Filmspotting

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
3/5 Nomadland (2020) Adam Kempenaar That is the challenge of this approach: committing to the [neorealist] aesthetic but relying on a star to carry it. EDIT
Posted Feb 19, 2021
4/5 The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Adam Kempenaar I remembered that Lecter toyed with her as not just a trainee but a younger woman... I had no sense of how baked into every frame of the movie Clarice's awareness of her femininity is. EDIT
Posted Feb 19, 2021
3.5/5 The Letter (1940) Adam Kempenaar Like Jezebel, the relationship of the characters to the setting and the people who serve them... is complicated - in problematic ways but in challenging, subversive ways too. EDIT
Posted Feb 12, 2021
3/5 Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) Adam Kempenaar Bill is so slippery and has so little sense of self... that there's almost no self at all. EDIT
Posted Feb 12, 2021
3/5 Malcolm & Marie (2021) Adam Kempenaar It's exactly what its characters are: occasionally brilliant, often infuriating, mostly - as one of the two describes the other - exhausting. EDIT
Posted Feb 6, 2021
4/5 Sound of Metal (2019) Adam Kempenaar ... takes a bold approach in terms of its overall artistic design and sound design; you are almost always experiencing the world as Ruben experiences it. EDIT
Posted Dec 4, 2020
4/5 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) Adam Kempenaar The central conflict, at least between Levee and Ma and her group, is a matter of style ... Wolfe matches his direction to their tempos, and the waiting becomes a dynamic, musical performance of its own. EDIT
Posted Dec 4, 2020
4/5 Mank (2020) Adam Kempenaar Mank himself says it, "You cannot capture a man's entire life in two hours. All you can hope is to leave the impression of one." And with humor and wit and sophistication and substance, that's exactly what Mank the movie does. EDIT
Posted Dec 4, 2020
3.5 Daughters of the Dust (1991) Adam Kempenaar Dash's project is similar to Mr. Snead's ... Chronicling the islanders' way of life - their practices, personalities and stories - before it's gone forever. EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2020
2.5/5 Dune (1984) Adam Kempenaar I don't believe in guilty pleasures or 'so bad they're good' movies, but Dune challenged that philosophy more than any movie I can think of. So bizarre, twisted and perplexing ... that I appreciated its conviction and ambition. EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2020
4/5 Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Adam Kempenaar And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack / And you may find yourself in another part of the world / And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile / Same as it ever was, same as it ever was. EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2020
3.5/5 The Nest (2020) Adam Kempenaar Durkin craftily navigates a few different fronts here ... Coon is a unique talent, giving a unique, powerful performance. EDIT
Posted Sep 21, 2020
5/5 Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975) Adam Kempenaar It's astonishing Chantal Akerman was only 25 when she made this ... Movies are all too often reserved for stories of grand sacrifices - typically, male ones; Jeanne Dielman grants epic status to the everyday sacrifices of women. EDIT
Posted Sep 20, 2020
3.5/5 Feels Good Man (2020) Adam Kempenaar Thorough, well-researched investigation ... but with the humor, playfulness and creativity that matches its material and main character. EDIT
Posted Sep 4, 2020
4/5 I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) Adam Kempenaar There's something way beyond mere narrator unreliability being suggested here ... It's a discomforting place to be, and effectively so. EDIT
Posted Sep 4, 2020
2.5/5 Tenet (2020) Adam Kempenaar Tenet is what happens when Nolan forgets Borden's wisdom [from The Prestige]. He's so obsessed with how impressive his 'secret' is that the trick he uses it for is nothing. EDIT
Posted Sep 4, 2020
4/5 Boys State (2020) Adam Kempenaar The experience is perfectly setting these kids up for what American democracy is -- it's about winning and losing, your party's success... Boys State, as a chronicle of this experience, accurately then also focuses on winning and losing. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2020
3/5 She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Adam Kempenaar Does it amount to more than that experiment -- a cinematic, sensory exercise in portraying existential dread in a heightened way that reflects a universal human experience? I'm not sure it does. But maybe that should be enough. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2020
3.5/5 The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019) Adam Kempenaar ...the actual musicality of Iannucci's staging for the camera... dialogue, blocking, sound, the handheld camera. It's brisk, and the best scenes feel like you could set a metronome to them. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2020
4/5 The Daisies (1966) Adam Kempenaar Chytilova overtly says, 'I'm going to use cinema as a weapon against a world that uses these kinds of weapons'. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2020
3/5 The King of Staten Island (2020) Adam Kempenaar ...when you've got a character like [Davidson's] Scott... you can't expect, if Apatow trusts us as viewers, that we're going to get some totally inspirational transformation... EDIT
Posted Jun 19, 2020
5/5 Jaws (1975) Adam Kempenaar ...more interesting is where the political and personal intersect... which fits nicely with what the movie as a whole does so well, mixing the horror and adventure with the personal. EDIT
Posted Jun 19, 2020
2.5/5 Da 5 Bloods (2020) Adam Kempenaar "...best when Lee's hand is most clearly visible - the fluctuating aspect ratios, the Hanoi Hannah recreation, the Milton Olive lesson." EDIT
Posted Jun 12, 2020
3.5/5 The Painter and the Thief (2020) Adam Kempenaar Both [Barbora and Karl-Bertil] are open books, and open wounds. EDIT
Posted May 31, 2020
4.5/5 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Adam Kempenaar "This is important. This means something," is everyman's declaration, a reassuring cry to the cosmos that your life matters, you matter. But it's also the artist's creed... EDIT
Posted May 30, 2020
4.5/5 The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Adam Kempenaar "Times have changed." It's an elemental Wes Anderson lament... EDIT
Posted May 30, 2020
1.5/5 How to Build a Girl (2019) Adam Kempenaar "Girl" purports to be about the transformative power of words and music - rock and rock criticism, specifically - but doesn't exhibit even a rudimentary interest in either. EDIT
Posted May 8, 2020
3/5 Dark Victory (1939) Adam Kempenaar Judith frequently grasps onto objects, her clothes or a chair... Davis has so much energy and life force flowing through her that she has to direct it somewhere. EDIT
Posted Apr 24, 2020
3.5/5 Insomnia (2002) Adam Kempenaar Dormer has a weariness that Pacino wears perfectly, always finding some new depth to his exhaustion and despair without ever being a sleepy presence on screen. EDIT
Posted Apr 24, 2020
2.5/5 True History of the Kelly Gang (2019) Adam Kempenaar That unhinged, hallucinatory spirit is what Kurzel taps into visually... realism clashing with fantasy to the point where the landscape feels more Mordor than the bush outside Melbourne... It's a lot. A little too much for me. EDIT
Posted Apr 24, 2020
4/5 Blow the Man Down (2019) Adam Kempenaar I was in from the opening prelude, a quasi-Greek chorus of fishermen singing an old sea shanty, their great voices mixed with the musicality and rhythms of their tools and work. EDIT
Posted Apr 24, 2020
5/5 Memento (2000) Adam Kempenaar Think of all the ways that a linear film structure stabilizes us - the cause and effect chain of events. But Memento is about a character completely destabilized, so Nolan destabilizes us accordingly in a way maybe no other movie has. EDIT
Posted Apr 10, 2020
4/5 Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) Adam Kempenaar Watching [Autumn's Q&A] unbroken, in real time... rather than seem exploitative or like a cinematic trick, feels like the only empathetic way to show it, to let her have that journey. EDIT
Posted Apr 10, 2020
4.5/5 First Cow (2019) Adam Kempenaar There's an element of parable... Reichardt is critically but not polemically saying something about the nature of capitalism and the so-called American Dream. EDIT
Posted Mar 13, 2020
3.5/5 The Assistant (2019) Adam Kempenaar There's a lot of chaos in The Assistant, except it's all happening behind Julia Garner's eyes. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2020
5/5 Little Women (2019) Adam Kempenaar Gerwig's approach to time... makes the culmination of the story Jo's awakening as a writer - finding her voice. EDIT
Posted Dec 19, 2019
2/5 Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace (1999) Adam Kempenaar The dialogue isn't the issue; the acting isn't really the issue; nor is it any single annoying character... There's no sense of wonder. No yearning. No spirit. EDIT
Posted Dec 19, 2019
2.5/5 The Report (2019) Adam Kempenaar For a movie that takes such a clinical and cynical approach... the swelling strings underlining the oratory coming from the floor of the Senate feels false. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
4/5 The King (2019) Adam Kempenaar The plays are about [Hal's] youth and immaturity - his unreadiness to be king - and Chalamet captures that impetuousness. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
4.5/5 Marriage Story (2019) Adam Kempenaar ...understands all of the emotional and procedural pitfalls and pain [of divorce] with complexity and clarity. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
4.5/5 The Irishman (2019) Adam Kempenaar Goodfellas by way of Wild Strawberries... EDIT
Posted Nov 8, 2019
2.5/5 The Lighthouse (2019) Adam Kempenaar Like Pattinson's Ephraim, The Lighthouse is weird, complex, testing... and soulless. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2019
4.5/5 Parasite (2019) Adam Kempenaar [The Park's] garage door is the curtain, the grand window looking out from the living room onto the yard is the proscenium, and everything that occurs within its reflection is this symbiotic tragicomedy... EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
1.5/5 Joker (2019) Adam Kempenaar Never evolves beyond scene after scene of painful slights, degradations, and worse - empty provocations. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
4.5/5 Being John Malkovich (1999) Adam Kempenaar Kaufman and Jonze steer us through a truly twisted psychological and existential swamp. EDIT
Posted Aug 30, 2019
4.5/5 Shanghai Express (1932) Adam Kempenaar Peak Dietrich merging with peak von Sternberg... Each artist and their respective styles coming together to create something distinct and dazzling. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
3/5 Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019) Adam Kempenaar Linklater understands that it's not where you ended up but what brought you there - and what you do when you get there - that really matters. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
2.5/5 Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Adam Kempenaar There's a solid 90 minutes that is as sleek and fun as that McLaren Statham speeds through London in... and another 45 that's weighted down with so much 'heart' that it barely moves. EDIT
Posted Aug 1, 2019
4/5 Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (2019) Adam Kempenaar There's a melancholy that runs deeper, and sadder, than nostalgic longing. After all, how do you truly long for a time and place that was never real to begin with? EDIT
Posted Jul 28, 2019
3/5 Booksmart (2019) Adam Kempenaar As good as Feldstein and Dever are as a pair... Booksmart really soars when our heroines reach their destination and, separately, get to spread their wings. EDIT
Posted May 31, 2019