Adam Kempenaar

Adam Kempenaar
Tomatometer-approved critic
Publications: Filmspotting
Location: Chicago, IL

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
4/5 97% Sound of Metal (2020) ... takes a bold approach in terms of its overall artistic design and sound design; you are almost always experiencing the world as Ruben experiences it. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2020
4/5 98% Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) The central conflict, at least between Levee and Ma and her group, is a matter of style ... Wolfe matches his direction to their tempos, and the waiting becomes a dynamic, musical performance of its own. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2020
4/5 83% Mank (2020) Mank himself says it, "You cannot capture a man's entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one." And with humor and wit and sophistication and substance, that's exactly what Mank the movie does. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2020
3.5 98% Daughters of the Dust (1991) Dash's project is similar to Mr. Snead's ... Chronicling the islanders' way of life - their practices, personalities and stories - before it's gone forever. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2020
2.5/5 51% Dune (1984) I don't believe in guilty pleasures or 'so bad they're good' movies, but Dune challenged that philosophy more than any movie I can think of. So bizarre, twisted and perplexing ... that I appreciated its conviction and ambition. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2020
4/5 96% Stranger Than Paradise (1984) And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack / And you may find yourself in another part of the world / And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile / Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2020
3.5/5 88% The Nest (2020) Durkin craftily navigates a few different fronts here ... Coon is a unique talent, giving a unique, powerful performance. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 21, 2020
5/5 96% Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) It's astonishing Chantal Akerman was only 25 when she made this ... Movies are all too often reserved for stories of grand sacrifices - typically, male ones; Jeanne Dielman grants epic status to the everyday sacrifices of women. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2020
3.5/5 96% Feels Good Man (2020) Thorough, well-researched investigation ... but with the humor, playfulness and creativity that matches its material and main character. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
4/5 81% I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) There's something way beyond mere narrator unreliability being suggested here ... It's a discomforting place to be, and effectively so. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
2.5/5 70% Tenet (2020) Tenet is what happens when Nolan forgets Borden's wisdom [from The Prestige]. He's so obsessed with how impressive his 'secret' is that the trick he uses it for is nothing. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
4/5 94% Boys State (2020) The experience is perfectly setting these kids up for what American democracy is -- it's about winning and losing, your party's success... Boys State, as a chronicle of this experience, accurately then also focuses on winning and losing. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
3/5 83% She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Does it amount to more than that experiment -- a cinematic, sensory exercise in portraying existential dread in a heightened way that reflects a universal human experience? I'm not sure it does. But maybe that should be enough. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
3.5/5 92% The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020) ...the actual musicality of Iannucci's staging for the camera... dialogue, blocking, sound, the handheld camera. It's brisk, and the best scenes feel like you could set a metronome to them. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
4/5 84% Daisies (1967) Chytilova overtly says, 'I'm going to use cinema as a weapon against a world that uses these kinds of weapons'. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
3/5 74% The King of Staten Island (2020) ...when you've got a character like [Davidson's] Scott... you can't expect, if Apatow trusts us as viewers, that we're going to get some totally inspirational transformation... - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2020
5/5 98% Jaws (1975) ...more interesting is where the political and personal intersect... which fits nicely with what the movie as a whole does so well, mixing the horror and adventure with the personal. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2020
2.5/5 92% Da 5 Bloods (2020) "...best when Lee's hand is most clearly visible - the fluctuating aspect ratios, the Hanoi Hannah recreation, the Milton Olive lesson." - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2020
3.5/5 97% The Painter and the Thief (2020) Both [Barbora and Karl-Bertil] are open books, and open wounds. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted May 31, 2020
4.5/5 94% Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) "This is important. This means something," is everyman's declaration, a reassuring cry to the cosmos that your life matters, you matter. But it's also the artist's creed... - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2020
4.5/5 92% The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) "Times have changed." It's an elemental Wes Anderson lament... - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2020
1.5/5 79% How to Build a Girl (2020) "Girl" purports to be about the transformative power of words and music - rock and rock criticism, specifically - but doesn't exhibit even a rudimentary interest in either. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2020
3/5 88% Dark Victory (1939) Judith frequently grasps onto objects, her clothes or a chair... Davis has so much energy and life force flowing through her that she has to direct it somewhere. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2020
3.5/5 92% Insomnia (2002) Dormer has a weariness that Pacino wears perfectly, always finding some new depth to his exhaustion and despair without ever being a sleepy presence on screen. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2020
2.5/5 79% True History of the Kelly Gang (2020) That unhinged, hallucinatory spirit is what Kurzel taps into visually... realism clashing with fantasy to the point where the landscape feels more Mordor than the bush outside Melbourne... It's a lot. A little too much for me. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2020
4/5 98% Blow the Man Down (2020) I was in from the opening prelude, a quasi-Greek chorus of fishermen singing an old sea shanty, their great voices mixed with the musicality and rhythms of their tools and work. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2020
5/5 93% Memento (2000) Think of all the ways that a linear film structure stabilizes us - the cause and effect chain of events. But Memento is about a character completely destabilized, so Nolan destabilizes us accordingly in a way maybe no other movie has. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2020
4/5 99% Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) Watching [Autumn's Q&A] unbroken, in real time... rather than seem exploitative or like a cinematic trick, feels like the only empathetic way to show it, to let her have that journey. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2020
4.5/5 95% First Cow (2020) There's an element of parable... Reichardt is critically but not polemically saying something about the nature of capitalism and the so-called American Dream. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2020
3.5/5 92% The Assistant (2020) There's a lot of chaos in The Assistant, except it's all happening behind Julia Garner's eyes. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 14, 2020
5/5 95% Little Women (2019) Gerwig's approach to time... makes the culmination of the story Jo's awakening as a writer - finding her voice. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2019
2/5 52% Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) The dialogue isn't the issue; the acting isn't really the issue; nor is it any single annoying character... There's no sense of wonder. No yearning. No spirit. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2019
2.5/5 82% The Report (2019) For a movie that takes such a clinical and cynical approach... the swelling strings underlining the oratory coming from the floor of the Senate feels false. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2019
4/5 71% The King (2019) The plays are about [Hal's] youth and immaturity - his unreadiness to be king - and Chalamet captures that impetuousness. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2019
4.5/5 94% Marriage Story (2019) ...understands all of the emotional and procedural pitfalls and pain [of divorce] with complexity and clarity. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2019
4.5/5 95% The Irishman (2019) Goodfellas by way of Wild Strawberries... - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2019
2.5/5 90% The Lighthouse (2019) Like Pattinson's Ephraim, The Lighthouse is weird, complex, testing... and soulless. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
4.5/5 98% Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) [The Park's] garage door is the curtain, the grand window looking out from the living room onto the yard is the proscenium, and everything that occurs within its reflection is this symbiotic tragicomedy... - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2019
1.5/5 68% Joker (2019) Never evolves beyond scene after scene of painful slights, degradations, and worse - empty provocations. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2019
4.5/5 93% Being John Malkovich (1999) Kaufman and Jonze steer us through a truly twisted psychological and existential swamp. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 30, 2019
4.5/5 94% Shanghai Express (1932) Peak Dietrich merging with peak von Sternberg... Each artist and their respective styles coming together to create something distinct and dazzling. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2019
3/5 49% Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019) Linklater understands that it's not where you ended up but what brought you there - and what you do when you get there - that really matters. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2019
2.5/5 67% Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) There's a solid 90 minutes that is as sleek and fun as that McLaren Statham speeds through London in... and another 45 that's weighted down with so much 'heart' that it barely moves. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 1, 2019
4/5 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) There's a melancholy that runs deeper, and sadder, than nostalgic longing. After all, how do you truly long for a time and place that was never real to begin with? - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
3/5 96% Booksmart (2019) As good as Feldstein and Dever are as a pair... Booksmart really soars when our heroines reach their destination and, separately, get to spread their wings. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted May 31, 2019
4/5 94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) The MCU has generally successfully balanced planetary and personal stakes. Endgame is a worthy culmination of that storytelling approach. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2019
2.5/5 93% On the Town (1949) It's hard to make a good musical with mediocre songs... One exception... the sweetness and gracefulness [of Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen] in "Main Street." - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 21, 2019
4/5 84% Her Smell (2019) We basically don't get any escape [from Becky Something]. We are either right up in her face, with those close-ups and handheld camera, or they're employing a steadicam that follows her around as she stalks the rooms and corridors backstage. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 21, 2019
4/5 96% Opening Night (1977) Tying back to A Woman Under the Influence... [Cassavetes] explores what happens when women don't play their prescribed roles. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
4/5 93% Us (2019) ...the reason the humor is so effective... is that it's always borne out of family dynamics. - Filmspotting EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019