August 2019 archive

Joker

In mainstream movies today, “dark” is just another flavor. Like “edgy,” it’s an option you use depending on what market you want to reach. And it is particularly useful when injected into the comic book genre.    Darkness no longer has much to do with feelings of alienation the filmmaker wants to express or purge, …

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Venice 2019: Roman Polanski’s J’Accuse

For a minute this morning, I was worried that I would be the first person on the Priority Press line for the new Roman Polanski movie. That wouldn’t look good, maybe. The competitive inclusion of “J’Accuse,” which is the title as it appears on the film itself (subtitles give the perhaps overly optimistic English-language title, …

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Thumbnails 8/30/19

Thumbnails is a roundup of brief excerpts to introduce you to articles from other websites that we found interesting and exciting. We provide links to the original sources for you to read in their entirety.—Chaz Ebert 1.  “Floor Adams on ‘Mind My Mind’”: The Netherlands-based director chats with me at Indie Outlook about her prize-winning …

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Before You Know It

“Before You Know It” shifts seamlessly from quirky to sad to mysterious to wacky to surreal within just the space of a few days, so much so that you’d never know it’s director Hannah Pearl Utt’s feature filmmaking debut. Co-writing the screenplay and co-starring alongside her longtime creative partner, Jen Tullock, Utt brings us into …

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Don’t Let Go

The premise of “Don’t Let Go,” written and directed by Jacob Estes, is so intriguing, with such rich possibilities. When a loved one is ripped away from you in death, you are deprived of the opportunity to say what you need to say. There’s so much unfinished business. But what would happen if that person …

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Official Secrets

It’s easy to understand why the true story that inspired the makers of “Official Secrets” might look like a good idea for a movie. Katherine Gun, the British whistleblower who uncovered U.S. efforts to dirty-trick the U.N. into approving the Iraq War, is an appealing figure whose findings should have been scandalous enough to unseat …

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The Fanatic

Fred Durst’s “The Fanatic” hates fans. It hates actors. It hates tourists, shop owners, and servants. It really, really hates autistic people. And it hates you. It’s a movie that thinks you’re an idiot, someone who won’t see through its shallow provocations, illogical behavior, and vile misanthropy. It’s one thing for a movie to be …

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Angel of Mine

Noomi Rapace stars in “Angel of Mine” as Lizzie, an ex-wife and distant mother who seems to be fading away. She shares custody of her preteen son Thomas (Finn Little) with Mike (Luke Evans), and in the movie’s opening exchange scene, Mike tells her, “He can feel your darkness.” Her life hasn’t been the same …

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Falling Inn Love

It goes without saying that “Falling Inn Love” is a cliched romantic comedy—that’s all a part of the packaging. The film is out on Netflix today but was produced in part by MarVista Entertainment, a company behind romantic flicks like “Rodeo & Juliet,” “A Christmas Movie Christmas,” and “Will You Merry Me.” They’re a Netflix-like entity …

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Not Screened For Critics: Remembering a Very Special Labor Day

Labor Day has always been one of the tentpole weekends for studios to unload some of their least desirable products. One can count on at least one of those titles opening without an advance screening for press. The logic goes that if a studio hides the movie from critics, the public will not get word …

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John Travolta on The Fanatic, Rapping While in Character, His Embrace of Instagram and More

John Travolta is on the other side of the autograph pen in Fred Durst’s new horror movie, “The Fanatic,” which contrasts the fantasy of celebrity with the harsh reality of human behavior pushed to a breaking point. Travolta plays a desperately awkward horror super-fan named Moose, who trudges around Los Angeles with decades of horror movies …

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The Load

It’s in the midst of a tense phone call that the dog first catches our eye. A truck driver, Vlada (Leon Lučev), has been tasked with transporting an unidentified shipment from Kosovo to Belgrade during the NATO bombings of 1999. No information is granted to Vlada about the contents he’s carrying, but with his factory …

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30 Minutes on "Not Fade Away"

The first theatrical feature film written and directed by David Chase, the creator of “The Sopranos,” this is an autobiographical tale about the formation of an artistic sensibility. John Magaro plays Doug Damiano, a northern New Jersey teenager whose father Pat (James Gandolfini) is a hot-tempered Archie Bunker-style reactionary who suffers from psoriasis, and whose …

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Venice Film Festival Preview 2019

The 76th Venice Biennale for the cinema kicks off Wednesday. RogerEbert.com’s correspondent, yours truly, gets to the Lido Thursday, and I’ll start filing as soon as I can. While other prominent festivals go back and forth with flirting with awards-season bait, the Biennale always goes its own way, even when it is hosting Oscar-aspirant fare. …

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Alone in the Dark: Sady Doyle on Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers

Essayist, social critic, and culture buff Sady Doyle is a public intellectual of the most valuable kind. She doesn’t just scrutinize and provoke the society she critiques. She brings readers along for the ride, explaining complex concepts in a breezy, at times raucously funny way. Her first book, Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, …

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Amazon’s Carnival Row is a Messy, Satisfying Distraction

There’s a certain kind of book you read, even though you know it’s maybe not great. It’s got the things you like in abundance, maybe—one example, murders in quaint English villages where the love interest might be but is probably not the murderer and everyone is constantly having tea or port—or it’s just ridiculous enough …

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Ad Astra | "Disappear" TV Commercial | 20th Century FOX

Source: 20th Century Fox

The Pain Needs to Mean Something: On Horror and Grief

I’m watching the director’s cut of Ari Aster’s “Midsommar” at Lincoln Center and I’m about to lose my mind. Is this a film about a break-up, about grief and loss, about what that does to you? I had plenty of grief with which to meet the film. Before the original cut of “Midsommar” had been …

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Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Ranks Among the All-Time Great Fantasy Epics

There is a memorable exchange in Jim Henson’s 1982 film “The Dark Crystal” that poignantly encapsulates the spirituality of its creator. Aughra, a feisty earth mother amalgamating the diverse array of genders and species inhabiting the planet Thra, comes upon a creature in her net that she thought was long extinct. He’s Jen, one of …

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Buy What Showtime is Selling in On Becoming a God in Central Florida

In a sense, every commercial is a promise. Eat this and you’ll be happy. Buy this and you’ll be happy. Go here and you’ll be happy. So many people are constantly scrambling to find that happiness, something that feels just out of reach. Showtime’s excellent “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” is about the …

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