November 2019 archive

Home Entertainment Guide: November 27, 2019

10 NEW TO NETFLIX “The Adventures of Tintin””Black Snake Moan””End of Watch””Hamburger Hill””The Longest Yard””Once Upon a Time in the West””Popeye””What’s Eating Gilbert Grape””Young Adult””Zodiac” 7 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD “All About Eve” (Criterion)”Now, Voyager” (Criterion) I can remember discovering Bette Davis when I was young and first became the classic movie-loving cinephile you know today. …

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M. Night Shyamalan, Apple TV Team Up for Unsettling Servant

Apple TV has their most ambitious show to date (with all respect to the fans of the Blind Aquaman show) in the fascinating “Servant,” directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. The filmmaker behind “The Sixth Sense” and “Split” brings some of his strengths in storytelling (and his ace cinematographer Michael Gioulakis, increasingly one of …

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Bring the Soul to Life: Oscar-Winning Editor Paul Hirsch on “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” “Star Wars” and His New Memoir

There’s a memorable scene in John Hughes’ 1986 comedy classic, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” where awe-struck teen Cameron (Alan Ruck) glances at George Seurat’s infamous 1884 painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” that still hangs to this day at the Art Institute of Chicago. The film cuts back and forth …

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White Snake

There’s a significant difference in quality between the mediocre scenario (and dialogue) and thrilling production design (and direction) in “White Snake,” the new Chinese animated fairy tale about a shape-changing demon snake who falls in love with a romantic human demon-hunter. The movie’s uneven quality is especially disappointing given the timing of its American theatrical …

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AFI Fest 2019: Highlights From Around the World

Great change came to AFI Fest this year in the form of paid admissions. For the first time in a decade, LA audiences who had grown accustomed—for better or worse—to watching a curated selection of international titles and awards-bound fare free of charge, were now asked to purchase tickets. Although the festival has expressed the …

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63 Up

For 55 years, Michael Apted’s “Up” series has been producing documentary features about the lives of 14 regular people, joining James Bond as one of world cinema’s few constants. The latest installment—and according to Apted, probably the last—is a melancholy reminder that nothing lasts forever, certainly not a series that tracks specific lives over the decades. …

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Queen & Slim

The title credit of Melina Matsoukas’ debut feature, “Queen & Slim” is startling: gigantic yellow letters against a black background, with the enormity of the font establishing the gigantic scope of the film. There’s something epic about it, like the names already mean something, have a resonance beyond the two humans they represent. The opening …

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The Two Popes

The Pope and a Jesuit cardinal walk into a park. As they stroll the grounds of the Papal summer home, the cardinal, Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) attempts to serve his resignation papers. Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) either ignores his request or amusingly deflects it by involving Bergoglio in a conversation about their personal differences. …

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The Best Television of the Decade

The best television shows of the 2010s, as chosen by TV critics Brian Tallerico and Allison Shoemaker, illustrate the incredible range of what has become known as “Peak TV.” The narrative as the decade came to a close was dominated by the discussion around streaming services and it feels like much of the ‘20s could …

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#368 November 26, 2019

Matt writes: With Thanksgiving just days away, let us revisit the holiday perennial that has emerged as one of the most beloved of all American films: John Hughes’ poignant 1987 comedy “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” Though Roger liked it right out of the gate, awarding it three-and-a-half stars and reviewing it favorably on “Siskel & Ebert” …

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Rian Johnson and Michael Shannon on Knives Out, ’70s Rockers, Making a Whodunit with a Good Heart and More

“Knives Out” is wisely being billed as “A Rian Johnson Whodunit,” as no one would tell this story the way Johnson does. An update of the Agatha Christie ensemble murder mystery, the set-up might be recognizable—a powerful man, the family patriarch (Christopher Plummer) has been murdered. That’s just in the first few minutes of this …

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Death Stranding Offers Surreal, Cinematic Experience with Controller in Your Hands

Hideo Kojima makes video games like David Lynch makes movies. Traditional restrictions of the genre are out the window, and you can expect an experience that incorporates other mediums in ways that most people ignore. Just as Lynch uses unexpected sound design and borrows from modern and performance art, Kojima makes games that are clearly …

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Black Cinema to be Celebrated by the Critics Choice Association at December 2nd Ceremony Honoring Murphy, Long, Ejiofor and Lemmons

A Celebration of Black Cinema held by the Critics Choice Association (formerly known as the Broadcast Film Critics Association) is scheduled for Monday, December 2nd, at the new Landmark Annex, part of the Landmark Theatre complex in Los Angeles. The event aims to honor over 100 years of black cinema by awarding four individuals for their outstanding achievements in film. …

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Varda by Agnès

The history of art is filled with late pleasures that coincidentally seem to comment on the death of the artist who made it. But once in a while you encounter a piece that seems like a premeditated farewell—a conscious summing-up of the life and work—whether or not it was intended that way. “Varda by Agnès,” a combination …

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Dark Waters

“Dark Waters,” starring Mark Ruffalo as an attorney trying to punish the DuPont chemical corporation for dumping toxic waste in West Virginia, is a lone-crusader-against-the-corrupt-system film, in the tradition of  “The Insider,” “A Civil Action,” and “The Verdict.” Director Todd Haynes (“Carol,” “Mildred Pierce”) embraces that lineage, giving viewers the sense of what a long, tedious, spiritually draining process this can …

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21 Bridges

“21 Bridges” begins with the funeral of a cop, a uniformed officer who took out three of the men who shot at him before falling. That cop’s young son is there, and he’ll grow up to be the police detective André Davis, played by Chadwick Boseman, on whose shoulders this movie’s narrative will roll. The …

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

“Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn’t even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. They just sang.” If you’ve seen an ad or trailer for Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” perhaps you noticed the scene above. At first, even I thought this …

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When Lambs Become Lions

The frightening process by which a parasite becomes untethered from its soul has been explored by an unofficial trilogy of films in 2019. It began with Jordan Peele’s “Us,” continued on through Todd Phillips’ “Joker” and culminated in Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” all of which detail, with varying degrees of success, precisely why parasites tend …

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Hala

Following the ordinary beats of a teen’s everyday life, writer/director Minhal Baig’s gentle and attentive sophomore feature “Hala” possesses something inherently extraordinary by just being about a young, female Muslim-American. It’s an unassuming film that hops on a casual rhythm and shines its wisdom to let its lead character Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) just be; by …

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Shooting the Mafia

Kim Longinotto’s documentary “Shooting the Mafia” is not for the squeamish—it matter-of-factly brandishes numerous images of dead bodies on the ground, sometimes accompanied by pools of blood. Sometimes they’re slumped over in chairs, or lying face down. The corpses, like that of a teenage boy, often take up only the bottom third of the frame, as if …

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