London

Hoot Dreams

Support-the-girls-movie-review-regina-hall-haley-lu-richardson
Magnolia Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
Support the Girls (2018)

Women’s work is never done, they say. Lisa (Regina Hall), the lead character in Andrew Bujalski’s charming “Support the Girls,” knows that better than most. The movie opens with her crying in her car, before another day in the restaurant off a Texas highway that she manages begins.

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Lifting the Iron Curtain

The-white-crow-movie-review-oleg-ivenko-mar-sodupe
Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
The White Crow (2019)

I blame John C. Reilly. “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” had such fun with the clichéd template of the artistic biopic that the genre still hasn’t recovered. Now biopics have to have an angle. For example, the Alberto Giacometti biopic, “Final Portrait,” focused on one specific sculpture of his. “The White Crow” similarly tries to have its cake and eat it: to focus both on the month Rudolf Nureyev spent in Paris before his famous defection in 1961, but also on the development of his talent as a child and as a young man. It doesn't quite succeed, but it’s such a Murderers’ Row of little known international dancing and acting talent that it's well worth seeing regardless.

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Little Trouble in Big China

The-crossing-movie-review-guo-chun-tian-huang-yao
Berlin International Film Festival

MOVIE REVIEW
The Crossing (2019)

Peipei (Huang Yao) turns 16 the day “The Crossing” starts. She lives in Shenzhen, a port city in southern China, but goes to school in Hong Kong. This means morning and night she must cross – by herself - the international border. Her father (Liu Kai Chi) lives in the shipyard where he works, and her mother (Ni Hongjie) is a party girl who only pays attention to her hangovers and her friends. But, in spite of all that, Peipei is a good kid. Since this is the instant she’s old enough, after school she gets a job as a waitress; but when a customer complains that’s the end of that. She’s desperate for independence, not least because her wealthy best friend Jo (Carmen Soup) has been planning for them to take a trip to some hot springs in Japan for some time.

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Getting His Irish Up

Black-47-movie-review-james-frecheville
IFC Films

MOVIE REVIEW
Black ’47 (2018)

“Revenge is a dish best served cold” should have been the tagline for this movie. Instead, we got “In Ireland’s darkest hour, vengeance shines a light.” That doesn’t make much sense, and is pretentious to boot. But it does rather sum up precisely where “Black ’47” doesn’t quite succeed as much as it wanted to, or should have. Of course, the political moment being what it is, that doesn’t much matter.

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Come and Knock on Our Cabin Door

Anchor-and-hope-movie-review-natalia-tena-oona-chaplin-david-verdaguer
Wolfe Video

MOVIE REVIEW
Anchor and Hope (2018)

Eva (Oona Chaplin, a k a the first to die at the Red Wedding of “Game of Thrones”) is English; Kat (Natalia Tena, aka Tonks from the Harry Potters) is Spanish. They are a happy couple living on Kat’s canal boat in east London. We meet them at the funeral for their beloved cat, which takes place right before Kat’s old friend Roger (David Verdaguer) comes from Barcelona, Spain, for a long visit. And bam! Suddenly a pair of firmly committed lesbians decides to embark upon something as heteronormative as motherhood without having a single sober conversation about it. Before we examine what goes wrong with that choice, let’s discuss what goes right.

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Residential Evil

The-night-eats-the-world-movie-review-anders-danielsen-lie
Haut et Court

MOVIE REVIEW
The Night Eats the World (2018)

Based on a novel by Martin Page under the nom de plume Pit Agarmen, “The Night Eats the World” imagines a zombiepocalypse as akin to one hundred days of solitude.

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Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Tully-movie-review-charlize-theron
Focus Features

MOVIE REVIEW
Tully (2018)

Screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman's third collaboration (and their second with an ostensibly unglamorous Charlize Theron), "Tully" continues charting the messy womanhood for which the duo's heroines are always woefully unprepared. Ms. Theron plays Marlo, who has her hands full tending to the screaming fits of three tykes while her genial husband, Drew (Ron Livingston), occupies himself with work and video games. Marlo's enviably well-to-do brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), offers to hire a night nanny to help lighten her load. Though initially too haughty to accept, Marlo soon surrenders to his goodwill. The eponymous nanny, played by Mackenzie Davis, turns out too good to be true.

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Uneasy Rider

Hostiles-movie-review-chrisitian-bale-rosamund-pike
Lorey Sebastian/Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW
Hostiles (2018)

Did the makers of “Hostiles” realize they were creating something that nails the zeitgeist? One hopes so, because as an example of the current reckoning and all the ways in which it is problematic, “Hostiles” is a towering achievement. As a film, it’s fine, but its importance lies in the current moment.

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Big Heat in a Lonely Place

Film-stars-dont-die-in-liverpool-movie-review-annette-bening-jamie-bell
Susie Allnutt/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017)

This understated and affecting film signs off with its subject, golden-age screen star Gloria Grahame (played by Annette Bening), picking up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her part in “The Bad and the Beautiful.” Grahame makes just a brief visit to the stage – appropriate enough as she was only in the film for nine minutes – expresses thanks and slips off stage right. Given that this archive footage is the last thing we see before the credits roll, one could see it as a subliminal message drumming up support amongst Academy voters for Ms. Bening’s brilliant portrayal of the older Grahame. One can hardly begrudge her this shout out. Four nominations and not one golden boy on the shelf, not to mention being cruelly overlooked for her bravura turn in “20th Century Women.”

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Gay to December

Call-me-by-your-name-movie-review-armie-hammer-timothée-chalamet
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom/Sony Pictures Classics

MOVIE REVIEW
Call Me by Your Name (2017)

This is a very good movie designed for people who are helpless against the appeal of Armie Hammer — which, let’s face it, is most of us. Do we have another movie star handsome and suave enough to evoke the Hollywood stars of old? Most movies are built around men either dull to look at or dull to be around, who are not willing to grin and shrug and casually wander where their curiosity leads them so that you’re compelled to follow.

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