San Diego Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
0/5 The Nightingale (2018) Scott Marks Jennifer Kent is more interested in hammering together a soapbox on contemporary societal horrors than she is in mounting a challenging dramatic framework. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
2/5 The Divine Fury (2019) Matthew Lickona What surprises there are are mostly of the pleasant variety, starting with the tone of intelligent sincerity alongside the glowing red pupils and projectile vomiting. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
3/5 One Child Nation (2019) Matthew Lickona As a rule, talking heads do not make for compelling film. But such heads, and such talk. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
2/5 Tel Aviv on Fire (2018) Scott Marks Alas, the potential for sharp political satire takes a back seat to small screen spoofery, nudging this more in the direction of Soapdish, rather than Joe Dante's transcendent The Second Civil War. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) Scott Marks If by some chance the kids corral you into this Jumanji rip-off, at least see it all the way through the spirited, semi-reparative closing credits number. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) Scott Marks As per usual with these celebrity biodocs, audience satisfaction is best gauged by one's appreciation for the subject matter, not the documentarian's (in this case first timer A.J. Eaton) ability to wow the crowd with innovation. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) Scott Marks Cancer is to melodrama what CGI is to the MCU: a cheap, easy tool to control audience emotions used by filmmakers (in this case, director Simon Curtis and scenarist Mark Bomback) who have nothing to sell but tripe. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 En guerre (2018) Scott Marks The performances and camerawork are natural and unrehearsed, to the point where one wishes this had something more to show for itself than expert mimicry and an inharmonious act of violence to send audiences packing. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 Them That Follow (2019) Matthew Lickona Boy howdy, do the serpents ever serve a fine cinematic purpose: visual proofs of invisible things: faith, forgiveness, and the danger to self that makes it "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 Mike Wallace Is Here (2019) Matthew Lickona A solid piece of cultural investigation built around a man who helped write history while it happened. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 The Kitchen (2019) Matthew Lickona The direction is flat (actors taking turns speaking their lines instead of actually conversing, etc.), the characterization baffling, the plot mechanics incredible - as in, not to be believed. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
3/5 Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019) Matthew Lickona Meandering but deliberate, gorgeous and garrulous, it is very much the writer-director doing what he does so well, but in very familiar fashion. Which brings up the possibility that in making a movie about movie making, his real subject here is himself. EDIT
Posted Jul 26, 2019
3/5 The Third Wife (2018) Matthew Lickona Perhaps most remarkable is the contrast between the intense interior drama and the lush, languorous world in which it rages. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
1/5 Our Time (2018) Scott Marks The experience must have been a cathartic one for Reygadas, but at 177 minutes, audience members who survive this marathon round of couples therapy deserve to charge an hourly rate. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
2/5 In the Aisles (2018) Scott Marks A good cast tries hard, but for a story that finds its origin in short fiction, there's no excuse for letting this run on for over two hours. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/5 Crawl (2019) Scott Marks Though not a patch on Lewis Teague's charming Alligator, a steady dose of more action-thrillers like this may help send comic-book carcinoma into remission. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/5 Sergeant Pepper (2004) Scott Marks If your kids can read, this is the other movie currently playing that borrows its title from a Beatles tune that deserves your attention. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/5 Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2018) Scott Marks This makes a great companion piece to the "Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913," a meticulously restored DVD collection that contains a good number of the director's films. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/5 The Farewell (2019) Scott Marks On the plus side, Ms. Wang puts her Panavision lens to impeccable use. You can count the number of closeups on one hand. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
2/5 Walking on Water (2018) Matthew Lickona The film does what it apparently sets out to do, which is to give some account of two statements Christo makes to a group of schoolchildren early on in the proceedings: "I love real things," and, "When you are an artist, you are all the time artist." EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/5 The Art of Self-Defense (2019) Matthew Lickona It's tempting to imagine that writer-director Riley Stearns caught a screening of the supremely feel-good The Karate Kid and thought, "Yeah, I can make the opposite of that." EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
1/5 The Lion King (2019) Matthew Lickona By this point, Disney's do-overs feel a lot like their cash-grabby, inspiration-free '90s direct-to-video sequels, only with vastly better production values. EDIT
Posted Jul 19, 2019
2/5 Pavarotti (2019) Scott Marks See it, if for no other reason than to learn the significance of his characteristic white hankie. EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
2/5 Toy Story 4 (2019) Scott Marks Why the need for Part 4? There are new characters to merchandise! EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
2/5 The Spy Behind Home Plate (2019) Scott Marks Reaching too hard for nostalgia, the distracting wall-to-wall soundtrack plays like a K-Tel collection of wartime hits. And for every talking head author, there's a copy of their book hogging the frame. A fascinating story nonetheless. EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
2/5 The Proposal (2018) Scott Marks What begins with an absorbing struggle over copyright infringement soon descends into an episode of Ghost Hunters with Magid leaving out a plate of Barragán's favorite cookies in case his spirit is hungry. EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
0/5 Midsommar (2019) Scott Marks Don't let the studio-manufactured hype fool you; this is a midsummer's matinee bore. EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
2/5 Maiden (2018) Scott Marks If only director Alex Holmes' ability to commandeer a story was one-tenth as ambitious as his lead character. EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
0/5 Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Scott Marks Here's a horror sequel that wants to be anything other than what it is: a picture about an evil doll. EDIT
Posted Jul 9, 2019
1/5 Ghost Fleet (2018) Matthew Lickona Alas, it's another heroic and remarkable story undone by muddled and middling moviemaking. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2019
2/5 Halston (2019) Matthew Lickona How can you stay mad at something so chock full of delicious detail about a man who actually lined his office walls with mirrors? EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2019
0/5 The Dead Don't Die (2019) Matthew Lickona The scary (and gory) things on screen may be zombies, but the real monster here is the troll in the director's chair. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2019
3/5 Double Lives (2018) Matthew Lickona Writer-director Olivier Assayas goes looking for one real thing amid a group of French sophisticates who deal in artifice, both as a way of making a living and (with one possible exception) as a way of life. EDIT
Posted Jun 8, 2019
1/5 Dark Phoenix (2019) Matthew Lickona It didn't have to end this way...It didn't have to end with so little emotion, so little meaning - with a sad little speech about evolving, for Phoenix's sake. EDIT
Posted Jun 8, 2019
3/5 Sauvage (2018) Matthew Lickona What's the old saw about war? That it's long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror? Tweaked a little, the line serves pretty well as a description of Sauvage. All that's required is the addition of "and/or emotion" at the end. EDIT
Posted May 30, 2019
3/5 The Silence of Others (2018) Matthew Lickona Directors Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar's documentary...tracks the dogged efforts of those who refuse to let the past stay buried when the suffering it caused is still very much alive. EDIT
Posted May 30, 2019
0/5 Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Matthew Lickona Budget is not normally the sort of thing you mention in a review, but when you see a film that is almost entirely driven by spectacle and you keep marveling at how slapdash and/or unreal everything looks, you do start to wonder where all the money went. EDIT
Posted May 30, 2019
1/5 Aladdin (2019) Matthew Lickona There are efforts made, whether through good faith or just market savvy, to update Princess Jasmine into a people's champion who might prefer ruling to romance. Enough to make you wish the Disney people had gone whole hog and just called it Jasmine. EDIT
Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 Booksmart (2019) Matthew Lickona Dever and Feldstein's friendship and chemistry provide the film with both its chief appeal and dramatic engine, and the winning pair make Booksmart a film that's very easy to like. But it's less easy to believe. EDIT
Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 The Biggest Little Farm (2018) Matthew Lickona A splendid commercial - as opposed to argument - for small-scale biodiversity as an effective operative principle for a family farm in Southern California. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
1/5 All Is True (2018) Matthew Lickona Ultimately, it's a bit on-the-nose, and the disconnect between Shakespeare's genius for character and his befuddled attempts at personal relationships makes for a man too bifurcated to believe, as if the fire that gutted the Globe also burned his brain. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
1/5 John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum (2019) Matthew Lickona It's rather like when Bond films went from Sean Connery to Roger Moore. Plenty of people will find this copacetic. A few will grouse about what's been lost: a touch of the real amid the merely fantastic. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2019
3/5 Hail Satan? (2019) Matthew Lickona The question mark in the title of Penny Lane's documentary on The Satanic Temple is integral to the story she's telling...a fine, thought-provoking effort. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019
1/5 Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Matthew Lickona For a while, the first live-action Pokemon movie's achievements are enough. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019
3/5 Tolkien (2019) Matthew Lickona Tolkien casts a delicate spell: it's not difficult to imagine some viewers proving utterly impervious to its peculiar magic. But some others will be enchanted and even transported by its charms. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019
3/5 The White Crow (2018) Matthew Lickona Not exactly a warts-and-all artist biopic. It's more an account of the way that the artistic spirit is a wart, a strange affliction that besets certain people even as it fascinates others. EDIT
Posted May 3, 2019
1/5 Long Shot (2019) Matthew Lickona It may not work as a movie, but as a love story, it's got great appeal. EDIT
Posted May 3, 2019
2/5 Stockholm (2018) Matthew Lickona Budreau states at the outset that the true story he's working from is absurd, and it's clear that he relishes that absurdity: yes, lives are being threatened throughout and powerful feelings are at play, but this is a strange and amiable comedy at heart. EDIT
Posted May 1, 2019
2/5 Avengers: Endgame (2019) Matthew Lickona The MCU will go on and on, but this chapter - and the American pragmatism vs. American ideals bromance that drove it - have well and truly come to their "Excelsior! Nuff said!" moment. EDIT
Posted Apr 26, 2019
2/5 Mary Magdalene (2018) Matthew Lickona It's a well-meaning, good-looking effort - but those elements don't necessarily make for good watching. One needs to be in the mood for this sort of thing. EDIT
Posted Apr 19, 2019