• In the Heights

    In the Heights

    ★★★½

    The Abuela song is a knockout. The rest is very good, with the okay-ness of the songs elevated by the adoring cinematography of the neighborhood; I fully support Miranda’s effort to make the water ice guy and the bodega guy into magical realist characters. Also, I appreciated how it erased and refused to represent Afro-Latinx people.

  • My Octopus Teacher

    My Octopus Teacher

    Perfectly okay nature film, like the ones I'd escape into Cape Henlopen's museum to watch if the beach got too hot. Not the worst Oscar-winning documentary, but the one with the most schlocky, overpowering soundtrack.

  • F9

    F9

    These movies are just not for me, no matter how much I try to appreciate them as kitsch. Yes, the “Fast Saga” universe is hilariously complex, and that’s funny to think about on its own. But this movie feels like a DLC, inserting new backstory and bringing back playable characters, without giving them much to do.

    The action scenes are disappointing until about the half-way mark, when a powerful electromagnet (more powerful, says Ludicrus, than the ones he’s seen on…

  • The Sparks Brothers

    The Sparks Brothers

    ★★★★½

    Saw this twice, once via a Sundance preview and once as my first post-pandemic theater trip. DIsclosure: I was interviewed for the movie, and appear very briefly as a fan. So I'm not an objective viewer, though the fact that I didn't give this a full five stars should tell you how honest I am.

    Wright is perfect for this material, as jokey about the cliches of his medium that Sparks are for theirs. He puts himself into the Interrotron…

  • Stiv

    Stiv

    A complete mess. Audio quality varies from interview to interview, and the interviews are stitched together poorly, with cheap b-roll (the Los Angeles skyline isn't even rendered properly).

  • Zack Snyder's Justice League

    Zack Snyder's Justice League

    ★★★½

    The epilogues are awful, but the movie itself succeeds on Snyder’s insane terms — slow-mo images that look like splash panels, metahumans with great abs, and so on. As an amateur critic experience, it’s fantastic. I have rarely had as much fun *thinking* about movie-making as I did while learning what was cut and what was added once the movie was handed to Whedon. (Hard to pick a WORST tweak, but Whedon adding some goofy getting-to-know you dialogue to the Steppenwolf scientist torture scene is up there — in Snyder’s version the heroes don’t just banter as people get killed.)

  • Godzilla vs. Kong

    Godzilla vs. Kong

    ★★½

    I liked it when the big monkey hit the big lizard in his face and he fell down.

  • Creem: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine

    Creem: America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine

    ★★★½

    When Philip Seymour Hoffman died, and the people began the kaddish of posting their favorite performances by a dead actor, I noticed a lot of them sharing Hoffman's performance as Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous." Cameron Crowe idolized Bangs, and the version he created for his nostalgia movie was, in turn, idolized, the sort of character who shows up in the first and third acts of a Disney movie (usually as a ghost the second time), telling the hero to…

  • Christine

    Christine

    ★★★★

    The two knocks I heard on this, before watching it, were that it was exploitative and that it didn't have a strong sense of place.

    The second critique makes no sense to me: This is a very evocative picture of small-city America in 1974, when suburbanites were white-flighting to the sunbelt and when a ticket to a TV job in Baltimore was as prized as one for Willy Wonka's factory. ("That's a top 30 market!")

    The first critique? I get…

  • Bad Trip

    Bad Trip

    ★★★★

    “The Eric Andre Show” has been a reliable brain-cleanser for years. It’s impossible to be depressed after watching three or four minutes of Andre alienating and terrifying strangers. Same principle at work here — I easily spent half the runtime laughing.

    Yes, the romantic A-plot is uninteresting, but I choose to compare it to the sort of plots that drive silent movies. Idiot Seeks Girl is a perfectly legal way of stringing this together. The bystanders who make the cut…

  • Milius

    Milius

    ★★★

    A little sloppier than the subject deserves. Can’t knock the directors for the cheap stuff, like the distractingly public domain versions of pop songs. (When Milius makes a comeback we hear a song that is definitely not “Back in Black,” just a song with the same time signature and riff.) Can judge them for some sloppy edits and some “why that guy” interviews, like one with Bryan Singer(?). Gains a lot of power with the ending.

  • Down and Out in America

    Down and Out in America

    ★★★½

    There has never been a more sincere-sounding narrator than Lee Grant, who sounds like she wants to punch somebody (probably Ronald Reagan) as she attacks a crumbling welfare system. 


    Feels like a TV special with less structure, but it really does capture the beginning of modern homelessness, bracing to see in 2021. And the “thanks to ACORN” in the credits, ooh, yeah, America kind of screwed the pooch on that one.