It doesn’t take much for someone who once meant a whole lot to you to creep into your thoughts every now and then. It’s not an everyday obsessive thing, where they’re a shadow lingering over you. It’s softer, more subtle: a snippet of a song, or something that reminds you of a private joke once shared. Even if the fire has long burned out, an ember or two will glow for an instant. Then it’s gone, and the life you’ve lived without them goes on. Continue Reading →
The Lost Daughter
Much to the Republican Party’s dismay, the birth rate in the United States has been gradually on the decline, hitting an all-time low in 2020. Couples are not only waiting longer to have children, they’re having less of them, with an average of 1.6 per family. While climate change and cost of living expenses are the primary factors in the decision to have fewer children (or none at all), a small part of it can also be attributed to more people accepting a difficult truth: that raising children can be an incredibly hard and thankless task. Maggie Gyllenhaal makes an assured debut as a writer and director in her adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter, a complicated and strangely moving psychological drama/thriller about two women who bond over this truth. Continue Reading →
劇場版 美少女戦士セーラームーンCosmos 前編
One cannot review Being the Ricardos without addressing the curious casting choice of Nicole Kidman as First Lady of Comedy Lucille Ball. Other than being a redhead, Kidman looks nothing like Ball, and has never been known for her comedic chops. Given that the teaser trailer went out of its way to not show her, it seemed a disaster in the making, a future camp classic originally intended to be Oscar bait. Continue Reading →
The Power of the Dog
Contains spoilers about The Power of the Dog (read our spoiler-free review here) Continue Reading →
West Side Story
While audiences and critics often bemoan the plethora of sequels and remakes that litter the media landscape, retelling a familiar story isn’t inherently bad. After all, Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, was based on earlier works, and in 1957 playwright Arthur Laurents (along with composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim) adapted the tale into West Side Story, which Robert Wise turned into a classic musical in 1961. Sixty years later, Steven Spielberg has thrown his hat into the ring with a new adaptation of the material. But can he make a familiar plot relevant to the 21st century? Continue Reading →
Though their first project made exclusively for Netflix, Robin Robin brings animation studio Aardman back to familiar territory. Aardman’s big claim to fame was Wallace and Gromit shorts released as TV specials like A Grand Day Out or The Wrong Trousers. It may be dropping on a streaming platform rather than on broadcast television, but Robin Robin allows Aardman to once again cram a lot of beautiful animation and charm into 30 minutes of storytelling. Continue Reading →
Last Night in Soho
Has any other director in recent years had as frustrating a creative decline as Edgar Wright? Discounting his feature debut—the 1995, no-budget A Fistful of Fingers—his streak was white-hot. Two series of Spaced both developed and prefaced his earnest eye for nerd culture, leading up to what would become his Cornetto Trilogy. His work was so loving, so finely tuned, and, especially in the case of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, some of the most pop-culturally keen around. However, Baby Driver couldn’t help but sit in neutral; it was a pet project missing heart. With that out of the way, perhaps there was something more substantial to come next. Continue Reading →
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Have you ever spoken to a friend who was tangentially involved in a big event? They know the players, they saw some of it go down, but they’re missing pieces of information. They lack the perspective of someone directly involved and the insights that come with that. That’s the experience of watching The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Continue Reading →
In the Heights
During his sophomore year at Wesleyan University in 1999, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a draft of his debut play. At first, he “had one song and a title: In the Heights.” Soon after, the musical would premiere at the school’s student-run theater. John Buffalo Miller and Quiara Alegría Hudes helped revise it in the following years, and then it snowballed. It premiered off-Broadway in 2005, went to Broadway in 2008, and had international tours throughout the 2010s. A film adaptation felt like the natural next step, and over two decades after its inception, it arrives with a screenplay from Hudes and Jon M. Chu directing. Continue Reading →
Rebecca Hall adapts Nella Larsen's novella about Black social mobility (and its corresponding resentments) to haunting effect.
(This review is part of our coverage of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.)
Nella Larsen's 1929 novella Passing is a fascinating text, a frank but elegant discussion of the intersections of race, class, and gender as cold and delicate as its subject matter. It makes sense, then, that Rebecca Hall's adaptation is similarly airy and ominous, an intimate portrait of resentment and racial/social mobility set amid the stifling backdrop of 1920s New York. Continue Reading →
Janicza Bravo's retelling of the 2015 viral Twitter thread boasts great performances and surprisingly solid filmmaking, even if it ends on a shrug.
In 2015, 20-year-old stripper A’Ziah “Zola” Wells met a sex worker named Jessica. Both in Detroit at the time, the two bonded over their “shared hoeism” and established something of a rapport. They spent the night dancing together; they made some money. Fast-forward a couple of hours later and Jessica is inviting her to go dance in Miami, purportedly to make thousands of dollars in one night.
This, of course, wasn’t half of it. They got involved with pimps, some gang-bangers, murder, attempted suicide, and oodles of prostitution cash—at least according to Wells’ 148-tweet thread that went viral. She’s since gone on the record to say that she turned up some of the story to 11, but guess what? Now there’s a movie credited as “Based on the Tweets by A’Ziah ‘Zola’ King,” bringing you about what you’d expect and mostly for the better.
Granted, a lot of this has a lot to do with one's tolerance for ridiculousness. Those intrigued are likely to have fun. It's raunchy, crass, and stylized, and in the pantheon of stranger-than-fiction stories, this is one to stand out. But if you want a jaunt that signals good things to come from its newcomers and further cement the talents of those already established, this is that too. Zola is aptly aggro while also about something: about race, about class, about predation from the preyed upon. And yet, it runs wonderfully. Just make sure you’re ready for a few bumps. Continue Reading →