If you have finished watching the film Dragonwyck (1946) and are looking for other movies like it, here is a list of options to consider.
The Color Purple
Blitz Bazawule's adaptation of the Alice Walker classic (and the Broadway musical) is a more joyful, celebratory film than its predecessor.
The Color Purple has taken on a musicality ever since Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones adapted Alice Walker’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for the screen. When the first film was released in 1985, Spielberg already referred to it as a “musical.” In a behind-the-scenes interview about the film's musicality included in Warner Bros’ sumptuous new 4K release, Walker, Spielberg, and Jones conduct us through the “diverse places” that music appears in the original film. There are rail work songs, African dance, juke joint blues, and revival gospel; all tonally matched together in a near seamless “immersion” of sound.
In an age where nearly every popular and cult film gets a Broadway adaptation, The Color Purple is a particular no-brainer. Celie’s journey of self-discovery through systematic abuses and struggles at the turn of the twentieth century lends itself to the kind of emotional bigness a musical requires. With music by the legendary Brenda Russell and the late queer songwriting icon Allee Willis, The Color Purple: The Musical also showcases a diverse range of musical styles and modes, especially those well suited for the stage, like swing and Greek chorus. 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?
Maybe not when there’s such little context. If Napoleon is one thing, it’s episodic—ahistorical, even. David Scarpa’s script begins in the trenches and is content on staying there. Everyone and everything are simply window dressing. That includes Napoleon Bonaparte himself (Joaquin Phoenix), whom the film oversimplifies from intrinsically flawed leader to wholly externalized man-child. After the Siege, he wins the affections of Joséphine de Beauharnais (Vanessa Kirby). The two soon marry. 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.
Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s (also odd and occasionally off-putting) novel of the same name, Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie as the titular character, a lonely young woman stuck in a miserable rut. Living in the most depressing town in Massachusetts circa 1964, Eileen is forced to take care of her alcoholic, mean-spirited father (a chilling Shea Whigham, still somehow not one of Hollywood’s biggest stars), a former cop who’s taken to waving his gun at their neighbors. Working as a secretary at a juvenile detention center, though she’s in her twenties she comes off as someone much younger, a meek and awkward child merely dressing up as an adult. Eileen also has a child’s taste for doing things like ignoring her hygiene, stuffing herself with candy, and compulsively masturbating, while maintaining a rich fantasy life involving rough sex with a detention center guard, or murdering her father. Her boredom has reached pathological levels. Continue Reading →
A Haunting in Venice
The first two entries in director/actor Kenneth Branagh’s foray into Agatha Christie adaptation lost the magic of the English writer’s mysteries. With his third attempt, A Haunting in Venice, Branagh decides to make considerable changes to the story. Using the bones of Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, writer Michael Green changes the setting from a small town in the English countryside to a palazzo in Venice. Branagh emphasizes the gothic elements of Christie’s story, leaning on the horror of the location, the manic nature of the children’s Halloween party, and the gruesome moments before and after an unexpected death. Continue Reading →
There's more than one transition going on in Park Chan-wook's 2013 thriller Stoker. Yes, the film tells the story of how the seemingly carefree India (Mia Wasikowska) goes from worshipping her father to worshipping her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode). But the Hitchcockian thriller -- and it is one, beyond the shadow of a doubt -- was also Director Park’s first English-language title. Continue Reading →
Bird Box Barcelona
Okay, fine, Bird Box Barcelona isn’t exactly a sequel. It’s more of a continuation, as Netflix gets a belated start on making a franchise out of 2018’s Bird Box, a perfectly fine but unremarkable film that inexplicably became a smash hit. Smash or not, five years is a long time, so you might need a refresher course. Much of Earth’s population has been decimated by malevolent beings with visages so emotionally overwhelming that anyone who looks at them immediately commits suicide, and the survivors are forced to navigate what’s left of the world with their eyes covered, lest they see whatever “they” are. That’s really all you need to remember. Continue Reading →