MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
MaryAnn Johanson launched her popular and respected FlickFilosopher.com in 1997, making it one of the oldest and longest-running film criticism sites. Her reviews are syndicated across a variety of US alt-weekly newspapers; other credits include Indiewire, PBS's Independent Lens blog, Film Threat, and Film4.com. She is an executive member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (which awards the Webbys), one of only a few film critics among that organization. She regularly appears on the BBC World Service's 'The Arts Hour' as a cultural commentator, and has served as a jury member at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, and Edinburgh Film Festival.
Location: London and New York City
Official Websites: flickfilosopher.com

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
0/5 17% Infinite (2021) Knee-jerk clichés abound in a shameless retread of The Matrix in which many levels of storytelling ineptitude are the only depth on offer. Can Hollywood please stop reincarnating the same old movies? - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2021
1/5 57% The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) As credulous - or con-artist cheaty - as its demon-hunter protagonists, but lacking their charm. Worse, it can't even be bothered to justify and satisfy the procedural approach to its mystery. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2021
5/5 91% A Quiet Place Part II (2021) A marvel of a sequel that smartly avoids any attempt to recapture the original, instead expanding its world in every way possible. Brisk, crisp, efficient, and full of masterful sequences of suspense. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 28, 2021
5/5 100% Bank Job (2021) Brilliantly tantalizing, bursting with creative enthusiasm and bouncy energy, this cheeky work of artistic activism is out to subvert our debt-driven economy. Who says smashing injustice can't be fun? - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 28, 2021
3/5 97% My Octopus Teacher (2020) This otherwise gorgeous nature documentary is marred by the banal self-therapy of its human protagonist... and he is nowhere near as interesting as the manic pixie dream octopus who changes his life. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2021
4.5/5 95% Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (2021) I bawled my eyes out in aching nostalgia with this absolutely delightful dive into the creation of the educational TV show and its carefully crafted chaos that had an outsized impact on Generation X. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 7, 2021
5/5 94% Nomadland (2021) Come on down for a gen-u-ine American dystopia at the crossroads of end-of-empire and late-stage capitalism. Chloé Zhao's outsider's eye is hugely sympathetic but unhindered by knee-jerk patriotism. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted May 6, 2021
4/5 100% A Love Song For Latasha (2019) [A] remarkably accomplished first film by American filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison, is a dreamy, stream-of-consciousness elegy... - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2021
5/5 100% Hunger Ward (2021) [This] unvarnished vérité look at starving Yemeni children and the medics trying to save them best encapsulates the human experience of pain and resilience that all the [Oscar] nominees embody. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2021
5/5 92% Two Distant Strangers (2020) [B]rilliantly unsettling. [This] is not only the most important of the [Oscar] nominees but one of the movies of the year, of any length. Its surprises are more brutal than mere plot twists. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2021
5/5 100% 2021 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Live Action (2021) The brilliantly unsettling 'Two Distant Strangers' is not only the most important of the nominees but one of the movies of the year, of any length. Its surprises are more brutal than mere plot twists. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2021
5/5 100% 2021 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Documentary (2021) 'Hunger Ward,' an unvarnished vérité look at starving Yemeni children and the medics trying to save them, best encapsulates the human experience of pain and resilience that all the nominees embody. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2021
5/5 98% One Night in Miami (2020) An electrifying philosophical fantasia that imagines four towering figures of 1960s America arguing over how to navigate racism as Black men. Enraging, but also thrilling, bursting with cinematic joy. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2021
3/5 100% If Anything Happens I Love You (2020) [The] pain is palpable and authentically depicted, [but] the event behind [the] grief, when it is revealed, feels glib. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 15, 2021
4/5 85% 2021 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animation (2021) I don't see how the astonishing 'Opera,' by Erick Oh, doesn't win the Oscar for Best Animated Short. This is a stupendous achievement, a cartoon clockwork depicting life, the universe, and everything. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 15, 2021
3.5/5 65% The Tunnel (Tunnelen) (2019) As stuffed with soap-opera clichés as its cinematic precursors, but this is nevertheless a solid and diverting rescue procedural... and it's somehow even more shocking for how mundane its disaster is. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2021
1.5/5 79% Synchronic (2020) Just because a tale is science fiction doesn't mean that plausibility and cohesion are not required. Yet we can see the narrative strings pulling along the puppet-characters, and in an ugly direction. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 9, 2021
4/5 98% Shiva Baby (2021) A wonder of emotional claustrophobia and narrative economy. Rachel Sennott is delightfully caustic in this painfully poignant, dryly funny portrait of a deeply awful moment of young adulthood. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 3, 2021
4/5 76% Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) Everything a monster movie needs: Monsters, natch. Cute kids who Know Things. Nerdy-hot scientists. Spectacular sci-fi visions. Humor but no cheese. Warmth but no schmaltz. And a superb green message. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2021
4/5 95% Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) The Disney paradigm is hard at play again here, its familiarity offset by its inspiration in Southeast Asian culture and mythology. Sweepingly told, gorgeously animated, and audaciously optimistic. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2021
4.5/5 98% The Father (2021) A deeply compassionate, deeply unnerving portrait of a man suffering from dementia and losing his grip on reality. The empathy machine of cinema has rarely been put to such uncomfortably intimate use. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2021
4/5 95% Stray (2021) A bittersweet, multilayered vérité portrait of the street dogs of Istanbul. Startlingly immersive, howling with moral questions about what we owe these creatures of intelligence, dignity, and feeling. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2021
1/5 42% Locked Down (2021) Ejiofor and Hathaway are game, but they're grasping for something solid, and don't find it. A deeply unsatisfying novelty artifact of the pandemic that fails to create a necessary sense of transgression. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
4.5/5 91% Mouthpiece (2019) The internal monologue that modern women have with ourselves gets externalized in this audacious and absolutely brilliant dramedy. Poignant, vulnerable, and almost shocking, in the best possible way. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2021
4/5 100% 'Til Kingdom Come (2021) A deep dive into US evangelical Christians teaming up with Israeli charities in an absolutely terrifying unholy alliance that has geopolitical implications that should worry everyone, believer or not. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2021
4.5/5 89% I Blame Society (2020) A vicious, delicious Hollywood sendup, deconstructing - like a wrecking ball deconstructs - indie filmmaking, cinematic violence, and the industry's treatment of women. Write what you know? Hoo boy. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 26, 2021
2.5/5 No Score Yet Starting at Zero: Reimagining Education in America (2020) Is this a documentary about quality day care for the smallest kids, or a slick PowerPoint presentation for policy wonks about the economic need to churn out cooperative corporate cogs from babyhood? - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
3.5/5 40% Irresistible (2020) This zingy satire is so perfectly, beautifully Jon Stewart: big and brash, raging with fury at the state of American politics but also underlain with hope that it might be changed for the better. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 21, 2021
93% Premature (2020) Zora Howard is absolutely extraordinary in this coming-of-age love story, which she also cowrote. - AWFJ Women on Film EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 21, 2021
4.5/5 91% Cowboys (2021) A complete upending of the Western, about not wide open spaces but close-in intimacy, with an unusual female gaze and a hugely provocative dare to gender expectations. Both ironic and transformative. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2021
83% Collapse (2009) There's a horrifying train wreck quality to documentarian Chris Smith's feature-length interview with Michael Ruppert, former LAPD detective, investigative reporter, CIA whistleblower. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2021
93% La Nana (The Maid) (2009) [A] pointed examination of domestic politics; a startling portrait of a life given over to others; a beautifully observed film about the smallest of everyday things that somehow feels huge and noble and universal. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2021
No Score Yet For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009) [W]hat we see here is that film criticism as an intellectual free-for-all is not something new to the Internet era but an inherent - and probably necessary - facet of the craft from the beginning. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2021
4.5 100% Slalom (2021) A fictional version of a story we know in the abstract, told with hushed reserve and brutal unsentimentality. An incisive, nontitillating female gaze on sexual abuse that never sensationalizes horror. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2021
90% Hunger (2008) [P]owerfully cinematic, it veers from nearly wordless stretches of intense imagery so vivid they're surrealistic nightmares come to life to one 20-minute, unbroken dialogue between two men on opposite sides of the same side... - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2021
1.5/5 70% Tenet (2020) Washington and Pattinson have palpable charisma, but this cold puzzle offers no incentive to solve it. Throw in damsel-in-distress crap, and both my geek sensibilities and my feminism are offended. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2021
5/5 98% Assassins (2020) The story of the women duped into *checks notes* killing Kim Jong-un's brother is more bonkers - and sad, and gripping - than we've heard. Utterly fascinating; the stuff of a Hollywood thriller. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2021
3/5 75% #LIKE (2019) Sarah Pirozek weaves an elegant, noirish tragedy on a micro budget, but it's far more effective as a portrait of the miserable discomposure of modern teen life than as a feminist vigilante thriller. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2021
1/5 42% The Exception (Undtagelsen) (2020) Nonsensical Danish thriller concocts absurd connections between the nature of evil and *checks notes* office politics among shallow clichés of women. Preposterously, this is not meant to be satire. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 22, 2021
4.5/5 99% MLK/FBI (2021) Beautiful in its style, enraging in its substance, this skewering of the FBI's surveillance of the civil-rights icon is essential for understanding the near-term roots of white supremacy in America. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 21, 2021
4/5 59% Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) The retro pastel optimism is ironic, but the dark stuff slips by in subtext. This bold, colorful tale, recalling classic superhero films, could be happening in a parallel universe... a much nicer one. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2021
No Score Yet A Woman Like That (2010) Weissbrod blends her own experience as an artist with Gentileschi's ... [V]ery moving and powerfully revealing about what it means to be a woman alive in the world, today and four hundred years ago. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 13, 2021
3.5/5 40% Lupe Under the Sun (Lupe bajo el sol) (2016) What opens as a portrait of an elderly man living a hard life with apparent pride and dignity slowly begins to challenge our perceptions and our sympathy: Is Lupe more than what we see here, or could he be even less? - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2021
1.5/5 91% The Dreamed Ones (2016) [An] odd hybrid of documentary, performance-art piece, and fictional narrative... [T]ediously dull. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 1, 2021
3/5 77% Greenland (2020) A same-old tale of apocalypse knows we've seen this all before, and so centers human drama over disaster porn. It has nothing new to say, but at least it says it well, with notes of horrific grace. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 27, 2020
0/5 9% Songbird (2020) An appalling melange of insipid disaster drama and implausible romance with a bit of dystopian satire thrown in. This is a crass cash-in meant to prey on our pandemic anxieties, not grapple with them. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 23, 2020
4/5 97% Farewell Amor (2020) Achieves that rare cinematic feat of being specific and universal at the same time. A lovely film, plaintive and poignant, with exquisite performances from a beguiling cast, and ultimately hopeful. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2020
96% Ran (1985) Just in time for its 30th anniversary - and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death - comes a beautiful 4K restoration... - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2020
3.5/5 82% Happiest Season (2020) Finds something fresh and gently feminist in the tropes and claptrap of an overbaked genre. Stewart and Davis have terrific chemistry, and the supporting cast of modern legends of funny is to die for. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2020
88% The Boy And The Beast (Bakemono No Ko) (2016) A few instances of gorgeous and magical imagery cannot make up for the lack of genuine emotion or a fresh story. - Flick Filosopher EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2020