4Columns

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
The Conversation (1974) A.S. Hamrah The coldest, most alienated Hollywood film from an era of suspicion and anxiety, a time in American life when we realized that ordinary discourse had to be decoded, that the unseen forces controlling our lives were sinister, and knowledge was fragmentary. EDIT
Posted Mar 23, 2020
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) Melissa Anderson Refusing to grandstand, Hittman has made a vital film about the perils of female adolescence in a country rank with hypocrisy, hysteria, and worse about sexually active young women. EDIT
Posted Mar 13, 2020
Vitalina Varela (2019) Andrew Chan Vitalina Varela, for all the psychic and economic devastation it depicts, is beautiful to the point of being ravishing. EDIT
Posted Feb 21, 2020
I Was at Home, But (2019) Melissa Anderson Schanelec creates a subdued, cryptic domestic drama-one denuded of the histrionics typically associated with the genre but one that nevertheless gives a real sense, if only in glimpses, of the burdens and joys of this Schöneberg household. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2020
Cane River (1982) Nick Pinkerton What Jenkins is after in his 1982 film is a granular, micro regionalism, one that's measured in acres, surnames, and property lines...the film is filled with the pleasures of specificity. EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2020
New York, New York (1977) Melissa Anderson The look and sound of 'New York, New York' may rapturously bring to mind any number of postwar MGM marvels. But its mood suggests outtakes from a scorching psychodrama, rushes from a documentary of a couple imploding. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2020
Beanpole (2019) Melissa Anderson Balagov, in thrall to the debased visual motifs of depicting agony, ends up banalizing the women and the era he wishes to honor. EDIT
Posted Jan 24, 2020
Little Women (2019) Michelle Orange Vital, bodied performances further the sense of characters who will exercise their will not on the hidden hills to which "independent" women are typically consigned but in the world, who will pass into womanhood not just still living but alive. EDIT
Posted Jan 13, 2020
Little Joe (2019) Melissa Anderson Just as the formal and technical aspects of Little Joe ensure its consistent mystery and surprise, so too does the film's genre fluidity guarantee that no one theme is overinvested with meaning. EDIT
Posted Dec 13, 2019
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) Melissa Anderson If the film lurches at times with schematic dudgeon-devolving into a checklist of coolly outraged points to be made-it also gloriously blooms as a tale of lesbian ardor. EDIT
Posted Dec 6, 2019
Duet for Cannibals (1969) Wayne Koestenbaum Susan Sontag's first film begins with the sound of repeated knocking or hammering...Sontag knocks on cinema's door: she wants to spank cinema but also to be granted admission to its fecundating chamber. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
Atlantics (2019) Melissa Anderson Diop's film, her first feature, isn't only one thing or beholden to a sole genre. Nested within this tale of the reanimated dead is a mythic romance and a coldly furious allegory about the migrant crisis. EDIT
Posted Nov 15, 2019
The Irishman (2019) Melissa Anderson This opera seria about decay is handled with utmost brio, vivified by the signature élan of one of American cinema's most enduring big-canvas filmmakers. EDIT
Posted Nov 8, 2019
Marriage Story (2019) Sarah Resnick I felt that I was watching "acting"- since his protagonists are show people, Baumbach has allowed them more theatricality, thus risking the naturalism he wanted to portray. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
Synonyms (2018) Melissa Anderson Mercier, who appears in nearly every scene, is a consistently galvanic presence. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
Downtown 81 (2000) Melissa Anderson Viewers of 'Downtown 81' become de facto archaeologists. We peer into long-since-shuttered clubs, and gaze at rubble-filled lower Manhattan blocks where a Whole Foods or Capital One bank may now stand. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
Joker (2019) Nick Pinkerton A film that takes on the nigh-impossible task of smuggling transgressive underground danger into a contemporary, risk-averse multiplex tentpole package. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
Parasite (2019) Andrew Chan At the core of this film is an us-vs-them solidarity that makes even its most contrived narrative payoffs reverberate with emotional authenticity. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
Dolor y gloria (2019) Melissa Anderson The profound melancholy that suffuses the film results from two artists contending with their senescence, with their prolific careers and their attendant triumphs and misfires. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
Ad Astra (2019) Melissa Anderson The film's Latin title means "to the stars." But the satisfactions of James Gray's project lie in a special branch of astronomy-not the study of planets, but of the supernova at the center of "Ad Astra": Brad Pitt. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
A Bigger Splash (1973) Ed Halter One of its primary pleasures, perhaps even more so with the passing of time, is the intimate peephole it provides into the private lives of now-historical art-world figures. EDIT
Posted Jun 28, 2019
Booksmart (2019) Melissa Anderson Booksmart too often seems dutiful and assiduous, as if its makers had simply followed a manual listing the proper, righteous bromides for the characters to speak. In this time-condensed rumspringa, nothing offensive, troubling, or surprising happens. EDIT
Posted May 24, 2019
Diamantino (2018) Thomas Beard Bioethics, offshore banking, the surveillance state, celebrity in the age of social media, the politics of immigration-Diamantino is, through its expansive menagerie of subjects as well as its formal maneuvers, a relentlessly contemporary work of art. EDIT
Posted May 20, 2019
Netemo sametemo (2018) Melissa Anderson The pleasures of Asako I & II lie in witnessing the keen understanding evinced by Hamaguchi and his cast of how genuine emotions in romantic dyads are expressed or, just as often, concealed. EDIT
Posted May 10, 2019
Double Lives (2018) Nick Pinkerton Assayas is interested in seeing how these characters paddle along with (or against) the currents of the oceanic, macro-scale culture market-but also how their micro-scale market of sex and sentiment creates its own little ripples within that ocean. EDIT
Posted May 3, 2019
Queen of Diamonds (1991) Sarah Resnick In Queen of Diamonds, Menkes offers a trance-inducing tour of an overdeveloped city-a stand-in for our overdeveloped country-by fixing her camera precisely on the castoffs of conspicuous consumption. EDIT
Posted Apr 26, 2019
Her Smell (2018) Melissa Anderson Movies about self-destructing rock stars, whether based on real idols or centering on wholly invented characters, are often hackneyed. But Perry's pulsating, quicksilver film, boosted by Moss's jagged magnetism, vivifies the genre. EDIT
Posted Apr 19, 2019
High Life (2018) Melissa Anderson Sometimes absurd but always absorbing, Claire Denis's sci-fi adventure begins with a bit of baby talk. "Da-da," cosmonaut Monte coos to his infant daughter during their celestial voyage. It's an apt prelude for a film that drifts off into Dadaism. EDIT
Posted Apr 12, 2019
Us (2019) Melissa Anderson Peele seems to lay bare the tremendous anxiety among the members of this family to maintain "respectability," that odious burden so essential to racism's armature. EDIT
Posted Mar 29, 2019
Ash Is Purest White (2018) Andrew Chan Ash becomes Jia's most resonant work in at least a decade, a film in which the warring impulses within a single character cut through the noise of big themes and national metaphors. EDIT
Posted Mar 15, 2019
Gloria Bell (2018) Michelle Orange For "Gloria" fans, "Gloria Bell" is a confounding watch, a bit like that dream where your dad is your dad but also Brad Pitt. EDIT
Posted Mar 8, 2019
Mapplethorpe (2018) Melissa Anderson Ultimately the movie, with its gimcrack period pageantry, cannot escape its essential conundrum: that it is subordinate, inferior to the still images that festoon it. EDIT
Posted Mar 1, 2019
Transit (2018) Leo Goldsmith The shape of Transit becomes close to that of a double helix, in which the convoluted managerial processes of immigration become intertwined in the recursive patterns of desire. EDIT
Posted Feb 22, 2019
Sorry Angel (2018) Melissa Anderson Sorry Angel concerns several dynamic topics, namely intergenerational romance and love among men during the height of the AIDS pandemic. Yet it rarely plays like a film about churning, ungovernable life. It is instead a precious, inert gloss on lifestyle. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2019
Flight of the Red Balloon (2007) Melissa Anderson Each character an outsider in some way-Simon owing to his age, Song to her nationality-the child and his minder form a tender dyad, one marked by reciprocated respect and curiosity. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
The Image Book (2018) Tobi Haslett This is a graceless work. That gracelessness feels like a spiritual resource, a kind of optimism of the will. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
Vice (2018) Nick Pinkerton Now, humor is a fickle and subjective thing, but for the record, I laughed aloud exactly once while watching Vice...More often the film is only embarrassing in its flinging about for novelty. EDIT
Posted Jan 4, 2019
Destroyer (2018) Melissa Anderson Everywhere strain is evident. Kidman and the filmmakers are unremitting in their determination to show us the effort required to portray such a dejected, dehydrated antiheroine, a role atypical of the A-lister. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2018
Amazing Grace (2018) Melissa Anderson Although the voice of Aretha Franklin, however incomparable, may be familiar to us, it's rare to witness the sheer physical and mental exertion required to create that glorious sound. EDIT
Posted Dec 7, 2018
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Andrew Chan We're constantly reminded of what so many movies revolving around themes of oppression fail to acknowledge: that even under threat, love can still feel like love-which is to say, like a state of rapture. EDIT
Posted Nov 30, 2018
Les garçons sauvages (2017) Melissa Anderson Deliberately, alluringly unstable and destabilizing, 'The Wild Boys' is made even more turbulent by its superabundance of references and inspirations. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2018
Burning (2018) Leo Goldsmith It's a pity that a work so precisely constructed as Burning too often devolves into yet another male-insecurity movie...dwelling intently on male pathology at the level of character psychology and signposting its connections to the problems of the day. EDIT
Posted Oct 26, 2018
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Melissa Anderson An echt New York eccentric, Lee Israel onscreen has been remolded into a generically grumpy outcast, one whose miseries seem to stem from that catch-all etiology, "trust issues." EDIT
Posted Oct 19, 2018
First Man (2018) A.S. Hamrah First Man's grimness . . . is the product of uncertainty about what America means today and who has a place in it. It switches out exuberance for glum dedication to training and expertise, presenting a Neil Armstrong for today's winner-take-all economy. EDIT
Posted Oct 12, 2018
A Star Is Born (2018) Melissa Anderson Little jabs of pleasure give way to something less tingly, safer: nods of admiration. Torquing Susan Sontag's definition of camp as "seriousness that fails," I think of Cooper's movie as seriousness that succeeds, but perhaps too well or too cleanly. EDIT
Posted Oct 5, 2018
The Old Man & the Gun (2018) Danny King That Lowery leaves so much to the imagination-that he adores Tucker and enjoys being around him but refuses to explain him-is perhaps the movie's greatest virtue. EDIT
Posted Sep 28, 2018
Ocean's 8 (2018) Melissa Anderson Throughout this desultory, dreary movie, odd lines of dialogue pop up that seem to perversely comment on the sheer superfluity of Ocean's 8. EDIT
Posted Sep 25, 2018
Colette (2018) Andrea Long Chu For a film that clearly wants to honor Colette as a sapphic icon, there is far too much Willy...Our heroine is largely under-written, and Knightley's teasing eyes are not enough to give her much of an interior life. EDIT
Posted Sep 24, 2018
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018) Melissa Anderson Ross remains ever attuned to the casual grace of quotidian human actions, and the subdued splendor of nature at its plainest. Hale County is documentation as a kind of auscultation; the camera functions as a stethoscope, capturing heartbeat and breath. EDIT
Posted Sep 14, 2018
Milford Graves Full Mantis (2018) Geeta Dayal Full Mantis misses out on some of that potential for diversity of perspectives, but gains in its close understanding of the subject. The film plays like a ninety-one-minute private lesson from Graves himself. EDIT
Posted Jul 11, 2018