The Call of the Wild

In 1977, Harrison Ford made me believe he was talking to Greedo and Jabba the Hutt in “Star Wars,” and those characters were as low-tech as Gumby and Pokey compared to the technology used to create Ford’s canine co-star in “The Call of the Wild.” And yet, I never bought it. Instead of getting caught up in …

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Corpus Christi

“Each of us is the priest of Christ,” a juvenile detention center priest tells the members of his wayward flock, advice one of them takes very literally to heart in the Polish drama “Corpus Christi.” That young man is Daniel, whom Bartosz Bielenia plays with a commitment that’s both charismatic and haunting. With his chiseled …

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Ride Your Wave

The Japanese animated romantic-drama “Ride Your Wave” starts off as a cute love story, but quickly becomes a moving character study about accepting personal loss. We follow charming, but clumsy surfer Hinako (Rina Kawaei) as she falls in love with Minato (Ryota Katayose), the gentle, attentive firefighter who saves her life soon after she moves …

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Amazon Prime’s Hunters Embraces Grindhouse Style

“Have you had enough? Cause there’s more.” This line from episode five of Amazon’s “Hunters” is kind of the operating principle of the show, which may not be the best new drama of the year but it is certainly trying to be the most new drama. Executive produced by Jordan Peele and starring Logan Lerman …

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Bright Wall/Dark Room February 2020: Trash, Art, and Book Club: A Toast to Our Aging Icons by Carrie Courogen

We are pleased to offer an excerpt from the February edition of the online magazine Bright Wall/Dark Room. The theme for their February issue is “A Fine Mess,” and we’re spending the month celebrating movies we love because of their flaws, not despite them. In addition to Carrie Courogen’s essay about “Book Club,” the new issue also features essays …

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#374 February 18, 2020

Matt writes: For the third year in a row, I had the privilege of representing RogerEbert.com in the press room of the Academy Awards, and I got to experience firsthand the roars of elation that occurred when Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” became the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. You can read my complete …

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AMC’s Better Call Saul Returns as Confident as Ever

“Yesterday was bad. Today, I’m gonna fix it.” – Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) AMC’s brilliant “Better Call Saul” is about many things, but an undercurrent of trying to “fix yesterday” definitely courses through all five seasons of the show. Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) was first trying to fix the yesterday of his conman past, going …

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Fantasy Island

While cinematic thoughts regarding Valentine’s Day naturally drift towards straightforward love stories and romantic comedies, the holiday has long proven to be a fertile period for releasing horror movies as well. When the 1931 version of “Dracula” came out, for example, it debuted on Valentine’s Day and was initially promoted as a bizarre romance. Decades …

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Jane Fonda and Three IndieCollect Restorations to Appear This Weekend at the 2020 HFPA Restoration Summit

Jane Fonda, Mario Van Peebles and I will join Sandra Schulberg of IndieCollect when she presents three new 4K film restorations for their world premiere this weekend at the HFPA Restoration Summit held at the historic Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., in Los Angeles. Presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the American Cinematheque, these cinematic …

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Zoe Kravitz Stars in Brilliant Reboot of High Fidelity on Hulu

All-time, top-five, desert-island stories in which the protagonist directly addresses the audience, adding a level of intimacy and immediacy to the telling it might not otherwise achieve. One: “Hamlet.” Obvious, maybe, but a classic’s a classic for a reason. Go ahead and fold “Macbeth,” “Richard III,” and some of the comedies in there too if …

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A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

To this longtime fan of the cheese-loving bachelor and his trusty dog, they will always be known as the company that gave the world the genius of Wallace & Gromit. But the legacy of Aardman has become more and more tied to another great character in the last decade, the wonderful Shaun the Sheep. A …

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Buffaloed

Peg Dahl (Zoey Deutch), the frenetically ambitious and amoral lead of Tanya Wexler’s “Buffaloed,” is a natural-born hustler, the Tracy Flick of financial ambition, whose only goal in life is to make a buck, and make it any way possible. Hailing from blue-collar Buffalo, New York, she doesn’t come from wealth or privilege. Even a …

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The Photograph

“I wish I was as good at love as I am at working. I wish I didn’t leave people behind so often.” A young woman speaks those words of regret from the past. The camcorder information on the bottom left corner lets the audience know she’s speaking to us from 1989. As to why she …

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The Kindness of Strangers

Just when we thought movies that assert we are all circumstantially connected via cosmic powers went out of fashion for good, comes along yet another story of intertwined destinies. Outdated from the offset—think Fernando Meirelles’ “360,” Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve” and a certain brand of early Alejandro González Iñárritu films without the miserablism—the frustratingly …

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Ordinary Love

In a poem called Home Burial, Robert Frost wrote, “from the time when one is sick to death/One is alone.” Those who are critically ill pass through the stages unforgettably defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. And they do it alone. Those around them, no matter how loving and how devoted, pass through their …

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I Was at Home, But…

The title of Angela Schanelec’s tenth feature calls to mind Yasujirō Ozu’s 1932 film “I was Born But …” (1932), but it’s not just a tip of the hat to the Japanese master. The title, cutting off a sentence half-way through, speaks to how the film operates—the gaps in the narrative, gaps between scenes, timelines …

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Olympic Dreams

The story of how “Olympic Dreams” got made is more compelling than the movie itself. Director Jeremy Teicher, Olympic runner Alexi Pappas and comedian Nick Kroll ran around the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. They’d gotten intimate, behind-the-scenes access through the Olympic Artist-in-Residence program, and their film is a blend of fiction and …

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Sonic the Hedgehog

“Sonic the Hedgehog” is the worst kind of bad movie: it’s too inoffensive to be hated and too wretched to be enjoyable. You might think that this movie’s sad limbo state has something to do with the extensive and well-publicized last-minute animation redesign that made titular woodland creature Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) look more like …

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Love Dialogue: Céline Sciamma on Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Incandescent filmmaking of the highest order, the kind that burns into your mind upon first viewing it only to later reveal it has permanently branded you with its soul-reaching flame, Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lay on Fire,” an 18th century lesbian romance between a bright painter and her strong-willed subject, unquestionably turns the French …

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To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

The end of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was downright John Hughes-ian, including a big kiss between Lara Jean Song-Covey and Peter Kavinsky on a football field meant to echo Judd Nelson’s pumped fist at the end of “The Breakfast Club.” Depending on the viewer, this was either a major victory or a …

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