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In this era of sequels, reboots and remakes, who would have thought that “Trainspotting” would get a second chance to shine. To be sure, the original is a cult classic and generally considered one of the greatest British films ever made, but it has a fairly self-contained story that doesn’t invite further continuation. Yet through some miracle that I will not pretend to understand, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge have managed to return over 20 years later to make a sequel that happens to be one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year.
Diane, 11:30 a.m., May 21. In a few hours “Twin Peaks” will debut a third season after a 25-year absence, now as “Twin Peaks: The Return.” It would be an understatement to say that I am tense with anticipation.
Honestly, I should have known how much I would dislike “Table 19” just by looking at its film poster, which is designed to look like an Instagram post. And, like most people who are internally 80 years old and gigantic curmudgeons, I have never once in my life used Instagram, nor do I ever plan to. Simply stated, “Table 19” is made for a crowd of which I am not a member. While I will try to keep that in mind for this review, I’d also counterargue that art shouldn’t just resonate with a very limited intended audience.
“The Lost City of Z” is one of the most confounding cinematic experiences I’ve had in some time. I was never bored by it, but I was also never really enthralled. I was awed by the gorgeous cinematography yet simultaneously frustrated by the odd filmmaking choices. I was frequently intrigued but never fully invested. In these respects, “The Lost City of Z” is rather like a Russian nesting doll — intricately crafted but hollow at its center.
In 2011, shortly after the resignation of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian surgeon Bassem Youssef created a satirical web series in an attempt to heal his country through comedy. Shortly thereafter he transitioned to TV and hosted “Al-Bernameg,” a news satire show that was modeled after “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and ran for three seasons. The Egyptian government, led by then-recently elected Mohamed Morsi, issued a warrant for Youssef’s arrest in 2013, accusing him of mocking Morsi and Islam.
“The Leftovers” may currently be in the middle of its third and final season, yet I find it no easier to describe the show now than I did when it first started. In fact, I’ve rewritten this particular review more than any other because it’s nigh impossible to explain the hypnotic power of this show.
“Gifted” will be the third consecutive film that I’ve given a negative rating. I want to make it absolutely clear that I don’t enjoy that fact in the slightest.
Like the film I reviewed last week, “Ghost in the Shell” is a live-action remake of an animated classic. Though, unlike “Beauty and the Beast,” I’ve never seen the original “Ghost in the Shell.” However, a good film should be able to stand on its own without prior knowledge of its source material. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that any problems I have with this remake may be resolved or non-existent in the original anime.
Walt Disney Studios’ new live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” is undoubtedly one of the year’s most anticipated films. Yet as I walked out of the Nugget Theater on Friday, I felt frustrated, not overjoyed.
Many film reviewers, myself included, would argue that we are currently in the midst of a “golden age” of superhero cinema. Marvel Studios floods our theaters with critical and commercial successes and although DC Entertainment may currently be floundering in comparison, it recently rode high on the success of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy.”
I did not plan on reviewing “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” but after the Nugget Theater decided at the last minute not to play “Logan” and after the Hopkins Center’s screening of “Kedi” was sold out, I realized it was just about the only option left to me. Much of the reason I didn’t want to review “Fantastic Beasts” was because I didn’t want to write the negative review that I was sure would come.
After last year’s “Oscars So White” controversy, I didn’t think a more uncomfortable Oscar ceremony would be possible. But somehow, the last five minutes of this year’s ceremony managed to top it and then some. In one of the most awkward moments in Academy Awards history, it was revealed that “Moonlight” had actually won Best Picture, even while the “La La Land” team was giving speeches on stage.
“Get Out” begins with a beautiful, stylistic long take following an African-American man trying to navigate a suburban neighborhood in the middle of the night. The scene sets the stage perfectly, as the man attempts to evade a car that starts to harass him. “Get Out” is a horror film to be sure, but its predominant interest is actually in the real-world horrors inflicted daily on the African-American community. It’s amazing that Hollywood, known for thinking the world is composed of entirely white, straight, cisgender males, allowed this film to be made — a film which unmasks the casual, passive and insidious racism that remains deep-seated and systemic in our society.
The first few minutes of “The LEGO Batman Movie” are some of its funniest. As the audience stares at an empty screen waiting for the film to start, Batman (Will Arnett) informs us in a voice-over that all great movies start with a black screen and edgy music that makes parents and studio executives feel uncomfortable. He proceeds to comment on the varying degrees of epicness inherent in each of the studio logos as they appear on screen. I had yet to see a single LEGO brick, and I already thought the movie was hilarious. We then jump right into the middle of the action as literally all of Batman’s villains attempt to destroy Gotham City. The police are evidently helpless until the Dark Knight arrives on the scene, cues his own background music and starts unleashing havoc on his enemies. The first half of “The LEGO Batman Movie” is exactly like this: nonstop breathless fun filled with witty satire. It’s only a shame that the film decreases both in speed and in quality as it approaches its finale.
If “Manchester by the Sea” was a fairy tale, it would be the most downbeat one you’ve ever heard. Instead, it is a film that draws out every painful and saddening moment of its characters’ lives as they grieve the death of a beloved family member. In past reviews, I’ve tried to make clear that I have a special admiration for smaller, more personal films that are more concerned with character and story than spectacle. “Manchester by the Sea” should fit perfectly into that niche. And for some people it clearly did. The film is not only nominated for Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards, but many critics have also declared it as 2016’s best film. I only wish I felt the same way.
British film critic Mark Kermode once said of “Pan’s Labyrinth” that if a film that good were to be released every 10 years, then he would happily carry on being a critic forever. That notion has guided me throughout my efforts in film criticism and has always been a reminder that I write reviews not because I wish to lambast terrible films, but because sharing my love for a truly exceptional piece of filmmaking is amongst my greatest pleasures.
Netflix’s new show, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” begins with narrator Lemony Snicket, played by Patrick Warburton, warning viewers, “In this story not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.” Combine that with a unique opening segment that warns viewers to “look away,” and the stage is truly set. “A Series of Unfortunate Events” may try to convince you that it is nothing but dour gloom and despair, but in reality it’s pure dark-comedic gold.
After watching “Oldboy” and “The Handmaiden,” I think it’s fair to say that director Chan-wook Park, who directed both films, has a fascination with extremes. In “Oldboy,” it’s manifested through extreme violence, in “The Handmaiden,” it’s extreme sexual activity. Conceptually, there is nothing wrong with extremes in film, but they need to be justified or else films run the risk of coming off as gratuitous. So does “The Handmaiden” manage to justify its more intense moments? The answer: most of the time but perhaps not enough.
I love “Star Wars.” I always have, and I always will. And, like most fans, I was deeply impressed by how well Disney and J.J. Abrams managed to revitalize the franchise with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” whose success undeniably built up hype for the saga’s next offering, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Yet despite the excitement, I had no real anticipation or expectations for the newest film. Nonetheless, as a “Star Wars” fan, I felt an obligation to see it. So I did. The verdict? “Rogue One” was decent.
Within the world of film, the Academy Awards (Oscars) represent the pinnacle of an actor or actress’s career. It is the one awards ceremony that really matters. Unlike other awards shows such as the People’s Choice Awards, the Oscars are voted on by Hollywood elites, which means the winners are being rewarded for their efforts by their peers, lending the ceremony a prestige that others lack. For this reason, many film critics now see the Golden Globe Awards as the appetizer before the Oscars, giving us some sense for which films may win the truly important statuettes next month. This is the perspective I intend to keep in mind as I share my thoughts on some of the winners and nominees of the 74th annual Golden Globes.