• Drowning Mona

    Drowning Mona

    ★★

    The version of Drowning Mona that made its way into the theaters in the greenest days of the Aughts—when the wild-eyed survivalists were still coming down from their Y2K buzz—feels like it's missing a few pieces of the puzzle. Maybe in some depressing, little-trafficked outpost of the multiverse, there's a two-and-a-half-hour director's cut that sheds light on the fractious relations that are supposed to give impetus to all the dingdang wackiness.

    More voluble explanations are demanded for the bizarro marriage…

  • Appointment with Death

    Appointment with Death

    ★★

    Please arrive fifteen minutes early for your appointment with death and bring your insurance card. Appointment with death cancellations with less than twenty four hours notice will incur a charge on the patient's account.

    Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I can get on with trashing this astonishingly misguided film. There are so many things wrong with Appointment with Death that I'll have to pick my battles. I'm not about to waste the whole morning writing…

  • Clean and Sober

    Clean and Sober

    ★★

    I scanned through a lot of reviews on Letterboxd. Which you should never do, by the way. It will only depress the hell out of you. Yes, I saw all the mobs chanting: "Keaton! Keaton! Keaton!" (Okay. Keaton. Whatever. He was fine.) But what I was really looking for is somebody—anybody—to mention how relatively easy Clean and Sober makes addiction recovery look. That's a real problem, if you ask me... especially when you've got a character like Keaton's who doesn't…

  • The Northman

    The Northman

    ★★½

    And...?

    So what?

    Eggers does a decent job evoking the barbarity and mysticism of the Viking Age—setting us adrift in a world of murky moral relativism and wanton decapitations—but it's hard to see past the grime and Grand-Guignol toward some locus of care or involvement. Should we actually want Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) to get revenge against the dastardly uncle who murdered his father (Ethan Hawke)? If so, why? It's clear from Amleth's brief dealings with his father that the latter…

  • The Window

    The Window

    ★★★

    They didn't go easy on their child protagonists back in 1949. The ten-year-old scamp in this motion picture is locked in his tenement bedroom with the window nailed shut, blackout-punched in the face by grown-ass man in a cab, and nearly chucked off a sixth floor fire escape. But there's a moral to be gleaned here, kiddos: Don't cry wolf or your parents will never believe you when you tell them over dinner that the upstairs neighbors are turning tricks…

  • The Marriage Fool

    The Marriage Fool

    ★★½

    As both a card-carrying Walter Matthau fan and Carol Burnett fan, there was just no way I wasn’t going to watch this—even though it’s a 1990s network television movie and a lot of its run time is devoted to the hesitant romance between John Stamos (as Matthau’s son) and Teri Polo.

    But dang it if it wasn’t better than I thought it would be. There’s certainly less mugging and madcap hijinks involved than I expected, although there’s a dispiriting running…

  • Tough Guys Don't Dance

    Tough Guys Don't Dance

    ★★★

    There are movies and then there are movies.

    I'm making a vague distinction here between (the majority of) movies, like, say, Out of Africa or Mrs. Doubtfire, where you plop your ass down to watch them and you think (if only implicitly), "Well, this is a movie"—by which you mean that it conforms to your baseline expectations of movieness. The plot is reasonably coherent. The performances are intelligible. You understand in general terms what the filmmaker is trying to achieve,…

  • Easter Parade

    Easter Parade

    ★★★½

    Fred Astaire was brought in at the last minute to replace Gene Kelly who'd broken his ankle—an unforeseeable happenstance I will allow to mitigate my reaction to the age discrepancies in Easter Parade's love triangle. Astaire was 49 in 1948, but Judy Garland and Ann Miller were 26 and 25, respectively. Garland had her fair share of problems by this point in her career. Most people already know about the pills, but she also had a nervous breakdown during her…

  • a-ha: The Movie

    a-ha: The Movie

    ★★

    I'm not sure why I decided to watch a-ha: The Movie, but then again I've never been one of those persnickety people who required a good reason to watch any movie, no matter how obscure, specialized, or irrelevant.

    I would not identify as an a-ha fan. I did own Hunting High and Low on cassette. I will cop to that. But in 1985 I was as indiscriminate a cassette buyer as I am a movie watcher today.

    This is not…

  • Turning Red

    Turning Red

    ★★

    An animated movie about a girl getting her period—and turning into a giant red panda—is definitely not made for me. I have no problem with movies about periods or pandas, red or otherwise, but I found this very boring. Maybe it’s because I have never had a period. I do remember when Jill P. suddenly had her period during gym class and had to be sent home. That must have been surreal and alienating and possibly mortifying for her. If…

  • Dog

    Dog

    ★★½

    It goes without saying that I was weeping by the end of this movie—which is why I generally try to avoid movies about animals. Go ahead: Blow up people’s heads, set them on fire, run them over with a monster truck. I’m okay with it. Show a dog looking sad for ten consecutive seconds and I’m done. That’s the way I’m wired.

    I thought this would be a light movie (based on the duplicitous trailers)—and it was—until it wasn’t—and then…

  • Marry Me

    Marry Me

    ★★½

    I’m not really watching-watching this. I’m more like watching ten minutes and then pausing it to do a household chore or because I’m wondering what Herbert is doing—that’s my cat, he’s making uncategorizable noises in the other room—or because I need a two-day break from the movie…. but at the same time I don’t hate it or anything. It does what it does, which is exactly what you might expect it to do. Yes, the premise is brain-atrophyingly stupid, but…