The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic of The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern reviews films weekly in the paper and on KCRW.
Weekend film reviews: ‘Poor Things,’ ‘Origin,’ ‘Waitress’
The latest film releases are Poor Things, The Boy and the Heron, Origin, and Waitress. Weighing in are Christy Lemire, film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the YouTube channel “Breakfast All Day,” and Alonso Duralde, co-host of “Breakfast All Day.”
08/12/2023 • 15 minutes 48 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Godzilla Minus One,’ ‘Eileen,’ ‘Silent Night’
The newest film releases include Godzilla Minus One, Eileen, Silent Night, and Candy Cane Lane. Weighing in are Katie Walsh, film reviewer for the Tribune News Service and the Los Angeles Times, and Witney Seibold, contributor to SlashFilm and co-host of the podcast Critically Acclaimed.
01/12/2023 • 15 minutes 4 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Napoleon,’ ‘Wish,’ ‘Maestro’
The latest film releases include Napoleon, Wish, Maestro, American Symphony, and Good Burger 2. Weighing in are William Bibbiani, film critic and co-host of the Critically Acclaimed Network, and Shawn Edwards, journalist for FOX 4 News in Kansas City, Missouri.
24/11/2023 • 17 minutes 24 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Next Goal Wins,’ ‘May December,’ ‘Saltburn’
The latest film releases include The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Next Goal Wins, Fallen Leaves, May December, and Saltburn. Weighing in are Tim Grierson, senior U.S. critic for Screen International and the author of This Is How You Make a Movie, and Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for The New York Times.
17/11/2023 • 17 minutes 58 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘The Marvels,’ ‘It’s a Wonderful Knife’
Critics review the latest film releases: “The Marvels,” “Dream Scenario,” “It’s a Wonderful Knife,” “A Still Small Voice.”
10/11/2023 • 17 minutes 54 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Priscilla,’ ‘The Killer,’ ‘Rustin’
The latest film releases include Priscilla, The Killer, What Happens Later, and Rustin. Weighing in are Christy Lemire, film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the YouTube channel “Breakfast All Day,” and Alonso Duralde, film critic and co-host of movie podcast Linoleum Knife.
03/11/2023 • 17 minutes 50 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s,’ ‘Pain Hustlers’
The latest film releases are Five Nights at Freddy's, Pain Hustlers, The Holdovers, and Fingernails. Weighing in are Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for the New York Times, and Shawn Edwards, film critic at Fox 4 News and co-founder of the African American Film Critics Association.
27/10/2023 • 15 minutes 27 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ ‘The Persian Version’
The latest film releases are Killers of the Flower Moon, The Persian Version, More Than Ever, and Divinity. Weighing in are Witney Seibold, contributor to SlashFilm and co-host of the podcast “Critically Acclaimed,” and Carlos Aguilar, film reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and AV Club.
20/10/2023 • 14 minutes 50 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Anatomy of a Fall,’ ‘Silver Dollar Road’
The latest film releases include Anatomy of a Fall, My Love Affair with Marriage, Silver Dollar Road, and The Mission. Weighing in are Katie Walsh, film reviewer for the Tribune News Service and the Los Angeles Times, and Shawn Edwards, film critic for FOX-TV in Kansas City.
13/10/2023 • 16 minutes 11 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Exorcist: Believer,’ ‘Cat Person,’ ‘Royal Hotel’
The latest film releases include The Exorcist: Believer, Cat Person, The Royal Hotel, and Dicks: The Musical. Weighing in are Tim Grierson, senior U.S. critic for Screen Daily, and Allison Willmore, film critic at New York Magazine and Vulture.
06/10/2023 • 17 minutes 6 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘The Creator,’ ‘Saw X,’ ‘Fair Play’
The latest film releases include The Creator, Saw X, Fair Play, and Dumb Money. Weighing in are Christy Lemire, film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the YouTube channel “Breakfast All Day, and Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for The New York Times.
29/09/2023 • 15 minutes 55 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Flora and Son,’ ‘Invisible Beauty’
The latest film releases include “Flora and Son,” “Invisible Beauty,” and “The Origin of Evil.” Plus, “Stop Making Sense” is re-released in 4K IMAX. Hear reviews from Alonso Duralde and Dave White, film critics and co-hosts of movie podcast Linoleum Knife.
22/09/2023 • 15 minutes 38 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘A Haunting in Venice,’ ‘Cassandro’
The latest film releases include “A Haunting In Venice,” “Cassandro,” “Rotting In The Sun,” and “A Million Miles Away.” Hear from Katie Walsh, film reviewer for the Tribune News Service and the Los Angeles Times; and Witney Seibold, contributor to SlashFilm and co-host of the podcast “Critically Acclaimed.”
15/09/2023 • 15 minutes 12 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Scrapper,’ ‘El Conde,’ ‘The Nun II’
The latest film releases are “Scrapper,” “El Conde,” “The Nun II,” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.” Weighing in are Christy Lemire, film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the YouTube channel “Breakfast All Day,” and William Bibbiani, film critic for the Wrap and co-host of the Critically Acclaimed Network.
08/09/2023 • 16 minutes 48 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Equalizer 3,’ ‘Goldfish,’ ‘Good Mother’
The latest film releases include “The Equalizer 3,” “Goldfish,” “The Good Mother,” “Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose.” Weighing in are Katie Walsh, film reviewer for the Tribune News Service, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wrap; and Shawn Edwards, film critic for FOX-TV in Kansas City.
01/09/2023 • 17 minutes 15 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Gran Turismo,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Golda’
This week’s film releases include “Gran Turismo,” “Retribution,” “Golda,” and “Bottoms.” KCRW gets reviews from Amy Nicholson, host of the podcast Unspooled and film reviewer for The New York Times; and William Bibbiani, film critic for The Wrap and co-host of the Critically Acclaimed Network of podcasts.
25/08/2023 • 15 minutes 36 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Blue Beetle,’ ‘Strays’
The latest film releases include “Blue Beetle” and “Strays.” KCRW gets reviews from Alison Willmore, film critic for New York Magazine and Vulture; and Witney Seibold, contributor to SlashFilm and co-host of the podcast “Critically Acclaimed.”
18/08/2023 • 7 minutes 22 seconds
Weekend film reviews: ‘Jules,’ ‘Medusa Deluxe,’ ‘Red, White, & Royal Blue’
The latest film releases include “Jules,” “The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” “Medusa Deluxe,” “Men of Deeds,” and “Red, White, & Royal Blue.” KCRW gets reviews from Christy Lemire, film critic for RogerEbert.com and co-host of the YouTube channel “Breakfast All Day;” and Carlos Aguilar, film reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and The A.V. Club.
11/08/2023 • 17 minutes 18 seconds
Swan song for now
The first time I did a film commentary for KCRW was so many years ago that listeners must have been listening on crystal sets. That long and wonderful run ends today, but not my connection with this special and essential station. I'd like to think you haven't heard the last of me here.
30/04/2022 • 3 minutes 9 seconds
Revenge As a Calling
The hero of Robert Eggers's "The Northman," a Viking warrior in 9th century Iceland, thinks of nothing but avenging the death of his father, whose death may recall the plot of "Hamlet." Rivers of blood are spilled along the way in a dark saga that also casts a light on our time.
23/04/2022 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Settling For Sex While Looking For Love and Romance
The lovers in "Paris 13th District," a romantic comedy by the French director Jacques Audiard, don't necessarily want to live the erratic lives they're living. They'd rather be solidly grounded, with good jobs and a stable network of friends. Or would they?
16/04/2022 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Above and Beyond
A new Netflix documentary, "Return To Space," may come on like a promotional piece for SpaceX, and why not? Elon Musk's aerospace venture has achieved remarkable things since it was founded two decades ago. The film is more than that, though. It charts the beginning of a new era in space exploration, and also serves as a testament to the power of failing upward. Way upward.
09/04/2022 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
A bad movie following a much worse show
Watching the Oscarcast in all its astonishing amateurism and then watching "The Contractor" for review is an unwelcome reminder of the state of the movie medium.
02/04/2022 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Love 'em or hate 'em. But watch them?
Previous years of ratings declines don't bode well for the popularity of this year's Oscars show. Have the Oscars, and the movies, lost their place of preeminence in the entertainment universe?
26/03/2022 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Her Inner Panda
By now it's no spoiler to say that the teenage heroine of Pixar's "Turning Red" turns into a panda whenever her emotions get out of control. It's a shame most people will see the film only on Disney+, but it's worth seeing anywhere for its buoyant spirit and brilliant animation.
12/03/2022 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Another At-Bat for the Dark Knight
A new Batman movie is upon us, with Robert Pattinson in the title role. "The Batman" isn't one more origin story, and yay for that--here's to storytelling in the present tense--or a conventional action thriller. It's the Dark Knight seized by deeply dark thoughts about what he's doing with his life, and what difference it makes in a world of overwhelming evil.
05/03/2022 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Sweet Words, Cheerless Music
A new "Cyrano" with Peter Dinklage has much to recommend it, but the film is diminished by a dreary score and banal songs.
26/02/2022 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Every Barrel Has a Bottom
"Blacklight," starring Liam Neeson, is competing this week against "Death On the Nile." The latter isn't very good, but it's a professional entertainment. I've chosen to talk about the former because it's barely a movie at all. Rather, it's a rusty recycling bin that threatens, in its modest way, to contribute to the death of the movie medium.
12/02/2022 • 3 minutes 14 seconds
Green Cheese It Is Not
Roland Emmerich's "Moonfall" contends that the moon is hollow, and sends it tumbling from orbit. Is the movie itself hollow or solid? A question for the ages that will nonetheless be answered here.
05/02/2022 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Strangers On a Train Redux
Two people thrown together by chance in a tiny compartment on a Russian train traveling from Moscow to Murmansk, in the arctic north. That may not sound like a combustible formula for a plot, but "Compartment No. 6," from the Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen, is greatly rewarding and improbably beautiful.
29/01/2022 • 3 minutes 16 seconds
"Lunana: A Yak In the Classroom" is Bhutan's international-feature entry for the Oscars. It was shot at extremely high altitude with extremely modest resources, yet the result is affecting and thoroughly delightful.
22/01/2022 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
How much Does Cotton Weigh?
In "Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America," the documentary filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler conjure with surprising concepts--including the weight of cotton--to show how and why racism is, in their words, "our shared history."
15/01/2022 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
To Tell the Truth
Almost no one in Asghar Farhadi's "A Hero" can tell the unvarnished truth, a fact that makes the film great fun and a fascinating comment on human nature.
08/01/2022 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Multiverses For the Multitudes
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" does whatever it pleases in bringing back golden-oldie characters from whatever universes they've been inhabiting. And the film is all over the place in more ways than one. But it really pleases, by bringing up feelings we may not have known we still had.
18/12/2021 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story" starts with three annunciatory notes of the greatest score ever written for a Broadway musical comedy. What follows is partly a rethinking of the basic material, and a redressing of wrongs represented by the casting of previous productions, which was never representative at all. Mostly, though, it's an exultant new version of an American classic.
11/12/2021 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Mysterious ways and a crazy idea
Paolo Sorrentino's "The Hand of God" is much less serious than it sounds, though far from frivolous. It's a fond and funny piece of autobiography about his coming of age in 1980s Naples.
04/12/2021 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Oh, didn't he ramble?
"Cmon C'mon" is all over the place, like the 9-year-old at the center of Mike Mills's unusual road movie, but it's a special pleasure that manages to be simultaneously serious and marvelously funny.
20/11/2021 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Love In the Time of Troubles
In "Belfast," Kenneth Branagh's semi-autobiographical evocation of his childhood in Northern Ireland, the filmmaker, stage actor and writer is a bright-faced 9-year-old struggling to understand the sectarian violence raging around him and his tight-knit family.
13/11/2021 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Princess Di re-re-re-dux
Five years ago the Chilean director Pablo Larraín gave us "Jackie," a fictionalized portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy during and immediately after her husband's assassination. Now he's done a fictionalized--and mostly grim--account of a Christmas weekend the Princess of Wales spent in 1991 at Queen Elizabeth's Sandringham Estate.
06/11/2021 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
When lightning strikes twice
Joanna Hogg's semi-autobiographical 2019 feature "The Souvenir" was rightly hailed as something perilously close to a masterpiece. Now she's done a sequel, "The Souvenir: II," which picks up where the first film left off. Sequels are risky, but there was no need to worry about this one.
30/10/2021 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
What's That Shimmering In the Ether?
"The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain" stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the Victorian-era illustrator who celebrated cats and believed he could feel electricity in the space around him. Claire Foy is Emily Richardson, the woman he loves, and the two stars in conjunction are a grand spectacle.
23/10/2021 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Mixing It Up With the Master
A filmmaking couple in Mia Hansen-Løve's wonderful "Bergman Island" spend a summer residency on the island off the coast of Sweden where Ingmar Bergman lived and made some of his most cherished films.
16/10/2021 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
A Blessed Event On the Sheep Farm
It's not your ordinary lamb, but then "Lamb" isn't your ordinary Icelandic indie film. It's a debut feature, by Valdimar Jóhannsson, that's extraordinarily well made, seriously strange and stars the superb Noomi Rapace, who was the fierce Goth hacker Lisbeth Salandar in the original Swedish version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
09/10/2021 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
The End Of a Bond Line
It's been 15 years since we first saw him, and were startled by him, as James Bond in "Casino Royale" (which turned out to be one of the best Bonds ever.) Now Daniel Craig is playing Bond for the last time in "No Time To Die," which is very long, very uneven and, from time to time, greatly affecting.
02/10/2021 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
The Algorithms of Love
What if the man who says "I'm Your Man" isn't a man? Maria Schrader's German-language sci-fi romance explores the shifting ground between hormones and silicon.
25/09/2021 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Rocky Mountain movie high
The 48th annual Telluride Film Festival took place actually, rather than virtually, at its accustomed site almost 10,000 feet up in the Colorado Rockies. Last year the festival went dark during the pandemic. This year it was an exuberant reminder, as always, that the movie medium is alive and, against heavy odds, well.
11/09/2021 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
An urban legend about an urban legend
In the movie world the word "sequel" is usually a synonym for letdown. Not so with the new "Candyman," which calls itself a "spiritual sequel" to the 1992 slasher classic. The director, Nia DaCosta, and her colleagues--she wrote the screenplay with Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld--have transformed the material by rethinking what it said about race in America in the first place.
28/08/2021 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Lost In the Labyrinth of Memory
"Reminiscence," a futurist debut feature by Lisa Joy, the co-creator of "Westworld," may be best remembered for its stunning images of Miami at a time of catastrophic climate change, when rising sea levels have engulfed much of the city. The immensely complicated plot, on the other hand, is mostly mind-numbing.
21/08/2021 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
A Rougneck In the Rough
Matt Damon is an Oklahoma oil-patch worker who travels to France to help his daughter, imprisoned in Marseille for a murder she claims she didn't commit. The film is a fictional reworking of the case of Amanda Knox, an American woman acquitted in 2015 of the charge of having killed her flatmate. The director and co-writer was Tom McCarthy, who did the investigative procedural "Spotlight."
31/07/2021 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Quick, Someone Call a Geriatrician!
Vacationers in a tropical resort age mysteriously in "Old," an inexplicably silly horror/slasher/sci-fi feature by M. Night Shyamalan.
24/07/2021 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Bright Life, Dark Mystery
"Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain" captures the sweep of the chef-turned-TV-celebrity's life in captivating detail. It also struggles with the mystery of why, at what seemed to be the peak of his career, Bourdain committed suicide three years ago in his room in a French hotel.
17/07/2021 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Value "Black Widow," the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for what it is (a surprisingly intimate portrait of two sisters and their strange family, plus several elegant action sequences) rather than discounting it for what it isn't (another of Marvel's adventures in which cosmic forces are at work.)
10/07/2021 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
Justin Lin's Flying Circus
The action master, who last directed an episode of "Fast and Furious" in 2013, is back with "F9: The Fast Saga," an action spectacular in which cars not only fly--that's so old-school--but go into orbit.
26/06/2021 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Rita Moreno at 89
Retired? Not on your life, or hers. This indefatigable entertainment icon has recently finished a role in Steven Spielberg's new screen version of "West Side Story" (she won an Oscar for her work in the 1961 version.) Now she's the subject of a new documentary in which she looks back on her life, and forward to whatever the next gig may be.
19/06/2021 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Heights of "The Heights"
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda brought his astonishing "Hamilton" to Broadway he created "In the Heights," a Broadway musical set in a Latino, mostly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights, in Upper Manhattan near the George Washington Bridge. Thirteen years after its opening, the show has finally made it to the screen in a production that's just what is needed to bring movie audiences back into the fold.
12/06/2021 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
How much deviltry can we take?
"The Conjuring" films have conjured billions of box-office dollars since the first one in 2013. But now, with the latest installment called "The Devil Made Me Do It," there's a sense of paranormal events winding down, which is a very normal fate for a blockbuster franchise.
05/06/2021 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
And the beat goes on, not always audibly.
"A Quiet Place II" picks up where the original--the very original original--left off. The post-apocalyptic world is still beset by blind monsters who listen for the tiniest sound, then turn the hapless human who made it into lunch.
29/05/2021 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
A climate of guilt and suspicion
You could say "The Dry," a fine Australian thriller, is partly about global warming. It's been almost a year without rain when Aaron Falk, a federal cop played by Eric Bana, drives northwest from Melbourne through parched lands to a funeral in the small town he left 20 years ago. The drought has changed everyone's life, Aaron's best friend seems to have killed his wife and son before taking his own life and Aaron himself remains under suspicion in the town for his girlfriend's death all those many years ago.
22/05/2021 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
'Riders of Justice' can give you whiplash
Usually the simplest part of reviewing a movie is designating its genre. The most straightforward description of “Riders of Justice,” in Danish with English subtitles, is a drama with intense action elements and darkly comic overtones. But a more accurate description is that it’s a deliciously absurdist, fundamentally serious, even philosophical enterprise that uses a superheated revenge plot to address our common need for making sense out of life.
15/05/2021 • 3 minutes 46 seconds
Billy Crystal plays a comedy writer with dementia in "Here Today," and Tiffany Haddish is a singer and street performer who becomes his guardian angel, but the mirth is forced and the energy false.
08/05/2021 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
When Basic Training Goes Beyond the Basics
The hero of "Moffie" is a closeted gay conscript in the South Africa of 1981. In addition to the killing arts, he and his fellow draftees are trained in racism and homophobia.
10/04/2021 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Versus films are a genre unto themselves. Now we have "Godzilla vs. Kong," an addition to the genre that isn't proud so much as inevitable. Or unavoidable.
03/04/2021 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
When might and right make a Bob Odenkirk action thriller
In "Nobody," the star of "Better Call Saul" plays a placid suburbanite who discovers the pleasures of revenge.
27/03/2021 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
The Importance of Not Being Earnest
"The Courier," a Cold War spy thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is earnest to a fault. Meaning it's unaccountably dull, even though Cumberbatch gives another of his strong performances, this time in the role of Greville Wynne, a British civilian recruited by MI6 and the CIA to travel to the Soviet Union and make covert contact with a Soviet intelligence officer who wants to help the West avoid a nuclear war.
20/03/2021 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
When A Smaller Film Has Big Ambitions
Working from the Nico Walker novel about the horrors of war and opioid addiction, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have made a screen version that elevates, for better or the gritty source material into the epic journey of a troubled soul.
13/03/2021 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
A deep dig into fertile soil
In "The Truffle Hunters," a new documentary by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, Italian men in their 60s, 70s and 80s do as they've done for decades--search the forests of the Alba region for precious white truffles. Their lives are happy and their health is fine, but their work is increasingly endangered.
06/03/2021 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
When the Feds are the enemy
"The United States vs. Billie Holiday" chronicles the U.S. government's war on Billie Holiday in the late 1940s, when the Bureau of Narcotics saw in the peerless, heroin-addicted singer a chance to racialize its so-called war on drugs.
27/02/2021 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
On the road again--and again
In Chloé Zhao's gorgeous "Nomadland," a woman in her 60s, played with gusto and intimations of grief by Frances McDormand, joins a transient population of older and just plain old Americans driving their vans and RV's around the American West in search of companionship, and gig work where they can find it.
20/02/2021 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Chillingly relevant American history from half a century ago
In Shaka King's remarkable "Judas and the Black Messiah," Fred Hampton and the Chicago Black Panthers struggle against racism in the late 1960's, unaware that the FBI has planted an informant in their midst.
13/02/2021 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Previewing the Pandemic
"Little Fish" finished shooting many months before Covid-19 hit, but it gets some things right and other things very right, even though the virus in the movie attacks your memory instead of taking your life.
06/02/2021 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
A deep dig into the distant past
Sutton Hoo, in the English countryside in Suffolk, was the site of one of the most spectacular archaeological finds of the 20th century. Now that discovery has been dramatized--affectingly, and quite accurately--in a Netflix film called "The Dig."
30/01/2021 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
The beguiling charms of "Our Friend"
Flawlessly acted by Dakota Johnson, Casey Affleck and Jason Segel, and beautifully directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, this movie about friendship and cancer--in that order--is funny and affecting in equal measure.
23/01/2021 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Society as a rooster coop
That's how the hero of "The White Tiger" views his native India. The way you'll view the film is with rapt attention and great delight. It's really terrific.
16/01/2021 • 3 minutes 18 seconds
Brightening the Autism Spectrum
A documentary called "The Reason I Jump" is a stirring new addition to the movie genre--best exemplified by "The Miracle Worker"--about disabled people who can't express what they're thinking or feeling.
09/01/2021 • 3 minutes 17 seconds
The Meaning of the Blues
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" stars Viola Davis as the great blues singer of the title and Chadwick Boseman, brilliant in his final performance as the cornetist in a quartet that accompanies her. "White folk don't understand the blues," Ma says at one point. Their understanding will be enhanced by this powerful, ultimately shattering film version of the 1982 August Wilson play.
19/12/2020 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
A show-stopper in a non-starter
Are you willing to watch 130 minutes of unfounded self-delight for four minutes of terrific song and dance? Then "The Prom" is the film for you. The cast includes Meryl Streep, James Corden and Nicole Kidman, but there's little they can do to save this Netflix music from its own excesses.
05/12/2020 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
"Proxima" is an astronaut story set entirely on Earth, and all the stronger for it
The subject is love--between Eva Green's astronaut mother and her 7-year-old daughter, played affectingly by Zélie Boulant--and extremely well-founded separation anxiety, since Mom is soon to blast off for a one-year tour aboard the International Space Station.
07/11/2020 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
The Life and Governance of American Cities
Frederick Wiseman's documentary feature, "City Hall," is the latest in a remarkable string of 43 films about cultural and political institutions. It's more than four hours long, but fascinating at almost every point along the way, a testament to the ideal of civic governance and the complex pleasures of city life.
31/10/2020 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
"The Witches," Robert Zemeckis's remake of the 1990 version of the dark Roald Dahl novel, transfers the action from Norway and the United Kingdom to Alabama in the late 1960s. That's a good idea with one substantial reservation. Remaking a cult classic turns out to be a digital-effects extravaganza and too much of a good thing.
24/10/2020 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Echoes of Chaos
In striking ways Aaron Sorkin's "The Trial of the Chicago 7 " is a docudrama for our time. It's about the riots that surrounded the 1968 Democratic convention, which took place during the Vietnam war, and the 1969 trial of anti war demonstrators charged with inciting violence in the streets around the convention. But docudramas have their own way of mixing truth with invention, and this one is no exception.
17/10/2020 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
A great documentary, and a timely one
Garrett Bradley's "Time," a gorgeous documentary that skips back and forth over the course of two decades, is a Black filmmaker's lyrical tribute to a Black family trying to hold itself together while it's beset by barely imaginable pressures.
10/10/2020 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
The father-daughter romance, eternal and infernally complicated
Bill Murray and Rashida Jones star in Sofia Coppola's "On the Rocks," a film about her marriage and their relationship, both of which are fraught and funny.
03/10/2020 • 3 minutes 42 seconds
Star Quality That's Readily Detectable
Millie Bobby Brown was only 12 when she first played Eleven, the mysterious girl with psychokinetic powers, on the TV series "Stranger Things." Now she's all of 16 and starring as Sherlock Holmes's kid sister in "Enola Holmes." The mystery this time is how she carries the whole movie with nary a false note.
26/09/2020 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
When Telluride Came To the Rose Bowl
After cancelling this year's Telluride Film Festival because of the pandemic, the festival set up shop for one night at a pop-up drive-in next to the Rose Bowl. Only one film was shown, but it was special, and beautiful--Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland."
19/09/2020 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
What Are They Doing To Us?
A Netflix documentary, "The Social Dilemma," examines the myriad ways social media platforms hold our attention while they mine our minds for data and pollute them with news that ranges from trivial through questionable to flat-out counterfeit.
12/09/2020 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
A Mobius Strip Of a Road Trip
Charlie Kaufman's "I'm Thinking of Ending It All" defies description but doesn't defeat it. The Netflix film starts with two people in a car on a road trip, then goes off on a trip of its own to explore matters of identity, relationships, projection (not the multiplex kind) and nothing less than the nature of reality. It can be exasperating, but also beautiful, a work of emotional impressionism with moments of rueful grace and startling images that evoke yearning.
05/09/2020 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
In the Matter of Robin Williams's Death
A new documentary, "Robin's Wish," deals with the disease that took his life, but also celebrates his life, and his courage as his inner self came undone.
29/08/2020 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Heroism and Heartbreak
"Desert One," a superb documentary by Barbara Kopple, examines the 1980 special forces mission launched secretly by President Jimmy Carter in an attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis.
22/08/2020 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Through a glass glibly
In "Boys State," a documentary streaming on Apple TV+, 1,000 or so high school juniors come together in Texas for a week-long program in which they build their own state government and run for governor in mock elections. How they go about it inevitably reflects the state of participatory politics in supposedly adult America. It is not a pretty picture.
15/08/2020 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
Rising from real ashes
Ron Howard's "Rebuilding Paradise," a fine National Geographic documentary, reconstructs the 2018 wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise in the foothills of Northern California. The film also has something to say, however indirectly, about our own rebuilding effort, once the pandemic is behind us, and about even greater challenges to come.
01/08/2020 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
When the Nucleus Won't Hold
"Radioactive," a biopic that starts to be about Marie Curie, can't resist a cause-and-effect survey of radiation that extends as far afield as Hiroshima, the Nevada Proving Ground and Chernobyl. But Rosamund Pike's vivid performance as the peerless scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner comes close to redeeming the whole production.
25/07/2020 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Healing a soldier and his family
A Netflix documentary, "Father Soldier Son," spans almost a decade as it tracks a former platoon sergeant, gravely wounded in Afghanistan, and the two young sons who adore him.
18/07/2020 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
A spectacle for the streaming domain in the time of the pandemic
"Greyhound," with Tom Hanks as a destroyer captain during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, brings an action adventure to home screens. But it also reminds us how much we've lost with the closing of theaters and their huge screens.
11/07/2020 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
The Pain and Exquisite Joy of Performance
"The Audition" stars the great German actress Nina Hoss as a violin teacher determined to turn a tender young student into a virtuoso.
27/06/2020 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
When Not To Say No
"Babyteeth" is a debut feature from Australia, and what a debut: Shannon Murphy, who's never done a full-length film before, directed from a screenplay by Rita Kalnejais. The genre is familiar, a lovely young girl with a disease that may kill her, but that's where the familiarity ends and a wonderfully unpredictable tragicomedy begins. The girl, Milla, is played by Eliza Scanlen, who was so radiant as Beth in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women." Toby Wallace is remarkable as Moses, the whacked-out love of Milla's life.
20/06/2020 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
A Movie Of and For the Moment
Spike Lee's "Da 5 Bloods," streaming on Netflix, is sprawling, enthralling and essential viewing. It comes on as an action adventure--a group of black Vietnam vets go back to Vietnam to find the remains of their squad leader and the gold bullion he helped them bury. But it's really about black lives--how much they matter, what blacks have endured in America's past and where they belong in its turbulent present.
13/06/2020 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
The Pleasures and Perversities of Sisterhood
"Shirley," a free-form fictional biopic about the writer Shirley Jackson, has two main settings: Bennington, Vermont, where, in the 1960s, her husband teaches English at Bennington College, and the turbulent landscape of Shirley's inner life, where she struggles with the same demons that populate her stories and books.
06/06/2020 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
Projecting the future of the big screen
Can the theatrical experience survive? Movie theaters will reopen sometime soon, though not all of them, but the streaming revolution was changing viewing habits long before the pandemic, and has only gained force, and converts, since the coronavirus struck. Balancing the gains and losses is hard for a child of the movie palaces.
30/05/2020 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
The End of the Line For a Decade-Long Trip
Every few years since they joined forces to do "The Trip" in 2010, the English funnymen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have done another installment--"The Trip To Italy" followed by "The Trip To Spain." The latest and final one, "The Trip To Greece," follows their formula of visiting photogenic spots, eating fancy meals and talking funny talk that includes spot-on celebrity impressions. After this there'll be no one to do Michael Caine except Michael Caine.
23/05/2020 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Spike Lee's love doc to New York
In less than four minutes, on Super 8 film, Spike Lee has captured the pain and surreal stillness of New York's pandemic moment.
16/05/2020 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
When a Nanny Needs A Friend
"Saint Frances" is a feature debut for its director, Alex Thompson, and its writer, Kelly O'Sullivan, who also co-stars with a remarkable child actor named Ramona Edith Williams. They play, respectively, Bridget, a nanny, and Frances, the kid who changes the nanny's life. "Mary Poppins" it is not.
09/05/2020 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
A Man and His Jacket
"Deerskin" is a tale of murderous obsession and a deerskin jacket, though not in that order. The star is Jean Dujardin, who won an Oscar in 2012 for his buoyantly funny portrayal of George Valentin, a silent-film actor on the way down. Once again he's playing a Georges, with an 's' but without the buoyancy.
02/05/2020 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Circus of Books
"Circus of Books," a new Netflix documentary, centers on an old West Hollywood landmark, the porn shop on the corner of La Jolla and Santa Monica Boulevard. But the center of the center is about prejudice, and how it can arise in the unlikeliest places.
25/04/2020 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Selah and the Spades
In "Selah and the Spades," Tayarisha Poe's impressive debut feature, a tyrannical teen rules the prep-school roost.
18/04/2020 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
Deliver us from tedium
At a time when the luckier among us are having food, booze and even weed delivered to their doorsteps, movies about delivery services may be a fitting accompaniment. ("Deliverance" isn't one of them.)
11/04/2020 • 3 minutes 46 seconds
A new genre: empty-space operas
Look outside your window these days and what you see is a sci-movie with silent streets devoid of life. Here are a few movies that have turned empty cities into art.
04/04/2020 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
"Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution," evokes the history of a camp for disabled kids that flourished in the Catskills in the 1960s and 1970s. More than a camp, though, it was a seedbed for radical political action. The film streams on Netflix.
28/03/2020 • 3 minutes 49 seconds
What's a movie lover to do? No new openings because theaters are shutting down for the duration. But new releases are coming. It will just take a week or so before they find their way to video on demand. Meanwhile, a few ideas for streaming in the madness of our moment.
21/03/2020 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Eliza Hittman's "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" is provocative--some might consider it explosive, since it follows a pregnant 17-year-old from rural Pennsylvania to New York City in search of a safe abortion she can't get at home. But it's also one of the most beautiful films I've seen in a long time, the odyssey of a lost child in poorly charted territory.
14/03/2020 • 3 minutes 54 seconds
Kelly Reichardt has endeared herself to fans of independent film with a string of heartfelt features shot on a modest scale. None of them has been as endearing, or as funny and wise, as her new one, "First Cow"
07/03/2020 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Invisible Man
Almost 90 years ago "The Invisible Man" thrilled audiences with special effects they'd never seen. In the latest version of the story, the focus is on a visible and all-too-vulnerable woman who's either being chased by a vengeful ex she can't see or is suffering from florid delusions.
29/02/2020 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
The Call of the Wild
A new screen version of "The Call of the Wild" is calling to us; it's the Jack London story of a California dog named buck who goes native in the Yukon of the Gold Rush days. This time the dog is digital, which lends the film at least one distinction.
22/02/2020 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
"Beanpole" is a new Russian drama directed by the prodigiously gifted Kantemir Balogov. The setting is Leningrad during the first autumn after World War II, and it's a profound--and profoundly beautiful--tale of two women who've been traumatized by the war.
15/02/2020 • 3 minutes 53 seconds
Birds of Prey
The Harley Quinn of "Suicide Squad" is back in "Birds of Prey," though with a difference, even though she's still played, with skill and zest, by Margot Robbie. In the earlier film, a torture chamber for actors and audiences alike, Harley was a flamboyantly brutal criminal, rather than an entertaining one. She's flamboyant in "Birds of Prey," but joyously so.
08/02/2020 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Kitty Green's "The Assistant" is audacious in a deadpan way, a #MeToo drama that comes on like an HR video illustrating the responsibilities of an entry-level job. The heroine, Jane (Julia Garner), is a junior assistant to the chairman of the company. His name is not Harvey Weinstein. In fact he's never named, or seen. This is a story of sexual abuse in which the predatory behavior, like the abuser, remains behind closed doors, but increasingly obvious to the decreasingly innocent assistant.
01/02/2020 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Guy Ritchie is back, mostly for the better, in crime-caper mode with "The Gentlemen," a tale of criminal toughs and toffs in London trying to take down Matthew McConaughey's Mickey Pearson, an ex-pat American who's made a king's ransom growing marijuana in subterranean, tech-intensive farms under some of England's statelier homes.
25/01/2020 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
“Dolittle” is the latest in a long, undistinguished line of movies about the veterinarian who can talk to animals. It doesn’t speak well for the film that one of its only affecting moments involves a stick insect that doesn't seem to listen and has nothing to say.
18/01/2020 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The Rise of Skywalker
Log line. The Star Wars party is over, or at least a significant part of it. Forty-two years after George Lucas put the saga in motion, the Skywalker trilogy has come to an end with "The Rise of Skywalker."
21/12/2019 • 3 minutes 49 seconds
Energy flows from anxiety in "Uncut Gems." You may be exhausted but you'll never be bored by Adam Sandler's astonishing performance.
14/12/2019 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
"The Aeronauts" is in the Jules Verne vein of "Around the World In 80 Days," but on a slightly more modest scale. It's around and above London during a few hours with an intrepid pilot played by Felicity Jones and her scientist companion, who's played by Eddie Redmayne. Without giving away too much, I can tell you that the higher they go the colder they get.
07/12/2019 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
It's tempting to say that "Knives Out" is the sort of movie they don't make any more, but they didn't make all that many way back when, because it's really hard to pull off a production of such startling quality. If there's a false note in it I must have been laughing or gasping when it sounded.
30/11/2019 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Tom Hanks is Fred Rogers, the children's TV host in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." The movie was made for grownups, of course, so sticky sweetness threatens at every turn. But the movie bets on goodness, and wins.
23/11/2019 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Ford v Ferrari
Movies about car racing sound like operas scored entirely for bassos. "Ford v Ferrari" fills that bill, but it also has significant things to say on a variety of worthy subjects. It's a great spectacle with a resonant soul to go with its smarts.
16/11/2019 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Every divorce story is a marriage story, but every movie about divorce is not on the level of Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story." Marvelous performances, steel-trap writing that also manages to be heartfelt--it's a deeply affecting classic.
09/11/2019 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Here's an all-points bulletin about Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman." It's a huge movie, made to be seen on big screens, but it's a Netflix production that will be playing in theaters, and not all that many of them, only for three weeks. See it if you can before this genuine epic shrinks down to the size of a streaming attraction.
02/11/2019 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Words, words, words. "Synonyms," an Israeli film set in Paris, is all about them. For once, though, wordiness in a movie is a good thing, even a delightful thing.
26/10/2019 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
Three years ago Robert Eggers made his dark mark with a remarkable debut feature called "The Witch." Now he's back with "The Lighthouse," a horror fantasy in a dramatic and aesthetic class by itself.
19/10/2019 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
Think about "Parasite" as a home-invasion story unlike any other. This funny, smart and genuinely profound social satire from Korea was directed by Bong Joon Ho, and it's one of the most original films in memory.
12/10/2019 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
If you’re feeling insufficiently anxious in your life, “Joker” could be just the ticket. If not, look elsewhere to be entertained.
05/10/2019 • 3 minutes 46 seconds
Renée Zellwegger plays Judy Garland with heart-stopping brilliance in "Judy." It's a performance that no one could have predicted, not even on the basis of her bedazzling portrayal of Roxie Hart in "Chicago." She sets the film on fire every time she sings a Garland classic in her own voice.
28/09/2019 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Tigers Are Not Afraid
In the past few years there's been a very real invasion from Mexico--by remarkably gifted filmmakers. Now a woman named Issa López joins their ranks with an interesting horror film called "Tigers Are Not Afraid."
24/08/2019 • 3 minutes 42 seconds
A remarkable documentary called "Aquarela" is about water--really and truly about water and its effect on the planet. The film makes the stuff almost palpable, as no motion picture I've ever seen before.
17/08/2019 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a certified feelgood film that has no use for naked tenderness, disability sentimentality or full-frontal sweetness. Go in expecting the best and you'll come out smiling.
10/08/2019 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
An interesting independent film called "Luce" is framed as a psychological mystery. It labors under more layers of significance than it can handle without falling into contrivance. Yet the dramatic core is strong: an exceptional young man—played by an exceptional actor named Kelvin Harrison Jr.--struggling to become whoever he really is.
03/08/2019 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood" seduces you, in the spirit of its once-upon-a-time title. Come along, it seems to say, you may have guessed where we're going but we'll have fun and some surprises along the way.
27/07/2019 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
The Lion King
Disney's remake of "The Lion King" looks like the real thing--animation that simulates real life in astonishing detail. Whether we want animation to simulate real life is another question, but it's the crucial one.
20/07/2019 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
The lovely paradox of Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” in subtitled Mandarin and English, is that everyone in it tries to hide their feelings as long as they can, yet their story goes straight to your heart.
13/07/2019 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Toy Story 4
A fourth "Toy Story," coming nine years after the trilogy ended, is automatically big news. But is it good news? The answer is four times yes, with only minor qualifications.
22/06/2019 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Men in Black: International
"Men in Black: International" is an industrial product salvaged from the remnants of an exhausted franchise and aimed at a young audience that may not know or care what a joy the original was.
15/06/2019 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is about the stories we need to tell ourselves. What the hero of this piercingly beautiful debut film longs for most strongly is a place he can call home.
08/06/2019 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The Fall Of the American Empire
"The Fall Of the American Empire" is a French-Canadian crime caper about money--not just the small fortune involved in a heist, but the larger fortunes that sustain the world of business and finance.
01/06/2019 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
“Booksmart” is a high-school comedy with a graduate degree.
25/05/2019 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum
It is, every bit of it, the cat’s meow.
18/05/2019 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
All Is True
I’m Joe Morgenstern. I’ll be back on KCRW next week with more reviews.
11/05/2019 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Audiences may well be looking for an even higher level of outlandishness than the TV news channels and talk shows offer, and “Long Shot” provides it.
04/05/2019 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Good news for humanity, and for the significant fraction of it that’s been
following the exploits of the Avengers and their allies in twenty-one Marvel
movies over the course of the past 11 years.
27/04/2019 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
The title is “Hail Satan?”—but with a question mark at the end and it may look like a mockumentary, but it’s not.
20/04/2019 • 3 minutes 48 seconds
Brain- numbing and head-splitting (literally the latter, since the cleaving of skulls is a recurrent motif).
13/04/2019 • 3 minutes 48 seconds
It’s terrific fun, and none of the things that were threatening to turn DC Entertainment into the cinematic equivalent of a black hole.
06/04/2019 • 3 minutes 47 seconds
Disney’s new “Dumbo” is one ponderous pachyderm.
30/03/2019 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Jordan Peele’s “Us” is a polytonal slasher saga with more undertones, overtones, intricate themes, elusive mysteries and scary images than anyone could absorb in a single viewing.
23/03/2019 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
“The Mustang” starts with a good idea and makes it better—an incorrigible prison inmate learns to tame his own wild rages by taming, and training, a wild mustang.
16/03/2019 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
It takes a long time for “Captain Marvel” to focus its force fields. And for Brie Larson’s fearless pilot, Carol Danvers, to find her true identity, her authentic superpowers and a reason for us to want to watch her.
09/03/2019 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Your own pulse will pound often and hard during Todd Douglas Miller’s film, which opens this week exclusively in IMAX.
02/03/2019 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
This time it really is about the films themselves.
23/02/2019 • 3 minutes 18 seconds
Alita: Battle Angel
The film was directed by Robert Rodriguez, who did “From Dusk Till Dawn" and "Sin City," and it comes by its visual elegance honestly, since the technology derives from James Cameron's "Avatar." Cameron produced this one, and the digital wizardry, as in "Avatar;" came out of the Weta Digital facility in New Zealand.
16/02/2019 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
"Cold Pursuit” finds Liam Neeson once again in avenger mode—it’s a given that he’s recapitulating the spirit of “Taken.”
09/02/2019 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
02/02/2019 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
The Kid Who Would Be King
There’s a lot to enjoy about the film, starting with the title’s sly reference to Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” and John Huston’s classic screen adaptation.
26/01/2019 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
It’s a sort of a climax to a kind of a trilogy that began at the turn of the century with “Unbreakable” and includes “Split,” which was released in 2016.
19/01/2019 • 3 minutes 49 seconds
On the Basis of Sex
“On the Basis of Sex” is a fictionalized account of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s formative years as a lawyer and law professor. The film is informative, in a dutiful way, but it’s a skin-deep celebration of someone who’s never settled for superficiality in her life’s work. Hints of her future self appear, but only in flashes. Mostly the production takes its cues not from real life but from film clichés.
The fateful flaw isn’t hard to locate. It’s the script, which was written by Daniel Stiepleman. For one thing Stiepleman ha
29/12/2018 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Mary Poppins Returns
At the beginning of “Mary Poppins Returns” we’re told that the story takes place, quote, “in the days of the great Slump.” Meaning the Depression, of course, except that the elation merchants at Disney avoided the word out of concern that it might be depressing. Rather than run the same risk, I’ll simply note that I found this sequel deeply slumping. The misuse of talent is what slumped me the most.
22/12/2018 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Within the first 30 seconds you know you’re watching something new. A sensational title sequence threatens to be the design equivalent of flash bang grenades, yet the art isn’t assaultive, only inventive, with colors that stretch the spectrum as far as the eye can see.
15/12/2018 • 3 minutes 53 seconds
It’s a bizarre treat to watch Portman singing—very well—and strutting her stuff in a black sequined gown like a cross between Madonna and a Roomba Robot vacuum gone rogue.
08/12/2018 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Anna and the Apocalypse
A zombie musical with a high-school setting.
01/12/2018 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
There’s no other way to say it than to say it: “Roma” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and one of the most moving.
24/11/2018 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
One of the many things you may learn from “Widows” is that cemeteries don’t have gravediggers anymore; backhoes do the job.
17/11/2018 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
The Girl In the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story
“The Girl In the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story” is a reference to the terrific series that started years ago with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” The central character in the new installment has the same name, but she’s changed and a lot around her has changed, none of it for the better.
10/11/2018 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Be forewarned that Disney’s latest holiday offering has reprocessed nothing but bits, pieces, slivers and chunks of Nutcrackery into a colorful, sumptuously produced confection with no detectable nutritional value.
03/11/2018 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
A small-scale Swedish feature that sneaks up on you but isn’t scary so much as amusing, then intriguing, then, by degrees, unsettling, troubling, frightening, honest-to-badness horrifying and enthralling.
27/10/2018 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
“Wildlife” is just plain wonderful, and I’ll explain the plain part in a minute. This coming-of-age drama is the directorial debut of the actor Paul Dano; he and Zoe Kazan adapted the screenplay from the novel by Richard Ford. The time is 1960, the place is Montana and the hero, a lonely 14-year-old named Joe Brinson, is trying to understand the ways of the world through his suddenly fractured family.
20/10/2018 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Here’s the radical notion behind Damien Chazelle’s “First Man”: Tell the story of mankind’s boldest adventure thus far, the Apollo 11 mission that reached the moon nearly a half-century ago, but tell it through a taciturn, emotionally closed-off hero, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the lunar surface.
13/10/2018 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
A Star Is Born
"A Star Is Born" is thrillingly right in just about every respect. It’s as if no one knew they were shooting a remake. The film feels fresh from thunderous start to exquisite finish.
06/10/2018 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Feel free to find your own meaning in “Free Solo.” Maybe you’ll see it as a movie about defying death (while courting it), or transcending fear (without banishing it), or solving problems (through excruciating attention to detail), or simply as an expression of the unquenchable human spirit. It’s all of those things and more.
29/09/2018 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Spike Lee doesn’t mince words in “BlacKkKlansman.” He ignites them, and illustrates them with inflammatory images. This is a freewheeling account of an African-American cop who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1970s. It’s uneven as narrative drama, but stunning as a furious, in-your-white-face outcry against racial hatred in America’s past and turbulent present, with pointed references to President Trump.
11/08/2018 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is back to saving the world from nuclear devastation—he did it almost seven years ago in “Ghost Protocol,” so you can bet on him succeeding again.
28/07/2018 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Yes, the glee is industrial-strength, and the ABBA-fueled production numbers are so far over the top that the film is both topless and chaste. Yet there’s a wellspring of genuine feeling in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” a time-hopping sequel that amounts to an origin story.
21/07/2018 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Paul Rudd is back, winningly, as Scott Lang/aka the superhero of the title, along with Michael Douglas as the inventor Dr. Hank Pym, and Evangeline Lilly, who’s lovely and strong as Hank’s daughter, Hope van Dyne.
07/07/2018 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Leave No Trace
“Leave No Trace” was made by an artist who combines plainspoken poetry with documentary detail. It’s a gorgeous film, a triumph on top of an earlier one and, not incidentally, a small miracle of concision at a time when audiences are more and more interested in stories spun out at great length in episodes and seasons.
30/06/2018 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
An imminent threat of extinction drives the narrative. It’s three years after the previous film, “Jurassic World,” and the collapse of the theme park on Isla Nublar. The dinosaurs have the island to themselves, but a volcanic eruption threatens to wipe them out.
23/06/2018 • 3 minutes 50 seconds
For all its repetitiveness, and frantic silliness, “Tag” ends up being good fun, with an unexpectedly sweet spirit that stays with you.
16/06/2018 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
I’m happy to bring news about “Hereditary,” a sensationally scary debut feature by Ari Aster.
09/06/2018 • 3 minutes 47 seconds
This formidably accomplished debut feature by Michael Pearce takes us down familiar paths into a darkness all its own.
12/05/2018 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
This short, bright comedy with a dark core was directed by Jason Reitman from a superb screenplay by Diablo Cody; they collaborated previously on “Juno” and “Young Adult.” It’s a remarkable film about nothing less than regeneration, the harrowing process of pulling one’s worn, dispirited parts into a vibrant new whole.
05/05/2018 • 3 minutes
Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel has rounded up a remarkable collection of characters for this picture, starting with Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Spider- Man—a new Spider-Man played by Tom Holland—and all the rest.
28/04/2018 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
I Feel Pretty
At first blush “I Feel Pretty” has a promising premise. It’s about a sad duckling who’s far from ugly, just pleasantly plump and plagued by self-doubt. Suddenly, magically, she believes that she’s drop-dead gorgeous, and her delusion releases her joyous, lovable self. At second blush, after seeing the film, it’s a botched premise. At third blush, after thinking about the film, it never had a chance of being much good in the hands of filmmakers whose take on their subject is sitcom-deep.
The duckling, Renee Bennett, is played by Amy Schumer. She knows how to sell a comic notion, and she commits to selling this one, come what may. Renee’s only wish is to be beautiful. She works for a global cosmetics company modeled on Revlon or L’Oreal, but she does so from the company’s o
21/04/2018 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
“The Rider” has an unerring feel for its subject, a young cowboy struggling against his fate in the American West. That’s all the more remarkable because this beautiful film was written and directed by Chloé Zhao, a Chinese woman born in Beijing.
14/04/2018 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
A Quiet Place
“A Quiet Place” is exactly 90 minutes long, or short. It may not make the masterpiece cut, but this little horror thriller is enormously entertaining, because it’s organized around a terrific idea—the necessity of absolute silence.
07/04/2018 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Ready Player One
This new film is impressive, and technically cool, but also emotionally cool. There’s a fundamental mismatch between artist and material.
31/03/2018 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Isle of Dogs
“Isle of Dogs” is clever, funny, startlingly beautiful, politically acute and surprisingly heartfelt.
24/03/2018 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
The Death Of Stalin
All the same, “The Death of Stalin” gets off lots of clever jokes—finding a doctor for the comatose Stalin is hard because all the good ones are in the gulag. And it gets at political and historical truths on its own terms. Power doesn’t have to corrupt, the film suggests; many come to it pre-corrupted, as well as ignorant, fatuous and heedless.
10/03/2018 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
It’s the sort of tossed-off magic that Jennifer Lawrence has worked so often in the past, and that I hope she will work again.
03/03/2018 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
“Annihilation” is new. It wants us to think, and feel, while we’re having fun.
24/02/2018 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
A Fantastic Woman
Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” is Chile’s entry for this year’s foreign-language Oscar.
03/02/2018 • 7 minutes 16 seconds
A story of redemption that will stand the test of time.
20/01/2018 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
When the little guy with the floppy red hat and a fondness for orange marmalade first appeared on the feature screen three years ago this month, he seemed like a gift from the movie gods in a traditionally lean season. Now he and his creators have outdone themselves. One lovely sequence finds Paddington inside the London of an antique pop-up book, but lovely sequences keep popping up with remarkable frequency.
13/01/2018 • 7 minutes 10 seconds
Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Annette Bening can tell you everything you need to know about her character in a single unfolding scene. It’s always rewarding to see her in action, even though her latest movie, “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool,” doesn’t measure up to her performance.
29/12/2017 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The most important movie opening this holiday season is The Post.
23/12/2017 • 6 minutes 51 seconds
The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi starts where The Force Awakens left off. The rebels are in full retreat, and Rey has discovered Luke Skywalker as a monkish hermit on a faraway island of a really faraway planet. The question is what comes next...
16/12/2017 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Impressive in its own right, the movie I, Tonya is also a cure for all those feel-good films about innately noble athletes who manage to triumph over impossible odds.
09/12/2017 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water is a flow of sumptuous images set to music, a flood tide of feelings with a mythic undertow..
02/12/2017 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
This new film is a crowd-pleaser only if you're part of a comics-obsessed crowd.
18/11/2017 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is darkly comic, blazingly profane, flat-out hilarious and often violent, not to mention flippant, tender, poetic and profound.
11/11/2017 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Greta Gerwig is one of the pre-eminent actors of our time, and fine actors often make good directors. And she's no stranger to the art of the screenplay.
04/11/2017 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Joe's got two movies this week, one good and one really, really bad...
28/10/2017 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
There's never been a film quite like this one.
21/10/2017 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Marshall is a movie that surprises at every turn.
14/10/2017 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Blade Runner 2049
The big question in Blade Runner 2049 continues to be the one posed by Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi masterpiece. Who is human, made of flesh and blood, and who is a replicant, built in a factory but able to pass for human in most respects?
07/10/2017 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Errol Morris's enthralling Wormwood, a six-part, 258-minute miniseries produced by Netflix, debuts in December.
09/09/2017 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Step is a stirring documentary about a female step-dancing team in an inner-city high school.
05/08/2017 • 3 minutes 51 seconds
Detroit is Kathryn Bigelow’s incendiary evocation of the riots that convulsed the Motor City 50 years ago this week.
29/07/2017 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is an astonishing evocation of a crucial event during the first year of World War II. It’s something new in the annals of war films — an intimate epic.
22/07/2017 • 3 minutes 46 seconds
War for the Planet of the Apes
If you listened to War for the Planet of the Apes with your eyes closed, the music alone would let you know you were in the presence of a grand adventure.
15/07/2017 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Spider-Man: Homecoming is delightfully smart, genially aware of itself and terrifically likeable. Only now is this series coming of age.
08/07/2017 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Baby Driver is a time-capsule testament to the primacy of music and movement in contemporary life; the beat is both the medium and the message.
01/07/2017 • 6 minutes 53 seconds
The Big Sick
Maybe the title of The Big Sick could be improved, but everything else conspires to make this romantic comedy a cockeyed classic. It's hilariously hyperverbal, yet wonderfully heartfelt.
24/06/2017 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Cars 3 is about Lightning McQueen. This time the hotshot is a faded champion who yearns to win one more race. He's an intriguing hero for young audiences, a living legend and incipient geezer struggling to compete against a new breed of race cars.
17/06/2017 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
"The Mummy" goes beyond defying comprehension. It's truly incomprehensible, and I have some questions about it.
10/06/2017 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Wonder Woman puts the super back in movie heroism, and the Woman herself, as played by Gal Gadot, is the dazzling embodiment of female empowerment.
03/06/2017 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The action sequences of Alien: Covenant give satisfaction, and the supersmart, superambitious android element provides ample food for thought and plenty of cause for worry, given what machine-learning already is and soon it soon will be.
20/05/2017 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
A new film called Risk could hardly be more timely.
06/05/2017 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent
Director Lydia Tenaglia traces Jeremiah Tower's progression from Chez Panisse to the 1984 opening of his own restaurant, Stars, the spectacularly successful San Francisco brasserie where he reigned as a new model of celebrity chef until 1999, when the place closed. .
22/04/2017 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
The Fate of the Furious
Sense, or logic, is not what turns out vast audiences for The Fate of the Furious. It's the cars, of course...
15/04/2017 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Joe Morgenstern says Their Finest is one of the smartest, funniest and most surprising movies he's seen in years, proof of the power of two stories artfully told.
08/04/2017 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
The Zookeeper's Wife
Not all wonderful books are meant to be mainstream fiction films.
01/04/2017 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Taken on its own terms, as a kinetic thriller, Life is lively enough for a while.
25/03/2017 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Beauty and the Beast
More is less in Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast — so much less that this crazily cluttered venture in industrial entertainment betrays the essence of what made the 1991 animated feature a beloved classic.
18/03/2017 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Kong: Skull Island
In the new action adventure Kong: Skull Island, a bunch of scientists and explorers go looking for the latest incarnation of King Kong.
11/03/2017 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
The slashing starts early in Logan – no surprise, since it's an R-rated action thriller about Wolverine, also known as Logan, the "X-Men" character with the tortured psyche and retractable claws.
04/03/2017 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
There's a terrific horror flick opening this week. Jordan Peele's debut feature scrupulously honors the genre's conventions. Get Out never strays from the path of entertainment, yet the horrors of racism lurk in every gleefully lurid frame.
25/02/2017 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
The Great Wall
There is no lack of spectacular sequences in The Great Wall. It's the most expensive movie ever produced in China, with fancy weaponry that's meant to show how technologically advanced the Inner Kingdom was.
18/02/2017 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
The LEGO Batman Movie
The LEGO Batman Movie targets the familiar universe of superheroes and extravagant villains, with a subplot reminiscent of The Incredibles -- society has come to see Batman and his ilk as vigilantes who need to learn the value of teamwork.
11/02/2017 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
The Space between Us; I Am Not Your Negro
Sometimes movies are just plain bad, but sometimes they're distinctively bad. The Space between Us takes a delicious cake for stupidity – it's a sci-fi romance for young adults.
04/02/2017 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Arthur Miller would have admired writer-director Asghar Farhadi's drama The Salesman for its intensity and moral depth.
28/01/2017 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the entrepreneur who gave the world McDonald's -- and Keaton does it with panache.
21/01/2017 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
The opening frames of The Crash promise a thriller about cyber warfare...
14/01/2017 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
A Monster Calls
When a monster shows up at a young boy's bedroom window one night...
24/12/2016 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Denzel Washington and Viola David recreate their roles in a 2010 Broadway revival of the August Wilson play, and we're the beneficiaries.
17/12/2016 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
La La Land
WEB BONUS: La La Land is a crowd-pleaser if ever there was one and Joe Morgenstern couldn't be more pleased to be part of the crowd.
10/12/2016 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
In Jackie, Natalie Portman's portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy during and immediately after JFK's assassination rises above impersonation to an eerie kind of incarnation.
03/12/2016 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Joe Morgenstern says Lion in narrative form is about the randomness of adoption, but in substance it’s about the mystery of identity.
26/11/2016 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Manchester by the Sea
Joe Morgenstern calls Manchester by the Sea is the best movie he's seen so far this year, "a quiet masterpiece that eggs and flows at the rhythm of life."
19/11/2016 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
We yearn to believe what Arrival has to tell us -- that life on earth isn't all there is, that we're connected to the cosmos, that time flows more mysteriously than we can fathom.
12/11/2016 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Loving, a new movie by Jess Nichols about a landmark civil rights case, is new in style too -- calm, human, deeply moving -- one of the best movies of the year.
05/11/2016 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Fire at Sea
Fire at Sea is Gianfranco Rosi's profoundly moving documentary on the migrant tides transforming our wold, and the connections in it are as revelatory as they are mysterious.
29/10/2016 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Just when you think you know what's going to happen, American Honey serves up one more surprise.
01/10/2016 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Queen of Katwe
A poor Ugandan girl's chess skills take her around the world.
24/09/2016 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water is one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in a very long time, following two brothers on a bank-robbing spree in a desolate part of west Texas where the banks themselves are seen as robbers.
20/08/2016 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Florence Foster Jenkins
It's not exactly breaking news, but Meryl Streep is remarkable, and her latest showcase is Florence Foster Jenkins.
13/08/2016 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Suicide Squad amounts to an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment.
06/08/2016 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Jason Bourne used to be an amnesiac. Now he remember who he is, but this latest episode of the franchise forgot to make him human.
30/07/2016 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Star Trek Beyond
It looks big, with plenty of cosmic battles, but it feels smallish, a congenial adventure with familiar friends.
23/07/2016 • 3 minutes 47 seconds
Captain Fantastic is a terrifically accomplished and enjoyable film about a singular household.
09/07/2016 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Spielberg uses digital wizardry to throw spectacular dreams of friendship and adventure on the big screen.
02/07/2016 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
In Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a goofball preacher tells a tiny group of mourners that sometimes in life we may feel "like a sheep trapped in a maze designed by wolves."
25/06/2016 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Finding Dory can be touching, sweet and tender, but it's preposterously and terrifically funny.
18/06/2016 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
The Music of Strangers
Morgan Neville's documentary is a joyous revelation, a group portrait of superb musicians from all over the world offering music as an emblem of what people can do in these troubled times when they live in concert with one another.
11/06/2016 • 3 minutes 14 seconds
A wonderful little movie, The Fits opens on an 11-year old doing sit-ups -- 25 in all, hands clasped behind her head, radiant face to the camera.
04/06/2016 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
Enormous going on keep going on, and on, in X-Men: Apocalypse. It's a collection of explosions, eruptions and conflagrations that looks like the implosion of a franchise. This is disappointing, but also surprising.
28/05/2016 • 3 minutes 42 seconds
Disgraced New York politician Anthony Weiner has been memorialized in an extraordinary documentary called...yes, Weiner.
21/05/2016 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
In Money Monster, George Clooney plays a TV personality -- a medium-manic version of Jim Cramer, the host of NBC's Mad Money.
14/05/2016 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Viva is another retelling, though a particularly affecting one, of a classic tale -- the struggle to discover and assert one's authentic identity.
30/04/2016 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
A Hologram for the King
A Hologram for the King was based on the novel by Dave Eggers.
23/04/2016 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Nine years ago American audiences discovered the Irish film Once, and took it to their hearts. The magic is back in Sing Street, a coming-of-age comedy that's also concerned with making music, and downright lovable in its evocation of young love.
16/04/2016 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Louder than Bombs
Louder than Bombs is very much a movie about memory. It lives and breathes with a lovely intimacy and density of detail that we associate with fine independent features from Europe.
09/04/2016 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Everybody Wants Some
Richard Linklater calls the semi-autobiographical Everybody Wants Some! a "spiritual sequel" to his 1993 Dazed and Confused.
02/04/2016 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman is an underdeveloped, overlong and stupendously dispiriting duel of unlikely antagonists.
26/03/2016 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
Midnight Special is a beautifully strange and stirring sci-fi adventure about a boy with special powers.
19/03/2016 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Like lots of movies these days, Marguerite tells us that "it was inspired by a true story." That usually means the story's truth was buried beneath layers of rubbish. But the key word here is "inspired" -- the film is a wonderfully imaginative work of fiction.
12/03/2016 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
If you're looking for joyous fun, Disney's Zootopia is Yootopia.
05/03/2016 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The title of Triple 9 comes from a police code, 999, that means an officer is down and urgently in need of help.
27/02/2016 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
The Witch; Race
The Witch's psychodynamics may be familiar, but Robert Eggers makes them seem newly discovered with the intensity of his writing and direction. Race is a saga of unquenchable spirit and fast-twitch muscles shot in slow-twitch style.
20/02/2016 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Zoolander 2 is a dud glitter bomb...
13/02/2016 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Like the high desert that provides its main setting, Mojave is dry, often windy and full of hot air...
23/01/2016 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Remembering Alan Rickman
Joe Morgenstern remembers British actor Alan Rickman, who died this week at 69. His voice made him instantly recognizable; his iconic roles and acting prowess made him memorable.
16/01/2016 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Anomalisa takes its title from combining "anomaly" -- something that deviates from the standard -- and Lisa, the name of the woebegone anti-heroine.
09/01/2016 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Star Wars franchise has roared back with full force.
19/12/2015 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
The Big Short
What gives The Big Short its surprising resonance is the breadth of its comic vision, which makes room for collateral tragedy.
12/12/2015 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
The Lady in the Van; Youth
The Lady in the Van is wonderfully funny, terribly touching and a vehicle -- with comically dilapidated vehicles -- for the boundless gifts of Maggie Smith. Like Paolo Sorrentino's previous film, The Great Beauty, Youth is full of Fellini-esque flourishes, plus glib existentialism juxtaposed with synthetic optimism.
05/12/2015 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The Good Dinosaur
In Pixar's newest feature, the Old West is a home where the dinosaurs still roam.
28/11/2015 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2
The Hunger Games series has come to a sporadically stirring climax with Mockingjay, Part 2.
21/11/2015 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
By the Sea
WEB EXCLUSIVE: By the Sea takes place sometime during the mid-1970's in a coastal village in the south of France.
14/11/2015 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Spotlight is the year's best movie so far, and a rarity among all those dramatizations that claim to be based on actual events. Remarkably, the movie and its flawless ensemble cast have captured their subject in all its richness and complexity.
07/11/2015 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Our Brand Is Crisis
Our Brand Is Crisis is meant to be a fictional version of Rachel Boynton's 2005 documentary of the same name...
30/10/2015 • 3 minutes 47 seconds
Nasty Baby; Rock the Kasbah
Nasty Baby is alive with random energy that sets up a surprise ending without blowing the surprise. Rock the Kasbah is a two-bit Ishtar that might play better on a phone.
23/10/2015 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Although its derivations are anything but poetic -- notorious cases of real-life imprisonment and abuse, Room is as beautifully wrought as any film that's come our way in a very long while.
16/10/2015 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Knowing the premise of The Martian won't prepare you for the remarkable variety and complexity of Ridley Scott's sci-fi extravaganza.
02/10/2015 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
99 Homes is a relatively small, tough-minded drama about pitiless people doing unprincipled things. And it turns out to be one of the most interesting, elegantly crafted and improbably entertaining films to come along in quite a while.
25/09/2015 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Johnny Depp creates a seethingly evil portrait of James "Whitey" Bulger, one of the pre-eminent -- and pre-eminently violent -- criminals of recent times.
18/09/2015 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
A Taste of Telluride
Just back from the Telluride Film Festival, Joe Morgenstern introduces us to a couple of stand-outs.
11/09/2015 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Z for Zachariah
In Z for Zachariah the post-apocalyptic thriller gets a renovation, if not re-invention -- as a love triangle in a valley that has somehow been spared from whatever it was that brought an end to civilization.
29/08/2015 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Top Spin starts ultra-slowly, then picks up speed. The subject of this documentary is table tennis -- or ping pong, for those of us who play it just for fun.
22/08/2015 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Straight Outta Compton
Straight Outta Compton is notable for its omissions as well as its strengths, but that shouldn't be surprising.
15/08/2015 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
One of the many gifts conferred by the new movie The Gift is the pleasure of feeling like putty in the hands of a first-rate storyteller.
07/08/2015 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Best of Enemies
Best of Enemies is a must-view film for our media-besotted age, a serious film about a serious failure to communicate ideas.
01/08/2015 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Southpaw stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer in desperate need of redemption.
25/07/2015 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
American comedy doesn't get much better than Trainwreck at its best. Amy Schumer is a fearless artist without borders.
18/07/2015 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Minions are mischievous sidekicks who keep getting into trouble of their own making.
11/07/2015 • 3 minutes 46 seconds
Amy Winehouse was unlucky and unwise in life, but her story fell into the right hands after she died.
04/07/2015 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Seth MacFarlane's raunch-rich comedy is a sequel to his 2012 hit about an amiable guy from Boston and the foul-mouthed womanizer of a teddy bear who's been his best friend since childhood.
27/06/2015 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Actors use their faces, voices and bodies to convey what their characters are feeling, but the new Pixar film Inside Out takes a more direct approach.
20/06/2015 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a fresh take on contemporary adolescence as a journey from ironic detachment to open-hearted feeling.
13/06/2015 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Charm has curdled into smarm in the big-screen version of Entourage.
06/06/2015 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Can we fix our troubled world, or not?
23/05/2015 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller, whose Mad Max gave the movie medium a new genre almost four decades ago, is back with Mad Max: Fury Road.
16/05/2015 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Unfriended is a micro-budget horror film played out entirely one high school girl's laptop.
18/04/2015 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Alex Garland's Ex Machina is an elegant sci-fi fantasy about artificial intelligence.
11/04/2015 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Cute dogs doing cute tricks have become stars of the social networks, but White God offers a different take on man's best friend.
04/04/2015 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Call it bias if you choose, but any Cinderella with Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother couldn't be bad.
14/03/2015 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Merchants of Doubt; An Honest Liar
In its advocacy of skeptical thinking, An Honest Liar dovetails neatly, if accidentally, with Merchants of Doubt.
07/03/2015 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Queen and Country
Queen and Country, the sequel to Hope and Glory that took John Boorman almost three decades to make, is worth the wait.
28/02/2015 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
What We Do in the Shadows
Marketing campaigns can bring movie goers into theaters to see what the fuss is all about, but they can't generate the excitement of those rare occasions when audiences discover a movie on their own. A charming curiosity from New Zealand. One more riff on mythical bloodsuckers.
21/02/2015 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
50 Shades of Grey
Reasonable minds may differ on what the playroom is all about in 50 Shades of Grey.
14/02/2015 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
In a momentous conjunction of events, Jupiter Ascending -- the mega-budget sci-fi extravaganza -- is opening around the nation and the world on the very day that Jupiter, the mega-planet, is at its annual opposition to Earth.
07/02/2015 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Timbuktu takes a deadly aim at Islamic fundamentalism by playing its own game of deft ridicule.
31/01/2015 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The opening of Red Army is good news if you're a hockey fan, a history buff or just an admirer of first-rate documentaries.
24/01/2015 • 3 minutes 18 seconds
Paddington is the comic chronicle of a Peruvian bear's adventures in London, and it turns out to be a total charmer...
17/01/2015 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
How did such a turkey ever escape the studio lot?
20/12/2014 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
A pyrotechnic pinwheel of a personal comedy.
13/12/2014 • 2 minutes 21 seconds
Reese Witherspoon is the angry, wounded soul of Wild. She commands the screen throughout her heroine's 1,100-mile journey of self-discovery and self-repair, on foot and mostly alone, from the Mojave desert to northern Oregon along the Pacific Crest Trail.
06/12/2014 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game, with Benedict Cumberbatch in full cry, summons up a life that changed modern history.
29/11/2014 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is a rare bird in its genre, an action adventure with an interesting mind and a resonant spirit.
22/11/2014 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Foxcatcher is an enthralling enigma of a movie.
15/11/2014 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Joe Morgenstern reviews Christopher Nolan's 168-minute odyssey through the space-time continuum...
08/11/2014 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler is a dark dream of a thriller.
01/11/2014 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Rather than let nuance intrude, Gone Girl doubles down on perversity, and its stars follow suit.
27/09/2014 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The Skeleton Twins
Two luminaries of Saturday Night Live are reunited in The Skeleton Twins — Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. It’s hard to say if they give wonderful comic performances with a tragic dimension, or wonderful dramatic performances with a comic dimension.
13/09/2014 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Telluride Film Festival
Joe Morgenstern reviews the new Pixar short Lava, as well as Birdman, Leviathan, and Mr. Turner from the Telluride Film Festival.
06/09/2014 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
If I Stay; The Trip in Italy
Joe Morgenstern reviews the new Chloe Grace Moretz film If I Stay, and the new comedy The Trip to Italy from Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
23/08/2014 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
The Hundred-Foot Journey
For all of its gastronomic and cultural crosscurrents, The Hundred-Foot Journey boils down to comfort food.
09/08/2014 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Get On Up
Get On Up is about the transformative power of performance. James Brown was a performer of legendary gifts, immeasurable influence and almost infinitely renewable energy.
02/08/2014 • 3 minutes 42 seconds
Lucy doesn't keep track of its own logic, but it's gleefully bold, often funny, surprisingly concise, and 100% entertaining.
26/07/2014 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
I Origins, the second feature from director Mike Cahill, features intriguing characters, but the script lays out more highways and byways than a single movie could possibly navigate.
19/07/2014 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
On rare occasions a movie seems to channel the flow of real life. Richard Linklater's Boyhood is one of those occasions.
12/07/2014 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
In Clint Eastwood's film version of Jersey Boys, the first signs of trouble come in the opening scene...
21/06/2014 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
How to Train Your Dragon 2
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a movie the world needs. This sequel is gleeful and smart, funny and serious...
14/06/2014 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The Fault in Our Stars
What can you say about a movie that brings two beautiful teens together in a cancer support group?
07/06/2014 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
We Are the Best!
Disney's Maleficent and Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West are opening this week, but the significant event is a little independent film from Sweden.
31/05/2014 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
X-Men: Days of Future Past
A film that's as remarkable for depth of feeling as it is for action....
24/05/2014 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The best film reviewers in the business give you recommendations on what to see and what to skip each week.
17/05/2014 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
This franchise needs more than a reset. It's ripe for retirement.
03/05/2014 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
What makes the drama "Locke" so powerful is the quality of the writing.
26/04/2014 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
A cautionary fantasy about artificial intelligence...
19/04/2014 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Only Lovers Left Alive
You don't have to be a fan if Jim Jarmusch's special brand of indie spookiness to enjoy his new film, "Only Lovers Left Alive."
12/04/2014 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
With "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Marvel has won a rebirth trifecta...
05/04/2014 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" is a daring venture in mainstream entertainment, and it's pretty terrific for the most part.
29/03/2014 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Knight and Day; Restrepo
Knight & Day is a movie of thunderous comings and goings. The pretext for it all is a little battery that the hero has to keep out of the hands of the bad guys. We're told that the battery is "the first perpetual energy source since the sun..."
Restrepo is a superb documentary by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Jugner. It's about American soldiers in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous areas, the Korengal Valley. The action is worlds away from the centers of power where generals and their presidents are currently struggling to set policy...
28/03/2014 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
"Divergent" features a strong heroine battling for survival in a dystopian future.
22/03/2014 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Need for Speed
"Need for Speed" is nothing if not racy...
15/03/2014 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Hardly a moment goes by in "The Grand Budapest Hotel" when there isn't something to make us smile...
08/03/2014 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
The suspense thriller "Non-Stop" plays a reliably old-fashioned game of finding the bad guy among 150 passengers and the crew.
01/03/2014 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
In Secret; Barefoot
Joe Morgenstern warns movie-goers off two films opening this week.
22/02/2014 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
One of my readers at the Wall Street Journal sent me an email: "Joe, Please tell me that "Winter's Tale" is a great movie befitting a wonderful book..."
15/02/2014 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
The documentary "Tim's Vermeer" is a fascinating work about the porous border between technology and art.
01/02/2014 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Like Father, Like Son
Stories about babies switched at birth follow a familiar pattern in the era of DNA, but…
25/01/2014 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is loosely based on the Tom Clancy canon...
18/01/2014 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Spike Jonze offers a vision of our era's evolution in a blissfully inventive fantasy called "Her."
21/12/2013 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Ho, hum, another holiday season and another great movie from David O. Russell.
14/12/2013 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Inside Llewyn Davis
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is a wonder evocation of an important period in popular culture.
07/12/2013 • 3 minutes 14 seconds
Disney is at it again with a prince, a princess and a queen in "Frozen."
30/11/2013 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is exceptional entertainment, a spectacle with a good mind and a pounding heart.
23/11/2013 • 3 minutes 17 seconds
a classic road movie, is remarkable for its kindness and generosity…
16/11/2013 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
The Armstrong Lie
Was iconic cyclist Lance Armstrong nothing more than a compulsive liar?
09/11/2013 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Dallas Buyers Club
"Dallas Buyers Club" is a showcase of fine performances, some of them distinguished by their restraint.
02/11/2013 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
"The Counselor" represents Cormac McCarthy's screenwriting debut...
26/10/2013 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
12 Years A Slave
Movie audiences have never been presented with anything quite like the intertwined beauty and savagery of 12 Years A Slave...
19/10/2013 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
The film is an exciting entertainment that makes us feel good about the outcome, and about the reach of American power, rather than its limits...
12/10/2013 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
In one form or another, motion pictures have been with us since the middle of the 19th century, but there's never been one like "Gravity."
05/10/2013 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
"Enough Said" stakes a claim on our hearts before the first frame lights up the screen...
28/09/2013 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
The Best of the 2013 Telluride Film Festival
It was feast or feast at this year's 40th anniversary Telluride Film Festival, just one terrific movie after another...
07/09/2013 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
Short Term 12
"Short Term 12" is a vividly intimate film, written and directed by Destin Cretton...
24/08/2013 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Cutie and the Boxer
Zachary Heinzerling's documentary gathers force slowly, but with such wisdom and calm mastery that...
17/08/2013 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
The Spectacular Now
The Spectacular Now is a story of adolescents on the brink of adulthood is refreshingly unlike the overheated features that define the genre.
03/08/2013 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The Conjuring; Blackfish
Joe considers two very different films this week: "The Conjuring," a saga of demonic possession, and the enthralling documentary, "Blackfish."
20/07/2013 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" opens with a shaky cell phone video of a now-infamous event, the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, a black unarmed 22-year-old...
13/07/2013 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
The Way, Way Back
"The Way, Way Back" is a coming-of-age story...bursting with life -- and blissful silliness, along with sweet anguish...
06/07/2013 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
White House Down
"White House Down" may or may not have certified Channing Tatum as an action hero, but it certainly displays his energy, bemuscled build and easy charm....
29/06/2013 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
World War Z
Saving the world is a challenge under the best of circumstances. Saving it from zombies is especially demanding...
22/06/2013 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
20 Feet from Stardom; Man of Steel
Two films about the story behind the story. "20 Feet from Stardom," spotlights the singers behind the singers. "Man of Steel" takes itself seriously as an origin story.
15/06/2013 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
The Great Gatsby
Baz Lurhmann's version of The Great Gatsby is a tale told idiotically, full of noise and furor, signifying next to nothing.
11/05/2013 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Iron Man 3
You know the story of the emperor’s new suit…
04/05/2013 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
"Mud," the third feature by Jeff Nichols, is a model of what an independent feature can be, starting with the homely grabber of a title.
27/04/2013 • 3 minutes 17 seconds
"Oblivion" is the new sci-fi adventure starring Tom Cruise.
20/04/2013 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
A new film from Henry-Alex Rubin, the co-director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, "Murderball."
13/04/2013 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
06/04/2013 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Olympus Has Fallen
"Olympus Has Fallen" starts with a bold idea, then throws massive firepower into the execution…
23/03/2013 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Rather than star-crossed, the lovers in "Upside Down" are planet crossed; they come from adjacent planets with opposite gravities.
16/03/2013 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Oz the Great and Powerful
With "Oz the Great and Powerful," Disney has produced two spectacles for the price of one...
09/03/2013 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Heroine India Stoker isn't sweet in this psychological thriller directed by Park Chan-Wook.
02/03/2013 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Like Someone in Love
A young woman and two men make up the unlikely – and dangerously unstable – triangle of "Like Someone in Love," which turns on mistaken identities.
23/02/2013 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
"No" is an exceptionally smart political drama with a satiric edge about the 1988 referendum that drove the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet out of office.
16/02/2013 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Parker; John Dies at the End
Anarchy defies scrutiny...
26/01/2013 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
The Last Stand
First he was the Terminator, then the Governator. Now Arnold Schwarzenegger has cast himself as the Rejuvenator, breathing huffs and puffs of new life into his screen career. Much of "The Last Stand" is a wheezy setup for an enjoyably preposterous showdown in a sleepy Arizona border town called Sommerton Junction.
19/01/2013 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
When the classic Warner Bros. logo comes on the screen at the start of "Gangster Squad," it's in a tint that is somewhere between color and black and white. It holds out a two-fold promise: Los Angeles in 1949 brought back to life in the lavish style that only a Hollywood studio can provide, and a movie from the studio that made many of the greatest gangster films in Hollywood. The first part of the promise pays off.
12/01/2013 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
The safest thing you could say about "Django Unchained" is that it finds Quentin Tarantino hurtling over the top yet again...
29/12/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
"Amour" has won all sorts of prizes all over the world, and no wonder...
22/12/2012 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Joe Morgenstern spends two hours and 46 minutes in Middle Earth...
15/12/2012 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
Hyde Park on Hudson
Joe Morgenstern reviews Hyde Park on Hudson.
08/12/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Killing Them Softly
As a gangster thriller, "Killing Then Softly" is long on violence and short on thrills, but it does present a mystery...
01/12/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Life of Pi
The desperate hero in "Life of Pie" says that hunger can change everything you thought you knew about yourself...
24/11/2012 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Silver Linings Playbook
Joe Morgenstern on David O. Russell's romantic comedy of prickly passions and rampant dysfunction...
17/11/2012 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Joe Morgenstern reviews Sam Mendes' latest Bond action thriller and Steven Spielberg's portrayal of our 16th president within the politics of his day.
10/11/2012 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
Six interwoven, interlocking story lines, in six separate time frames...
27/10/2012 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Polio survivor/director Ben Lewin's film on a man in an iron lung who wants to lose his virginity...
20/10/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
It's often said of incredible but true stories that you can't make such stuff up...
13/10/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Joe Morgenstern reviews "the iPhone of recent action thrillers."
22/09/2012 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Is 'The Master' a story about Scientology? Well, sure it is. Still that's a limiting way of looking at this film...
15/09/2012 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
Telluride: Argo; No; Hyde Park on Hudson; The Gatekeepers
Joe Morgenstern's back, with highlights from the 2012 Telluride Film Festival.
08/09/2012 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Joe Morgenstern on Len Wiseman’s remake of Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi classic
04/08/2012 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Ruby Sparks; Killer Joe
28/07/2012 • 3 minutes 11 seconds
Ballplayer: Pelotero; Easy Money
Joe Morgenstern on the documentary about baseball and the power of money, and the new Swedish thriller by the director of Safe House.
14/07/2012 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Savages; The Amazing Spider-Man
Joe Morgenstern on a 'good and nasty' film, sustained by a 'bouyant spirit, and a 'reboot of a foundering franchise.'
07/07/2012 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Beasts of the Southern Wild
There isn't a trace of calculation in Benh Zeitlin's debut feature, only hopes and artistic ambitions that have come to fruition in the year's finest film so far.
30/06/2012 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
Joe Morgenstern on Pixar's first feature with a female protagonist, a good first and long overdue, but…
23/06/2012 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Joe Morgenstern reviews Ridley Scott's tale of interstellar search, with its cosmic questions about the meaning of life.
09/06/2012 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Snow White and the Huntsman
Joe Morgenstern reviews the ambitious production by first-time feature filmmaker Rupert Sanders, "a whiz at visual storytelling."
02/06/2012 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
The Intouchables; Men in Black 3; Moonrise Kingdom
Joe Morgenstern offers thoughts on three very different new movies being released this Memorial Day weekend.
26/05/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Dictator; Battleship
Joe Morgenstern considers Sacha Baron Cohen’s gleefully scabrous portrait of a fictional North African tyrant, and a board game gone megabudget-ballistic.
19/05/2012 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
The big weekend movie at the multiplexes may be Tim Burton's worn-out "Dark Shadows," but the big movie for Joe Morgenstern is a little Japanese comedy about kids.
12/05/2012 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
What if Marvel gave a party and everybody came? Joe Morgenstern on Joss Whedon’s "fitfully enjoyable convocation of Marvel's comic book superheroes..."
05/05/2012 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Headhunters; The Five-Year Engagement
Joe Morgenstern on the "smart, funny, scary, surprising" new Norwegian thriller, and the "mirthless romcon" from the Judd Apatow laugh factory...
28/04/2012 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Kevin Macdonald's "Marley" documents the emergence and evolution of the late reggae icon.
21/04/2012 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
You may remember the moment in Titanic when Molly Brown sees the suddenly tuxedoed Jack Dawson and says, "You shine up like a new penny." Well, Titanic in its new 3-D version shines up like gold bullion.
07/04/2012 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Bully; The Island President
It's a good week for documentaries. "Bully" and "The Island President" are both worth checking out.
31/03/2012 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The Hunger Games
Joe Morgenstern reviews "The Hunger Games," a movie about kids being manipulated – literally unto death. It's a film that manipulates it audience as well…
24/03/2012 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
The Kid with a Bike
Some movies capture your interest in the first scene. The Kid with a Bike grabs you in the first few seconds and never lets go…
17/03/2012 • 3 minutes 12 seconds
Friends with Kids; John Carter
Joe Morgenstern on Jennifer Westfeldt's follow-up to Kissing Jessica Stein and Disney's latest would-be epic...
10/03/2012 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Wanderlust; The Forgiveness of Blood
Joe Morgenstern considers David Wain's comedy of hippie chaos that makes nudity a selling point, and Joshua Marston's film on blood feuds and land disputes in Albania.
25/02/2012 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
Joe Morgenstern reviews Contraband, a breakneck English-language remake of the Icelandic thriller, Reykjavkik-Rotterdam.
14/01/2012 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
The Best Films of 2011
Could a mere ten movies represent a whole movie year? Joe Morgenstern gives it a try...
31/12/2011 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo
Joe Morgenstern, film critic of the Wall Street Journal, says the American remake of the Swedish-language trilogy has lots to recommend it, yet lacks a vital spark.
24/12/2011 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Joe Morgenstern on the latest installment of Mission Impossible with its "impossibly magical gadgets and gizmos" and a schizoid attitude toward technology that...
17/12/2011 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Joe Morgenstern on Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron, the latest from the filmmaker and writer who brought Juno to the screen.
10/12/2011 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Steve McQueen's Shame is about a man trying to lose himself in soulless sex. The remarkable thing about it is that it keeps us connected to the hero…
03/12/2011 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
Hugo; The Artist
Joe Morgenstern on Martin Scorsese’s first 3-D fantasy, Hugo, and the black and white, mostly silent French production, The Artist…
26/11/2011 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
Director Alexander Payne (Sideways) takes on family and family history against the backdrop of our 50th state.
19/11/2011 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
In principle, biography should do what J. Edgar tries to do -- reveal an inner life, whether or not the subject is outwardly appealing...
12/11/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The music of Paul Simon's Graceland flows through 'Like Crazy' and comments on it. This wise and beautiful little tale is about two lovers falling from a state of grace...
29/10/2011 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
If your spine is given to shivers, watch out for the moment in Margin Call when a young risk analyst spots a piece of data on his computer screen, takes a moment to reflect...
22/10/2011 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
The Ides of March
Most of the campaign workers in The Ides of March worry about the polls; it's a political thriller, and polling is what people in contemporary politics do. I worried about...
08/10/2011 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
When the frightened young hero of 50/50 reveals that he’s got a 50/50 chance of surviving his newly diagnosed spinal cancer, his buddy responds with...
01/10/2011 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
The context of Moneyball is runaway commerce. The subtext is statistics… Never, until now, have statistics added up to such electrifying entertainment…
24/09/2011 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
Drive; Happy, Happy
The hero of Drive is known only as The Driver in the stylized, often beautiful and graphically violent action drama… Happy, Happy is Norway's entry in this year's Oscars...
17/09/2011 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
A primate shelter becomes the scene of an epic jailbreak. Swarming chimps turn San Francisco into a surreal circus...
06/08/2011 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Crazy, Stupid, Love
A romantic comedy of intertwined lives, overlapping dialogue and naked contrivances -- more of them than naked bodies, because Crazy, Stupid, Love is really quite innocent..
30/07/2011 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Mike Cahill's debut feature exerts a gravitational pull out of proportion to its size through powerful performances, a lyrical spirit and a depth of conviction that sweeps…
23/07/2011 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
So many good films come to bad ends, but not the tales of Harry Potter...
16/07/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
This is one of those weeks when going to the movies makes you wonder about the movie industry's future... But let me tell you about Project Nim, an enthralling and appalling documentary that opens next week in LA...
09/07/2011 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
For more than 15 years, Pixar has made great movies in the joyous spirit of Buzz Lightyear's motto: "To infinity and beyond..."
25/06/2011 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
It's worth remembering that the term "feelgood" grew out of the drug culture... But a really good film like Buck does much more than serve as a drug substitute.
18/06/2011 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
As anyone who's seen the Super 8 trailer knows, the teenage auteurs are shooting a night scene alongside a train track when a freight train comes roaring through, derails...
11/06/2011 • 3 minutes 37 seconds
X-Men: First Class
Like all the other X-Men movies before it, X-Men: First Class preaches the gospel of mutant pride. But this movie turns out to b a mutant in its own right -- a zestful and radical departure from the dreary spawn of a sputtering franchise...
04/06/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Tree of Life
Many of the images in The Tree of Life are remarkable for their grandeur... Others for their grandiosity... Some of the most memorable, though, are the most fleeting...
28/05/2011 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Midnight in Paris
In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's beguiling and then bedazzling new comedy, nostalgia isn't at all what it used to be -- it's smarter, sweeter, fizzier and lots funnier...
21/05/2011 • 3 minutes 28 seconds
If Bridesmaids is only a chick flick, then call me a chick...
14/05/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Fast Five...with bellowing muscle cars, screeching exotics and an armor-plated monster that makes the Hummer look demure.
30/04/2011 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Let me tell you about the film that should have won the best foreign-language Oscar this year but didn't...
23/04/2011 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Rio; Atlas Shrugged, Part 1; The Conspirator
Today, Joe considers the rich 3-D hues of Rio, a business exec struggling to keep her business alive, and the first woman executed by the US government.
16/04/2011 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
The first question to be asked about Cary Fukunaga's new version of Jane Eyre is why we should bother to see it when there are 18 feature film versions of the Charlotte Bronte novel before it, and nine TV versions, some of them rally good...
12/03/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Rango is an animated tale of a chameleon with an identity crisis, and the big news is it was shot in 2-D. This is a process that lets you watch pictures on a screen without having to wear special glasses...
05/03/2011 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Of Gods and Men
Of Gods and Men, in French and Arabic, is one of the most beautiful movies I know, even though its subject matter and otherworldly pace set it apart from mainstream entertainment. The story was inspired by real events, eight Christian monks menaced by
Islamic terrorists in 1990's Algeria. The narrative takes its rhythm
from the brothers' unhurried lives...
26/02/2011 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
19/02/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Cedar Rapids; Gnomeo and Juliet
The main thing about Cedar Rapids is that it makes you laugh -- often and out loud. At the same time, this tale of a dweeb's belated entry into the real world can make you uneasy, because it keeps wandering from gleeful comedy to glib condescension and then back again...
Garden gnomes may not bring Graham Greene instantly to mind, but Greene's distinction between his more serious works and the ones he called "entertainments" may be useful all the same. Gnomeo & Juliet doesn't pretend to any kind of seriousness... This new little animated feature from Disney is just an entertainment, an animated doodad in the grand scheme of things...
12/02/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
No Strings Attached
The prospects for No Strings Attached seemed pretty grim: a romantic comedy, from a Hollywood studio, with a premise that smacked of Last Tango in Paris -- that's the scandalous classic in which Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider have a sexual liaison with no strings -- or names -- attached. Yet the outcome is pretty delightful...
22/01/2011 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
The Green Hornet
The Green Hornet may not be the end of movies as we know them, though the people who made this atrocity were certainly in there trying. The question -- which amounts to an industrial mystery -- is trying to do what?
15/01/2011 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
Blue Valentine is the auspicious directorial debut of Derek Cianfrance, and it can be crushing in its portrayal of how two people who truly do love each other come to lacerate and eventually devastate each other. The heartbreaking brilliance of this film lies in its contradictions...
01/01/2011 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
The patch is on the other eye and the boot is on the other foot on the Coen Brothers remake of True Grit. Jeff Bridges is Rooster Cogburn, the role that won John Wayne his only Oscar 40 years ago, and Bridges fills it boozy with panache...
25/12/2010 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Breathes there is a movie with soul so dead as TRON: Legacy? Well, Speed Racer lumbers to mind...
18/12/2010 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Fans of boxing movies follow the rankings just as closely as boxing fans do. Whenever a new one comes along, they want to know where it ranks in the pantheon that includes classics like Raging Bull and Rocky. In the case of The Fighter, a terrific movie directed by David O. Russell, I'd suggest a different pantheon, one that's reserved for the sort of families dramatized by Eugene O'Neill...
11/12/2010 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Fine actors can reveal complex feelings in a flash, and one of those flashes comes early in Black Swan.
04/12/2010 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
The King's Speech; Tiny Furniture
The King's Speech is one of the most pleasurable movies to come along in years. The pleasure starts with two magnificent performances: Colin Firth as King George VI, who's afflicted by a terrible stutter, and Geoffrey Rush as an unorthodox Australian speech therapist...
Once in a great while a debut feature leaves you blinking in amazement at the bountiful talent. Tiny Furniture did that for me. Lena Dunham, who's now 24 years old, is the writer, director and star of this marvelously strange, semi-autobiographical comedy about 22-year-old Aura, who diagnoses herself to be in a state of post-graduate delirium...
27/11/2010 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Who knew that Unstoppable would be sensational? Talk about well-kept -- and welcome -- surprises. Tony Scott's latest thriller turns out to be pure cinema in the classic sense of the term. It's a motion picture about motion, an action symphony that gives new meaning to the notion of a one-track mind...
13/11/2010 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
The pleasure principle prevails in 127 Hours, even though Danny Boyle's new film depicts horrific pain. As yo probably know by now, the title refers to the time it took a real-life mountain climber named Aron Ralston to extricate himself from a slot canyon he'd tumbled into during a solitary hike in Utah seven years ago...
06/11/2010 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest; Monsters
Before I went off to see The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, I came down with a case of advance nostalgia -- no more Stieg Larsson in my movie going life, at least not in Swedish...
In this age of indecent production costs, Monsters is a little horror film you want to root for. Gareth Edwards made it on a frayed shoestring -- maybe for $15,000, maybe for $100,000...
Only in Hollywood is someone seriously old at 55, but this is the underlying notion of RED, and it works like a well-worm charm...
Matt Damon is a spiritualist in spite of himself in Hereafter. He's one of three people in the film who have haunting connections with the afterlife...
16/10/2010 • 3 minutes 23 seconds
Nowhere Boy; Secretariat
Nowhere Boy is a dramatized account of the young John Lennon -- who would have turned 70 tomorrow. It's a modest film, and an enjoyable one...
Disney's Secretariat is a family film about one of the fastest racehorses in history, but it stumbles along beneath the weight of leaden life lessons...
09/10/2010 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
The Social Network
The Social Network is all about Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who's played by Jesse Eisenberg.... It's dazzling as contemporary cultural history, and devastating as biography -- an unfriending of epic proportions...
02/10/2010 • 3 minutes 31 seconds
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; Waiting for Superman
Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko leaves prison at the beginning of Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps -- he served eight years for crimes committed in the course of the previous film...
The real movie news this week is Waiting for Superman. The movie puts five tender young faces on a national scandal that's all too often described with depressing statistics -- the state of public education in the United States...
25/09/2010 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
Easy A; The Town
Why am I so pleased with the new high school comedy Easy A? Because the movie, in spite of a few flaws, seems to have been made by higher intelligence, and because it catapults Emma Stone into a higher place reserved for American actors who can handle elevated language with casually dazzling aplomb...
Ben Afleck works both sides of the camera in The Town. As the director, he showcases a number of fine performances and illuminates character without losing a beat of the throbbing pace. As the star, he gives on of those fine performances, though it's an artistic toss-up between his intensity and Rebecca Hall's lovely simplicity...
18/09/2010 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Telluride Film Festival
Every year I go to the Telluride Film Festival with the same fervent hope -- to put the summer's junk behind me and recharge my enthusiasm for the fall and winter. This year I got supercharged. It was a wonderful program, with all sorts of treats that will be showing up in the weeks and months to come...
11/09/2010 • 4 minutes
The Tillman Story; Soul Kitchen
A new documentary called The Tillman Story is actually three stories in one...
Soul Kitchen, made by the German-born Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin, is a delirious farce, in subtitled German and Greek, that doesn't flag for a single one of its 99 minutes...
28/08/2010 • 3 minutes 15 seconds
Mao's Last Dancer
Sometimes the best way to see a movie is knowing nothing about the plot. At other times, a sense of what's to come increases the pleasure of watching the story unfold. Mao's Last Dancer is one of those other times...
21/08/2010 • 3 minutes 15 seconds
Cairo Time; The Other Guys
For quite a lot of time, the new film Cairo Time seems to be just a pretext for the camera to follow Patricia Clarkson around the Egyptian cpital and its spectacular surroundings...
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are hapless cops and mismatched buddies in The Other Guys, a summer movie that honors summer-movie conventions with a vengence...
07/08/2010 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right is a thrillingly funny and casually profound film that Lisa Cholodenko directed from a script she wrote with Stuart Blumberg. Near the beginning, a teenage brother and sister talk about whether to make a fateful phone call. They're the suburban California children of lesbian mothers, and the brother has decided to seek out the sperm donor who was instrumental in bringing them into the world...
10/07/2010 • 3 minutes 36 seconds
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; The Last Airbender
You'd never guess what the best part of the new Twilight saga turns out to be. It isn't blood-sucking monsters doing their thing, though there's some of that to feed the franchise...Never mind that the little kid flapping his arms to whip up the waves looks like a pouty-faced version of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, or that The Last Airbender looks no worse if you take off your 3-D glasses...
03/07/2010 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Toy Story 3
While the entertainment conglomerates have been churning out ever cheesier sequels, Pixar has been the Fort Knox of honest feelings, and so it remains. Fifteen years after Toy Story burst upon the scene, Toy Story 3, the third film of the trilogy turns out to be gorgeously joyous and deeply felt…
19/06/2010 • 3 minutes 9 seconds
Instead of belaboring this week's pseudo-spectacular offerings from the studios -- a mediocre remake of The Karate Kid and a benumbing big-screen version of the A Team -- let me tell you about a movie that's really worth watching. It's called Winter's Bone...a classic, and spectacular for its humanity, austere beauty and heart-stopping urgency...
12/06/2010 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Splice and Ondine.
05/06/2010 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Sex and the City 2; Father of My Children
In previous installments of Sex and the City the ancient mystery of what women want was basically solved -- they want love, sex and designer clothes, not necessarily in that order. Now Sex and the City 2 reveals what Islamic women want...I don't want to tell you too much about Father of My Children, which is playing at the Landmark -- you really should discover this French-language drama for yourself. It isn't saying too much, though, to cal lit beautiful, profound and phenomenally full of life...
29/05/2010 • 3 minutes 20 seconds
Shrek Forever After
At one point in "Shrek Forever After" the hero sees his face on a poster nailed to a tree and says, "Sure is great to be wanted again." Wanted, yes, but needed? Not on the strength of this fourth and presumably last installment. Now it jogs and lurches but mostly meanders though a story that tests the limits of true love (Shrek's, and ours.)
22/05/2010 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Of all the Robin Hoods that have come and gone, at least one of them wondrously zestful -- that's Errol Flynn's -- and one of them was woefully zonked -- that's Kevin Costner's. Up to now, the only absurd one has been Mel Brooks's send-up, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." Yet Ridley Scott's new version achieves an absurdity all its own. It's an ersatz epic about men in fights -- grim fights, grinding battles, clanking combats that are repetitive and, in a movie that runs 140 minutes, almost endless. Russell Crowe fights a losing battle against Brian Helgeland's turgid script, and the production's almost total, and truly absurd, absence of fun.
15/05/2010 • 3 minutes 25 seconds
Iron Man 2
Tony Stark creates a new element in "Iron Man 2," though it's no big deal. Robert Downey Jr.'s zillionaire genius, who was revealed to be Iron Man at the end of the previous film, simply builds himself an in-home particle accelerator, fires it up and then bango, he's got a...new element. This sequel, unfortunately, settles for a new alloy of old elements - less iron, lots more lead and tin.
08/05/2010 • 3 minutes 24 seconds
Date Night; After Life
During the superbly absurd adventures of a suburban couple in Date Night, a pair of thugs contemplates the husband and wife with slow-burning bafflement. One thug says to the other, "These two are not at all what they seem." And that is true...Then there's the case of After Life, a pretty dreadful and particularly squirmful horror flick. Women often wear their hearts on their sleeve, and even hatless men can go hat in hand. But one of the many repellent first in this film is a woman with her heart in her hand, standing in a shower a la Janet Leigh in Psycho...
10/04/2010 • 3 minutes 42 seconds
Clash of the Titans
A few more 3-D spectacles like Clash of the Titans and audiences will be clamoring for 2-D...
03/04/2010 • 4 minutes
Hubble 3D; Eclipse
The Hubble Space Telescope, one of the crowning glories of our scientific age and it's the subject of the latest IMAX documentary, Hubble 3D. The movie's playing downtown at the California Science Museum. Shortly after the Hubble was launched in 1993 it was diagnosed with, and subsequently cured of, an extremely inconvenient case of astigmatism...Everyone is haunted by something in Conor McPherson's The Eclipse. This leisurely and quite lovely drama honors the conventions of Gothic ghost stories without the slightest stain of self-irony. The time is the present and the setting is a beautiful Irish town with a Gothic cathedral in County Cork...
27/03/2010 • 4 minutes 1 second
One of the most touching lines in Noah Baumbach's remarkable new movie Greenberg is an announcement by the wistful young heroine, Florence Marr: "I've gotta stop doing things just because they fell good..."
20/03/2010 • 4 minutes 1 second
During the exciting but eventually wayward course of Green Zone, Jason Bourne discovers the truth about weapons of mass destruction, then teaches a sloppy reporter from the Wall Street Journal how to be a good journalist...
13/03/2010 • 3 minutes 51 seconds
Alice in Wonderland
The Cheshire Cat brags about his evaporating skills in Tim Burton's 3-D Alice in Wonderland, and the movie has its own way of evaporating before your polarized eyes. Every scene brings something new and remarkable to look at, yet every scene sweeps away specific recollections of the previous one...
06/03/2010 • 3 minutes 49 seconds
Extraordinary Measures; Creation
Extraordinary Measures requires extraordinary tolerance for bathos, bombast and plain old unpleasantness. It’s a fictionalized – and sadly trivialized – adaptation of a non-fiction book, The Cure, which was written by my Wall Street Journal colleague Geeta Anand...
Creation is a fancier botch, blissed out on its own cleverness. Paul Bettany is Charles Darwin, struggling to finish The Origin of the Species while he grieves the loss of his beloved daughter Annie, who died at the age of ten.
23/01/2010 • 3 minutes 53 seconds
The Last Station
The Last Station is Michael Hoffman's evocation of the last years of writer Leo Tolstoy. It's a "seduction that draws us into a vanished world where Count Leo Tolstoy and his wife of 48 years, countess Sofya come to life in a match pair of magnificent performances by Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren."
16/01/2010 • 4 minutes
Youth in Revolt; Daybreakers
Youth in Revolt is an endearing coming-of-age comedy that stars Michael Cera. In one way, only, but in a significant way, Cera reminds me of Billie Holiday, who achieved subtle marvels within a severely limited vocal range...
The German filmmaker brothers Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig have come up with a new twist on vampires in an English-language movie called Daybreakers. The year is 2019, and vampires have taken over the world...
09/01/2010 • 4 minutes 4 seconds
James Camerion's Avatar takes place on a planet called Pandora, where American corporations and their military mercenaries have set up bases to mine a surpassingly precious mineral called unobtanium. The vein of awe mined by the movie is nothing short of unbelievium...
19/12/2009 • 4 minutes 1 second
Invictus; The Lovely Bones
Until now, America's curiosity about rugby has been on a par with its knowledge, but this could change with the advent of Invictus... Clint Eastwood's new movie is an inspirational game played by Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon as the captain of a South African rugby team...Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones was adapted from Alice Sebold's widely admired novel. The movie, like the book, is party set in an Inbetween that occupies an ethereal space between heaven and earth; it's the vantage point from which the young heroine watches over her family after her death at the hands of a monstrous pervert...
12/12/2009 • 4 minutes
Up in the Air
The best of Up in the Air -- meaning most of it -- is right up there with the fresh and sophisticated comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age…
05/12/2009 • 3 minutes 53 seconds
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans; Red Cliff
This year's prize for clumsiest title goes to Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. I wanted to get that out of the way so I could talk about a defining moment in the movie, set in post-Katrina New Orleans -- it's when Nicholas Cage's rogue cop pulls up to a seedy building to make an arrest...Red Cliff, set in China in the twilight of the Han Dynasty, lends new meaning to the notion of Baby on Board when a fearless swordsman plunges into battle with an infant strapped on his back...
21/11/2009 • 3 minutes 48 seconds
2012; Pirate Radio
2012 is Roland Emmerich's latest assault on planet Earth and its moviegoers, and it isn't the end of the world: it only feels that way...Pirate Radio follows the form -- when it chooses to follow any form -- of a cat-and-mouse game between the British government, circa 1966, and a crew of deejays beaming round-the-clock rock and roll from a decrepit tanker anchored in the North Sea just outside Britain's territorial waters...
14/11/2009 • 4 minutes 6 seconds
A Christmas Carol; Precious
To put it bluntly, and Scroogely, Disney's 3-D animated version of A Christmas Carol is a calamity...
In a shockingly beautiful new film called Precious, one of the most telling moments comes toward the end, and it's hardly more than a throwaway -- the heroine glances at a mirror and sees herself...
07/11/2009 • 4 minutes 3 seconds
This Is It; Cirque du Soleil
After all the media madness about Michael Jackson over all the years and decades, it comes as bittersweet news that he lives vividly in This Is It...
I've checked out two Cirques recently, a movie called Cirque du Freaks and the Cirque du Soleil, which is back in town and playing under a big blue-and-yellow tent next to the Santa Monica Pier...
31/10/2009 • 3 minutes 43 seconds
I've seen the movie Amelia, and I can tell you that Amelia Earhart is still missing...
24/10/2009 • 3 minutes 55 seconds
Where the Wild Things Are
The movie version of Where the Wild Things Are honors the book in every imaginable way...and in ways no one could have imagined until Spike Jonze and his crew came long...
17/10/2009 • 3 minutes 55 seconds
This week brings a thrilling new film called An Education. It's a tale of an English schoolgirl's hard-won wisdom, and it's thrilling for all sorts of reasons...
10/10/2009 • 3 minutes 58 seconds
The Invention of Lying; Zombieland
Nobody doesn't like Ricky Gervais, and his new comedy soars for a while on the wings of a clever premise: it's set in a world where everyone tells the truth. In the spirit of that world, I cannot tell a lie: The Invention of Lying...
Zombieland teems with wild-eyed chewers and spewers. They're only lurid wallpaper, though, in an improbably delicious comedy about a quartet of human survivors crossing an America that's been taken over by ravenous hordes...
03/10/2009 • 3 minutes 58 seconds
Capitalism: A Love Story; Coco Before Chanel
Michael Moore starts Capitalism: A Love Story with a sequence of secuirty-camera videos showing holdups in progress, and ends it by showing himself, like some vigilante version of the environmental artist Christo, stringing great lengths of yellow crime-scene tape around banks and brokerage houses in Lower Manhattan...
Clothes may make the man, but the woman makes the clothes in Coco before Chanel, Anne Fontaine's smart and sumptuous French-language account of the legendary designer during her early years when she, like her couture, was still ascending from basse to haute...
26/09/2009 • 4 minutes 5 seconds
Bright Star is Jane Campion's dramatization of the love affair between the young Romantic poet John Keats and his younger neighbor, Fanny Brawne. The production is modest in physical scale, mostly reserved in tone and touchingly simple in design (aside from Fanny's dazzling wardrobe, which is justified by her gifts as a seamstress.) But the effect is exhilarating and deeply pleasurable...
19/09/2009 • 4 minutes 4 seconds
Telluride Film Festival Picks
Love at first sight can be as dangerous as it is exciting, and the sme goes for love at first screening. I fell hard and heedlessly for a film called An Education, which happened to be the first of 14 films I managed to see in the course of three movie-besotted days at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend...
(Joe also reviews A Prophet, The Last Station, Bright Star and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.)
12/09/2009 • 3 minutes 57 seconds
Funny People; Flame and Citron
The people in Judd Apatow's Funny People are painfully unfunny, and remarkable off-putting...In Flame & Citron, two melancholy Danes share center stage in the movie, but neither one of them is Hamlet...
01/08/2009 • 4 minutes
(500) Days of Summer; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
In the preface of (500) Days of Summer, a narrator says, "You should know right up front this is not a love story..."
I wrote a mixed revue in the Wall Street Journal for the new Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince...
18/07/2009 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Bruno; Soul Power
Well, here's the bad news: Brüno is no Borat. Here's the worse news: Brüno crosses the line, like a besotted sprinter, from hilariously awful to genuinely awful...
Period pieces can be marvelous or musty, depending on the period, as well as the piece. Soul Power is marvelous, and no wonder -- among the performers in this concert film are James Brown, B.B> King, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba and Celia Cruz, all at the peak of their powers...
11/07/2009 • 3 minutes 53 seconds
Michael Mann's Public Enemies never lacks for interest, or interesting info. Back in the 1930's, for instance, the FBI was simply called the Bureau of Investigation before being formally federalized...
04/07/2009 • 3 minutes 58 seconds
The Hurt Locker; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Hurt Locker starts with a quote from the journalist Chris Hedges -- "War is a drug" – then makes that case with masterful clarity and phenomenal force…In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a National Security Adviser confronts the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime – he's a good robot, trying to help us foolish humans defend ourselves against an army of bad Decepticons – and says, angrily, "Who are you to pass judgment on us?"
27/06/2009 • 3 minutes 54 seconds
Whatever Works; The Proposal
Boris Yellnikoff is the prolix geezer played by Larry David in Woody Allen's Whatever Works. He was once a world-class physicist teaching string theory at Columbia, but the only string he strums now is misanthropy...
At one point in The Proposal Sandra Bullock shakes the handlebars of her runaway bicycle and says frantically, "Why are you not stopping? Stop! Stop!" At more than one point in this wheeze of a romantic comedy I wanted to shake her and say...
20/06/2009 • 3 minutes 54 seconds
Imagine That; The Taking of Pelham 123
Raise those lowered expectations a bit before you see Eddie Murphy in Imagine That...
The Taking of Pelham 123 is Tony Scott's fevered remake of the 1974 thriller about a hijacked subway train...
13/06/2009 • 4 minutes 2 seconds
Land of the Lost; 24 City
General Motors may be in a class by itself when it comes to bankruptcy, but so is Land of the Lost. This dramatically, thematically and artistically bankrupt fantasy cost something in the neighborhood of $100 million to make and isn't worth the celluloid it's printed on...
Studs Terkel, the late chronicler of American workers and their work, would have loved 24 City.
I certainly did, and I hadn't expected to be stirred by an account of
Chinese workers and their labors over the course of decades in a
factory that became their whole world...
06/06/2009 • 4 minutes 5 seconds
Drag Me to Hell; Departures
The good news -- and there's no bad news -- is that Sam Raimi's horror flick Drag Me to Hell is smart, funny and cringe-worthy for all the right reasons, and up to speed on the mortgage crisis too...
Most of the events in Departures flow from a comical misunderstanding. After a Tokyo orchestra is disbanded, a discouraged young cellist, Daigo, looks for a new line or work...
30/05/2009 • 3 minutes 55 seconds
Terminator Salvation; Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
In Terminator Salvation, primal screams come with the bleak territory. Any character of consequence gets to unleash one, and there's plenty to scream about...
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is critic-proof; nothing I might say would have the slightest effect on its commercial fate...
23/05/2009 • 3 minutes 56 seconds
Angels and Demons; Management
Angels and Demons draws a sharp historical distinction between the Illuminati (the bad guys) and the Catholic Church's Preferiti (the good guys), but the movie may leave you feeling like a member of the Stupefiti...
Management, a debut feature by Stephen Belber is a sentimental and modestly enjoyable fantasy of mutual need...
16/05/2009 • 3 minutes 54 seconds
Star Trek; Galaxy Quest
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Star Trek. He also mentions Qalaxy Quest, which is just being released on DVD.
09/05/2009 • 3 minutes 51 seconds
X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
It's been a while since I've seen anything as unpleasant as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but one sequence sticks out...Does anyone love to watch Matthew McConnaughey act?... If his self-pleasure seems unearned, it's at least appropriate to the character he plays in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, a bizarre conflation of chick flick and A Christmas Carol...
02/05/2009 • 4 minutes 3 seconds
The Soloist is actually a duet on the theme of redemption. It's scored for two very different, though equally remarkable actors, and performed with uncanny bravura...
25/04/2009 • 4 minutes
Every Little Step; State of Play
How long has it been since a mo vie left you literally speechless? For me it's been a week. When the lights came up after a screening of Every Little Step, a friend and I turned to each other but we could only gulp and emit small gasps...Sources are as crucial to filmmakers as they are to investigative journalists. In the glossy, ambitious thriller State of Play, Russel Crowe is a powerful presence as Cal McAffrey, a veteran reporter for a newspaper that resembles the Washington Post...
18/04/2009 • 4 minutes
Valentino: The Last Emperor; Adventureland
Early in the course of Valentino: The Last Emperor, an interviewer asks the legendary fashion designer whether he ever wanted to be a fireman or a train driver. “No, no,” Valentino says with amusement, he always dreamed about movie stars, the silver screen, “about everything beautiful in the world.…”
Greg Mottola (Superbad) is back, as both writer and director, with Adventureland, an ambitious film that sets the goofiness of extended adolescence against the sadness of being adrift in an adult world…
04/04/2009 • 4 minutes
Monsters vs Aliens; Shall We Kiss?
One of the retro monsters in DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs Aliens is a scientist with the head of a cockroach. He points to another monster, a blobby blue cyclops called B.O.B., and says haughtily, "As you can see, he has no brain..."Shall We Kiss? gives us storytelling as art. Emmanuel Mouret's romantic drama, in French with English subtitles, is expert, intricate, ineffably droll, surprisingly provocative and completely enchanting...
28/03/2009 • 4 minutes
Duplicity; Sin Nombre
To give Duplicity its due, Tony Gilroy's romantic caper goes against the Hollywood grain by smartening itself up instead of dumbing itself down…By Hollywood standards Sin Nombre is a very small movie, shot in Spanish on a tight budget in Mexico, but it's a very big deal…
21/03/2009 • 4 minutes
At the end of Sunshine Cleaning, a foxy grandpa shrugs off the extravagance of an advertising claim he has made by saying, "It's a business lie. It's no the same as a life lie..."
14/03/2009 • 4 minutes
Watchmen; Everlasting Moments
Watchmen presents two great challenges -- getting your mind around it, and getting your head out from under it. The first comes as no surprise, given the source material...
A camera story owner in Everlasting Moments tells a winsome customer, "Not everyone is endowed with the gift of seeing." He's flirting with her, of course...
07/03/2009 • 4 minutes
Crossing Over; An American Affair
Crossing Over has its heart in umpteen places and its head stuffed with dramatic claptrap...
I'm reviewing An American Affair only because it's opening, and America must be forewarned...
28/02/2009 • 4 minutes
Eleven Minutes; Must Read after My Death
A documentary called Eleven Minutes follows the fashion designer Jay McCarroll as he prepares his first show and pulls it off…Horror and social value contend for equal honors in Must Read after My Death, a frightening – and eerily edifying – documentary that Morgan Dews created from a family trove of photos, Dictaphone letters, audiotapes, voluminous transcripts and home movies…
21/02/2009 • 4 minutes
Gomorrah; Two Lovers
When people talk about the Bible's twin sin cities, top billing always goes to Sodom. Some balance may be restored, though, by the extraordinary Italian film Gomorrah...
Joaquin Phoenix has been saying that he plans to quit acting and devote himself to his music career. Here's hoping for a change of heart. His performance in Two Lovers is inspired work by a superb actor in an elegantly grave romantic drama...
14/02/2009 • 4 minutes
Inkheart; the Earrings Of Madame De...; Our Man In Havana
Well, Inkheart may not be rotten to the core, but it's impossible to overestimate the over-ripeness of its special effects…
Let me also mention a couple of important new DVD releases.
"Masterpiece" is not a word you want to cheapen by overuse. Still it's
the only right word for The Earrings of Madame De… Carol Reed's Our Man in Havana, a droll comedy turned subversive
adventure, will be available February 3 for the first time on DVD. The
genre it subverts is the international spy thriller…
24/01/2009 • 4 minutes
Hotel for Dogs
One way to see Hotel for Dogs is as a cute little family
comedy that ups its cuteness quotient by multiplying its canine count…
17/01/2009 • 4 minutes
Golden Globes; Bride Wars
This is the time of the year when movie critics realize they've become seasonal workers, a lot like fruit-pickers...although real fruit doesn't get picked when the pickers know it's rotten...Bride Wars is nothing if not user-friendly -- whenever something is funny, or meant to be, the soundtrack signals the event with a helpfully puckish passage of plucked strings...
10/01/2009 • 4 minutes
The Wrestler; Seven Pounds
The Wrestler stars Mickey Rourke as a bulked-up ruin named Randy 'The Ram' Robinson. It’s something of a miracle that Randy is still alive after decades of giving and taking terrible punishment…Until today the subject of Seven Pounds has been kept strictly under wraps. A huge marketing push signaled only the imminent arrival of a Will Smith movie starring Will Smith, with Will Smith in the main role. Now we know why…
20/12/2008 • 4 minutes
Gran Torino; The Day the Earth Stood Still
No one makes movies like Gran Torino any more, and more's the pity. Clint Eastwood is the director, and the star, and the film's concerned with honor and atonement, with rough justice and the family of man...
"Everything will be explained," a government goon tells Jennifer Connelly's beautiful exobiologist in The Day the Earth Stood Still. A space ship has just landed, and she's urgently needed to make nice with the occupants...
13/12/2008 • 4 minutes
Frost/Nixon is a spellbinding film version of Peter Morgan's play, about the 1977 televised confrontation between the English talk-show host, David Frost, and the former president who had resigned in disgrace three years before…
06/12/2008 • 4 minutes
Australian aboriginals believe that everyday reality co-exists with an infinite state of being called "the dream time." Baz Luhrann does his own version of that duality in Australia…Gus Van Sant's Milk stars Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the late, gay activist and San Francisco Supervisor…
29/11/2008 • 4 minutes
Twilight; Let the Right One In
Attention all 13-year old female readers of our newspaper and listeners to this station. Run, do not walk, to the nearest multi-plex playing Twlight. That's the screen version of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling potboiler, about a principal vampire and the girl who loves him...
By happy happenstance, a remarkable fine and genuinely frightening movie about a teenage vampire is playing in a dozen or so cities around the country. Let the Right One In, in Swedish with English subtitles, was directed by Tomas Alfredson from John Lindqvist's adaptation of his own novel. This time the roles are reversed...
22/11/2008 • 4 minutes
Slumdog Millionaire is the world's first globalized masterpiece. This fervent romantic fable is set in contemporary Mombai, the former Bombay, but it draws freely and sometimes rapturously from Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas, Hollywood, Bollywood, the giddiness of Americanized TV, the cross-cultural craziness of out-sorced call centers and the zoominess of Google Earth…
15/11/2008 • 4 minutes
Role Models; Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
If Role Models is any barometer, the weekend weather’s going to be hot and humid. This is a quintessential summer comedy dropped into early November…Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa continues the sage of the animals who escaped from the Central Park Zoo and landed in the island nation of Madagascar. This time they try to return to New York aboard a rickety airplane piloted by penguins...
08/11/2008 • 4 minutes
Splinter; Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Jor Morgenstern, film critic of the Wall Street Journal, reviews Splinter and Zack and Miri Make a Porno
01/11/2008 • 4 minutes
Changeling; I've Loved You So Long
Clint Eastwood's Changeling is set in Los Angeles in the late 1920's, but connections are missing or scrambled between the filmmaking and the period, between the co-stars -- Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich, and the characters they play…
It's a shock to see Kristin Scott Thomas in the first
shot of I've Loved You So Long. She's bleakness personified, and it's not the
sort of pretend bleakness that make-up and lighting can bestow on a beautiful
25/10/2008 • 4 minutes
W. is Oliver Stone's exuberant account of the life and times of George W. Bush. Stone goes for the juggler vein -- he juggles genial mockery and moist empathy without venturing any judgments on his hero's presidency...
18/10/2008 • 4 minutes
Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky is a wonderful new movie with an astonishing performance by Sally Hawkins...
11/10/2008 • 4 minutes
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Devotees of old movies will detect an echo of the casually sophisticated Thin Man films in the title of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. And this Nick, played by Michael Cera, is the soul of un-sophistication...
04/10/2008 • 4 minutes
Ghost Town; Lakeview Terrace
If you've watched the trailer for Ghost Town, or simply noticed the movie's clever tag line -- "He sees dead people, and they annoy him" -- you already know too much to be surprised by the premise... Lakeview Terrace is the bottom of the week's barrel...
20/09/2008 • 4 minutes
Burn after Reading; Towelhead
Burn after Reading could just as well have been called Forget after Seeing... Towelhead, directed by Alan Ball from his adaptation of the novel by Alicia Erian, is a bleak coming-of-age comedy set in suburban Texas during the first Gulf War.
13/09/2008 • 4 minutes
Telluride; Slumdog Millionaire; I Loved You So long
Joe Morgenstern, film critic of the Wall Street Journal, has just returned from this year's Telluride Film Festival with reviews of two winners, Slumdog Millionaire and I Loved You So Long...
06/09/2008 • 4 minutes
Frozen River; The Mummy
Joe Morgenstern, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic of the Wall Street Journal, reviews Frozen River and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
02/08/2008 • 4 minutes
The Dark Knight
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews The Dark Knight.
19/07/2008 • 4 minutes
Hellboy II; Meet Dave
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Meet Dave.
12/07/2008 • 4 minutes
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews WALL-E.
28/06/2008 • 4 minutes
Kit Kittredge; Get Smart; The Love Guru
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Get Smart and The Love Guru.
21/06/2008 • 4 minutes
The Incredible Hulk; The Happening
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews The Incredible Hulk and The Happening.
14/06/2008 • 4 minutes
You Don't Mess with the Zohan; Mongol; Kung Fu Panda
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Mongol, and Kung Fu Panda.
07/06/2008 • 4 minutes
Sex and the City
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Sex and the City.
31/05/2008 • 4 minutes
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
24/05/2008 • 4 minutes
Reprise; The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Reprise and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
17/05/2008 • 4 minutes
10/05/2008 • 4 minutes
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Iron Man.
03/05/2008 • 4 minutes
Baby Mama; Then She Found Me
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Baby Mama and Then She Found Me.
26/04/2008 • 4 minutes
Forgetting Sarah Marshall; The Life Before Her Eyes
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Life Before Her Eyes.
19/04/2008 • 4 minutes
Smart People; The Visitor
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Smart People and The Visitor.
12/04/2008 • 4 minutes
Joe Morgenstern, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Paranoid Park.
15/03/2008 • 4 minutes
The Bank Job
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews The Bank Job.
08/03/2008 • 4 minutes
The Other Boleyn Girl; Penelope
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews The Other Boleyn Girl and Penelope.
01/03/2008 • 4 minutes
Vantage Point; Charlie Bartlett
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Vantage Point and Charlie Bartlett.
23/02/2008 • 4 minutes
Jumper; Definitely, Maybe
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Jumper and Definitely, Maybe.
16/02/2008 • 4 minutes
In Bruges; The Bands Visit
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews In Bruges and The Bands Visit.
09/02/2008 • 4 minutes
Taxi to the Dark Side; Mad Money
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Taxi to the Dark Side and Mad Money.
19/01/2008 • 4 minutes
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood has a wondrously monstrous hero, a turn-of-the-cent oilman named Daniel Plainview. One of the many ways he vents his rage against humanity is by threatening to bury his enemies alive...
29/12/2007 • 4 minutes
Tim Burton's brilliant blood-soaked screen version of Sweeney Todd stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. The movie begins with sticky globules of blood on the wheels and cogs of what can only be [gulp] a meat grinder... By now we know the nature of the meat and the gist of the ghastly story...
22/12/2007 • 4 minutes
I Am Legend
So you're the last human being in New York City--maybe on earth. That's not good since you're a social animal and you can hardly hang out with the hordes of murderous zombies, who emerge from their dark hives every night. On the other hand you've got the city to yourself in the daytime. No gridlock, no pickpockets, no bicycle messengers to dodge. Such is the plight of Will Smith in I Am Legend...
15/12/2007 • 4 minutes
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Atonement.
08/12/2007 • 4 minutes
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
01/12/2007 • 4 minutes
Before I talk about Beowulf, I have to tell you that I've seen it only in 3D... First, at a screening in digit 3D, the eye-popping version being shown at 740 or more conventional theaters around the country, then at a screening in the eye-popping plus jaw-dropping 3D version that's being shown at one hundred Imax theaters as well...
17/11/2007 • 4 minutes
Lions for Lambs; No Country for Old Men
Lions for Lambs isn't just wooden, but Woodish--it's as if the great issues of our time had been addressed by the hapless filmmaker Ed Wood... (Joe also reviews No Country for Old Men.)
10/11/2007 • 4 minutes
American Gangster; Bee Movie
Denzel Washington plays a 1970's drug lord named Frank Lucas in American Gangster. Lucas takes pride in many things,
but most of all in the quality of his merchandise, Southeast Asian heroin as pure, in its fashion, as Ivory soap... (Joe also reviews Bee Movie.)
03/11/2007 • 4 minutes
Dan in Real Life
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Dan in Real Life.
27/10/2007 • 4 minutes
Things We Lost in the Fire; Gone Baby Gone
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Things We Lost in the Fire and Gone Baby Gone.
20/10/2007 • 4 minutes
Lars and the Real Girl
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Lars and the Real Girl.
13/10/2007 • 4 minutes
Lust, Caution; Michael Clayton
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews Lust, Caution and Michael Clayton.
06/10/2007 • 4 minutes
The Kingdom; The Darjeeling Limited
Joe Morgenstern, film critic for the Wall Street Journal, reviews The Kingdom and The Darjeeling Limited.