Joe Morgenstern

Joe Morgenstern
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
88% Mank (2020) The first thing to note about Mr. Fincher's film is what immediately meets the eye. It is gorgeous -- not just eye candy but, in its radiant black-and-whiteness, graphic caviar. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2020
90% The Climb (2020) It's a beautiful film, a piece of absurdism that goes straight to the heart. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2020
95% The Life Ahead (2020) Instead of diffusing [Sophia Loren's] legendary features it distills her presence into another sort of beauty, stern and stirring, that befits the woman she's playing in this small but surprising film. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2020
22% Dark Phoenix (2019) The spectacle is entertaining, up to a point, but even the digital wizardry wears thin, and Dark Phoenix turns into a standard-brand miasma of explosions, collisions and swirling force fields. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 11, 2020
79% Let Him Go (2020) These are skilled actors, but the writing is so threadbare and the direction is so lacking in nuance that genuine dramatic energy gets lost by the wayside. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2020
83% Proxima (2019) Set in Germany and Russia, this multilingual feature does justice to the technology, yet operates most powerfully in the precincts of two hearts. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2020
96% The Donut King (2020) It's an immigrant-makes-good tale filled with uplift and downfall in equal measure, and there's no glazing over the heartbreak. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 29, 2020
100% City Hall (2020) Constitutes a love letter to civic governance, and the notion of democracy, at a time when public discourse seethes with scorn for urban life. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 29, 2020
45% Meet Joe Black (1998) I've never encountered such dramatic flatulence, never heard so many pregnant silences that don't deliver, never watched so many close-ups that graze on actors' faces until every last trace of expression has been devoured. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2020
49% The Witches (2020) What was weirdly but deliciously scary has grown ponderously out of scale, even for witches at their malign worst. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2020
41% Rebecca (2020) Both Ms. James and Mr. Hammer are skilled performers, as well as attractive ones, and they go through the motions of a passionate love affair, but any passion between them is indicated rather than felt. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2020
90% The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Sorkin's film is sometimes eloquent, and sustained for the most part by his flair for hyperverbal entertainment. Yet it also diminishes its aura of authenticity with dubious inventions, and muddles its impact by taking on more history than it can handle. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2020
56% The Sounding (2020) Ms. Eaton's film can be trying for its messiness, challenging in its allusiveness, or precious in several spasms of ritual jubilation, but it's never less than fascinating, and often beautiful. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2020
99% Totally Under Control (2020) Does it also expand our understanding of what's been happening to us? I think it does. Mr. Gibney and his colleagues provide analysis and context, a world view of a world-shattering event, as well as the clarity of a timeline uninterrupted by commercials. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2020
99% Time (2020) It comes on like a rough-cut mosaic, with disjunctures that are hard to follow for a while, then reveals itself to be an intricately crafted tapestry of the family's upheavals, heroic struggles and hard-won triumphs. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2020
86% On The Rocks (2020) The father-daughter relationship is often witty, a seduction that never ends, and sometimes exquisitely poignant, but both roles are burdened by a script that falls into disquisition on the larger subject of men and women. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2020
100% Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020) As a piece of entertainment, Ms. Johnson's documentary is exuberant, to say the least, and instructive in the bargain. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2020
89% Kajillionaire (2020) Things take a remarkable turn toward the end, but getting there requires patience with the film's insistent style, and with slow-burn, deadpan sequences that qualify as absurd but aren't all that lively. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
91% Enola Holmes (2020) [Brown is] the bright, sustaining spirit of a film that surrounds her with a fine cast and lovely trappings in a pleasantly twisty detective story that's elevated by the exuberance of Enola's detecting. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
64% The Devil All the Time (2020) Mr. Campos and his superb cast confer such authority on the whole thing that there's no choice but to follow the film's three time-hopping, befuddlingly intertwined stories - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 17, 2020
88% The Social Dilemma (2020) What the film tells us doesn't constitute breaking news, but its value lies in pulling together some alarming if abstract concepts into a genuinely scary whole. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 10, 2020
81% I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) I'm Thinking of Ending Things is a special film, and occasionally an exasperating one, but not, in the end, an inaccessible one. It's a work of emotional impressionism with moments of rueful grace and startling images that evoke yearning. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
74% Mulan (2020) It's an efficient retelling of a tale about a young Chinese woman discovering her power -- affecting at times, occasionally quite lovely, but earnest, often clumsy, and notably short on joy. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
92% The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020) I wanted to embrace this one for its bright spirit... Truth be told, though, the film, which Mr. Iannucci directed from a screenplay he wrote with Simon Blackwell, is blissed out on its own cleverness and ultimately exhausting. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
84% Lingua Franca (2020) Ms. Sandoval is a confident storyteller with a fondness for the quirks and surprises of character -- any character who comes into view. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
86% Robin's Wish (2020) Offers a portrait in unfathomable courage. It's a horror story shackled to a hero's journey in which a man with a surpassingly fertile mind feels himself -- his deepest, essential self -- coming inexorably, inexplicably undone. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
100% Coup 53 (2020) As history lessons go, this is a powerful one in which a wealth of interviews and stunning graphics have been pulled together, with extraordinary attention to detail, into an intricate but lucid whole. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 20, 2020
92% Desert One (2020) Desert One, a superb documentary by Barbara Kopple, snatches high drama from the jaws of devastating failure. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 20, 2020
89% Sputnik (2020) Strong performances, strikingly spare production design and somber cinematography convey a sense of something important going on. That's no small achievement in what proves to be a creature feature with flair. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 13, 2020
94% Boys State (2020) Boys State, a hugely entertaining and scarily edifying documentary by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, pulls you in with the power of its premise. Once you know what it's about, you're eager to know what it reveals. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 13, 2020
77% Summerland (2020) Ms. Arterton gets to play a few scenes worthy of her art before the film turns into a milking machine designed to wring feelings from a link between past and present that, once again, amounts to a construct. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2020
92% Rebuilding Paradise (2020) Mr. Howard wants us to know that greater challenges lie ahead... Yet his documentary also dramatizes the resilience and resourcefulness we can bring to bear in meeting them. Calamity, the film says, isn't destiny. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2020
61% Radioactive (2020) No one can say Radioactive takes a narrow, or sanitized, view of its subject, but the fallout from this expansiveness is incoherence. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 23, 2020
91% Father Soldier Son (2020) It's research of a profoundly affecting kind -- a study of love and devotion, and the toll taken by machine-gun bullets on a body, a gallant spirit and a family. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
81% The Painted Bird (2020) I must admit that staying with the film required steady purpose, but the experience, far from being numbing, was spellbinding. By the end there was no distance between me and the boy. I could see him thinking. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
91% Relic (2020) First-time filmmaker or no, Ms. James directs actors expertly, and has a fine cast to work with. What's more -- and it's a lot more -- she and her writing partner, Mr. White, have a gift for resonant ambiguity. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
79% Greyhound (2020) Repetitive though still absorbing dramatically... Parts of the drama play out on its star's face, and they're the best parts, because there's no one better at portraying a good man's self-doubts and a frightened man's courage. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
81% The Old Guard (2020) Through it all Ms. Theron makes the fragrant nonsense believable; more than that, she makes it affecting-the physical combat as well as the drama. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 3, 2020
79% The Audition (Das Vorspiel) (2020) A treat that becomes a chilling enthrallment, one of those closely observed dramas you love -- for its intimacy, calm authority and mystery -- even before you begin to get what it's really about. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2020
40% Irresistible (2020) Mr. Stewart is nobody's bumpkin when it comes to dumb stereotypes. Still, the scheme of his script requires them, and they aren't all that amusing, even in retrospect. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2020
83% Sometimes Always Never (Triple Word Score) (2020) What the film does sustain, and quite remarkably, considering its serious theme, is a delicately comic tone. That's due in large measure to the screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 18, 2020
94% Babyteeth (2020) Moments come along, not just a few but many, that stop your heart, leave you grinning with delight or watching breathlessly. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 18, 2020
74% The King of Staten Island (2020) The content can be raw, sometimes startling, but before and after everything else the film is hilarious, and constitutes a cockeyed pantheon of comic performances. On top of that it is beautiful. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2020
92% Da 5 Bloods (2020) Never has a movie matched its moment more remarkably than Da 5 Bloods, an explosive, eloquent cry of black anguish and anger for this seismic season. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2020
77% Judy & Punch (2020) Sometimes a movie is so blithely misconceived that all you can do is smile, then wonder how it got made. And be pleased it got made. Where's the harm? Talented people put it together and it looks like they had fun in the process. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2020
88% Shirley (2020) Earns an A for ambition but a grade average lowered by prolixity, pomposity, murky complexity and an excess of perversity. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2020
97% Tell Me Who I Am (2019) An intriguing documentary about twin brothers, amnesia and a filmmaker functioning as a therapist of last resort. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2020
87% The Trip to Greece (2020) The joy for me, or the steady-state enjoyment that occasionally rises to joy, is the far-ranging, free-associating quality of Rob's and Steve's riffs, and, most deliciously, their wizardly impressions. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 21, 2020
97% The Painter and the Thief (2020) The beauty of the film lies in the bond she forges with one of the thieves... The relationship between Barbora and Bertil, as she calls him, grows on camera from improbable friendship to spiritual love. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 21, 2020
41% Capone (2020) Mr. Hardy does have a few sensationally lurid moments, but the stuff of high drama isn't there... What a waste, and what a downer for Mr. Trank. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2020