of those.

2019, Movies

The Gentlemen (2019, Guy Ritchie)

Remember when Guy Ritchie was a fresh young director? Some people were (unfairly) calling him an English Tarantino. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels had to be sought out at the video store. Then he married Madonna and made some questionable film choices. Eventually he became one of the numerous indistinguishable blockerbuster filmmakers Hollywood goes …

2019, Movies

Ready or Not (2019, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett)

This is one of those movies where the premise sounds really great – a rich family plays a game to welcome new members of that family, but when that game is Hide and Seek, things turn deadly – but where the execution is just not up to snuff. There are moments that are pretty great, …

2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen. Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 …

2020, Movies

Nuevo orden aka New Order (2020, Michel Franco)

This is a very promising film about class conflict in Mexico that gets really confused and, for me, goes off the rails to the point where I am kind of astounded it won a Grand Jury Prize at a film festival. SPOILERS later in the review.

2020, Movies

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020, Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan)

I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now. This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel …

2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole …

2013, Movies

Man of Steel (2013, Zack Snyder)

I feel like I remember reading that this movie had too much origin story and they weren’t kidding. This film tries to both tell the origin story of Superman and of General Zod, and then pit them against each other. And there is just an absolute ton of stuff about Krypton. Honestly, if feels like …

2020, Movies

Enemies of the State (2020, Sonia Kennebeck)

This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me. Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, …

2019, Movies

Citizen K (2019, Alex Gibney)

This is a mostly excellent documentary about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch turned activist and his battle with Vladimir Putin. It’s particularly notable for two things: its attempts to portray Khodorkovsky as a flawed person, and its relative creativity at telling the story.

2017, Movies

The Dark Tower (2017, Nikolaj Arcel)

I know nothing about the source material but this is one of those films which feels like things went wrong from the very beginning. Apparently a huge part of the problem is that it is a fairly normal length movie adapted from a novel series that is over 4,000 pages long. So no wonder.

2015, Movies

City of Gold (2015, Laura Gabbert)

This is a fascinating and affecting portrait of famous LA food critic Jonathan Gould, someone I had just learned about on the most recent season of Top Chef. (Or, at least, this is when I remember hearing about him for the first time.) Think of it as a New Yorker profile but in a movie.

1988, Movies

Cinema Paradiso (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore)

There is a genre of film that is basically someone remembering their life growing up in a small town. (As opposed to the genre of going home to a small town.) For reasons beyond me, most of the movies I’ve seen in this genre have been Italian -maybe they are better reviewed? – so it’s …

2016, Movies

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016, Matt Tyrnauer)

I always thought Jane Jacobs was from Toronto. Shows you what I know. This is an interesting documentary specifically about the battles between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over roads in New York and more generally about the urban renewal and how to plan cities in general. It’s interesting, informative and thought-provoking. As one of …

1981, Movies

Die Fälschung aka Circle of Deceit (1981, Volker Schlöndorff)

This is an extraordinary movie, a little like a more cynical Killing Fields, or a less plot-driven Quiet American. A German journalist with marital problems is sent to cover the war in Lebanon. The film was shot primarily in Beirut, during the civil war, and the location shooting does a ton of the work.

2006, Movies

Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)

Can you imagine being so angry at a band that you drove over their CDs with a tractor? I can’t imagine Jeff Tweedy doing something that will that would make me so angry I would drive over my Wilco CDs or light them on fire. I just can’t relate to it. At all.

2018, Movies

Ready Player One (2018, Steven Spielberg)

It’s possible that reading bad reviews of this book and this movie prejudiced me ahead of time. But I’m not sure it would have mattered. This is a bad movie. And it’s somewhat shocking that a director as skilled at making popcorn entertainment as Spielberg couldn’t turn it into a passable film.

2018, Movies

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018, Christopher McQuarie)

This is now the sixth Mission: Impossible film and the third in the 2010s reboot. Things are tired: there are too many damn characters and the plot echoes the plots of previous movies (i.e. some element in the US government doesn’t trust/disavows Hunt and the IMF, again). I’m bored and I’m not laughing as much …

2017, Movies

I, Tonya (2017, Craig Gillespie)

This is a very funny faux documentary about Tonya Harding’s skating career and her relationship with her ex-husband. The cast is excellent as is the sense of time and place. And though some minor dramatic license is taken this is entirely by design, which is worth thinking about giving the uproar this film caused.

2019, Movies

Hustlers (2019, Lorene Scafaria)

This is a pretty heavily stylized dramatization of a true story of strippers ripping off rich men in post crash New York City. I somehow never read the infamous article – though I’m going to now – so I can’t comment onto how accurate the depiction is. (Though that is not something I usually care …