Unsung Heroes

Bad-rap-movie-review-salima-koroma-awkwafina-dumbfoundead
2016 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
Bad Rap (2016)

The documentary “Bad Rap” encapsulates the travails of Asian-American rappers striving to make their voices heard. Some profiled here are relatively well known, most notably Awkwafina, who has parlayed her viral hit into VH1 punditry and bit movie roles. Another is Dumbfounded, an underground artist who recently garnered mainstream attention spitting verses on #OscarsSoWhite and #WhitewashedOut with the viral track “Safe.” Jin, the first Asian-American rapper to score a major label deal following an impressive freestyle-battle winning streak on BET, gets honorable-mention treatment.

Continue reading "Unsung Heroes" »

Part Company

Reset-movie-review-benjamin-millepied-paris-opera-ballet
Emmanuel Guionet/2016 Tribeca Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
Reset (2017)

The documentary “Reset” recounts Benjamin Millepied’s brief tenure as the director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet. Mr. Millepied rose to fame as a principal at the New York City Ballet, and went on to found the L.A. Dance Project and choreograph Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan.” But he remained an outsider to the Paris Opera Ballet for not having risen within its ranks.

Continue reading "Part Company" »

Suspicious Minds

Elvis-nixon-movie-review-michael-shannon-kevin-spacey
Steve Dietl/Bleecker Street

MOVIE REVIEW
Elvis & Nixon (2016)

Extrapolating entirely from a photo of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley shaking hands in the Oval Office, “Elvis & Nixon” reimagines the events leading up to the curious meeting between the king of rock and roll (Michael Shannon) and the disgraced former president (Kevin Spacey). Suffice it to say, there’s less value to the history lesson on offer here than, say, the one from “Frost/Nixon.”

Continue reading "Suspicious Minds" »

Forlorn This Way

Moonlight-movie-review-alex-hibbert
David Bornfriend/A24

MOVIE REVIEW
Moonlight (2016)

"Moonlight" depicts the coming-of-age of a gay black man in three chapters, each taking its heading from the moniker he goes by during that distinct phase in his life and representing a corresponding metamorphosis.

Continue reading "Forlorn This Way" »

The Son's Gloom

Mia-madre-movie-review-margherita-buy-john-turturro
Alberto Novelli/Alchemy

MOVIE REVIEW
Mia madre (2016)

After a political streak with “The Caiman” and “We Have a Pope,” Nanni Moretti returns to an intimate portrait of the grieving process that recalls his 2001 Cannes winner, “The Son’s Room.” “Mia madre” recounts Italian filmmaker Margherita (Margherita Buy) becoming increasingly preoccupied with her ailing mother, Ada (Giulia Lazzarini), and adolescent daughter, Livia (Beatrice Mancini), while directing a high-profile project with pompous and flamboyant Hollywood hotshot Barry Huggins (John Turturro) attached.

Continue reading "The Son's Gloom" »

Sketches of Pain

Miles-ahead-movie-review-miles-davis-don-cheadle
Brian Douglas/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Miles Ahead (2016)

The Miles Davis biopic “Miles Ahead” seems less a treatise on the jazz trumpter’s enduring artistry and legacy than a showcase for its star-director-co-writer, Don Cheadle.

Continue reading "Sketches of Pain" »

Caesar Salad Days

Hail-caesar-movie-review-josh-brolin
Alison Rosa/Universal Studios

MOVIE REVIEW
Hail, Caesar! (2016)

The Coen brothers’ homage to classical Hollywood, “Hail, Caesar!” stars Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, a studio honcho working around the clock to put out fires such as starlets posing for “French postcards,” unwed mothers, kidnappings and actors who can’t act.

Continue reading "Caesar Salad Days" »

A Lesson in Egg Sucking

Grandma-movie-review-lily-tomlin-julia-garner
Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Grandma (2015)

Stereotypes are inherently unfair, but they have a way of perpetuating themselves because of the few people who fit them to a T. The angry lesbian was only a thing within gay circles until the one-time Queen of Nice, Rosie O’Donnell, stopped being polite and started getting real following her very public coming out. Given the double dose of homophobia and sexism, the anger is certainly justifiable — it is just sometimes misdirected at allies instead of those who deserve it.

“Grandma” is a film about one such angry lesbian: a rude curmudgeon whose poetry anthologies were taught in women’s studies courses. But she’s not your typical man-hater: She's an equal-opportunity hater. In the opening scene, Elle (Lily Tomlin) inexplicably kicks her starry-eyed much-younger lover, Olivia (Judy Greer), to the curb; curtailing their May-December romance after just four measly months.

Continue reading "A Lesson in Egg Sucking" »

Batshit Crazy

Birdman-movie-review-michael-keaton
Atsushi Nishijima/Fox Searchlight Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)

“Birdman” continues Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s shift from gritty realism toward surrealism, first signaled at the end of “Biutiful.” Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor desperate to shed his signature role in an eponymous ’90s Hollywood superhero franchise by writing, directing and starring in a Raymond Carver adaptation on Broadway. What’s surreal is the fact that Riggan does in fact possess Birdman’s superpowers.

Continue reading "Batshit Crazy" »

Under Canvas

Mr-turner-movie-review-timothy-spall
Simon Mein/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Mr. Turner (2014)

A biopic on 19th century British painter J. M. W. Turner, “Mr. Turner” is unequivocally the most visually arresting film to date from Mike Leigh. The co-steward of kitchen-sink British realism here proves beyond doubt that he’s capable of more than just one trick, unlike his Belgian counterparts.

Continue reading "Under Canvas" »

© 2008-2017 Critic's Notebook and its respective authors. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Subscribe to Critic's Notebook | Follow Us on Twitter | Contact Us | Write for Us | Reprints and Permissions