San Diego Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
2/5 Buffaloed (2019) Scott Marks This low rent She-Wolf of Wall Street is not without its charms - it's hard not to find some room in one's heart for a film that works so hard to restore the word "jagoff" to popular usage. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2020
3/5 The Assistant (2019) Scott Marks Green, the first filmmaker to give narrative voice to this subject, posits her day in the life of a witness to workplace gangrene as a grueling example of cinema as frustration. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2020
4/5 The Traitor (2019) Scott Marks Show me a classic cosa nostra saga that doesn't affirm the importance of family and... well, I'll show you Marco Bellocchio's The Traitor, everything one hoped The Irishman would be but wasn't. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2020
1/5 Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words (2020) Scott Marks One of the most controversial political subjects of his generation is thus afforded an unduly sympathetic portrait - but how else would Pack have been able to get Thomas to sit still long enough for the interview portion of our program? EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2020
The Gentlemen (2020) Scott Marks Telegraphing dialogue, Tarantino-speak tributes, and a third act plot logjam are tantamount to bringing ants to the picnic, but there's enough repellent on board so as not to bother or distract too much. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2020
2/5 The Last Full Measure (2020) Scott Marks Not bad for a regulation military movie, but I must confess to a wandering attention span; how else could I notice the cigarette that Jackson removes from the pack of Marlboros is an American Spirit? EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2020
3/5 Cold Case Hammarskjöld (2019) Scott Marks In his own way, the ever-present director is as much a scene-hogger as Joaquin Phoenix with one glaring difference: Brügger's mercenaries are the real-deal, not heavy-handed, makeup-streaked clowns with mommy and daddy issues. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
5/5 63 Up (2019) Scott Marks At first glance, 21 Up played as somewhat of a novelty. That was over forty years ago. Today, it stands as one of cinema's greatest achievements, a use of the medium that's at once blatantly logical and profoundly affecting. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
3/5 The Irishman (2019) Scott Marks It didn't take a genius to see that television was finally poised to win the war against movies. I just didn't expect my teacher to be leading the charge against theatrical exhibition. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
5/5 Richard Jewell (2019) Scott Marks Has there been a time since the Man With No Name first rode into town when Eastwood wasn't at the top of his game? Don't believe me? Check out Richard Jewell. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
1/5 Earth (Erde) (2019) Scott Marks It's a case of the meaningful point in question given a meaningless treatment. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
1/5 Midnight Family (2019) Scott Marks At 81 minutes, you won't be bored, but don't be surprised if the car ride home finds you questioning how an audition reel for a reality television program earned a theatrical release. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
3/5 Quezon's Game (2020) Scott Marks It may not always qualify as great cinema, but when it comes to presenting a fascinating, emotionally rewarding history lesson, you'll be hanging on every scene. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
2/5 Underwater (2020) Scott Marks There's no better feeling than starting the New Year right with an affectionate, action-packed genre picture. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
1/5 Just Mercy (2019) Scott Marks It's good acting at its finest in this preaching to the choir "right to life" drama that might have worked had the filmmakers chosen to show the audience a little mercy by not constantly talking down to them. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
0/5 The Hottest August (2019) Scott Marks August 2017 was not the hottest on record. Not even close. If one can't get the title right, what chance is there of everything else falling into order? EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
3/5 Cunningham (2019) Scott Marks I maintain as much of an appreciation for modern dance as I do for watching golf on TV. But this is a movie, and as such, anything can be, and in this case is, rendered cinematic. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
0/5 Dolittle (2020) Scott Marks It is with deep and abiding regret that we report the passing of Robert Downey, Jr. - one of the last of his generation of trailblazers - over to the dark side. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
1/5 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Matthew Lickona When we meet up with brash pilot Poe, he's lightspeed-skipping his way out of trouble, and Abrams is in much the same mode, whisking you from one thing to the next before you have much time to think or feel anything in response. EDIT
Posted Dec 19, 2019
Dolemite Is My Name (2019) Scott Marks It's well worth leaving the house for. EDIT
Posted Dec 18, 2019
4/5 Honey Boy (2019) Scott Marks When it comes to cinema as therapy, LeBeouf put his time (and ours) to superb use here. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
1/5 Midway (2019) Scott Marks The digitized combat looks like something traced and transplanted from another war, one that took place in a galaxy far, far away. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
1/5 Last Christmas (2019) Scott Marks Still, it's worth a visit to the multiplex to behold cinematographer John Schwartzman (National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Founder) accept the challenge of illuminating a feature almost entirely by Christmas lights. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
0/5 The Good Liar (2019) Scott Marks Wait for Britbox. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
3/5 Synonyms (2018) Scott Marks As stiff-neck storytelling goes, this is pretty damn impressive. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
1/5 Frozen II (2019) Matthew Lickona Not much gain against a good deal of loss. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
3/5 Ford v Ferrari (2019) Matthew Lickona Think Iron Man and Captain America, only it's a (mostly) true story and what's at stake is not the fate of the universe, nor even an auto race, but the glorious, endless pursuit of perfection. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
2/5 The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (2019) Scott Marks The pounding hooves that whisk us through the pre-credit montage recall the manner of storytelling audiences lapped up throughout the '60s, but which is now the stuff that Hallmark Channel dramas are made of. EDIT
Posted Nov 19, 2019
2/5 The Report (2019) Scott Marks A film as thought-provoking as this should pack more thrills; the majority of the suspense is generated from Driver's countenance, not Burns' ability to captivate an audience. EDIT
Posted Nov 19, 2019
3/5 Grâce à Dieu (2018) Scott Marks One is prone to expect excess in a film by François Ozon, [but he] wisely opts to frame the fact-based events as a straightforward crime drama. EDIT
Posted Nov 19, 2019
1/5 Harriet (2019) Matthew Lickona The gospel songs are gorgeously performed and cleverly deployed, but the rest of the soundtrack makes an absolute mess of the film's mood: swoopy where it should be driven, wistful where it should be achingly tense. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
2/5 Jojo Rabbit (2019) Matthew Lickona There's a deep and sincere sweetness in the work of writer-director Taika Waititi. It's a kind of relentless and innocent good cheer that persists in the face of horror - to the point where the horror is obscured, or maybe defanged. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
3/5 Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Scott Marks When it comes to establishing and maintaining tension, there wasn't a better American genre picture released this year. Refrain from viewing it as historical record and you won't leave disappointed. EDIT
Posted Oct 28, 2019
1/5 Cyrano, My Love (2018) Matthew Lickona For us to care about the froth, we need a proper sense of the churning that creates it. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
3/5 The Lighthouse (2019) Matthew Lickona It's rough going, but it's beautifully filmed and framed in black and white, and Dafoe is wild and wildly entertaining in a role that feels written to match his every aspect. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
2/5 Dolor y gloria (2019) Matthew Lickona There's plenty of artfulness on display in the intertwining of life and what gets made of it, but also a fair helping of artifice. Art imitating life, but also improving it a bit. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
1/5 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) Matthew Lickona And [Jolie] is a star here: something amazing to behold, an Old Hollywood glamour shot come to...well, not exactly come to life, but mobile, anyway. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
2/5 Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019) Matthew Lickona Janice Engel's loving portrait of perhaps the most famous liberal journalist in Texas history (there must be a few others, right?) feels a bit like a pitch for a biopic. That is to say, it's more portrait than story. EDIT
Posted Oct 12, 2019
3/5 The Addams Family (2019) Scott Marks Much closer in spirit to Charles Addams' ghoulishly byzantine etchings (Lurch was indeed an escapee from a home for the criminally insane) and the '60s sitcom it spawned than Barry Sonnenfeld's sleepy and pukey remodelings. EDIT
Posted Oct 12, 2019
1/5 Gemini Man (2019) Matthew Lickona The same High Frame Rate that make the actors look like they're on Days of Our Lives makes the colors absolutely pop. And those textures on the skulls in the underground ossuary fight scene! It's cooler than the action, anyway. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
3/5 First Love (2019) Matthew Lickona What keeps it from becoming a bloody farce is Miike's profound sympathy for his leads, innocents trying to find their way out of the maelstrom. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/5 Joker (2019) Matthew Lickona If there is a meaningful difference between performing and acting, Joaquin Phoenix surely exemplifies the former here, creepily contorting as the Clown Prince of Crime in Todd Phillips' timely, toxic take on the Making of a Murdering Madman. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/5 Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019) Matthew Lickona The result, for the most part, is pleasant and informative, if not particularly inspiring or revelatory. But now and then, the music and images can't help but break through. EDIT
Posted Sep 28, 2019
3/5 Official Secrets (2019) Scott Marks Do yourself two favors: see the picture, and if you're unfamiliar with the outcome of the case, avoid the Google before purchasing a ticket. It'll make for a much more nerve-wracking time at the movies. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Hustlers (2019) Scott Marks As good as Lopez and her onscreen accomplice Constance Wu are, they can't act what isn't in the script; other than a dedicated work ethic, we're never given access to their thoughts. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) Scott Marks CNN Films could have taken a lesson from its subject by not pulling any punches. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Rambo: Last Blood (2019) Scott Marks As a fan of the series, I wished for a stronger sendoff with a lot less comic book splatter. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Ad Astra (2019) Scott Marks For most of its running time, Ad Astra amounts to a rather somber and sterile two-hour orbit. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
4/5 The Death of Dick Long (2019) Scott Marks You may not like where the movie takes you, but damn if you won't enjoy the ride. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
3/5 Give Me Liberty (2019) Scott Marks Those who demand at least a modicum of originality in exchange for their entertainment dollar won't be shortchanged by this divinely chaotic comedy. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019