Joe Friar

Joe Friar
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Apart from the mainstream releases, I seek out indie and foreign films to write about. I am a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association-Los Angeles (BFCA) and the Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS). I review films in print for The Victoria Advocate newspaper for my column Flix which covers Houston and Austin releases. I also review films for radio stations KVIC and KBAR.
Publications: The Victoria Advocate

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3/4 79% VHYes (2020) A hilarious spoof of '80s late-night television that would fit right at home on Adult Swim. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2020
3/4 100% Midnight Family (2019) Ambulance crews become ambulance chasers as the documentary begins to resemble Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler. A fascinating nocturnal thrill ride. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2020
3.5/4 83% Just Mercy (2020) Fantastic performances from Jordan and Foxx while shedding light on the trailblazing work accomplished by Stevenson, Ansley and the Equal Justice Initiative. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2020
4/4 89% 1917 (2020) Sam Mendes' thrilling WWI drama is an immersive experience leaving the viewer breathless. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 10, 2020
3.5/4 93% Clemency (2019) Empathy is at the heart of Chinonye Chukwu's Sundance winner with a superb Alfre Woodard who can command a scene by just using her facial expressions. Riveting. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 29, 2019
4/4 91% Uncut Gems (2019) Brimming with unbridled energy, the Safdie brothers wield the pulse of New York City and use it to drive their unorthodox method of storytelling. Sandler is out of his element and phenomenal. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2019
4/4 95% Little Women (2019) Greta Gerwig's version was conceived out of affection for Louisa May Alcott's novel. It's contemporary with a message of female empowerment and the cast is terrific especially Ronan and Pugh. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2019
3/4 52% Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) A gracious exit to the sags George Lucas unveiled 42 years ago. The nostalgic and sentimental film isn't concerned with breaking new ground as it is with bidding farewell. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2019
3.5/4 86% Synonyms (Synonymes) (2019) Nadav Lapid's unpredictable third feature recalls the Portland Trilogy by Gus Van Sant as the film thrives on isolated characters, unscrupulous situations, and the temerity of youth. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2019
3.5/4 74% Richard Jewell (2019) Eastwood is at his best with another compelling story about a real-life American hero. Hauser excels as the film's unlikely leading man while Bates and Rockwell deliver strong supporting performances. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2019
3.5/4 91% Dark Waters (2019) Todd Haynes opts for a good old-fashioned corporate thriller with investigative goto actor Mark Ruffalo delivering another solid performance. Riveting. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2019
4/4 95% Marriage Story (2019) Devastating to watch as Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver tear each other down as Baumbach revisits divorce a second time. Unforgettable performances. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2019
3.5/4 100% Mickey and the Bear (2019) Rich in authenticity with superb performances by Camila Morrone and James Badge Dale. One of the best Indie films of 2019. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 24, 2019
3.5/4 100% Depeche Mode: Spirits in the Forest (2019) Longtime collaborator Anton Corbijn brings six fans together to share their personal stories in the documentary that transcends the concert film genre. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2019
4/4 93% Honey Boy (2019) Shia LaBeouf's semi-autobiographical film is superb as the actor bares his soul. One of the best films of 2019. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2019
3/4 81% The Report (2019) There is clearly a lack of tension in The Report but the subject matter and the performances by the A-list cast give the film a much-needed boost. Driver and Bening are terrific. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2019
4/4 91% Ernie & Joe (2019) In Jennifer McShane's third feature, she turns her focus to the battle against mental health as two SAPD officers, Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro, incorporate new methods when responding to calls dealing with the mentally ill. Captivating and inspiring. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2019
3.5/4 44% After the Wedding (2019) The polished version of Susanne Bier's 2006 film resolves itself too easily but the performances by Williams and Moore shouldn't be missed. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3/4 95% The Deeper You Dig (2019) The beautifully shot slow-burner keeps the audience engaged with good performances by the Adams family, especially Toby Poser as the concerned mother and former medium. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3.5/4 96% First Love (Hatsukoi) (2019) A first-rate cast, dynamic action, slapstick comedy and a cool animated sequence. Think Kill Bill meets Baby Driver as this carnage of chaos proves to be wildly entertaining. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3/4 78% Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) The tension builds, the special effects are gruesome, and most of all the film is fun for both young and old moviegoers. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3.5/4 91% The Lighthouse (2019) By the time we come to the end of this 110-minute journey, like the film's protagonists, the audience feels like it has ascended from some sort of cinema hell. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3/4 70% The Kill Team (2019) Skarsgard excels in the film based on a true story and the 2014 Krauss documentary. Gripping. A must-see. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
4/4 80% Jojo Rabbit (2019) It won't connect with everyone. But if it does, the film by Taika Waititi will take you on a rollercoaster ride filled with emotional ups and downs. One of 2019's best films. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3.5/4 84% Downton Abbey (2019) Newbies will still be able to enjoy the lighthearted fare however, those familiar with the series created by Julian Fellowes will benefit the most. A real treat for fans. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
2.5 61% Crown Vic (2019) A good film that unfortunately doesn't stand out from the crop. The performances by Thomas Jane and Luke Kleintank are solid and there are a few moments of real inspiration. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3.5/4 71% The King (2019) David Michôd delivers a vivacious spin on Shakespeare led by a mature performance by Chalamet and the reputable Joel Edgerton who once again is superb. Poetry is out, chutzpa is in. Long live The King. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2019
3.5/4 73% Harriet (2019) Cynthia Erivo's spirited performance as the heroic Harriet Tubman is the highlight of the first biopic about the American abolitionist, suffragist, political activist, and humanitarian. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2019
4/4 99% Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) The con is on in this masterful tale from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho. Filled with twists and turns executed to a tee by the superb cast. Bong and co-writer Han Jin-won easily deliver the best original screenplay of the year. Flawless. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 28, 2019
4/4 100% Gift (2019) McKenna captures the spirit of Hyde's classic novel as the film becomes a meditative piece and hopefully a lesson for all of us in the importance of giving back. Inspiring! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 24, 2019
4/4 97% Dolemite Is My Name (2019) Eddie Murphy as blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore will go down as one of the actor-comedian's greatest performances. One of 2019's best films! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 24, 2019
3/4 83% Before You Know It (2019) Good performances, whimsical dialogue, and funny moments make this a memorable visit to the cinema. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2019
4/4 94% Western Stars (2019) Even if you're not a diehard Springsteen fan, it's hard to resist the country-tinged songs and ballads behind the 83-minute performance film. Pure magic. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2019
4/4 96% By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu) (2019) Powerful. François Ozon's film evokes Spotlight while French actors Denis Ménochet, Swann Arlaud, and Melvil Poupaud deliver some of the best performances you'll see in any film this year. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2019
4/4 97% Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) One of the best pictures of 2019. Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, and Leonardo Sbaraglia that shine brightest in Almodóvar's 21st full-length feature. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 13, 2019
3/4 86% Ms. Purple (2019) Chon has become an important voice for the Asian-American experience which remains at the forefront of the vivid stories shared onscreen, their impact lingering long after leaving the theater. Subtle and mesmerizing. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2019
4/4 92% Jim Allison: Breakthrough (2019) A fascinating look at MD Anderson immunologist and Nobel laureate's fight against cancer. Significant doc with enough Texas levity to make this a real treat. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2019
4/4 69% Joker (2019) The gritty look and dark tone of Todd Phillips' origins story is exactly the treatment needed for the sinister supervillain. With Scorsese overtones and Phoenix in one of his best performances classify this under Masterpiece. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 5, 2019
3.5/4 82% Judy (2019) Oscar-winner Renée Zellweger is breathtaking as iconic Hollywood movie star Judy Garland. The performance overshadows the film which focuses on the period three decades after The Wizard of Oz and six months before her tragic death. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 25, 2019
3.5/4 84% Villains (2019) The home invasion dark comedy is wildly entertaining with first-rate performances especially Jeffrey Donovan who steals the show. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 22, 2019
3.5/4 87% Hustlers (2019) Jennifer Lopez delivers her best performance since Out of Sight while an even better Constance Wu makes this brazen crime caper a must-see. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 12, 2019
3/4 87% Depraved (2019) Fessenden gives us one of the most vulnerable manifestations of Frankenstein leaving the depravity to mankind which is far more frightening than any monster ever created. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2019
4/4 88% Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) The significant contribution Linda Ronstadt made to the music industry can't be measured in a 95-minute documentary. She is the true definition of a superstar and an artist who refused to be labeled. A fitting tribute to a multicultural icon. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 10, 2019
3/4 61% Satanic Panic (2019) The Real Housewives summon demons in the entertaining and gory horror-comedy that feels like a throwback from the 80s. Bloody fun! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 7, 2019
2.5/4 63% It Chapter Two (2019) Bill Hader gets MVP and the special effects are first-rate. But in the end, the film is an extravagant display of excess that gets predictable and convoluted. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2019
4/4 97% Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven) (2019) Elements of horror and fantasy permeate the gritty drama that leaves the audience spellbound. This is powerful filmmaking at its best. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 5, 2019
3.5/4 88% Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) The funny and savage comedy is led by a brilliant Jillian Bell in a career-changing performance! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2019
3/4 91% Give Me Liberty (2019) A funny and charming indie with good performances by the non-professional cast. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 29, 2019
3.5/4 94% Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019) An entertaining tribute to Texas political journalist Molly Ivins who we could use a dose of right about now. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2019
3.5/4 49% Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019) Linklater's polished interpretation of Semple's novel flourishes under Cate Blanchett's performance and newcomer Emma Nelson. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2019