The Film Stage

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
B- A Black Rift Begins to Yawn (2021) C.J. Prince Fans of cosmic horror should find something worthwhile here, just as long as they can focus more on the cosmic part and forget about the horror. EDIT
Posted Feb 27, 2021
C Crisis (2021) Dan Mecca There is an honest bleakness to Jarecki's tale that certainly matches the tragedy of the real-life opioid crisis, though all of it feels surface level. EDIT
Posted Feb 25, 2021
B- The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) Glenn Heath Jr. Just because the director's stylistic approach has become more conventional doesn't mean his themes of social justice aren't radical in their pure defiance of compromise. EDIT
Posted Feb 25, 2021
A- The Wild Goose Lake (2019) Josh Lewis Watching Wild Goose Lake feels like watching a society crumble in real time... EDIT
Posted Feb 21, 2021
Demonlover (2002) Glenn Heath Jr. Demonlover blends elements of the thriller, heist film, and porn with revolutionary verve, revealing the incredibly close proximity of high art and lowbrow kinks. EDIT
Posted Feb 19, 2021
B+ Test Pattern (2021) Glenn Heath Jr. Test Pattern unleashes a lightning round of anger, resentment, and doubt that neither the characters nor audience could have predicted. EDIT
Posted Feb 19, 2021
C- Silk Road (2021) Jared Mobarak At the end of the day this is a hollowly reductive account of what happened with a weird subtextual rich punk against blue collar cop agenda falling woefully flat. EDIT
Posted Feb 18, 2021
C- Blithe Spirit (2020) Jared Mobarak It's as though the filmmakers enjoyed the first half of Coward's play so much that they decided to make a movie out of it and relegate the second half to epilogue status. EDIT
Posted Feb 18, 2021
C Flora and Ulysses (2020) Jared Mobarak I'd like to say those unfamiliar with the source will fare better, but the film's homogenized narrative renders it inert regardless. EDIT
Posted Feb 17, 2021
C- The Mauritanian (2021) Glenn Heath Jr. The kind of self-righteous awakening porn about the horrors of classified American evil that would have played a lot better during George W. Bush's second term. EDIT
Posted Feb 17, 2021
A- Sabaya (2021) Isaac Feldberg This vital dispatch embeds viewers with a rescue operation in the Middle East, and does so with a degree of first-person access that's not just instantly bold: it's nerve-janglingly scary. EDIT
Posted Feb 17, 2021
C+ Captains of Za'atari (2021) Isaac Feldberg El Arabi hits his points home with a certain kind of Hollywood-primed precocity that sugarcoats more complex realities. EDIT
Posted Feb 17, 2021
A- President (2021) John Fink A stunning work of deep journalism that proves just how fragile and messy democracy can be, especially in the hands of a ruler who lacks respect for his nation's newly written constitution. EDIT
Posted Feb 16, 2021
B+ City Hall (2020) Rory O'Connor Wiseman is once again going in search of that middle-although this time with an uncharacteristic wink of subjectivity. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2021
B+ All In: The Fight for Democracy (2020) Erik Nielsen If you've been paying attention to the state of our country these last four years, and still need convincing, after a viewing of this film, you will feel the urgent need to get out, register, and vote. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2021
B+ Beats (2019) Leonardo Goi Beats thrums with an unbridled energy that owes less to the massive party it culminates with than to the poignant relationship between the two characters who head into it. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2021
B- Show Me What You Got (2019) Jared Mobarak Cvetko isn't therefore interested in mining what it means for these three to get together. That they join is inevitable. It's what this relationship gives them that matters. EDIT
Posted Feb 12, 2021
B Cowboys (2020) Jared Mobarak Cowboys supplies [these characters] the chance to open their eyes with an authenticity that's not without its tragedies, but hope is never far behind. EDIT
Posted Feb 9, 2021
Cryptozoo (2021) Juan Barquin When something like Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski's Cryptozoo comes along, it's easy to recognize as one of the most gorgeous works of American animation in ages. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2021
Playing with Sharks (2021) Juan Barquin Playing With Sharks works so well because it allows its subject to engage with her greatest regrets as much as her greatest achievements. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2021
C Rams (2020) Glenn Heath Jr. No matter how many calamities reign down from above, it's never in doubt that the residents of this sheep enclave will be just fine. Their middlebrow fantasy may be charming, but it's also completely forgettable. EDIT
Posted Feb 5, 2021
B+ Land (2021) Dan Mecca Wright the filmmaker wrings out one of Wright the actor's career-best performances. EDIT
Posted Feb 5, 2021
A- Mayor (2020) Jordan Raup Far from a message movie, David Osit's sensitive documentary is a captivating, enlightening, and ultimately terrifying look at how to survive day by day when the fight for liberation can seem everlasting. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2021
C Prime Time (2021) Matt Cipolla [It] has nothing deep to say about pop culture, the turn of the millennium, or its own characters, and the movie plays like a treatment forced into feature-length. EDIT
Posted Feb 2, 2021
B El Planeta (2021) Matt Cipolla I'd be sad if it didn't have such a droll approach. In some ways, it is. El Planeta isn't the most thematically consistent, but it's clever and brisk enough to be a good time. EDIT
Posted Feb 2, 2021
C Marvelous and the Black Hole (2020) Matt Cipolla It wants to be something cute for the family. It also wants to show how belligerent and vulgar young teenagers can be. The problem is that the two never intersect. EDIT
Posted Feb 2, 2021
C+ The Reckoning (2021) Jared Mobarak For all its familiarity, however, you can't deny its visual panache via immersive cinematography and production design. EDIT
Posted Feb 2, 2021
B M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity (2018) Jared Mobarak A crucial biographical document even if it's an imperfect film. Lutz has composed a university lecture in its own right: educationally pragmatic and historically enlightening. EDIT
Posted Feb 2, 2021
C PVT Chat (2021) Jared Mobarak Its journey contains a lot worth delving into, but the destination lacks [the start's] captivating, darkly sinister energy. EDIT
Posted Feb 2, 2021
B+ We're All Going to the World's Fair (2021) Matt Cipolla Nothing about it is shocking, nor is it meant to be. That's why it feels so real when it reaches its natural conclusion. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2021
D+ The Blazing World (2021) Matt Cipolla [T]he surrealism doesn't feel subversive or even too inventive. It just feels like a put-on, one that doesn't understand its heroine's mental state. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2021
C+ Earwig and the Witch (2020) Jared Mobarak [Skipping] the studio's bread-and-butter 2D [is a misstep, but it should] entertain kids and adults alike with humor and magic before it fades away later that day. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2021
C+ Coming Home in the Dark (2021) Matt Cipolla The skill is here and it comes to fruition in the first 50 minutes, but it's when it tries to interrogate the motives at hand that it starts to wobble. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2021
B- Cusp (2021) Matt Cipolla The result isn't perfect, but it manages to feel consistent. There's no immediate future on display here. There's also no real hope. . . . Cusp doesn't even try to fake a smile. EDIT
Posted Jan 30, 2021
C+ Homeroom (2021) Matt Cipolla It's a very well done documentary on a technical level . . . It's the pace that truncates some of the details, making Homeroom too brisk to realize all of its moving parts. EDIT
Posted Jan 29, 2021
C One for the Road (2021) Matt Cipolla While most movies are either innocuous or at the mercy of self-satisfied characters, One for the Road happens to be both--and it is so for 137 minutes. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2021
B- The Little Things (2021) Jared Mobarak Hancock's inspired choice to make the object of Deke and Jim's quest secondary [brings] with it some narrative issues once we move closer to the end. EDIT
Posted Jan 27, 2021
B+ Derek DelGaudio's In & of Itself (2020) John Fink The film is a transcendent experience that largely lets the one-man show speak for itself without veering into the detachment of a concert film that simply documents the night of. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2021
B- The Night (2020) Jared Mobarak As a journey inward into the roiling waves of memory and regret, Ahari fulfills his promise with an unapologetic air of penance and disgrace [despite an] egregious misstep. EDIT
Posted Jan 26, 2021
A- The Dig (2021) Jared Mobarak With superb performances, gorgeous cinematography, lyrical editing, and a complementary score, the film proves a melancholic wonder that isn't easily forgotten. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
A- I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) Orla Smith Like so much of Kaufman's work, it's a movie about characters who can't stop thinking about death, and he teases out that existential dread as well as any horror filmmaker. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
C+ Possessor: Uncut (2020) Orla Smith Possessor Uncut indeed looks beautiful--in a fucked up kind of way--but despite my visceral enjoyment of its visuals I couldn't help but wonder what purpose they served. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
C+ Never Gonna Snow Again (2020) Orla Smith One's mileage may vary with Never Gonna Snow Again, depending on whether a rich and intriguing atmosphere alone can sustain your attention. It's a story you've seen before, and ultimately, an experience that left me feeling cold. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
C- Come Away (2020) Orla Smith It's unlikely kids will understand these issues, though they aren't treated with enough complexity to engage adults. I'm struggling to work out for whom Come Away appeals. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
B Happiest Season (2020) Orla Smith Great rom-coms can circumvent flaws if they deliver on the joy, the cosiness, and the chemistry, and DuVall's film offers a generous helping of all three. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
C Stardust (2020) Orla Smith If it is possible to make a good David Bowie film without any David Bowie music-and without the blessing of Bowie's family-then this certainly isn't it. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
B- I'm Your Woman (2020) Orla Smith Hart's slow burn doesn't have enough fuel to grab your attention beyond an intriguing premise. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
B Malcolm & Marie (2021) Orla Smith That hastiness of its production shows somewhat in a script that doesn't quite coalesce-although it's a film with a lot on its mind, bolstered by two compelling performances. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
B I Blame Society (2020) Orla Smith Wallace Horvat clearly knows and loves the mockumentary genre, and with I Blame Society, she makes it feel fresh again. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2021
B You Will Die at Twenty (2019) Glenn Heath Jr. Set in a remote Sudanese village where religion and prophecy are valuable currencies, You Will Die at Twenty beautifully examines misguided notions of faith. EDIT
Posted Jan 22, 2021