RSS feed for Bernard
  • Clemency

    Clemency

    ★★★★

    As I left the theater after seeing Clemency, I texted a few friends that the experience of the film was like laying down beneath a cold, wet blanket of unhappiness for two hours. With a few days perspective, the feeling has not changed. It’s a withering, enervating, depressing experience. That isn’t to say the movie isn’t worth your time, it’s an impressive character study. It’s made with a cool, calm precision. Chinonye Chukwu is excellent at putting her actors in…

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★½

    It’s challenging to review a movie when all you want to write about is the film’s astoundingly brilliant and beautiful final shot. With echoes of Call Me By Your Name’s parting tearjerker, director Céline Sciamma tells a mini epic in just a few beats. It’s one of the year’s finest moments on film.

    Sciamma’s story here tells of an artist, Marianne, hired to travel to an island to paint a marriage portrait of a Héloïse who shall soon be paired…

  • The Report

    The Report

    ★★★★

    In effect, Scott Z. Burns has managed to turn the drafting of a 7000 page senate subcommittee report into a compelling piece of cinema. That alone merits praise. The Report sees Adam Driver as Daniel L. Jones, senior staffer to Diane Feinstein, tasked with generating an investigatory report into the workings and efficacy of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques in the wake of September 11.

    For me at least, this film scratched the same itch as Zodiac. A masterwork of…

  • Richard Jewell

    Richard Jewell

    ★★★½

    In 1996, I attended the Olympics with my family. I played in the sprinklers in Centennial Park the morning of the bombing. My family stayed in a house outside Atlanta in Marietta, Georgia during the Games. I can remember my mom turning on the TV the next morning and learning of the bombing. We decided to trade our sports tickets that day and go to the Coca-Cola factory. 

    I share all this to say that Richard Jewell’s most surreal scene…

  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★★½

    It’s always nice to see motivated Adam Sandler, who, in fairness, shows up slightly more frequently than his reputation suggests. Here Sandler uses many of his usual ticks to new, brilliant effect. His dopey smile serves to infuriate. It’s a fantastic meeting of an actors skill set and a role.

    The story itself is about a few days in the life of a hustler and jewelry trying to mete out a few scores for himself to pay off his debts.…

  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold

    Dora and the Lost City of Gold

    ★★★

    I feel I must preface this review by saying this is a movie for kids based on a TV show for kids.

    With that out of the way, this plays out as a lovely little Indiana Jones homage for the younglings. Co-written by Nicholas Stoller (director, writer and/or producer of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors, and The Muppets), the movie has some surprisingly effective jokes for the grown-ups in the audience including a genuinely strange drug trip segment that sees all…

  • For Sama

    For Sama

    ★★★★★

    For Sama is one of the most visceral and moving film experiences I can recall. Structured as a video diary from a mother to her daughter detailing their time before and during the siege of Aleppo. The story cuts across the time during the siege and the time before and sets up a truly astonishing story of a family coming together, ascending in the world, and then facing the horror of a prolonged siege. The genuine humanity of our lead…

  • Charlie's Angels

    Charlie's Angels

    ★★

    I think Elizabeth Banks is frequently a very good actress, but she sure is disappointing as a director. The new Angels is all over the place in tone. The filming itself alternates between functionally drag during the dialogue scenes and utterly incomprehensible during the action scenes. And the writing is just bland and predictable.

    Kristen Stewart is the highlight of the movie. She brings a Kate McKinnon-sort of energy to the role and garners the vast majority of the film's…

  • The Aeronauts

    The Aeronauts

    ★★★

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the Alicia Vikander fronted Earthquake Bird and argued that she has an unfortunate tendency to allow her work to be swallowed up by the mediocrity taking place on screen around her. I feel almost precisely the opposite about Felicity Jones. She manages to sell bad, embarrassing, obvious writing as well as anyone I can remember. She somehow manages to find humanity in an obviously written RBG in On the Basis of Sex, as…

  • The Intruder

    The Intruder

    ★½

    For a few minutes late in the movie, Dennis Quaid starts giving a strange, ludicrous performance when his characters goes full heel. It's as bizarre and compelling as whatever the hell John Travolta did in The Fanatic. Here, though, it's not enough of the film, not the focus, and can't help elevate the thing to sort of performative lunacy that makes the otherwise horrible The Fanatic so damn watchable.

    Aside from Quaid, it feels like a Netflix movie of the…

  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    ★½

    Just a titanic misstep by one of my favorite directors.

    Perhaps the scattershot marketing should have been the first clue that this thing was trouble. The film's first trailers made the titular Bernadette's disappearance appear to be a mystery thriller of some sort. The second wave of marketing materials seemed to transition the movie into some sort of Eat Pray Love: Arctic spinoff.

    What we actually have here is closer to a portrait of a woman in breakdown as a…

  • The Knight Before Christmas

    The Knight Before Christmas

    ★★½

    Viewed objectively, this is a very bad, very dumb movie. I've gone soft and senile in fatherhood and thus found myself stupidly amused by it. Vanessa Hudgens remains a charming, charismatic lead for this sort of bland, harmless material. The concept is cute enough (a 14th century knight teleports to the future and falls in love). There's a part of me that wants to starting quibbling over Sir Cole's fast acclimation to the present day, his dialect, and his lack…