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
3.5/4 98% Us (2019) A heart-pounding excursion down horror's darkest corridors with the brilliant Lupita Nyong'o as the driving force. The film moves at such ferocity that you won't be able to catch your breath until the credits roll. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
3.5/4 78% Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben) (2019) Asghar Farhadi once again displays his knack for capturing the human condition. Superb performances especially Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darín. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
3.5/4 100% Babylon (2019) An entertaining and culturally significant film that exposes much more than the world of reggae dancehall. It's a fitting companion piece to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
3/4 42% The Wedding Guest (2019) Despite the film's rom-com sounding title, this is a straightforward thriller that holds the audience in suspense by keeping them in the dark. Patel and Apte are on the same wavelength, acting in harmony. Satisfying but not filling. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
4/4 81% Boy Erased (2018) Joel Edgerton tackles gay conversion therapy with the powerful film. One of the best movies you'll see this year. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
3.5/4 73% Destroyer (2018) Karyn Kusama's gritty neo-noir crime drama features shades of Kathryn Bigelow and Michael Mann as the City of Angels becomes the backdrop for the riveting crime drama. Nicole Kidman is terrific. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
2.5/4 40% Donnybrook (2019) The rural and sometimes riveting thriller implodes as predictability takes over. It resembles a film that would have been released by Golan-Globus under Cannon Films in the late 80s/early 90s. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
3.5/4 89% To Dust (2019) Ventures into macabre territory as it boldly crosses that imaginary line in the sand daring it to go one step further, and it does often with uproarious results. Röhrig and Broderick are hilarious. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
4/4 94% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) Lightning strikes twice for Embrace of the Serpent filmmakers Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. Their sophomore epic will leave you breathless. A masterpiece. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2019
3.5/4 85% Loving Vincent (2017) The hand-painted tribute to Vincent van Gogh is a stunning achievement! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 9, 2019
3/4 No Score Yet Tejano (2018) The story of a South Texas ranch hand who gets mixed up with a Mexican cartel moves with pulse-pounding velocity and features top performances from a talented cast of actors with Texas roots. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 7, 2019
3/4 54% Greta (2019) It's fun watching French actress Isabelle Huppert go off the deep end in Neil Jordan's dark thriller. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 7, 2019
3.5/4 79% Captain Marvel (2019) Plenty of humor and action make this an immensely entertaining thrill ride. Captain Marvel is a blast. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 7, 2019
3/4 70% Lords of Chaos (2019) Jonas Åkerlund's unsettling biopic features fine performances by Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen. The depths of humanity are explored as repulsive behavior and brutal violence saturate the rock fable. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 18, 2019
3.5/4 88% Arctic (2019) The spellbound thriller about a downed pilot trying to survive in the frozen tundra keeps the audience captivated the way Tom Hanks did in Cast Away and Robert Redford in All Is Lost. Mads Mikkelsen is first rate. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
3/4 44% The Prodigy (2019) The creepy film isn't the first to put a twist in the possession genre but the performances by Jackson Robert Scott and Taylor Schilling elevate the psychological thriller. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019
3/4 70% Cold Pursuit (2019) Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland's remake is a fun ride that blends dark humor with a Tarantino body count. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2019
2.5/4 23% Miss Bala (2019) Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke's remake is a diluted version of the 2012 Mexican original. Heavy on the eye candy with less substance. Gina Rodriguez goes from Miss Baller to Miss Bala in the implausible thriller. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 2, 2019
3/4 64% Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Dan Gilroy reunites with Jake Gyllenhaal for the horror-comedy that is reminiscent of Rod Serling's late 60s-early 70s horror series "Night Gallery." Satire with plenty of blood and laughs. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2019
3.5/4 97% The Heiresses (Las Herederas) (2019) Led by a gorgeous performance from Ana Brun, Marcelo Martinessi's debut is the perfect showcase for female actors with a poignant storyline focused on mature women within the LGBT community. Beautiful and poignant. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 26, 2019
1/4 19% Serenity (2019) You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish even when Matthew McConaughey is steering the boat in this M. Night Shyamalan wannabe that feels like one of the actor's Lincoln commercials. Ambitious and commendable but poorly executed. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 26, 2019
4/4 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) Pawel Pawlikowski's timeless love story seduces the viewer with the perfect blend of romance, tragedy, and music. Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot are fantastic. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2019
4/4 96% Ida (2014) Polish-born director Pawel Pawlikowski's film is a beautiful and remarkable piece of cinema which features a superb performance by newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska in the title role. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 19, 2019
2.5/4 37% Glass (2019) I'm glad I had the chance to jump back into the comic-book-fueled world of Mr. Glass and James McAvoy proves to be the film's MVP but Shyamalan takes too long to get to the film's climax that is ultimately a letdown. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
3/4 63% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Josie Rourke's royal smackdown isn't the first biopic to take liberties with history nor will it be the last. Based on Tudor historian John Guy's 2004 novel, the biopic comes at you from a fresh perspective with solid performances by Ronan and Robbie. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2019
3.5/4 78% Mid90s (2018) Despite the film's harshness, there are quite a few beautiful moments in Jonah Hill's directorial debut. The coming-of-age drama features spot-on performances by the cast and a storyline that provides the audience with insight to these vivid characters. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 9, 2019
3.5/4 73% On the Basis of Sex (2019) At times, the film feels like a Lifetime movie, but the entertainment factor is high. Felicity Jones is superb as true to life superhero Ruth Bader Ginsburg. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 9, 2019
3/4 100% Communion (Komunia) (2019) Anna Zamecka's documentary enthralls the viewer primarily because we care about this family. We root for the day that Ola can live a worry-free life and just be a teenager. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 6, 2019
4/4 66% Suspiria (2018) Blood and gore flow freely especially in the finale which will go down as one of the most unforgettable moments of any horror film in a macabre dance of the flesh that resembles a collaboration between Andy Warhol and David Cronenberg. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2019
4/4 95% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) Barry Jenkins' bittersweet story about young Harlem couple Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) basks in a passionate glow of love accented by Nicholas Britell's evocative score. One of 2018's best films. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 30, 2018
3.5/4 66% Vice (2018) Adam McKay blends farce with facts for the biting comedy that delivers cinema's greatest villain since Darth Vader. Christian Bale and Amy Adams are terrific. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 26, 2018
4/4 99% Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) Hirokazu Kore-eda's new film is the sleeper hit of 2018. The Japanese filmmaker has become a master of humanity, his films are true reflections of how we as flawed individuals are embraced by those closest to us, family. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 23, 2018
4/4 79% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Emily Blunt is magical as the umbrella-toting nanny in Rob Marshall's sequel to the 1964 classic. Catchy songs, beautiful 2D animation, and the golden voice of Lin-Manuel Miranda make for great entertainment. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
3/4 62% Bird Box (2018) Sandra Bullock leads a strong cast in the end of the world thriller that remains faithful to Josh Malerman's novel. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
3.5/4 59% Vox Lux (2018) Vox Lux is visually striking, a bit intimidating and unduly fascinating. The film arouses the senses and confirms Corbet as one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
4/4 96% Roma (2018) Alfonso Cuarón's masterpiece oscillates between the intimacy of the director's Y Tu Mamá También and the grandeur of a Cecil B. Demille epic. It's an exquisite work of art filled with compassion and beauty - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
4/4 93% The Favourite (2018) Devilish fun as Colman, Stone, and Weisz take the British monarchy for a rollicking jaunt. One of 2018's best films. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2018
3.5/4 78% Green Book (2018) Green Book is the one film you'll be cheering for at this year's Oscars. Mortensen and Ali are a terrific team. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2018
4/4 98% Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Melissa McCarthy gives the performance of her career and Richard E. Grant is terrific. Director Marielle Heller has a keen eye for detail from the bookshops to the bars, the film is bathed in authenticity. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
4/4 79% At Eternity's Gate (2018) Dafoe delivers a masterful performance while Schnabel creates the most revealing portrait of Van Gogh placing the audience in the troubled mind of the accomplished painter. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 24, 2018
3.5/4 68% Beautiful Boy (2018) Timothée Chalamet delivers a superb performance. The film covers territory usually skipped in most drug addiction films primarily the family's struggle to help. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
3.5/4 59% The Front Runner (2018) Hugh Jackman is first rate as senator Gary Hart in Reitman's fast paced film which perfectly blends comedy and drama. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
3.5/4 97% Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018) Ross' eye as a photographer results in amazing cinematography. The unorthodox documentary represents cinema in its purest form. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
1/4 15% Robin Hood (2018) The dialogue is ridiculous and the action dull. Robin Hood is now stealing from anyone who buys a ticket, rich or poor. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
3.5/4 91% Widows (2018) The female-driven thriller features powerful performances by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo. Steve McQueen delivers everything that was missing from the fluff piece Ocean's 8 primarily danger and suspense. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2018
3.5/4 91% The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) Tragedy is at the forefront of the Coen Brothers western anthology. The wildly entertaining yarn incorporates many of the Coen's staples, quirky characters, witty dialogue, and plenty of misfortune. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2018
4/4 94% Wildlife (2018) Carey Mulligan delivers another outstanding performance in Paul Dano's directorial debut. "Wildlife" is a must-see! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
2.5/4 38% Viper Club (2018) The film features solid performances by Sarandon, Matt Bomer, and Edie Falco but stops just short of making an emotional connection with the audience. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2018
3.5/4 89% Bodied (2018) The aggressive and uproarious film packs a wallop as the viewer is left incapacitated by the lyrical poetry in full flow. Khan's film is refreshing, fearless, and intensified. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 4, 2018
3/4 61% Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Judging by Anthony McCarten's screenplay, the biopic falls in the "fantasy" category. Facts are sacrificed for entertainment in Bryan Singer's crowd pleaser which features an electrifying Rami Malek. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 3, 2018