• Practical Magic

    Practical Magic


    This movie's virtues and vices are all tied up in being spread all over the damn place in story and in tone, and in building admirably in its second half from a notably discombobulated first. I haven't read Alice Hoffman's novel, but I'd opine with some confidence that the script catches its spirit and plot in some moments but skates erratically over both in whole stretches. I fully expected the kind of star outing where the supporting cast shines brightest,…

  • Mr. 3000

    Mr. 3000


    After my What's Love Got to Do with It rewatch, I'm just victory-lapping with Angela Bassett, who's rarely (never?) been as breezy and relaxed on screen as she is here, in an atypical comic role. But of course it's Bernie Mac's movie, and it's on his shoulders that this works at all, despite or because of the rudimentary writing, obvious theme, and bungled finish. At every turn, Mr. 3000 foregrounds Mac's personal charm, even when he's playing a shit. This…

  • What's Love Got to Do with It

    What's Love Got to Do with It


    I've of course seen this many times, but I made this revisit deluxe by reading I, Tina just beforehand. It's a remarkable testimony, and while the film tailors and transforms quite a few of the episodes it reproduces, most of the memoir's spirit is unmistakably here on screen.

    As is so much else! The editing of What's Love... gets stronger as we go, tightening the vise while birthing a star, placing euphoric performance and (mostly) private misery into repeated whiplash…

  • Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

    Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris


    Y'all have been real generous out here. And I'm into that, even if I can't make myself go there.


  • The Menu

    The Menu


    You thought I was going to change my mind. I did not change my mind. I still think this is a nasty little stainless-steel contraption, with a broad satiric grin but a dead-earnest disgust, edging just enough into credible self-loathing that the filmmakers don't strike me as self-exempting.

    Of course The Menu is fed up with the hyper-rich, but it is just as plainly a skewering of the aspirational taste-making classes (very Letterboxd, very Film Twitter, very me, very you)…

  • Magic Mike's Last Dance

    Magic Mike's Last Dance

    I understood I had little chance of liking it as much as I did the first two. I had no inkling, though, what a near-total repudiation Magic Mike's Last Dance is of everything that made its predecessors engaging, clever, spicy, and funny, in their very different ways. And I certainly had no forewarning that I'd enjoy myself about as little as I did at The Whale.

    The screenplay, if you could call it that, is comdislabobuted, i.e., discombobulated to such…

  • Triangle of Sadness

    Triangle of Sadness


    Third time through, and I keep responding better.

    I may replace this with a real review, but for now: if you live in Chicago and can make it to the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown from 11-12 this morning, I'll be giving a presentation about different sorts of craftsmanship (or, I regret to inform, its absence) in five of this year's Best Picture nominees: Banshees, Fabelmans, Top Gun, Triangle of Sadness, and Women Talking. And/or, come to the same spot…

  • Top Gun: Maverick

    Top Gun: Maverick


    Aka, Triumph of the Wing! I said what I said. I was admittedly a little more swept up in the experience this time, yet somehow equally put off by it. The images look better than I reported or even observed on first viewing. As drama, characterization, or political statement, though, this is still thin, puerile, and more than a little reckless. The absurdly constant, often breathless glow-ups of proficient little arrested adolescent Pete Mitchell ("Maverick...," sighs onlooker after onlooker) remain eye-rolly, but I do enjoy laughing at them.


  • Navalny



    I had expected more background and exposition about Navalny's life, his precise political orientations, and his unusual stature as a journalist, activist, and lawyer in advance of becoming better-known as a nominal political candidate and then even more so as a Kremlin target and political prisoner. The shoulder-to-shoulder stance of this documentary, made with its subject even more than about him, narrows and arguably distorts our point of view by closing off some lines of inquiry—though it should also be…

  • The Banshees of Inisherin

    The Banshees of Inisherin


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    It's ironic to drop a spoiler warning here, since my point is how Martin McDonagh is almost unspoilable, or pre-spoiled by his own portfolio. The first time I saw The Banshees of Inisherin, as soon as we held in an early low-angle shot for an extra couple beats on Brendan Gleeson's gleaming white seaside cottage, I thought to myself, "Well, someone'll burn that down before this is all over, and we'll see the charred version from the same angle." As…

  • TÁR



    Tár's just got more cards in its hand than most movies this year have in their whole deck. It's also remarkably fertile on re-viewing. Almost every character and moment has at least one unexpected double, often where you wouldn't be looking for one. In almost every scene, Blanchett's performance withholds information that would help decipher that incident and yet feeds you information that illuminates some other plot point or through line. Almost everything that most impresses me about her performance…

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much

    The Man Who Knew Too Much


    Part of a trip back to 1934.
    Full viewing digest for that year here.

    Watch Hitchcock go on a journey from Fuck this kid to Fuck this kid, but she didn't deserve THAT to... well, I won't spoil it.

    Also, notice how we transition from neutral, isolationist Switzerland to verbal allusions to World War I to the whole third act becoming basically a war movie. So deftly done, and an unexpected counter-harmonic to the main plot, where the central couple…