Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
A- 98% Toy Story 4 (2019) It doesn't put you through the emotional wringer the way its predecessor did, but it's consistently inventive, funny, witty, and heartfelt. In other words, it's a lot better than it has any right to be. It's more than good enough to justify its existence. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 21, 2019
B+ 68% The Spy Behind Home Plate (2019) Seeing the story played out with reams of interviews and archival footage is so much better. It makes the unbelievable believable. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
B+ 82% American Woman (2019) The role of Deb is not written with any great depth, but Miller gets into the character's psychological complications in a way that almost compensates for the lack - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
B- 79% Late Night (2019) It's a good thing that Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson are the stars of the mediocre Late Night, written by Kaling and directed by Nisha Ganatra, because without them, it would resemble nothing much more than a Devil Wears Prada knockoff. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 7, 2019
4/5 88% Pavarotti (2019) Although Howard doesn't go in for a lot of musicological analysis of Pavarotti's genius, which would have enriched the presentation, he compensates by giving us an ample dose of the singing. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
B+ 96% Echo In the Canyon (2019) What makes this more than just a movie for fans of that music -- and what music! -- is that it delves into what made that era such a creative cauldron, comparable in some ways, as the film points out, to Paris in the 1920s and '30s. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2019
C+ 89% Rocketman (2019) Starring the overly strenuous Taron Egerton, Rocketman is a campy, overblown, self-glorifying fantasia. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2019
B+ 89% Walking on Water (2019) It's still possible to gasp at what is shown us in Walking on Water, if only from a logistical standpoint. The massive planning required for such a project is revealed in mind-numbing detail. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 57% Aladdin (2019) Smith understandably didn't want to compete with Williams, but as the big, blue, top-knotted Genie, he's uncharacteristically bland. Even the magic carpet in this movie looks bummed out. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
B+ 77% Photograph (2019) It's a movie that takes its own sweet time getting to a conclusion that will surprise no one, but it has a stillness, an evocativeness, that expresses far more than its rather paltry plot. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2019
B+ 71% All Is True (2019) Given the impossibility of crafting William Shakespeare into a believable human being, the film is an honorable try. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
C- 81% Long Shot (2019) There's something obnoxious about the way director Jonathan Levine and his screenwriters, Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, play these two polar opposites against each other. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
B 66% The White Crow (2019) The White Crow fitfully does justice to Nureyev's overwhelming desire to be an artist, and that's not a negligible achievement. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 29, 2019
B 88% Satan & Adam (2019) What it lacks in coherence is remedied by its verve. Ultimately it's an upbeat movie about life's downbeats. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
B 94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) Despite all the whiz-bang CGI effects, some more special than others, the moments I most appreciated in Endgame were the small-scale comic touches... Best of all is Robert Downey Jr. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
B+ 97% Working Woman (2019) This is one of the few films about sexual harassment in the workplace that has the feel of authenticity. With quiet, incremental force, it brings home the helplessness and terrors of being trapped. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2019
A- 93% Diane (2019) It's a rarity, and a real pleasure, to find a movie that presents without condescension rural working-class people, especially women. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 8, 2019
A 99% Amazing Grace (2019) Amazing Grace, featuring Aretha Franklin at the height of her powers, is one of the greatest concert documentaries ever made. It reaches so far into transcendence that watching it becomes an almost ecstatic experience. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
B+ 93% The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) A digressive, idiosyncratic, and altogether fascinating documentary by Mark Cousins... - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2019
C 47% Dumbo (2019) I was expecting a surplus of cute close-ups, but Burton does surprisingly little to win us over. He's never been big on treacle, but a bit more warmth in this chilly movie, which barely follows the outline of the 1941 original, would have gone a long way. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2019
B 94% Us (2019) Ambition in the horror genre can be a good thing, but the overreach in this movie detracts from both the horror and the ambition. Having said that, Peele shows a marked advance in filmmaking skills here and, in her dual role, Nyong'o is ferociously good. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 25, 2019
B+ 57% The Highwaymen (2019) Movies about violence rarely deal with its psychological consequences. Just pull the trigger and move on. In "The Highwaymen," the filmmakers give violence its due. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
B+ 94% The Mustang (2019) The director has a good eye for semidocumentary detail, and the performances... all have the sharp tang of authenticity. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
A- 98% Ash Is Purest White (2019) This is not the sort of movie that offers up immediate gratifications, though there are some of those. Instead, it moves along with a steady grace. Its ruminative power creeps up on you. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
A- 95% Transit (2019) Christian Petzold's "Transit" is a fascinating paradox: an anti-romantic romance. It may have the surface trappings of a "Casablanca," but it's closer to "Vertigo." - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2019
78% Captain Marvel (2019) Lacking the wit and graphic oomph that sometimes rescues the Marvel franchise from terminal fatigue, "Captain Marvel" is yet another origin story for yet another superhero. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2019
A- 98% Apollo 11 (2019) This is not merely a technical achievement. The startling crispness of the imagery makes the experience of watching this film almost like seeing the mission for the first time. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
A- 81% Ruben Brandt, Collector (2019) If you have an eye for this sort of thing, and a passing knowledge of famous art, the film, if nothing else, will provide a fun opportunity to pick out a pageant of imagery from some of the great treasures of art history. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2019
A- 89% Who Will Write Our History (2019) I'm not a fan of reenactments in documentaries, especially when, as here, the real-life footage is so searing. But the staged sequences are tastefully done... This film is itself an important act of historical reclamation. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
B- 79% Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben) (2019) As a piece of storytelling, Everybody Knows covers a vast expanse of human experience, but it doesn't dive very deep. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
B+ 97% Free Solo (2018) Impressive... But the question for me remains: Why on earth would anybody do this? - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
B+ 100% Minding the Gap (2018) The ambition of Minding the Gap is a bit beyond the reach of Liu. It may be that only a dramatic film artist could have done justice to this subject. But as a piece of cinematic self-therapy, fragmented though it is, it has few rivals. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
B+ 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) What struck home the most forcefully for me in "Cold War" is its depiction, insidious and unrelenting, of how artists under communism suffered for their art. At its best, the film is like a bulletin from a benighted world. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
B+ 93% Stan & Ollie (2019) A rueful and respectful tribute that stands on its own because of the extraordinary performances of Steve Coogan as Stan and John C. Reilly as Ollie. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 22, 2019
B- 40% The Upside (2019) The Upside somehow overrides its own flaws because of the two lead performances. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
C+ 74% Destroyer (2018) This is one of those radical change-your-image performances that tries too hard to defy our expectations. Kidman has indeed proved in the past to be quite versatile, but this muddled, scabrous, neo-noir procedural does her no great favors. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
77% Bad Lieutenant (1992) [Keitel] keeps us watching his descent without wanting to look away. Only an actor with tremendous reserves of power could accomplish that. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 8, 2019
C+ 74% On the Basis of Sex (2019) We are invited by the filmmakers to regard Ginsburg as a saint in the making who also happens to be a real person. It's the kind of "tribute" that is actually a disservice because it flattens out a complex human being. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
C+ 66% Vice (2018) In theory, there's no reason why this approach shouldn't work -- if the jokes were better and the black comedy was blacker. But McKay isn't really interested in Cheney as anything but a target. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
10% Clifford (1994) Clifford, starring Martin Short as a precociously nasty 10-year-old, is not a good movie. It's not even good/bad. But Short has a few of those laugh-out-loud moments. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 27, 2018
B 79% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) It's well crafted, well acted, and features some terrific live-action/animation combos. But it never quite achieves liftoff, which is a big problem for a musical -- especially this musical... Still, I suppose momentary joy is better than no joy at all. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
B 95% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) [Barry Jenkins] wants to move us on an intuitive level that reaches beyond conventional storytelling. It's an admirable ambition, but what he offers in its place is often so lush and sentimentalized that it wafts off the screen. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
B- 82% Ben is Back (2018) A compelling and intelligent study of how drug addiction affects a family... The film falls apart in the end, alas, as the story spins into druggie melodramatics. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
B+ 90% Capernaum (Capharnaüm) (2018) [Director Nadine] Labaki is not without her glosses and her storytelling can be clunky, but the film is graced with many seemingly peripheral moments that nevertheless hit home. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
C+ 63% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Despite a sharp cast and lots of stentorian speechifying, Mary Queen of Scots joins the ranks of the dull. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
B+ 100% Shirkers (2018) It's a charming, wistful movie, and I trust Tan will not have to wait another 20 years to direct her next film. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
53% Mars Attacks! (1996) It's a destructo orgy without any phony-baloney sanctimony about the fellowship of man -- or spaceman. - New Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
40% Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) The best way to enjoy Men in Tights... is to blank out the dull knockabout passages and sit tight for the kind of loopy squiggles that only Brooks can come up with. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
12% Renaissance Man (1994) There's a fine line between delighting an audience and pandering to it. "Renaissance Man" leapfrogs across the line. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2018
C+ 93% The Favourite (2018) It's nasty and knowing but way too self-satisfyingly smart-alecky for its own good. - Christian Science Monitor EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018