Category: Movies

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band movie review (2020)

For years after the breakup of The Band—the real sundering of musical and personal bonds, occurring some time after the farewell celebration depicted in Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Last Waltz”—its multi-instrumentalist (but mostly drummer) and singer Levon Helm would complain to anyone who would listen (or so it seemed) about what a snake his bandmate Robbie Robertson was. Self-aggrandizing, publishing thief, liar, inappropriate booker of Neil Diamond—you name it, that was Robbie. Through it all, Robertson kept his own counsel, never publicly responding to Helm. During Helm’s final illness and leading to his 2012 death—leaving Robertson and multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson ... Read more

Vitalina Varela movie review & film summary (2020)

At first glance, Pedro Costa’s “Vitalina Varela” feels like it’s challenging its viewer with its distancing avant garde style. It bears little of the trappings of popular movies, has only a little plot for us to follow and it looks more like a stylish photoshoot come to life. Most—if not all—of the shots in the film are static, composed to an extraordinary degree of rigor. This will either capture your attention for the next two hours or frustrate you. Should you surrender yourself to the film’s beautiful cinematography and whispered musings, you’ll find a breathtakingly gorgeous movie about love, death ... Read more

Young Ahmed movie review & film summary (2020)

For sheer consistency of both artistic vision and high-quality output, perhaps no current European filmmaker except Pedro Almodovar can match the sustained brilliance of Belgium’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Since first gaining critical attention with 1996’s “La Promesse,” the brothers have made nine features that have kept them in the top tier of international festivals, including Cannes, where they are regular prize-winners. Their latest, “Young Ahmed,” which won the Best Director trophy at the last Cannes, is consistent with their past work yet also something of a departure. Like all of their films, it takes place in present-day Belgium and ... Read more

Premature movie review & film summary (2020)

At this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, the co-writer and director of “Premature,” Rashaad Ernesto Green received the appropriately titled “Someone to Watch” award. His film was also nominated for the John Cassavetes Award, which is also appropriate; Green produced this film, financed it and even shot some of it in his own apartment, channeling the spirit of the late filmmaker most associated with the origins of American independent cinema. At times, “Premature” has the same fly-on-the-wall, near-improvisational and casually meandering qualities of a Cassavetes film, though its refreshingly honest and direct depiction of Black sexuality made me think of early ... Read more

Emma. movie review & film summary (2020)

There was a two-year period in the mid-1990s when Emma Woodhouse was everywhere. First came Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless,” a modern-day classic with the action of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel transported to 1990s-era Beverly Hills. The following year came two versions, one on film, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and the other on television, starring Kate Beckinsale (a perfect actress for this type of material; see Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship,” based on a story Austen wrote at 14). About 10 years ago, there was a BBC mini-series adaptation. You’d think we would be Emma-ed out by now. Not so. The new adaptation, ... Read more

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations movie review (2020)

“If I say to you it is my opinion that 9/11 never happened, or that slavery never happened or that Elvis is alive—that’s not an opinion, that’s a lie, even if I insist upon it. What we see today are people taking lies, insisting on them as their opinion and hoping to shape the facts.”  This quote from my 2016 interview with historian Deborah Lipstadt, whose courtroom victory over a Holocaust denier was depicted in Mick Jackson’s “Denial,” has continued to haunt me every time a world leader spouts alternative facts as if they were undisputed truths. I spoke with ... Read more

Brahms: The Boy II movie review (2020)

There has been an unexpected mini-trend lately in which horror sequels, not typically a strong subgenre, have been surprisingly strong creatively in films like “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and “Annabelle: Creation,” both better than the films that preceded them. Perhaps this is what led someone to believe that “Brahms: The Boy II” was a good idea. This person was wrong. Maybe that’s harsh, but at least that person was wrong with this version of a sequel that even fans of the original probably weren’t really expecting. Given that “The Boy II” arguably works better – and makes a tick more ... Read more

Home Entertainment Guide: February 20, 2020 | Demanders

by Brian Tallerico February 20, 2020   |   Print Page Tweet 5 NEW TO NETFLIX “A Bad Moms Christmas““The Ballad of Lefty Brown““By the Sea““Good Time““Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner“ 8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD “21 Bridges“ Chadwick Boseman stars in a relatively no-frills thriller of the kind of that Tony Scott might have made with Denzel Washington twenty years ago. The market for this kind of old-fashioned shoot-em-up has kind of disappeared over the years as more people turn to TV, typically CBS, for stories of lawmen fighting against bad guys with guns. “21 Bridges” is the story of a drug ... Read more

The Call of the Wild movie review (2020)

In 1977, Harrison Ford made me believe he was talking to Greedo and Jabba the Hutt in “Star Wars,” and those characters were as low-tech as Gumby and Pokey compared to the technology used to create Ford’s canine co-star in “The Call of the Wild.” And yet, I never bought it. Instead of getting caught up in the story, I kept wondering how Disney achieved the effects, like the interactions between the CGI dog with the real-life people and props around him. A lot of work clearly went into scanning a dog from every angle, and getting the muscles, fur, weight, and shape to look ... Read more

Amazon Prime’s Hunters Embraces Grindhouse Style | Demanders

by Brian Tallerico February 19, 2020   |   Print Page Tweet “Have you had enough? Cause there’s more.” This line from episode five of Amazon’s “Hunters” is kind of the operating principle of the show, which may not be the best new drama of the year but it is certainly trying to be the most new drama. Executive produced by Jordan Peele and starring Logan Lerman and Al Pacino, “Hunters” feels inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and other darkly humorous grindhouse movies while also being just a straight-up dark examination of the worst of humanity. At times, it embraces its ... Read more