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  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

    Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

    ★★★

    Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga: A Surprisingly Kind, Good-Hearted Comedy (Review)

    I must start this review with an admission – as an American, I only have the vaguest awareness of the actual Eurovision Song Contest. Generally, I understand it to be something like an even kitschier American Idol and I know that Celine Dion comes from it, but that is about it. So I came into this movie without any particular expectations about what the titular competition…

  • Hamilton

    Hamilton

    ★★★★★

    Hamilton: the Most Magical Thing on Disney+ (Review)

    Weeks ago, I had passed on the opportunity to review Hamilton. Please do not get me wrong – I love the stage show. I probably know every word in the entire soundtrack. For months of my son’s life, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant musical was the only thing that would get him to fall asleep at night. I was a history major in college too, which invariably helped deepen my appreciation for how vibrantly…

  • Desperados

    Desperados

    ★½

    Sometimes a movie comes along and makes you think to yourself, “this feels like it comes from a time capsule of an earlier era.” Utterly divorced from the sexual mores or politics of today, Desperados is such a film. The movie tells the story of a woman (Nasim Pedrad) who must venture to Mexico with her two best friends to stop a new boyfriend from reading a cruel email sent in a drunken rage. Hijinks and, hypothetically, hilarity ensue. Yes,…

  • My Spy

    My Spy

    ★★★

    There has been a long history of pro wrestlers crossing over into film. It makes sense when you think about it – the charisma necessary to captivate 20,000 fans in a live arena should transfer naturally to the silver screen. The Rock, of course, is the gold standard: one of the biggest wrestling stars ever has grown into one of the biggest movie stars of his generation. And yet the abundance of pro wrestlers in movies is far greater than…

  • 7500

    7500

    ★★★½

    7500: “Phone Booth” on a Plane is Tense and Fun (Review)

    I am not sure that 7500 could be made in the US studio system anymore. Telling the story of a pilot trapped in the cockpit of a European passenger plane during a terrorist attack, the film is consciously a throwback to the era where anonymous Muslim terrorists were the villainous norm. 7500 opens with security cam footage of the attackers crafting their improvised glass weapons in the Berlin airport…

  • Mr. Jones

    Mr. Jones

    ★★★

    Mr Jones: a Messy, Well-Acted Journalistic Thriller (Review)

    Mr. Jones is one of the most overstuffed movies I have ever seen. It is, among many other things, a biopic of Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, an expose of the corruption of New York Times 1930s Soviet reporter Walter Duranty, a portrait of the complexity of diplomacy in the era of Hitler’s ascension, a spy thriller, a bleak human drama about the Ukranian Famine-Genocide, and an origin story for the novel Animal…

  • You Should Have Left

    You Should Have Left

    ★½

    David Koepp has written many of my favorite films: Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man, and Ghost Town among them. He also wrote, and directed, this one. A lazy assemblage of haunted house movie cliches that fails the most half-assed “honest trailers” test. Bacon seems to be trying and Seyfried is pretty good, but they are unable to elevate the lazy scares and stillborn writing.

    While the movie makes a few quips at their age gap, I cannot help but note…

  • Dads

    Dads

    ★★★½

    When I turned on Dads, I had not intended to write about it. Director Bryce Dallas Howard (The Mandalorian) structures her paternal documentary around a half dozen vignettes focused on dads in different situations around the world. Each little story broadly deals with one aspect of fatherhood. She intersperses these core narratives with footage of famous comedians and celebrities sharing little anecdotes about their own time as fathers. In her likable documentary, Howard taps into a simple truth with the…

  • The Girl with a Bracelet

    The Girl with a Bracelet

    ★★★★

    The Girl with a Bracelet is perhaps the single film I have seen that best captures the experience of the juror during a criminal trial. As someone who has spent his fair share of time around American courtrooms, I cannot recall a movie so committed to the gradual unfurling of evidence that helps to present a case to a jury. Each witness brings new bits of information to the table to help complete a picture of the circumstances surrounding an…

  • Wasp Network

    Wasp Network

    ★★

    Wasp Network: the Cover is Blown on this Tepid Spy Tale (Review)

    I have always been a sucker for the spy genre. Perhaps it is from seeing James Bond movies on constant TV loops as a kid, or my personal interest in modern history and the Cold War (history was my major in college). Or perhaps it is something more visceral – there is a natural compelling tension to subterfuge. Somehow, Netflix’s Wasp Network manages the sad feat of defusing…

  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always

    Never Rarely Sometimes Always

    ★★★★½

    I found the titular scene - and Flanigan's performance in it - to be one of the year's spell binding scenes. The way you can feel the pain and tension of the scene is startling and deeply moving. Flanigan is so committed and in the moment that the blood literally drains from her face and Hittman is wise enough to just leave the camera on her actress. Great stuff.

    Thankfully, the whole movie maintains this level of texture and nuance.…

  • Bull

    Bull

    ★★★★

    Bull: Rob Morgan’s Excellent Performance Makes Bull Riding Drama Come Alive (Review)

    One of the challenges in writing about film is in determining how to convey to a reader the quality of a movie that is largely about tone and emotion. Bull is largely devoid of big moments – it is quiet and contemplative. Quiet and contemplative, one can imagine, is a far harder subject for writing than most plots. The film feels naturalistic, at times bordering on documentary. The…