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Resurrection Review: Marvelous Rebecca Hall Can’t Save Sundance Thriller From Self-Inflicted Wounds

January 27, 2022 | By
<i>Resurrection</i> Review: Marvelous Rebecca Hall Can’t Save Sundance Thriller From Self-Inflicted Wounds

A good murder mystery asks the question of “who done it?” but the psychological version of a whodunit asks whether “it” was done at all. Resurrection isn’t a murder mystery at all, but it is one of those movies where you’re not quite sure whether the protagonist is suffering from some kind of mental illness... »

Call Jane Review: Elizabeth Banks Shines in Quiet Abortion Movie at Sundance

January 26, 2022 | By
<i>Call Jane</i> Review: Elizabeth Banks Shines in Quiet Abortion Movie at Sundance

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal across the country, and 49 years later, the Sundance Film Festival hosted the world premiere of Call Jane, which tells the story of the women who ran underground abortion facilities that were necessary prior to that landmark decision. The film has limited commercial appeal beyond the... »

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande Review: Emma Thompson Comes on Strong in Sundance Tale of Sexual Discovery

January 23, 2022 | By
<i>Good Luck to You, Leo Grande</i> Review: Emma Thompson Comes on Strong in Sundance Tale of Sexual Discovery

So many clichés and sophomoric puns infect Emma Thompson’s sexy new Sundance film Good Luck to You, Leo Grande that it’s hard for this critic to admit that it’s an entertaining, superbly acted film — one that’s memorable enough to warrant an acquisition from a strong arthouse distributor such as Bleecker Street or Focus Features. Thompson plays Nancy,... »

When You Finish Saving the World Review: Jesse Eisenberg’s Uneven Directorial Debut Parodies Modern Values

January 21, 2022 | By
<i>When You Finish Saving the World</i> Review: Jesse Eisenberg’s Uneven Directorial Debut Parodies Modern Values

Oscar-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg is mostly associated with quirky, comedic dramas that reflect or analyze modern, coastal sensibilities. Whether working with Woody Allen (Café Society, To Rome With Love), focused on society’s frustratingly selfish values (The Social Network), or delighting in amusing irreverence (Zombieland, Adventureland), the cerebral actor is evidently drawn to a certain aesthetic, so it’s not surprising, then,... »

Scream Review: Middling Horror “Requel” Is Too Haunted By Its Own Past to Draw Fresh Blood

January 12, 2022 | By
<i>Scream</i> Review: Middling Horror “Requel” Is Too Haunted By Its Own Past to Draw Fresh Blood

Before I explain why the new Scream movie left me disappointed, you have to understand where I’m coming from. Scream (1996) is the reason I became a writer. No joke! I saw it when on Opening Day when I was 12 years old and it blew my adolescent mind so much that I returned the following... »

The 355 Review: Spy Movie Has Five Amazing Leads and Three Crippling Problems

January 7, 2022 | By
<i>The 355</i> Review: Spy Movie Has Five Amazing Leads and Three Crippling Problems

Revolutionary War history know-it-alls will tell you that “The 355” was the codename for a patriotic female spy whose name was unknown. Simon Kinberg’s new film bearing her name features five talented actresses whose names are well-known and whose talents are undeniable, shining through with every gunshot and dropkick featured in this film. But raw star... »

J. Don Birnam’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2021

December 22, 2021 | By
J. Don Birnam’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2021

It is the time of year for arbitrary lists and making one of the “top” movies of the year is a tried and true one. But “top” implies seeing them all and ranking, a task not even the most dedicated of critics can claim to achieve. Instead, I’d rather mention my favorite ten movies... »

Review: Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up Offers Some of His Funniest Socio-Political Humor  Yet

December 8, 2021 | By
Review: Adam McKay’s <em>Don’t Look Up</em> Offers Some of His Funniest Socio-Political Humor  Yet

Filmmaker Adam McKay has specialized in a certain type of sociopolitical humor over his past few films, and boy, has America given him a lot of ammunition to work from in the past four years since his Dick Cheney movie, Vice.  This time, he goes further into fiction — science fiction to be precise —... »

Review: Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos Continues His Incredible Run of Biopics 

December 7, 2021 | By
Review: Aaron Sorkin’s <em>Being the Ricardos</em> Continues His Incredible Run of Biopics 

Anyone who has spent their life watching reruns of I Love Lucy may think they know Lucille Ball, her husband Desi Arnaz, and their relationship fairly well, but more than likely, only from the way they portrayed their television alter-egos.  As Aaron Sorkin did with Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and others, he has decided... »

Review: Nightmare Alley‘s Classic del Toro Panache Overcomes its Uneven Script

December 3, 2021 | By
Review: <em>Nightmare Alley</em>‘s Classic del Toro Panache Overcomes its Uneven Script

Guillermo del Toro revisits the 1946 novel Nightmare Alley, about a grifter conman, which first got adapted, film noir style, in 1947. Film noir is del Toro’s bailiwick and his own Nightmare Alley is as stylized, visually polished, and crafty as you would expect from a director with such a beautifully unique aesthetic. At the same time, del Toro’s... »