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  • Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki

    Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki

    ★★★

    Here is just a tiny sample of the many different ways that Hayao Miyazaki — arguably the greatest animator the cinema has ever seen — describes himself in Kaku Arakawa’s documentary about the artist’s life since his most recent attempt to retire: “I’m an old geezer.” “I’m used up.” And, at the 2013 press conference where he publicly declared that his beloved Studio Ghibli would no longer be in the business of making feature-length films: “I’ve decided to treat any…

  • Springsteen On Broadway

    Springsteen On Broadway

    ★★★★

    “Springsteen on Broadway” might be the single best thing that Netflix has ever done. Which isn’t to say that it’s a better film than “Roma” or “Private Life” — or that it’s even a film, at all (it’s categorized as a “special”) — but that it epitomizes the full potential of a platform so large that it tends to crush whatever it touches. Beginning on December 16, just a few hours after Bruce Springsteen growls the final notes of his…

  • The Mule

    The Mule

    ★★★★

    At 88 years old, Clint Eastwood might be the hardest-working man in Hollywood. And now, with his second directorial outing of 2018 — and his best film since at least “Letters from Iwo Jima” in 2006, and perhaps 1993’s “A Perfect World” before that — he’s finally explained why.

    Inspired by a Sam Dolnick article in the New York Times Magazine called “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule,” “The Mule” is a far cry from the red state fantasy that…

  • Mary Poppins Returns

    Mary Poppins Returns

    ★★½

    A listless Sunday afternoon of a movie that bursts with forced whimsy and synthetic optimism from the first notes of “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” to the last twinkles of “Nowhere to Go but Up” (an admirably bold choice of song title for any film’s big closing number), “Mary Poppins Returns” isn’t dishonest so much as it’s out of its time, like a useless clock that’s happy to be five minutes off. In fact, that analogy is something of a…

  • Mortal Engines

    Mortal Engines

    ★★½

    “Mortal Engines” might not be a particularly good movie, but it’s a BIG one, and sometimes that can be even more important. Adapted (on steroids) from Philip Reeves’ neo-Victorian steampunk fantasy of the same name, this $100 million holiday-season event starts off like a supersized remake of “Fury Road,” as two mobile cities shoot massive harpoons at each other in a death race through the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Europe as Junkie XL’s bombastic score yowls in the background. Yes, mobile…

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    ★★★★

    Tragic news for anyone who’s sick of superhero movies: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” completely reinvigorates the genre, reaffirms why it’s resonating with a diverse modern audience that’s desperate to fight the power, and reiterates to us how these hyper-popular spandex myths are able to reinvent themselves on the fly whenever things get stale. Just when it seemed like “Infinity War” might be the culmination of a cultural phenomenon, that Stan Lee’s death could symbolize the end of an era, and…

  • May the Devil Take You

    May the Devil Take You

    ★★

    They say that idle hands are the devil’s playthings, but Indonesian schlockmeister Timo Tjahjanto is never busier than when he’s skirting around the fringes of hell. Just a few long weeks after the release of his gonzo and blood-drenched beat-em-up, “The Night Comes for Us,” Tjahjanto is back with a gonzo and blood-drenched dose of domestic horror, “May the Devil Take You” (viewers familiar with the director’s gobstopping “V/H/S 2” segment won’t be surprised to see that he’s drawn to…

  • Robin Hood

    Robin Hood

    This year has seen a (small) handful of movies as bad as Otto Bathurst’s revisionist new “Robin Hood,” but none of them — not “Mile 22” nor “The Happytime Murders” nor even Dinesh D’Souza’s “Death of a Nation” — have been more in denial of their own badness. If nothing else, this accidentally hilarious, goofy train wreck of an origin story most definitely has the courage of its convictions. Alas, the film isn’t smart enough to recognize that its convictions…

  • Evelyn

    Evelyn

    ★★★★

    Orlando von Einsiedel has always been comfortable in dangerous situations. His Oscar-winning documentary “The White Helmets” took him into the heart of the Syrian Civil War, while his widely acclaimed “Virunga” forced him to dodge bullets in eastern Congo as he watched a small team of park rangers protect the last surviving mountain gorillas from poachers and armed militias. In that light, it’s rather jarring to see the British filmmaker so frightened in the opening moments of “Evelyn,” which is…

  • Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams

    Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams

    ★★★½

    Here’s a Coldplay documentary so charming and sincere that it will make you feel bad about mocking the band’s music for the last 16 years (aside from intermittent appreciation for what Brian Eno got out of them on “Viva La Vida,” of course). Mat Whitecross’ “Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams” is more than just a look inside the third-highest grossing concert tour in history, or an intimate portrait of one of the 21st century’s most successful rock bands; it’s…

  • Mary Queen of Scots

    Mary Queen of Scots

    ★★★

    The great pleasure of historical biopics often lies in their visceral power to remind us that history is always personal for those who make it. From the Middle Ages to our first walk on the Moon — from Jesus of Nazareth to Freddie of Kensington — even the most mythic figures were flesh before they were folklore. Josie Rourke’s “Mary Queen of Scots” is an epic look at the intimate frustrations of two massively powerful young women who spend most…

  • Instant Family

    Instant Family

    ★★½

    From “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon,” to “Patriot’s Day” and “The Perfect Storm,” Mark Wahlberg devoted the last decade of his career to a hoo-rah brand of heroic nonfiction (it’s always tempting to trace this career pivot back to the actor’s useless claim that he could have stopped the hijackers on 9/11). But the 47-year-old star, ever the savvy businessman, has also hit upon a lucrative side hustle: blockbuster comedies. Low-key funny in earlier films like “Date Night” and “I…