Category: Movies

So was there an actual box-office slump in 2019?

Kristin here: Last May, I posted an entry responding to all the lamentations about a supposed slump in box-office revenues for theatrical films in the early months of 2019 compared with the same period of 2018. I pointed out that the cause of the slump was not due, or at least not entirely due, to a sudden lack of interest in movie-going resulting from the rise of streaming. The main reason was that most of the biggest BO hits of 2018 had been released earlier in the year than usual. As a result, most or all of their income came ... Read more

Intrigo: Death of an Author movie review (2020)

An unfaithful wife is murdered — or maybe not. A successful writer commits suicide — or maybe not. Nothing is certain here, not even the central character’s name. The narrator who opens the film just says, “Let’s call him Henry.” A mysterious manuscript may hold clues in the markings in pen on some of its pages. Perhaps the text itself has some clues the author did not realize.  A man who hires a private detective to find a missing person is himself is followed by a stranger with a limp. A trial reveals a secret affair as a possible motive for ... Read more

VHYes movie review & film summary (2020)

A sense of humor is a funny thing, especially for those of us who treasure the weird stuff. When something that’s “out there” works, it’s true love. When it doesn’t, it’s like a bad date that had huge promise until it got underway. Jack Henry Robbins’ “VHYes,” with all of its nostalgia for late ‘80s TV and its endemic cheesiness, follows after the likes of Weird Al Yankovic’s masterpiece “UHF,” Casper Kelly’s endlessly loopable opening credits hellscape “Too Many Cooks,” and even the Kyle Mooney skits that are “cut for time” on “Saturday Night Live.” And while I adore all of those polarizing ... Read more

The Host movie review & film summary (2020)

If you’re going to shamelessly rip-off from a classic most of us have seen, at least make it interesting. Andy Newbery’s “The Host” riffs off of two horror movies many might recognize, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and to a lesser extent, Eli Roth’s “Hostel.” However, the unholy mix of the two did not pack enough suspense to keep this viewer guessing or vary enough for me to stop thinking about the parallels. For a tale of mystery and intrigue, “The Host” provided neither.  Our lackluster beginnings start with a couple in London at the end of their affair. Heartbroken and frustrated, ... Read more

Disturbing the Peace movie review (2020)

“Mama take these guns away from me; I can’t shoot them any more.” That was Bob Dylan in 1973, breathing newish life into an origin-untraceable piece of Americana Mythos, that of the marshal who hangs up his firearms for whatever reason. In “Disturbing the Peace,” we see, in desaturated color—so we know it’s a flashback—why Guy Pearce’s Marshall Jim Dillon has hung up his piece. The goldurn thing went ant took out his partner when it ought have been killin’ a bad guy. Could happen to anyone, really, but Jim took it hard, left the Texas Rangers, and came to ... Read more

The Wave movie review & film summary (2020)

“The Wave” feels like an anachronism. In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, there were waves of movies about obnoxious, well-off white dudes learning a lesson about their false priorities and weak moral centers. “American Beauty” is one of the most notable given its Oscar success, but this was a crowded subgenre that mercifully went the way of the dinosaur. Watching people who arguably weren’t worth a second thought in terms of character suddenly realize they’ve been jerks most of their lives? What else ya got? At least, director Gille Klabin tries to amp up “The Wave” with aggressive visual style, ... Read more

Troop Zero movie review & film summary (2020)

If Wes Anderson were to mesh “Bad News Bears” with a live-action “Monsters University,” the result would look and feel something like “Troop Zero,” a whimsical, if not generic kiddie adventure more suited for young ones than grown-ups. Led by McKenna Grace—the remarkable young actor of “I, Tonya” and “Gifted” and directed by a female duo named Bert & Bertie, it’s a syrupy escapade of misfits set in a quaint Georgia town in 1977. Pleasant enough but never quite as emotionally gripping as a coming-of-age story about acceptance can be, “Troop Zero” scores a handful of memorable moments when it ... Read more

A Fall From Grace movie review (2020)

“A Fall From Grace” is Tyler Perry’s first movie for Netflix, which might suggest a certain amount of polish that’s typically lacking from his prolific filmography. But while the performances are stronger and the narrative is more coherent than you’d see in a “Madea” movie, for example, Perry’s latest still features many of the auteur’s trademarks: dizzying tonal swings, awkward blocking, drab lighting, jarring edits and a mixture of the salacious and the puritanical. In short, it’s nuts. And while it’s available to watch at home through streaming, it’s the kind of movie that’ll be way more enjoyable with an ... Read more

Weathering with You movie review (2020)

I can see why some animation fans revere writer/director Makoto Shinkai (“5 Centimeters Per Second,” “Garden of Words”) as the next big thing in Japanese animation. Shinkai’s 2016 body-swap fantasy “Your Name” was understandably his big international breakthrough: a cheery, engrossing, and, best of all, representative work that shows his knack for drawing viewers into the emotional life of his teenage protagonists. “Weathering With You,” Shinkai’s latest animated romantic-fantasy to be released in America, has the same spark of ingenuity and consistency of vision as his earlier work. Which is especially impressive, given that “Weathering With You” feels much bigger ... Read more

Dolittle movie review & film summary (2020)

It’s hard to know what, exactly, went wrong here. The concept is fine, even the adaptation is fine: eccentric doctor who can talk to animals goes on a series of madcap adventures! Sure! Nothing wrong with that! Hugh Lofting’s popular children’s book series, published in regular intervals during the 1920s and ’30s (with a couple of books of previously uncollected stories appearing posthumously), has been adapted many times before, for film, for television, animated, live action, etc. The “property” has been its own little franchise for a century now. But “Dolittle,” with Robert Downey Jr. in the eponymous role, is ... Read more