Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
57% Aladdin (2019) Director Guy Ritchie's hackwork in this musical adventure film performs sleight of hand, moving so fast that his razzle-dazzle blurs any sense of personal ethnic insight. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
100% Echo In the Canyon (2019) Echo in the Canyon prizes class opportunity and artistic consciousness. It promises that musicians who stay true to their muse don't then have to make exasperating soundbites. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2019
89% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) [Director Chad] Stahelski knows there's pleasure in movie kinetics. The sheer nerve of the relentless fight scenes is hilarious, and their proficiency is cinematically gratifying. Parabellum lifts him to action-movie heights. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
73% Pasolini (2019) This gives Salò, and the figurehead that Ferrara and Dafoe create from Pasolini's artistic courage, great and undeniable significance amid the political hypocrisy and artistic crises of today. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2019
96% The Iron Giant (1999) The Iron Giant should have been immediately recognized as a near-perfect, classical expression of imagination, combining childlike wonder and adult sophistication. - New York Press EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
81% Furious 7 (2015) Furious 7 works on the simplest level: Bad guys die, good guys win. Success. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
50% Tolkien (2019) Giving priority to Peter Jackson's blockbuster doesn't make what Tolkien lived through profound; it distorts historical and cultural reality... All of life is seen as a boyhood tentpole adventure. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
89% Non-Fiction (2019) The film becomes insufferable when Assayas's perspective generates approval rather than criticism... Assayas resists judging his characters and winds up praising them. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2019
94% Shadow (2019) Most remarkably, the film's political conspiracy and moral fascination contain such depth of insight that Shadow achieves what deserves to be called visual Shakespeare. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
97% Apocalypse Now (1979) Although Apocalypse Now is not a great movie, it shows a still-impressive, politically inspired ambition -- a reminder of why film culture matters... Mixing pessimism with astonishment, it expanded cultural unease on a grand 70mm scale. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
93% Being John Malkovich (1999) For two hours, it works like the best music videos: making high-concept philosophies graspable, marvelous and fun. - New York Press EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 30, 2019
95% Avengers: Endgame (2019) Endgame's three-hour length suggests profundity, but each bout of knuckle-busting between the specially gifted vigilantes and the demonic Thanos either panders or, at best, is merely redundant. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2019
67% The White Crow (2019) The film is clear-eyed about immigration because it focuses on a privileged artist's selfishness, the part of his humanity that is inseparable from his ambition and probably inherent to his talent. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
80% Fast Color (2019) By bringing lead singer Poly Styrene's eccentric musical and political wit into Ruth's already mysterious saga, Hart interprets the millennial black girl's plight in her own, fresh way -- as universal. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 22, 2019
29% Red Joan (2019) Red Joan's sentimental exoneration of one woman's treason and sedition fits with how today's media pay tribute to the kaffeeklatsch of political resisters. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
89% Sauvage / Wild (2019) Sauvage/Wild is surprising and compelling for scenes that constantly convince you of Leo's sympathetic humanity, whether he is being childlike, naïve, angry, tender, filthy, or troublesome. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
63% Native Son (2019) The fact that we cannot escape Bigger Thomas's ghost is partly due to Johnson and Park's fashionable decision to subvert Wright's cautionary book and turn out one more urban-tragedy scenario, now carrying the imprimatur of HBO slickness. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 9, 2019
53% The Best of Enemies (2019) Atwater and Ellis's personal development is superficial but at least the movie doesn't drag the actors through trendy cynicism. Bissell and his performers admirably sentimentalize a small but historic accord. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 8, 2019
65% Peterloo (2019) Leigh's nearly great Peterloo succumbs to the derangement syndrome now common in British and American political rhetoric. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
94% Us (2019) Interpreting Peele's silliness doesn't go beyond his trivializing black American deprivation into junk-movie entertainment. And no intelligent moviegoer should be impressed by his tonier affectations, which are mere sketch comedy. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2019
47% Dumbo (2019) Now Dumbo, and the culturally unifying ideas that classic American movies once communicated, no longer take flight. Dumbo and our cultural heritage are forgotten and get chewed up in contemporary cynicism. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2019
73% Dragged Across Concrete (2019) Dragged Across Concrete presents a strangely naturalistic worldview. Instead of imagining how heartless -- or "cool" -- mankind can be, Zahler looks for hidden virtues in each situation, no matter how bizarre. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
78% Captain Marvel (2019) Captain Marvel gives political cartoons a bad name. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2019
94% The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) Despite stretching irrelevant similarities between Welles's sketchbooks and his great films (comparisons that are fun to watch rather than enlightening), Cousins's political focus misses the moral core of Welles's art. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
95% Transit (2019) Petzold's Casablanca-meets-Kafka exercise is a world-weary cliché. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
59% Greta (2019) This isn't the top of Jordan's oeuvre, but sometimes movies gain fascination for the way they absorb and reflect the day's social currents, including our media-inspired anxiety. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) Patronizes European modernity and turns it into soft-core kitsch. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2019
76% Never Look Away (2019) How ironic that [Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's] film about an artist figure uses a storytelling style that sidesteps artistic innovation and never challenges comfortable taste... Never Look Away is, at best, decorative art. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2019
80% Sorry Angel (Plaire, aimer et courir vite) (2019) Sorry Angel continues Chéreau's daring panorama of homosexual humanity with emphasis on moral consciousness, complete with the contradictions of desire and practicality. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
80% Ruben Brandt, Collector (2019) In this parody of the hard-boiled-detective genre, Ruben Brandt, Collector further connects art, film, and animation, mapping out the idea of self-discovery and personal relations through culture. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 14, 2019
90% Legend Of The Demon Cat (Kûkai) (2019) Chen gives a fairy-tale tone to this ghost story yet always goes deeper into the issues of love, death, trust and envy, loyalty and betrayal. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
91% Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) I celebrate the catharsis of Cell Block 99 for dramatizing the personal virtues imperiled by venal officials and partisan social arbiters as well as by fate. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2019
22% Miss Bala (2019) This remake is the sort of claptrap that used to be called a B-movie, or a straight-to-video release, yet its half-seriousness falls just short of nonsense. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
19% Serenity (2019) Serenity dares a moral reckoning worthy of [director Steven] Knight's predecessors... Serenity -- a film about a man chased by his conscience -- is Knight's dream narrative. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2019
88% The Image Book (Le livre d'image) (2019) The Image Book considers nothing less than the irony of classical art in competition with political reality. It's a poetic analysis that achieves its power through metaphor and allusion, linking not-random images to specific mythic resonance. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
38% Glass (2019) In Glass, Shyamalan ups the exploitative ante -- adding social collapse to serial-killer-threat and girl-victim dread. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 22, 2019
86% The Wife (2018) It's a gender-role tantrum rather than an exploration of gender-role consciousness. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2019
97% Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018) [Director RaMell Ross'] aesthetic is strictly observational, like watching animals in their native habitat, the American zoo. Through class difference and intellectual distance, Ross treats the down-home folk like creatures. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
80% At Eternity's Gate (2018) Profound, worthy of the previous Van Gogh salutes by Minnelli, Altman, Pialat, and Kurosawa. Schnabel subtly salutes Van Gogh's perseverance by understanding his need to paint in spite of the cruel, stupid, wicked ignorance of his world. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
79% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) No one asked for Mary Poppins's return to modern consciousness, but her reappearance unmistakably proves that Hollywood Boomers are desperate to justify their own mediocrity through nostalgic sentiment. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2019
65% Aquaman (2018) Aquaman, as directed by James Wan and reconceived by Warners executives chasing after Marvel's jackpot, is all about copycat desperation -- and shrillness. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2019
69% The Mule (2018) Movie classicism -- the practice of traditional craft -- has become rare, and The Mule is the year's best example of modest excellence. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
33% Welcome to Marwen (2018) Modern Hollywood isn't good at exploring individual consciousness, but Zemeckis's usual emphasis on special effects and maudlin emotion might be worse. Augmented Reality keeps replacing Hogancamp's story with distracting technological fluff. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
57% The House That Jack Built (2018) The House That Jack Built isn't entirely likable, but, as civilization crumbles, Von Trier's nervy provocation has got an undeniable point. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2018
89% Museum (Museo) (2018) . Bernal is too old to play ingénue, but his commitment to the film's genuine if sophomoric passion is laudable. The film's deep patriotism is remarkable. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
96% Roma (2018) I can't recall another art movie so openly patronizing toward its subject, yet so self-flattering of its maker's largesse. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) The temerity of retelling a Spider-Man tale by pandering to the nonwhite demographic (and those who flatter themselves for condescending to it) reveals how brazen the media have become. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
99% Amazing Grace (2019) It suggests that black experience is still alien. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2018
69% Beautiful Boy (2018) Beautiful Boy is distracted from the very problem it hopes to expose... [The filmmakers] insist on depicting the contemporary crisis as a sun-dappled disturbance of otherwise swanky American complaisance. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
61% Vox Lux (2018) Vox Lux has moments of startling and expressive individual yearning within the millennium's darkness. - National Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018