REVIEW: The Souvenir (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – A24 / Curzon Artificial Eye

The following is a short review of The Souvenir — Directed by Joanna Hogg.

Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir is a semi-autobiographical film about a young and posh film student’s romantic relationship with Anthony, a seemingly both successful and self-important somewhat older man. In her first major film role, Honor Swinton Byrne (the daughter of Tilda Swinton, who is also in the film, and playwright John Byrne) plays Julie, the aforementioned aspiring filmmaker, whereas Tom Burke (Only God Forgives) plays Anthony, whose addiction threatens to tear their relationship apart. It is one of the most critically acclaimed independent films of the year. However, I think that Joanna Hogg’s coming-of-age film about toxic relationships, artistic growth, and privilege is disappointingly dull and uninvolving. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Souvenir (2019)”

REVIEW: Knives Out (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Lionsgate

The following is a review of Knives Out — a Rian Johnson whodunnit.

Are Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery films making a quiet comeback right under our noses? In 2017, Kenneth Branagh resurrected the genre on the big screen with his adaptation of Murder On the Orient Express, which is getting a sequel in 2020. Earlier in 2019, Kyle Newacheck released an Adam Sandler-led murder mystery film titled Murder Mystery, which I suggested might be “the most watchable of Sandler’s made-for-Netflix comedies.” Now we have Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, which isn’t just the best of the bunch, it’s also genuinely one of the most entertaining films of the year. Knives Out is a fresh and modern labyrinthine murder mystery complete with a stylish main location, as well as witty and timely social and political satire. Continue reading “REVIEW: Knives Out (2019)”

REVIEW: The Report (2019)

Release Poster – Amazon Studios

The following is a review of The Torture Report — Directed by Scott Z. Burns.

While Netflix is enjoying another moment in the sun with the release of Martin Scorsese’s latest masterpiece, The Irishman, which is streaming exclusively on Netflix, Amazon Studios has quietly released The Report to Prime Video. The lack of awareness that The Report is getting is reminding me of a quote in the film itself: “you have a sunlight problem.” Though The Report isn’t the most notable or, frankly, the best film released on streaming services this week, Scott Z. Burns’ film is genuinely gripping thanks, in large part, to a strong central performance from Adam Driver that elevates the otherwise potentially dramatically listless material. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Report (2019)”

REVIEW: The Irishman (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of The Irishman — Directed by Martin Scorsese.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Martin Scorsese would arguably be on the Mt. Rushmore of American filmmakers if such a thing existed. When Scorsese laments the supposed death of cinema or questions the artistic merit of modern blockbusters, you listen to him for the simple reason that few people know the medium, the power of cinema, or the industry as well as he does. His understanding of the power of what is within or out of the frame of cinema is indescribable. Though his detractors may suggest that he is a glorified gangster film director, nothing could be further from the truth. With The Irishman, Martin Scorsese has given us a haunting and elegiac historical epic disguised as a greatest hits gangster film that stresses that, even in the autumn of his life, the master hasn’t missed a beat. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Irishman (2019)”

REVIEW: The Crown – Season Three (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of the third season of The Crown — Available on Netflix.

When The Crown premiered in 2016, I proclaimed that Claire Foy’s Queen Elizabeth II might become the new face of Netflix. In 2017, following a truly outstanding second season, I argued that The Crown had become the greatest live-action television series that Netflix had ever made. Then the long wait began. It has been two years since we last saw new episodes of this show, and now all of the central characters have been recast as the next stage of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign begins. Though this third season is not as impeccable as I thought the previous season was, Peter Morgan’s series is still a must-watch series even for those people who aren’t necessarily obsessed with royal families. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Crown – Season Three (2019)”

REVIEW: Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – 20th Century Fox

The following is a review of Ford v Ferrari, also known as Le Mans ’66 — Directed by James Mangold.

James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari tells the true story of the rivalry between Enzo Ferrari (played by Remo Girone) and Henry Ford II (played by Tracy Letts) in the lead-up to the 1966-edition of the French 24-hour race known as the ‘Le Mans.’ The film follows Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon), a former Le Mans winner and current automotive designer and engineer, and Ken Miles (played by Christian Bale), a testy but talented British race-car driver. Ford wants to beat Ferrari at his own game, so to speak, so he hires Shelby to design a racecar mighty enough to trounce the Italian rival, which had rejected Ford’s offer to purchase them. Shelby insists that Miles is the only man who understands the car they build together for Ford, but executives at Ford believe that Miles isn’t a company man, and they are prepared to derail the entire project to ensure that Shelby and his crew, none of whom are yes-men, follow their orders. Continue reading “REVIEW: Ford v Ferrari (2019)”

REVIEW: Klaus (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Klaus — Directed by Sergio Pablos.

This year it almost seems like Netflix is plotting to take over the entirety of the Academy Awards. In a couple of months, Netflix hopes to have films like The Irishman, Marriage Story, and Dolemite Is My Name earn nominations and possibly wins at the prestigious awards show. At the same time, Netflix has distributed some of the year’s most talked-about documentaries, so they should earn a nomination in that category as well. Netflix has plenty of frontrunners this year’s film awards season. If Sergio Pablos’ film has anything to say about it, Netflix might also earn a nomination in the animated feature film category for the very first time. Pablos’ Klaus isn’t just Netflix’s first true attempt to earn such a nomination, Klaus is also quite good. Continue reading “REVIEW: Klaus (2019)”

REVIEW: Midway (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Lionsgate

The following is a review of Midway — Directed by Roland Emmerich.

As the title indicates, Roland Emmerich’s latest film tells the story of the World War II ‘Battle of Midway,’ which, famously, was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary from John Ford. The film tells the story of many individuals, but primarily the stories of Edwin T. Layton (played by Patrick Wilson), who worked as an intelligence officer, and Dick Best (played by Ed Skrein), a dive bomber pilot, both of whom were integral to the success of the American forces. Continue reading “REVIEW: Midway (2019)”

REVIEW: Apollo 11 (2019 – Documentary)

Theatrical Release Poster – NEON / Universal Pictures

The following is a review of Apollo 11 — A documentary directed and edited by Todd Douglas Miller.

Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 is, as you have probably already gathered from the title, a documentary about the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, which ultimately culminated in the spaceflight landing two men on the moon for the very first time in our history. It is arguably mankind’s greatest achievement, and the iconic words from Neil Armstrong are imprinted on the minds of every adult alive. In 2018, one of the year’s very best films, Damien Chazelle’s First Man, studied Armstrong’s private life and the sacrifice that he, his family, and many Americans made to reach the lunar surface. This year, Todd Douglas Miller has made a documentary that isn’t just an outstanding companion piece, but also one of the decade’s finest documentaries. Continue reading “REVIEW: Apollo 11 (2019 – Documentary)”

REVIEW: Hustlers (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – STXfilms

The following is a review of Hustlers — Directed by Lorene Scafaria.

Based on Jessica Pressler’s New York magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers tells the story of how a group of fed-up female strippers drugged and robbed Wall Street money-men when they visited their club. The film stars Constance Wu as Destiny, a woman who strips to support her grandmother and pay off her debts. When she initially struggles to find success at the club she works at, Destiny teams up with the wildly successful, knowledgeable, and experienced stripper, Ramona (played by Jennifer Lopez), a single mother who takes Destiny under her wing — or, under her fur coat, so to speak (which is a reference to one of the most memorable scenes in the film) — and shows her the ropes. When the financial crisis of the late 2000s strikes, they come up with a new risky scheme to fleece potential customers. Continue reading “REVIEW: Hustlers (2019)”