The Latest Reviews For The Country United States of America
Yorgos Lanthimos directs a sumptuous adult fairy tale featuring Emma Stone at her very best.
Here’s the thing about Yorgos Lanthimos: you’re either on board with him, or you’re not. Even in The Favourite, arguably his most accessible film, there’s a sort of joyful grotesqueness to it, leaving the audience laughing and wincing simultaneously. His latest offering, Poor Things, is his most visually dazzling film yet, with moments of stunning beauty and bittersweet insight, but still isn’t afraid to test the audience’s sensibilities. It’s a film about what it means to be alive, every little disgusting aspect of it. Continue Reading →
Stamped from the Beginning
The Netflix documentary uses historical evidence and modern scholarship to demonstrate racism's continued role in US society.
At the start of the new documentary Stamped from the Beginning, filmmaker Roger Ross Williams asks his various interview subjects, “What is wrong with Black people?” Considering that all the interviewees in question are also Black, it is unsurprising that the question’s seeming hostility initially throws many. However, once they recognize the context of that query—Williams is asking for a historical context as to what Blacks have done to deserve centuries of institutionalized racism and violence—they are more than willing and able to discuss the subject at length throughout this strong and often provocative film. Continue Reading →
Netflix’s action-comedy is deadly short on both.
There’s something undeniably attractive about the premise of Obliterated. A highly skilled team of soldiers, spies, bomb experts, and tech geniuses stop on nuclear bomb detonation in the heart of Las Vegas and fully celebrate their victory. And by fully celebrate, we mean FULLY. Drugs, alcohol, exotic animals, hundreds of guests, plenty of sex toys, and so on. Then they wake in the morning to find their mission wasn’t as successful as they thought, and now they have no choice but to try and save the day in various stages of loaded and hungover. Continue Reading →
Ridley Scott’s surprisingly hollow biopic of the French military commander falters as a character piece and comes shy of victory as an epic.
For a film with as many contradictions as Napoleon, it’s odd for it to be so straightforward. It covers 28 years, but it never feels like a lot of changes. It’s over two and a half hours, which, while not a herculean runtime, never entirely slows down. Perhaps it’s because it never really gets started. Ridley Scott’s latest opens with a public decapitation of Marie Antoinette (Catherine Walker), giving way to the 1793 Siege of Toulon. The violence is often unsparingly graphic, so why, then, does it feel so cosmetic? Shouldn’t a live horse eviscerated by a cannonball to the chest do something to the viewer? Continue Reading →
Thomasin McKenzie & Anne Hathaway burn up the screen in William Oldroyd’s unsettling thriller.
Eileen will likely be lost in the holiday season shuffle among such spectacles as the upcoming Wonka and awards-friendly fare like Ferrari. On the other hand, it’s unclear under what circumstances Eileen would make a big splash. It’s an odd, occasionally off-putting little film that wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the scorching chemistry between its two leads. Continue Reading →
The AppleTV+ spy series retains its humor but gives viewers its most tightly plotted effort yet.
Slow Horses Season 3 reiterates how the series differs from so many other TV shows. While critics frequently discuss film as a director’s medium, television tends to be more showrunner—and thus writer—driven. While Horses indeed derives many of its pleasures from the writers—the returning trio of Will Smith, Jonny Stockwood, and Mark Denton once again man the pens—each season’s unique tone owes to its single director. Continue Reading →
Kids deserve better than yet another dull, going-through-the-motions misfire.
The animation world was recently startled by Warner Bros.' announcement that they planned to shelve their recently completed feature Coyote vs Acme for a quick tax write-off, rather than spend money to release it. Not to be outdone, Disney Studios offers up Wish, an animated feature that is the kind of artistic misfire that deserves to be hidden away and never spoken about again. This is a creation so alternately bewildering and banal that it's implausible that at no point during the entire creative process did anyone point out the seemingly obvious fact that virtually none of it works on even the most basic levels. Continue Reading →
Serve up this bizarre, oddly funny 80s slasher as part of your holiday entertainment feast this year.
Though Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s retro horror double feature Grindhouse met with audience indifference, the collection of fake movie trailers during its “intermission” became amusing pop culture ephemera. Of the four featured, Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” is probably the most fun to revisit, mostly because of its loving dedication to capturing the unique seediness of an 80s slasher film. There’s something so familiar about the murky film quality, the low budget special effects, the incoherent plot (it appears to be a trailer for two different, unfinished movies stuck together, as was the case for many 80s horror movies), the glimpses of T&A, and of course, that hilarious voiceover and excellent tagline, that it seems unbelievable that it hadn’t actually already been made. Continue Reading →
The crime drama returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and rediscovers its best storytelling self.
Throughout the six episodes of Fargo Season 5 screened for critics, the series isn’t exactly subtle. From opening the season with an on-screen graphic defining “Minnesota Nice” as neighbor attacks neighbor during a school board meeting to Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) staring up at a campaign billboard of himself, the show loudly states its theses at the viewer over and over. Continue Reading →
After stumbling with Downsizing, Alexander Payne bounces back with a gentle & witty comedy-drama.
The artist Dmitry Samarov one said to me that the ratio of good to bad late periods in an artist's life was depressing to consider. For every Sir Edward William Elgar there was an Eric Clapton (my example, not his), and that it was rare to see someone sharpen as they aged. Now, I like Dmitry and certainly respect his opinion, but I can’t help but feel that when film overtook painting as the dominant artwork that people engage with, the ratio shifted towards bizarre experimentation and welcome self-reflection as much as dull self reflection. Continue Reading →
Despite a challenging premise and an overlong runtime, the Hunger Games prequel makes the most of the hand it’s been dealt.
The character of Coriolanus Snow is an odd choice for a Hunger Games hero. In the original books and films, as played by screen giant Donald Sutherland, Snow was a cold-hearted, cruel dictator clearly meant to echo real world fascist leaders. Here, in the prequel story The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (say that five times fast), Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is just a sensitive, emotional teen dreamboat whose main goal is to provide for his family in the wake of the violent revolution that tore apart Panem, the country formerly known as the United States of America. Continue Reading →
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
The ScienceSaru-produced animated series rebuilds rather than retells Bryan Lee O'Malley's beloved comic.
Late in the final volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's 2004-2010 comic series Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour), once the action's done and the hateful Gideon Graves has been slain, protagonists Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers take a moment to process everything. Defeating Gideon meant facing not only the vicious misogynist swordsman but also their respective character flaws (It's telling that one of Scott's key moments is his realizing just how alike he and Gideon are, and by gaining that understanding, he affirms that, yeah, Gideon has so got to die). Continue Reading →
The Trolls movies continue to indulge in their best and worst impulses in a third installment.
The poster for this past summer's R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings had a reasonably clever tagline to explain the strained dynamic between the film's two leads. Against an image of Jennifer Lawrence squeezing Andrew Barth Feldman's cheeks, a single word is placed on top of each person's face: "Pretty" and "Awkward." Nothing revolutionary in design, but it gets the job done. Best of all, that tagline also makes for an apt descriptor for Trolls Band Together. Continue Reading →
Long overshadowed by Sideways, we’re giving this understated dramedy its due for depicting Midwest with the specificity Hollywood rarely gives it.
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is as unassuming as the regular Midwestern folk it depicts. Even though this small, quiet, black-and-white comedy was flooded with nominations during the 2013 awards season it won almost none of them. Ten years on, it remains overshadowed by Payne’s more popular works like Sideways and Election. But this odd little dramedy is not only one of Payne’s finest films to date, it’s also his one true love letter to his home state of Nebraska and the Midwest itself. Continue Reading →
A Murder at the End of the World
Hulu’s crime thriller/environmentalist warning is less than the sum of its references, but star Emma Corrin earns viewers’ attention.
The plot for A Murder at the End of the World goes a little something like this. A wealthy tech genius invites a group of similarly impressive individuals—including a detective who seems not to belong—to an isolated location for not entirely clear reasons. A murder sets everyone on edge as competing interests suggest several suspects and impede a proper investigation. Things only get worse as more die, and a storm ensures the group has no means of immediate escape. Continue Reading →
Killers of the Flower Moon
To talk about The Killer is to strip away pretense. Well, one can try. Cold it may be, but David Fincher's latest is an incredibly open film. The houses are made of glass; the windows are ceiling-high; the voiceovers from the title character (Michael Fassbender) give infallible insight into his worldview. The film is his worldview, simple in its machinations and complex in its philosophy. In most other circumstances, this would unfold over time. And it does here, at least to an extent. Continue Reading →
All the Light We Cannot See
Early in For All Mankind Season 4, Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) and Dani Poole (Krys Marshall) reencounter each other for the first time in years on the Happy Valley Mars base. Smiling warmly, each says, “Hi, Bob,” to each other. For fans of the show, it has an immediate impact. The significance of the silly greeting reminds those audience members of the deep bond between these two astronauts. Newcomers likely won’t grasp the specifics of the importance, but Marshall and Kinnaman’s performances make it quite clear that it isn’t some random bit of silliness. Continue Reading →
Most films don’t come with homework. The same cannot be said of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new movie, The Marvels. Unless you’re a devoted MCU fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of both the movies and the Disney+ TV originals, it’s difficult to understand the mechanics of this disastrously convoluted entry in the floundering franchise. It feels like being dropped headfirst into a crossover episode based on three shows you’ve never seen -- mostly because it is. The Marvels kicks off with a bit of genuine visual interest (that never appears again) in the form of hand-drawn comics created by teenage superhero-slash-Captain Marvel fangirl Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel. Vellani, who previously appeared as Kamala on the little-seen Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, is a spunky, hilarious teenage heroine whose impressive comedic timing buoys the leaden, disjointed script. She so thoroughly steals the show that it’s disappointing this movie wasn’t just about her; instead, it's a confused mix of storylines involving Kamala, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and astronaut Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris, Candyman). It feels like the powers that be made a huge mistake in consigning her story to a poorly publicized streaming original, instead of letting her headline a film on her own. Continue Reading →
Miraculous - le film
When I was around thirteen, two classmates, Christina and Taylor (their real names, it’s not like they’re going to read this), played a prank on me that resulted in my eating dog food. In retrospect, it could have been worse: nobody else saw it happen, and for whatever reason they kept it to themselves. But when I think about my teenage years (and I try not to much at this point in my life, other than at a superficial pop culture level), my mind often goes to that moment. Continue Reading →
Lawmen: Bass Reeves
Screenwriter Josh Olsen (A History of Violence) used to tell anyone who would listen that his passion project was an account of the life of Bass Reeves, a man whose life and career were the stuff of fables. Reeves was the first Black deputy sheriff west of the Mississippi, with an arrest record in the thousands by most accounts. Best of all, legends assert that he almost never killed or shot anyone he didn’t have to. Continue Reading →
All the Light We Cannot See
If Shawn Levy, director of Netflix’s new miniseries All the Light We Cannot See, seems like an unnatural fit to direct All the Light We Cannot See, a limited series set in World War II’s Nazi-occupied France, it’s because he is. From Night at the Museum to Cheaper by the Dozen and, more recently, Free Guy, the director-producer is best known for lighthearted, family-friendly films. Unfortunately, this series does not prove to be a case of the unexpected choice yielding surprisingly excellent results. Continue Reading →