Archives for posts with tag: movie reviews

Every good journalist knows when something is old news. “Shock and Awe,” the story of the good journalists who were skeptical about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, should get the Pulitzer Prize for irony. Not because the lonely crew of the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau was ultimately vindicated, but because it’s 2018, and every sane person has known for at least 10 years that the WMD excuse for invading Iraq was bullshit. Old news. And it’s not even that good a movie. There are a lot of speechifying moments that smell of made-for-TV fakeyness. Surprise! Rob Reiner directed and co-stars.


I finally sold my guitar on Craigslist the same day I finally saw “School of Rock” (2003). I don’t know if that’s ironic or just a coincidence. I also don’t know if “School of Rock” is good because of, or in spite of, Jack Black. His spazzy histrionics are a tiring distraction. However, his background as an actual musician provided authenticity in a way that a Chris Farley couldn’t have been able to 10 years earlier or a Zach Galifianakis wouldn’t be able to 10 years later. It’s the starring role Black was born to play. Probably the only one.

Fred Rogers passed away 15 years ago. His TV show began in the 1960s and most people’s recollections of it are through the fuzzy lens of their childhood. As a result, a personal metaphor of Mister Rogers (unruffled? nice? wimpy?) is clearer to most of us than the actual person or PBS program. The 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a welcome reminder that there was a whole lot more depth to the man, and the show. Morgan Neville tells the story thoroughly and fairly, examining topics (race, sex, etc.) that would have sidetracked a less disciplined filmmaker.

It’s OK for a movie to be stupid if that’s what it’s trying to be. “Super Troopers” (2002) is to trying what India is to people, and it’s to stupid what maple syrup is to sweet. It’s an R-rated version of “Police Academy: The Later Years,” but with Vermont/Canadian hijinks, which are slightly more interesting since we don’t get up there so often. The humor is divided between sight gags, sexual innuendo and “Beavis and Butthead” style wordplay. Except some of the cops actually get laid occasionally. Oh, there’s also a thin thread of a plot involving murder and marijuana.

I can’t imagine the American Society for Depressed People was too keen on “First Reformed” (2018). I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve been Googling “methods of suicide.” Writer-director Paul Schrader was trying to make some kind of perverse statement that Jesus would be an environmental extremist if he were around today, but ends up making an even more perverse argument that suicide is contagious. What begins as a character study of a depressed pastor gets progressively lazier as said pastor gets progressively drunker, until he (or we) starts imagining things. Supporting characters are one-dimensional handmaidens to Ethan Hawke’s affected performance.

I wanted to use the word ennui to describe my feelings about “Memento” (2001), but then I looked up what it actually meant. I’ll stick with dissatisfaction. I was not only left dissatisfied by the film, I was dissatisfied in trying to pinpoint exactly why I was so dissatisfied. I guess stories told in reverse chronology starring a guy with no short-term memory who is trying to hunt down his wife’s murderer before he forgets everything again will do that to you. But hey, Joey Pants is in it. He doesn’t star, but he’s in it. So that’s a thing.

I’m so glad “Red Sparrow” (2018) didn’t suck. Because somebody told me it sucked. I shouldn’t have believed them. Maybe it was a double cross. Maybe they actually liked it but they wanted me to not like it so that I would be surprised it didn’t suck because they wanted me to trust them but then not trust them. Oooooh, so crafty. The movie’s like that, too. Jennifer Lawrence is performing at another level right now. It’s her, Jessica Chastain, and, um, right. Also, best three-way knife fight in movie history. And definitely the Oscar frontrunner for best one-piece swimsuit.