MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
"One of online?s finest" film critics, or so says trade mag </i>Variety, MaryAnn Johanson is a New York City-based freelance writer who loves movies but hates what Hollywood sometimes does to them. She is the webmaster and sole critic on FlickFilosopher.com, founded in 1997 and now one of the most popular movie-related sites on the Internet. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, and she is a founding member of Cinemarati: The Web Alliance for Film Commentary. She is also an award-winning screenwriter. She doesn?t feel it?s necessary to divulge how many cats she lives with, or the state of their mental health.
Favorites:
Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eight Dimension, The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap, Ghostbusters
Critics' Group: Online Film Critics Society
Location: New York City
Official Websites: flickfilosopher.com

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
4/5 44% XY Chelsea (2019) Pensively melancholy, this jagged, humane portrait of US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning is a massive challenge to the notion of soldiering as a good way for a lost young person to find oneself. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
3.5/5 61% Trial by Fire (2019) Earnest, old-fashioned social-justice drama focuses on the death penalty from the 'what if we execute an innocent person?' angle, with hugely engaging performances by Jack O'Connell and Laura Dern. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2019
4/5 100% My Days of Mercy (2017) Beautifully incisive performances by Ellen Page and Kate Mara create a prism through which to examine how the death penalty impacts those far beyond death row. Hardly subtle, and yet still delicate. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2019
5/5 97% Booksmart (2019) A rare treat: a perfect film. Smart, funny, wise, sparkling with wit both visually and in its snappy dialogue. A self-assured directorial debut from Olivia Wilde, confident and effortless. Pure joy. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2019
2/5 57% Aladdin (2019) The romance lacks chemistry, and the villain lacks bite. It seems embarrassed to be a musical, failing to embrace the necessary ineffable daydreaminess. Somehow even more cartoonish as live-action. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2019
4/5 89% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) Modern noir god Keanu Reeves again stalks a fantasy(ish) world of exhausting, inventive violence. But this time, the curtain is drawn back on the sham of seeming orderliness in its world (and ours). - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2019
5/5 98% Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (2019) If you don't get why Beyoncé is worshipped as a goddess, this glorious pop spectacle - part concert film, part myth-in-the-making - will fix that. Enormously entertaining, and absolutely landmark. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
3/5 49% A Dog's Journey (2019) Pure rerun of A Dog's Purpose: Pooch Bailey returns again and again (again) in different bodies to love and serve his humans. A sappy tail, pleasantly daydreamy. I'm not crying you're crying. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
2/5 50% Tolkien (2019) This infuriatingly reductive biopic of the Hobbit author renders him as stolid and dull, and removes all the mystery and the wonder from creative inspiration. Literal-minded and free of magic. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2019
4.5/5 66% Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Designed to cash in on the popular mobile game, this kiddie noir nevertheless sparkles with charming originality. Gentle enough for tykes but with satirical bite for grownups, too. Downright adorable. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 7, 2019
4.5/5 81% Long Shot (2019) House of Cards as a satirical workplace comedy, with just a touch of rom-com thrown in to render it genuinely sweetly sexy. Theron and Rogen share palpable chemistry, both comic and romantic. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
4/5 95% Avengers: Endgame (2019) A miraculous blend of grief and humor. Big, bold, brash, then sneakily meta. I am only starting to get my head around the emotional and creative right-hook of it. A fitting end (for now) to the MCU. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
2/5 48% Bel Canto (2018) This tonal misfire never hits the notes of drama and romance it aims for with its ickily problematic terrorist-hostage relationships. Facile and uncomfortably implausible, emotionally and practically. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2019
2/5 45% William (2019) Plays with its let's-clone-a-Neanderthal plot like it has no idea of the horrors involved and no appreciation of the ethical questions it raises. (Paging Ian Malcolm!) A tremendous missed opportunity. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
2.5/5 24% The Silence (2019) Not a knockoff of that other quiet horror flick, though this familiar monster movie works hard to convince otherwise. But the terrific cast makes it worth a look, at least for Netflix subscribers. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2019
4/5 63% Unicorn Store (2019) More movies like this, please: a piquant mix of whimsy and snark; an insistence that it's not crazy to forge your own oddball path; an embrace of girly uncool. Bring on the weird, difficult women. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2019
1/5 59% Greta (2019) Complete nonsense, and not in a good way, with an enraging side dish of male undercutting of women's friendships. For a movie to be both this ludicrous and this predictable is quite an achievement. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
4/5 97% Hail Satan? (2019) Hilarious, provocative look at the wonderfully profane rebels of the culture wars who, with tongue in cheek but seriously, too, are trolling fundie-Christian America with their delicious blasphemies. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
2.5/5 29% Red Joan (2019) There's a lot of hot-button stuff going on in this A-bomb spy drama - politics, sexism, scientific ethics - but it's all surprisingly inert, given the literal fate-of-the-world stakes. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
4.5/5 92% Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2019) Not only a portrait of the woman who made more than a thousand of the very first films, but a mystery detective story about how the achievements of a trailblazing woman were erased, and found again. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 16, 2019
4/5 100% Nervous Translation (2017) Shireen Seno's portrait of a remarkably imaginative and self-contained child at a specifically 1980s Filipino moment is full of both charming whimsy and a delicately observed, melancholy universality. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 16, 2019
4/5 50% Stuck (2019) Pure gritty urban joy, all marvelous, touching songs about grief, sacrifice, mistrust, misunderstanding, and other intimate perils. An exuberant marvel. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 15, 2019
4.5/5 90% Wild Nights with Emily (2019) Like Drunk History but sober, a lively, arch, dryly comedic corrective to the traditional, heteronormative, patriarchal image of Emily Dickinson. Incredibly audacious and utterly delightful. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
0/5 16% Hellboy (2019) Bounces from one preposterous setpiece to another across an inexcusably flavorless magical, monstrous world, and borderline incoherent as it races through the plots of half a dozen different films. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
2/5 45% Little (2019) Bullying tech CEO is cursed to revert to powerless kid-dom. The limp, desperate comedy that follows never figures out who its audience is and is often unintentionally obnoxious and disturbing. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
3.5/5 83% Amazon Adventure (2017) Stunning photography - perhaps the last time anyone will haul IMAX cameras into the Amazon - a bit of adventure, and a solid, simple, inspirational science lesson. Everything an IMAX doc should be. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2019
1.5/5 89% Missing Link (2019) A quite literally cartoonishly awful protagonist, a plot that makes no sense, lowbrow humor, and terrible gender dynamics add up to an unpleasant retro mess. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 6, 2019
2/5 57% Pet Sematary (2019) A lazy adaptation of the Stephen King novel, manipulatively cheap when it isn't provoking eye-rolls at its genre banalities. Why can't someone find the right role for the charismatic Jason Clarke? - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 3, 2019
2.5/5 90% Shazam! (2019) Nothing matters in this literal adolescent-male power fantasy, a cheesy mishmash of nonsense and low stakes. Anyone who needs at least a bit of meat in their superhero tales will be disappointed. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2019
4.5/5 100% Blowin' Up (2018) A fly-on-the-wall peek into a court in New York City where women work to help other women with realistic solutions to complicated problems. A wonderful ode to creative and compassionate thinking. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 1, 2019
2.5/5 67% The White Crow (2019) Elegant but dull, and so subtle it's downright diffuse. If you don't know much about Rudolf Nureyev going in, you won't know much coming out, either. Weirdly, it doesn't even feature much dancing. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2019
4.5/5 83% The Brink (2019) I feared a portrait of human dumpster fire Steve Bannon would humanize him, but he's beyond that. Can we use this inside look at his political and cultural manipulations to stop his fomenting of hate? - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2019
2/5 47% Dumbo (2019) The most soulless of the live-action Disney remakes yet, weighted down by too many blah characters, too much convoluted plot, unconvincing CGI, and a message that doesn't say what it thinks it does. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2019
2/5 36% Out of Blue (2019) A limp noodle of a cinematic noir that drains Patricia Clarkson of her usual eccentric charisma. And where it aims for intriguingly oblique pseudoscientific philosophizing, it ends up merely obtuse. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
1.5/5 78% The Crossing (Guo chun tian) (2019) This uninvolving coming-of-age crime drama tries to dazzle with visual tricksiness, but it cannot make up for its teen protagonist who is mere metaphorical symbol, and a bystander in her own story. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
5/5 94% Us (2019) An anxious moan, a looming disquiet of a reckoning coming for America. This is horror as weird, funny, damning, and more disconcerting the more you think about it, finding fear right in front of us. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
4.5/5 80% The Fight (2018) Actor Jessica Hynes makes an astonishing directorial debut with this disconcerting little movie about women's everyday anger and resentment, and the absolute battle just to get through the day. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 16, 2019
3/5 54% Five Feet Apart (2019) Beautiful teens fall in love while dying prettily in this year's tragic young romance, one that medical necessity renders refreshingly chaste. Best bit: Star Haley Lu Richardson is genuinely charming. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2019
5/5 78% Captain Marvel (2019) An indie ethos comes to the comic-book movie, upending the origin story and offering a female superhero who throws out the boys' rule book, goes her own way, and stalks among us with easy confidence. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 10, 2019
4/5 No Score Yet Doctor Who: Logopolis (2019) An iconic story from the classic era of the British cult TV favorite comes to US big screens for one night only... and the cleaned-up FX as well as its deceptively simple tale hold up rather well. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2019
2.5/5 78% Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben) (2019) Asghar Farhadi attempts to meld melodramatic mystery with his usual humanistic drama, but leaves little space for either impulse to be satisfied. Disappointing and strangely anticlimactic. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 4, 2019
2/5 28% The Aftermath (2019) Post WWII upheaval is a cheap backdrop to beautiful people getting it on. Characters and situations are undeveloped, and there little genuine romance here, and too much laughable preposterousness. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
0/5 19% Serenity (2019) Accidental hilarity turns ugly in this baffling exercise in genre-hopping that thinks it justifies its Hollywood-typical adolescent-boy attitudes about women, sex, violence, and morality. It does not. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2019
5/5 89% Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) Harrowing and heartbreaking, a nightmare dystopia that could almost be a documentary. This tough but essential film slyly asks us to consider what we owe children, not just our own but the world's. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2019
3.5/5 81% 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Live Action (2019) My pick: Vincent Lambe's controversial and profoundly harrowing 'Detainment,' a dramatization of the real-life police interrogations of the 10-year-old boys who killed a toddler in England in 1993. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2019
5/5 100% 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Documentary (2019) My pick: Marshall Curry's 'A Night at the Garden,' presenting footage from a 1939 'pro-America' rally in New York City, a chilling reminder of the unpleasant cycles of American history. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 19, 2019
3.5/5 91% 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animation (2019) My pick: The animated short of the year surely must be Domee Shi's 'Bao,' a bittersweet reverie on motherhood that features one of the most hilariously shocking moments onscreen this year. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 19, 2019
4/5 92% Fighting with My Family (2019) Genuinely heartwarming, totally cheerworthy, bursting with warm and generous performances, and just a whole damn lotta fun. (And I hate professional wrestling.) Florence Pugh absolutely rocks it. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 19, 2019
2.5/5 91% How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) The gorgeous and once glorious fantasy series comes to a flat conclusion, one in which the stakes feel way lower than they should and the spark that once animated and elevated the story is missing. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
0/5 60% Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Devoid of personality and soul, this hellish Frankenstein monster of processed entertainment product wallows in a stew of borrowed ideas and imagery and does absolutely nothing fresh with them. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2019