4Columns

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
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
Hereditary (2018) Nick Pinkerton The visually hyper-articulate Ari Aster understands one important thing that any director working in the horror/thriller mode should: that the half-seen is more terrible than the big reveal. EDIT
Posted Jun 8, 2018
The Misandrists (2017) Melissa Anderson An invigorating alternative not just to the unending cascade of banal queer-themed fare--if nothing else, LaBruce's outlandish scenarios activate thought experiments for those pondering a corrective to our present gynophobic kakistocracy. EDIT
Posted May 25, 2018
Tully (2018) Michelle Orange Despite Theron's bold, aching performance, Marlo remains an avatar of some more general experience. The richness of her ambivalence and the humanity of her predicament are just apparent enough to frustrate the vast appetite for their fuller expression. EDIT
Posted May 4, 2018
Un beau soleil intérieur (2017) Melissa Anderson "Let the Sunshine In" is Denis's most voluble movie and, despite the emotional turmoil its heroine endures, among her gentlest. EDIT
Posted Apr 20, 2018
Zama (2017) Melissa Anderson Martel's films can seem disjointed, yet there is always the palpable, inexorable feeling of malaise, of psychic and moral rot under exacting investigation. EDIT
Posted Apr 17, 2018
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2017) Doreen St. Felix This is the rhythm of Bloodlight and Bami, tacking from disclosure to effacement, folksy verité to extravagance. It takes its cues from Jones herself, who is like a second director, one fluent in the language of mythmaking. EDIT
Posted Apr 6, 2018
Lean on Pete (2017) Paul Felten Charley is the perfect working-class avatar for the white urban NPR listener: the boy is surrounded by poor people but not really one of them, only momentarily corrupted by homelessness and depredation until he finally lands safely in the suburbs. EDIT
Posted Mar 30, 2018
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) Michelle Orange A movie well-positioned to blow the culture's inspire-o-meter right off its mooring. EDIT
Posted Mar 27, 2018
12 Days (2017) Sukhdev Sandhu Textured and troubled, rich in pointillist details, anything but a manifesto. EDIT
Posted Mar 19, 2018
Red Sparrow (2018) Melissa Anderson Red Sparrow, a joyless genre exercise, inadvertently advances the premise that most, maybe all male-female mating could be thought of as a ruse, the basest kind of transaction, the bleakest form of pleasure. EDIT
Posted Mar 2, 2018
Black Panther (2018) Hanif Abdurraqib This expansiveness is what is most thrilling about Black Panther: the film gives all of its black characters the space to be several things at once. To be both king and failure. Villain and revolutionary. Genius and warrior. EDIT
Posted Feb 23, 2018
The 15:17 to Paris (2018) Danny King "An offbeat, mysterious curveball we neither needed nor deserved." EDIT
Posted Feb 16, 2018
Una mujer fantástica (2017) Melissa Anderson "A Fantastic Woman" can at times seem too invested in defining Marina not by what she does but by what is done to her. EDIT
Posted Jan 29, 2018
The Greatest Showman (2017) Ed Halter This crude revision of Barnum as a white able-bodied savior-a kind of Oskar Schindler of the sideshow-is particularly in bad taste considering the far more unsavory historical realities. EDIT
Posted Jan 5, 2018
Phantom Thread (2017) Melissa Anderson Moody and mesmerizing, Paul Thomas Anderson's 1950s-set Phantom Thread may be the first of a genre: the haute-couture gothic. It thrills as an invigorating tale of moribundity. EDIT
Posted Dec 15, 2017
I, Tonya (2017) Melissa Anderson An intended black seriocomedy curdles into garish burlesque. The biopic becomes the biohazard. EDIT
Posted Dec 8, 2017
Call Me by Your Name (2017) Melissa Anderson Languor, lust; yearning, yielding: Call Me by Your Name-a sexy, melancholy summer idyll directed by the supreme cine-sybarite Luca Guadagnino-lushly shows how desire is deftly articulated, even when not explicitly labeled or spoken. EDIT
Posted Nov 17, 2017
Rat Film (2016) Steven Zultanski The film is overflowing with possible metaphors for change, which is hopeful, even if metaphors are not enough. EDIT
Posted Nov 10, 2017
I Am Not Your Negro (2016) Tobi Haslett Gorgeous text spoken over gripping images, jamming the past into the present to clarify an impending reality that seems both baffling and inevitable, traumatically perplexing and terribly clear. EDIT
Posted Nov 10, 2017
Detroit (2017) Ashley Clark In one of the darkest moments I've experienced in a cinema for some time, I caught myself wondering whether the horror shown is so detailed, so unremitting, that white supremacists might actually enjoy watching it. EDIT
Posted Nov 10, 2017
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Ed Halter It tries to hold a mirror up to humanity, but merely provides a romp through a forest of empty signifiers. EDIT
Posted Nov 10, 2017