Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) is not a Tomatometer-approved publication. Reviews from this publication only count toward the Tomatometer when written by the following Tomatometer-approved critic(s): John Beifuss
Rating Title/Year Author
3/4 Wild Guitar (1962) John Beifuss In the annals of American reinvention, perhaps no pseudonym is as starkly brazen or absurdly hopeful as Cash Flagg, the name fledgling auteur Ray Dennis Steckler chose for his acting credit in the movie that marked his directorial debut, 'Wild Guitar.' EDIT
Posted Mar 12, 2019
3.5/4 Upgrade (2018) John Beifuss It may be ersatz Verhoeven and Cronenberg lite, but so what? I was smitten by its unpretentious old-school economy and its unexpected visual panache: the digital effects and 'camera' moves are ingenious, simple and fun. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Annihilation (2018) John Beifuss Portman's trek might as well be across the landscape of genre history: It begins with a pulp-magazine-worthy attack by a monster alligator and ends with a trippy '2001'-like alien encounter. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Mr. Soul! (2018) John Beifuss Like the more celebrated 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?,' this is a documentary about a public television programs that offered a utopian vision of a community built on love, creativity and respect. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018) John Beifuss A celebration of kindness and acceptance that offers an antidote to the hostility endorsed by much of the current social and political culture. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Minding the Gap (2018) John Beifuss May be a form of therapeutic exorcism for the filmmaker but it's a portrait of all-American despair (economic and otherwise) for us, complete with racial discomfort, cycles of domestic abuse, skateboard acrobatics and Fourth of July fireworks. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Un beau soleil intérieur (2017) John Beifuss Demonstrates that realistic behavior -- self-defeating whims, conversations that go nowhere, distracted small talk, a visit with a psychic that is more banal than dramatic -- is so alien to the moviegoing experience that most viewers cannot recognize it. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Isle of Dogs (2018) John Beifuss A delight, thanks to an impressive voice cast, the Japanese-inspired design (a source of some controversy, these appropriations motivate further flattening of Anderson's Cornell-box-like compositions) and the uncanny charm of the stop-motion process. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) John Beifuss A swoon in motion-picture form: Its lush score, expressive decor and color-coded photography give the Harlem streets and the characters who inhabit them a glamour that historically has been denied to cinematic representations of the black experience. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 The Favourite (2018) John Beifuss Working for the first time from someone else's script, Lanthimos trades his signature sadism for cutting wit; meanwhile, his jaundiced eye remains evident in the fish-eye lenses that distort the compositions. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) John Beifuss The movie's seemingly credible re-creation of 1990s New York as a place of dark, inviting bars and even darker and more inviting used bookstores represents at least one idea of paradise. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Black Panther (2018) John Beifuss An international box-office blockbuster that ignited like a blast of cultural vibranium in the ugly face of resurgent global racism... At this point, 'Wakanda forever!' feels like not just a boast but a prophecy. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 I Am Not a Witch (2017) John Beifuss This story of an 8-year-old 'witch' literally tethered into servitude is both political exposé and political satire; the sense of sorrow and anger is enhanced by director Rungano Nyoni's artist's appreciation of the absurdity at the root of tragedy. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Mandy (2018) John Beifuss A slow-motion descent into a sludge-rock hell as Nicolas Cage tracks a killer hippie cult across a landscape that seems printed on discarded Mountain and Uriah Heep album covers and painted with tar. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 A Beautiful Day (2017) John Beifuss A film of uncompromised, painstaking and delirious style. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 First Reformed (2017) John Beifuss The movie is filled with conversations that provide something of the satisfaction of sinking into a smart, provocative essay. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 BlacKkKlansman (2018) John Beifuss The film's most powerful passages are lengthy digressions that abandon the plot to mourn the role of Lee's beloved chosen art form, cinema, in the stoking of racism; and to condemn the public political encouragement of racial violence. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Sorry to Bother You (2018) John Beifuss Like Sergio Aragones scrawling cartoons in the margins of Mad magazine, Riley fills the frame with more jokes and ideas than can be apprehended in one viewing; the result is a film that teems with and celebrates life, even in the context of a dystopia. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3.5/4 Hereditary (2018) John Beifuss This is the rare horror movie with an earned shock so unexpected and horrific that it left this veteran fan -- whose eyeballs have ingested literally thousands of screen dismemberments, decapitations and mutilations -- aghast. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Visages, villages (2017) John Beifuss Entirely fresh, as the hip JR creates monumental photo portraits of some of the hardworking citizens the collaborators meet while the elfin Varda (now 90) reconciles the memories of her vibrant past with the realities of failing eyesight and curling feet. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Phantom Thread (2017) John Beifuss As meticulously crafted as a Reynolds evening gown... EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Leave No Trace (2018) John Beifuss As the father's doomed ideal collapses, the movie's conflict resolves into two competing universal impulses: the desire to be noticed and the desire to disappear. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
4/4 Support the Girls (2018) John Beifuss The year's most generous film, it ends with a series of screams that express both frustration and determination -- an ideal cri de guerre for a new resistance. EDIT
Posted Jan 7, 2019
3/4 Rodents of Unusual Size (2017) John Beifuss ... a squirmy, funny, fascinating documentary that mixes history, zoology and social and cultural anthropology to examine the relationship of the giant rat to the bayou Louisianans who hunt, skin and sometimes even eat the dagger-incisored critters. EDIT
Posted Aug 29, 2018
4/4 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) John Beifuss A red throne room evokes the Technicolor fantasies of Michael Powell and Vincente Minnelli, while the scratchy surfaces of a sand planet trace the arc of each combatant's footwork like a choreographer's notation, transforming a duel into a dance. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 My Life as a Zucchini (2016) John Beifuss Never panders or becomes cloying on its way to a well-earned 'we are family' conclusion. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 mother! (2017) John Beifuss If it's silly as biblical allegory it's potent as a comedic parable about the selfishness and egoism of the process of (male) artistic creation... EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 Colossal (2016) John Beifuss Entirely original, writer-director Nacho Vigalondo's movie scores points about the catastrophes unwitting Americans enable overseas (through their voting choices, among other things), and also says something about sexual harassment and male privilege... EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 It (2017) John Beifuss Unpretentious and scary, with a crack ensemble of kids led by future Amy Adams, Sophia Lillis. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 Lady Macbeth (2016) John Beifuss Owing more to Brontë and Highsmith than to Shakespeare, this grim moor noir presents its catalog of parricide, mariticide and equine-cide as the consequences of a class and caste system that dehumanizes even those who materially benefit from its design. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 The Shape of Water (2017) John Beifuss The most elaborate explication to date of del Toro's belief that monsters, like traditional religious martyrs, are 'innocents' whose torments testify to their 'state of grace.' EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 Dunkirk (2017) John Beifuss A tribute to wartime resolve and directorial hubris; it's awe-inspiring in its logistics, scale and achievement. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
4/4 A Ghost Story (2017) John Beifuss Employs a symbol so simple a child recognizes it to probe issues of life, death, time and rebirth. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 Baby Driver (2017) John Beifuss Edgar Wright's pedal-to-the-metal plus needle-to-the-vinyl action movie is a love letter to the never obsolete wonders of fast cars, pop music and crafty commercial/personal filmmaking. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
4/4 Lady Bird (2017) John Beifuss 'I guess I pay attention,' says Lady Bird, explaining the loving detail found in one of her essays; from the evidence here, Gerwig does, too. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
4/4 The Florida Project (2017) John Beifuss Heir to the traditions of Huck Finn, the 'Our Gang' shorts and other tales of feral children, Sean Baker's 'Tangerine' followup transforms the strip malls and short-term motels of Disneyfied Orlando into a magical playground of discovery and peril. EDIT
Posted Jan 2, 2018
3.5/4 Wonder Woman (2017) John Beifuss When Trevor insists on traveling to England to consult with 'the men' he says are in the best position to end the war, Diana's response obliterates the gender gap: 'I am the man who can.' EDIT
Posted Jun 13, 2017
1.5/4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) John Beifuss An exhausting walk down a very long and garish plank. EDIT
Posted Jun 6, 2017
3/4 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) John Beifuss The film needs more id and less Ego: Nothing that appears shocking, reckless or impulsive is allowed to disrupt the strategic, storyboarded faux chaos of the project's blockbuster imperative and 'Marvel Cinematic Universe' orthodoxy. EDIT
Posted Jun 6, 2017
2.5/4 Life (2017) John Beifuss Handsome and efficient but uninspired, even with its grabby Cthuloid space orchid. EDIT
Posted Jun 2, 2017
3/4 Alien: Covenant (2017) John Beifuss The splattery violence, which reduces humanity to meat and reproduction to a survival instinct, enacts a blunt rebuttal to the idea that science and art -- 'Ozymandias' and even John Denver are referenced -- offer humankind an opportunity for immorality. EDIT
Posted Jun 2, 2017
4/4 A Quiet Passion (2016) John Beifuss The film employs technology undreamed of in Dickinson's time to evoke a poetic, transcendent sensation: 'The Carriage held but just Ourselves -- And Immortality.' EDIT
Posted Jun 2, 2017
1.5/4 The Dinner (2017) John Beifuss In this joyless context the professionalism feels like slow suffocation. EDIT
Posted May 23, 2017
2/4 The Fate of the Furious (2017) John Beifuss The steroidal bonhomie is less anabolic than exhausted and even the signature reckless-driving lunacy seems more labored than inspired. EDIT
Posted May 23, 2017
2.5/4 Ghost in the Shell (2017) John Beifuss The movie directly tackles the 'whitewashing' controversy that accompanied the casting of Johansson; the science-fiction rationalization of the ethnic rewrite has logic, but also an unsettling clinical ruthlessness. EDIT
Posted May 23, 2017
2.5/4 Beauty and the Beast (2017) John Beifuss The effect is sometimes that of a live-action karaoke of its cartoon source... EDIT
Posted May 23, 2017
3/4 Personal Shopper (2016) John Beifuss A modern-dress ghost story that somehow lacks the mystery and sense of the uncanny that made the ostensibly less supernatural previous Assayas/Stewart collaboration, 'The Clouds of Sils Maria,' an instant classic. EDIT
Posted May 3, 2017
2.5/4 Frantz (2016) John Beifuss More expressive than the impeccable production and costume design are Niney's sharp Daumieresque features, which seem sculpted to cut through tides of warmongering nationalistic cant like a shark's fin through the surf. EDIT
Posted May 3, 2017
2.5/4 The Lost City of Z (2016) John Beifuss It has definite integrity, a painterly beauty and a cumulative emotional power, but it misses the madness of Herzog, the poetry of Malick and the muscle of Coppola, to cite filmmakers who each emerged from the wilds with true treasure: a masterpiece. EDIT
Posted May 3, 2017
3/4 The Belko Experiment (2016) John Beifuss The bloodbath of corporate downsizing within a cutthroat capitalist marketplace is imagined as a literal massacre in the latest thriller from reliable horror shingle Blumhouse Productions. EDIT
Posted Apr 18, 2017