San Diego Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
1/5 The Highwaymen (2019) Matthew Lickona Director John Lee Hancock (The Founder) mounts a valiant effort to stretch a solid genre picture into an American epic with the tale of two ex-Texas Rangers who get pressed back into service...to stop the popular murder couple Bonnie & Clyde. EDIT
Posted Mar 22, 2019
0/5 Mapplethorpe (2018) Matthew Lickona How do you hew so close to biopic conventions -a dutiful recitation of this event happened, this fame arrived, that tragedy struck, etc - when you're dealing with an artist whose whole raison d'etre was finding beauty at the extreme edges of things? EDIT
Posted Mar 22, 2019
1/5 Us (2019) Matthew Lickona The result is bloody but weirdly bloodless, a sort of thinky exercise in horror filmmaking. There's more juice in the laughs here than the scares. EDIT
Posted Mar 22, 2019
4/5 Pájaros de verano (2018) Matthew Lickona There are numerous echoes of The Godfather, notable among them the way market forces, exemplified by the drug trade, can work to destroy the old ways of doing things, and the old bonds that preserve both family and the civilization it supports. EDIT
Posted Mar 15, 2019
3/5 Transit (2018) Matthew Lickona Maybe the place is the point - the story notes that Marseilles is a port city, and "ports are places where stories are told." Stories of survival and escape, but more often, of frustration and heartbreak. EDIT
Posted Mar 15, 2019
4/5 Green Book (2018) Scott Marks Is it a feel-good charmer poised to rake in greenbacks and Oscar gold? You bet! But don't let that keep you away from this overall well balanced (and timed) look forward from the safe distance of America's motley past. EDIT
Posted Mar 8, 2019
1/5 Captain Marvel (2019) Matthew Lickona The film may be about women breaking their shackles, but the lead actress feels kept in check for much of the picture. Humor winds up being provided by Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury, heart by Lashana Lynch's Maria Rambeau, and pathos by...well, it ain't Larson EDIT
Posted Mar 8, 2019
0/5 Greta (2018) Scott Marks Be sure to wear a watch. It will give you something to look at. EDIT
Posted Mar 4, 2019
2/5 Hai Phuong (2019) Matthew Lickona Notable finally for making the most of its limited resources: trying mightily to squeeze as much juice from a moped chasing an outboard skiff along a rural river as a Bond movie might have gotten from a superbike zipping after a speedboat through Venice. EDIT
Posted Mar 1, 2019
2/5 Ruben Brandt, Collector (2018) Matthew Lickona Writer-director Milorad Krstic pads out what probably should have been a fascinating animated short - about an art therapist who is himself tormented by nightmares featuring characters from famous paintings - with drawn-out bits of ludicrous action. EDIT
Posted Mar 1, 2019
2/5 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) Matthew Lickona DeBlois struggles mightily to connect the resolution of one storyline to the resolution of the other, and it proves to be an overwhelming task. Still, it's a painless watch, with plenty of visual oohs and emotional aahs, and will surely leave fans happy. EDIT
Posted Feb 22, 2019
5/5 The Act of Killing (2012) Scott Marks The Act of Killing is the only 100% original work of cinema to come out this year. EDIT
Posted Feb 21, 2019
Una mujer fantástica (2017) Scott Marks Vega's performance is riveting, but writer and co-director Sebastián Leilo's use of sex and gender to shape his narrative is straight out of a '50s melodrama. EDIT
Posted Feb 21, 2019
0/5 Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Matthew Lickona Rothe mugs and emotes for all she's worth, which is something, but her effort only highlights the desultory character of everything around her. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2019
2/5 Never Look Away (2018) Matthew Lickona Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's ambitious three-hour pre- and post-WWII epic has the rare and curious distinction of opening with a villain-speech that's actually supposed to inform your experience of the film. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2019
1/5 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animation (2019) Matthew Lickona Pixar's longtime domination of the animation world takes its toll, as generational rifts and/or personal neuroses are what gets treated here. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2019
1/5 The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Matthew Lickona Exhausted, and exhausting. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2019
1/5 Tito and the Birds (2018) Matthew Lickona Makes good use of its combination of oil-paint backgrounds and precise-pencil characters but rather spectacularly fails to stick the landing. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2019
0/5 Glass (2019) Matthew Lickona There are a few thoughtfully placed cameras and thrilling moments - Bruce Willis vs. a door, for one - but they're not nearly enough to make this self-conscious live-action comic book worthwhile. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
3/5 Cold War (2018) Matthew Lickona Heart-thumping: the passion on display is of all sorts, a steady flame against the cold. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
1/5 Capernaum (2018) Matthew Lickona A film that explicitly argues against bringing children into the world under difficult circumstances while relying for its narrative hook and dramatic effect on the heroism and resilience of a child brought into the world under difficult circumstances. EDIT
Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/5 Narcissister Organ Player (2018) Matthew Lickona Narratively, the mask stays on. EDIT
Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/5 The Upside (2018) Matthew Lickona As part of its story, The Upside strives to make the case that opera is worth loving; it might have done well to borrow from the pathos and passion that help make it so. EDIT
Posted Jan 11, 2019
1/5 Aquaman (2018) Matthew Lickona But oh, those action sequences: this is what the Tron sequel should have looked and sounded like. EDIT
Posted Dec 21, 2018
1/5 Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Matthew Lickona The real problem is the film's failure to do its own magic and give life to what's on screen. EDIT
Posted Dec 21, 2018
2/5 Free Solo (2018) Matthew Lickona Is it strange when the wholehearted pursuit of a singular and spectacular achievement inspires pity and fear more than awe? EDIT
Posted Dec 20, 2018
4/5 They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) Matthew Lickona An achievement, an experience, and a remarkable tribute. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2018
2/5 The Favourite (2018) Matthew Lickona There are no heroes in The Favourite; there are only sad creatures driven by their various needs. There is, however, a morbid morality to the proceedings, one in which decadence is its own punishment. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2018
1/5 Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Matthew Lickona If it's not quite a success, at least it's an ambitious failure. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2018
2/5 Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable (2018) Matthew Lickona The whole thing plays like a well curated museum exhibit - a retrospective to counter and/or complete the one held shortly after his death in 1984. The material is worth seeing, but doesn't really demand a big screen. EDIT
Posted Nov 30, 2018
2/5 Creed II (2018) Matthew Lickona Ryan Coogler, having gone on to bigger and bigger things, steps aside and lets relative newcomer Steven Caple, Jr. do the job of mixing the beats of Rocky III and Rocky IV into a smooth groove for the son of Apollo Creed (Michael B. Jordan). EDIT
Posted Nov 30, 2018
2/5 Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Matthew Lickona Best of all, the directors don't shy away from the ending their story demands. EDIT
Posted Nov 30, 2018
4/5 Last Letter (2018) Scott Marks Lovers of unrequited love, rejoice. There is enough handwritten romantic communication exchanged in Shunji Iwai's deceptively uncomplicated romance Last Letter to fill a small post office branch. And no junk mail! EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
1/5 The Front Runner (2018) Scott Marks People answer in punchlines here, and leave it to director Reitman to always lead with irony. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
2/5 Widows (2018) Scott Marks Enough quality action and surprises to keep it interesting. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
4/5 Alanis (2017) Scott Marks Whatever preconceived notions about sex industry workers that accompany you into the theatre are bound to be shattered, thanks in large part to Ms. Gala's frank and tender performance. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
1/5 Studio 54: The Documentary (2018) Matthew Lickona The movie tries hard to make the story of the club's rise and fall emblematic of an era, but in the end, it's about a couple of old friends from the neighborhood who got lucky, got greedy, and got caught. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
1/5 A Private War (2018) Matthew Lickona While it occasionally pulls away from Colvin to let the nightmarish inhumanity of war provide power and feeling, it all too often relies on juiced-up expressions of humanist heroism. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
3/5 Border (2018) Matthew Lickona Director and co-writer Ali Abbasi's film is a murky, unsettling watch - but however unsettling, it remains gripping and affecting, its viscerality covering for its occasional elisions. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
1/5 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Matthew Lickona Dash it all, even the devoted will likely struggle with the reams of expository talk and gobs of unearned feeling and scads of largely pointless beasties, plus some just plain lazy visuals (looking at you, magic cats). EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
2/5 Burning (2018) Scott Marks For a film that tires so hard to subvert standard methods of storytelling, the action that climaxes the film comes as a cheat, a commercial concession of the lowest order. EDIT
Posted Nov 9, 2018
0/5 Boy Erased (2018) Scott Marks If you know someone who is thinking of putting their kid though one of these programs, buy them a ticket. If not, what's the point? EDIT
Posted Nov 9, 2018
3/5 Wildlife (2018) Matthew Lickona Mulligan trembles like a souffle on the verge of collapse, and her unfortunate son can do little but watch and listen and do his best to grow up much too fast. Truth be told, it's his story - but it's Mulligan's movie. EDIT
Posted Nov 9, 2018
1/5 Viper Club (2018) Scott Marks Susan Sarandon knows how to pick a character; it's her taste in scripts that we need worry about. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2018
4/5 The Great Buster: A Celebration (2018) Scott Marks When it comes to pure visual comedy, there is no greater director than Buster Keaton. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2018
0/5 Suspiria (2018) Scott Marks The Argento is a marvel of style-as-subject; Guadagnino subjects audiences to second-hand shocks. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2018
2/5 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) Scott Marks Maybe see it for the effects work and production design, both of which are nothing short of spectacular. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2018
1/5 Rampant (2018) Matthew Lickona Also muddled: the sense of place, the sense of stakes, and the sense of zombie power and peril. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2018
2/5 Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Matthew Lickona Melissa McCarthy's bid for dramatic cred is just nasty enough to be enjoyable, thanks hugely to Richard E. Grant's gleeful turn as a dimwitted but high-spirited end-of-the-line party boy who befriends our heroine just as she touches bottom. EDIT
Posted Nov 2, 2018
2/5 Mid90s (2018) Matthew Lickona It's hard to tell if Hill is boldly refusing to adopt a point of view regarding dysfunction and its discontents, or if he just isn't quite sure what to make of it. EDIT
Posted Oct 27, 2018