Browse Articles by J. Don Birnam

The Good Nurse Review: Another Good Jessica Chastain Performance Can’t Make Up for a Bad Script

September 2022
<i>The Good Nurse</i> Review: Another Good Jessica Chastain Performance Can’t Make Up for a Bad Script

Fresh off of her well-deserved Oscar win for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Jessica Chastain plays another undeniably sympathetic character in the upcoming Netflix thriller The Good Nurse, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Chastain plays Amy Loughren, a single mother with a life-threatening condition who nonetheless works as an ICU... »

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Posted in Featured, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews, Television |

The Banshees of Inisherin Review: Martin McDonagh Milks Grim Laughs From Irish Pain and Sadness

September 2022
<i>The Banshees of Inisherin</i> Review: Martin McDonagh Milks Grim Laughs From Irish Pain and Sadness

Do you ever feel like you just want to be left the eff alone for no discernible reason other than you have simply had enough? Would you be willing to cut off your proverbial nose to spite your face in order to achieve that level of hermitage? These are the questions posed by director... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

The Woman King Review: Viola Davis Delivers as Royal African Warrior in Sony’s Historical Epic

September 2022
<i>The Woman King</i> Review: Viola Davis Delivers as Royal African Warrior in Sony’s Historical Epic

Before the TIFF world premiere of The Woman King, Viola Davis called the historical epic her magnum opus, and while many film festival intros feature exaggerated hyperbole, Davis isn’t prone to such talk, as the no-nonsense actress means business, much like her latest character. The Woman King takes place in the West African kingdom... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

The Fabelmans Review: Steven Spielberg Takes on His Love of Movies With This “Instant Classic” Based on His Own Childhood

September 2022
<i>The Fabelmans</i> Review: Steven Spielberg Takes on His Love of Movies With This “Instant Classic” Based on His Own Childhood

There are no living directors (and perhaps not even dead ones) who can combine the utter originality of Steven Spielberg’s projects with his pinpoint perfection when it comes to technical and emotional moviemaking. Few filmmakers have been able to so entertain audiences, while wowing them with effects and adventure, pulling at the emotional heartstrings,... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Glass Onion Review: Too Many Convoluted Layers Nearly Rot Netflix’s Star-Studded Knives Out Sequel 

September 2022
<i>Glass Onion</i> Review: Too Many Convoluted Layers Nearly Rot Netflix’s Star-Studded <i>Knives Out</i> Sequel 

Great, timeless detectives are hard to come by, and many world-renowned authors have tried but failed to achieve Sherlock Holmes/Hercule Poirot-levels of gumshoe immortality. It is too soon to tell whether Rian Johnson’s Benoit Blanc, played with sarcastic aplomb by Daniel Craig in the Knives Out movies, will become an icon among movie detectives or... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Empire of Light Review: Olivia Colman Shines in Sam Mendes’ Nostalgic Ode to the Power of Love and Cinema

September 2022
<i>Empire of Light</i> Review: Olivia Colman Shines in Sam Mendes’ Nostalgic Ode to the Power of Love and Cinema

Director Sam Mendes returns to the big screen with Empire of Light, which he described at the Telluride Film Festival world premiere as his most personal film yet. The film stars Oscar winner Olivia Colman as Hilary Small, who manages a local movie theater in a Southern English coastal town. Eventually, Hilary develops a... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Tár Review: A Brilliant Cate Blanchett Tackles Cancel Culture and Powerful Women With Help From Director Todd Field

September 2022
Tár Review: A Brilliant Cate Blanchett Tackles Cancel Culture and Powerful Women With Help From Director Todd Field

Two-thirds of the way through the 160-minute runtime of Cate Blanchett’s new festival vehicle Tár, the titular protagonist Lydia Tár is seen with her face bloodied, her eye swollen, and her nose broken. She is battered because of an excursion gone wrong, but that is beside the point — these broken features are emblematic... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Women Talking Review: Sarah Polley’s Exquisite Drama Shows No Fear in Taking on the Patriarchy

September 2022
<i>Women Talking</i> Review: Sarah Polley’s Exquisite Drama Shows No Fear in Taking on the Patriarchy

Canadian director Sarah Polley (Away With Her, Take This Waltz) has made her best film yet with Women Talking, the first feature she has directed in a decade. The movie had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival last week, and it’s based on Miriam Toews‘ 2018 novel, which follows eight Mennonite women... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Bardo Review: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Deeply Personal Biopic Is Moving But Rambling 

September 2022
<i>Bardo</i> Review: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Deeply Personal Biopic Is Moving But Rambling 

Kudos to director Alejandro González Iñárritu for bravely bucking the “90 minutes is too long to sit still” trend that defines our restless, unfocused generations. His new film Bardo (or False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths) — the title itself augurs length — screened this past week at both the Venice and Telluride... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |

Beast Review: It’s the Script That Nearly Slays Idris Elba in Thrilling Killer Lion Movie

August 2022
<i>Beast</i> Review: It’s the Script That Nearly Slays Idris Elba in Thrilling Killer Lion Movie

The subgenre of animal horror has featured sharks, tarantulas, alligators, and even dinosaurs, but not since Scar dug his claws into Mufasa have lions been as scary as the one hunting humans in the new Idris Elba movie Beast, which hails from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur and roars into theaters this weekend courtesy of Universal... »

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Posted in Featured, Film, Film Releases, Industry Sector, Reviews |