Eighth Grade Review

Any adult will tell you that middle school is one of the most awful parts of adolescence. Faces explode with acne, hormones are raging, conversations are awkward, and everyone sucks. So comedian Bo Burnham decided to make his feature writing and directorial debut recounting just how awful that time in all of our lives was with a wonderful, lively movie called Eighth Grade, and just like that we have a fresh new voice on the page and behind the camera. Read More »

American Animals review

Heist movies are all about setting up the illusion of clockwork precision, but every good heist film features at least one scene where the job goes horribly wrong – and the great ones often dive into the bitter consequences of crossing the line.

In that tradition comes American Animals, a compelling new heist drama from writer/director Bart Layton, the filmmaker behind the impressive 2012 documentary The Imposter. Here he conducts an interesting harmony between fiction and non-fiction, intercutting dramatic scenes featuring his primary cast (Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Jared Abrahamson, Blake Jenner) with actual interviews of the real-life thieves they’re playing. The result is a mesmerizing blend of narrative and documentary storytelling that would seem too far-fetched to believe if it was just another run-of-the-mill thriller. Read More »

The Catcher Was A Spy review

The Catcher Was A Spy was one of our most anticipated movies of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, so it brings me absolutely no joy to report that it ranks as my most disappointing movie of the year so far. It’s hard to fathom that such an intriguing true-life story of a professional baseball player-turned-spy in World War II could result in such a sleepy little movie, but even the presence of star Paul Rudd and a supporting cast of veteran character actors like Paul Giamatti, Hiroyuki Sanada, Guy Pearce, Tom Wilkinson, and Jeff Daniels isn’t enough to salvage this lifeless spy drama. Read More »

The Tale Review

Hollywood is reeling from outing sexual predators who have been hiding in plain sight for years, even decades. These revelations have sparked the imperative #MeToo movement, inspiring countless women to share the stories of sexual abuse and harassment that they’ve either repressed or suppressed. Director Jennifer Fox is one of those women, and she tells her brave and heartrending true story in The Tale by using memory and documentary influences as narrative elements that play with the medium in ways that bolster this harrowing recollection. Read More »

Won't You Be My Neighbor Review

At a time when we’re being disappointed by our heroes left and right, it’s nice to take a look back at a TV icon who was nothing more than a pure soul who wanted to do some good in the world.

The documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? takes an in-depth look at Fred Rogers, the man behind the PBS children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood who has influenced generations of children by way of his quaint yet insightful loving nature. It’s both an eye-opening portrait and a loving tribute to the cardigan-wearing man who liked us just the way we are.

Keep reading for our full Won’t You Be My Neighbor review. Read More »

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The Kindergarten Teacher Review

At one point in the beguiling remake of the 2014 Israeli of the same name, a character in The Kindergarten Teacher evokes the name of Mozart as being a prime example of a child prodigy who was nurtured and otherwise taken care of by those who appreciated his unprecedented talent to the point where the young composer only had to focus on creating. When teacher Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who appears in every frame of this film) discovers a possible poetry genius in her class of five year olds, she dares to consider what life would be like for young Jimmy Roy (newcomer Parker Sevak) if all he had to concern himself with was being creative. Read More »

Generation Wealth review

“Societies accrue their greatest wealth at the moment they face death,” says one of the talking heads in the opening seconds of Generation Wealth, setting the tone for a documentary that takes a deep dive into the excesses of societies across the globe and surfaces with some disturbing results.

You may recognize Lauren Greenfield as the filmmaker behind the 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles, which documented a mega-rich Florida family’s attempt to construct the largest house in the United States. But that’s only one instance of the hundreds of similar cases Greenfield has tackled in her 25-year career as a photographer, and the examination of exorbitance and its effects has been a thematic throughline of nearly all of her work. Generation Wealth essentially serves as a summation and dissection of her entire career as she delves back into the lives of rappers, pageant kids, porn stars, and high-powered finance executives to discover how the American Dream became so mutated. Read More »

Private Life Review

For many couples, conceiving a child isn’t much of a challenge. For some, it’s a total freak accident. But for Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (Paul Giamatti) it’s an uphill battle that they’ve been fighting for years with no signs of progress. In her latest feature, writer/director Tamara Jenkins (The Savages, Slums of Beverly Hills) slowly unfurls the agony of desperation for a couple in their 40s trying everything they can in the fertility handbook in order to have a child. It’s a beautifully intimate story that genuinely depicts the struggle of aspiring parents by revealing the nooks, crannies and difficulties of being desperate to have a child of your own. Read More »

Den of Thieves Review

It’s hard to make a bad Gerard Butler movie.

This isn’t to say that none of his movies are bad. Rather, Gerard Butler is the kind of actor so willing to ham it up that nothing he’s in is ever a complete waste of time. He’s committed to the point that I’ve long considered him a better actor than he’s generally given credit for (or given the roles to prove), though he seems to be doing perfectly well in the gregarious tough guy niche he’s carved out for himself.

Unfortunately, Den of Thieves is the kind of slog that almost completely runs out that goodwill.

Read More »

Blindspotting review

Remember the name Daveed Diggs, because if the Hollywood gods have any sense of justice, this guy is about to blow up in a major way. Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway smash hit Hamilton are already familiar with Diggs (he played the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in that show), but in Blindspotting, the opening night movie of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Diggs establishes himself as a talented multi-hyphenate who should be at the top of every casting director’s list for years to come.

And while Diggs is terrific in the film, it’s not only a good movie simply because he’s good in it. This is an ambitious film with a lot to say, and director Carlos Lopez Estrada pulls off an impressive high-wire act of balancing drama, humor, and suspense throughout. Put this one on your radar now, because you’re going to want to make sure you see this when it eventually comes to theaters. Read More »