Thursday, July 4, 2019


Director Danny Boyle's hummably insightful morality tale, Yesterday, is a sure starmaker for amiable Hamish Patel, who plays a struggling Suffolk strummer who wakes after an accident during a worldwide blackout the only person who knows the Beatles songbook. He wouldn't! He does! He begins performing the songs, claiming them as his own, gets noticed by the recording industry machine and off he goes. But Boyle isn't only making statements about an individual's struggle with truth and authenticity but, as has also been reflected in his previous films, the unpredicatbility of LIFE, and how we all are accountable for our choices despite what the universe tosses at us. Like most of us, Patel's Jack Malick is not a bad person; he's just blessed, like most of us, with an abiding ordinariness -- and maybe that should be enough.


Florence Pugh (Fighting with My Family) carries the full, freaking weight of Ari Aster's second horrorshow, Midsommar, as a needy grad student whose beau (Jack Reynor) invites her along on a boys' trip to Sweden for an ancient festival of viscera, sacrifice and sex. But who knew? Aster's Hereditary was so unnerving because of its cold clincalility (not unlike the film's infamous dollhouse miniatures), its dispassion, its unaverted gaze at the horrors. Midsommar features the same meticulousness in creation of place and space, in the brutality of the sects rituals and in the simmering animus that alert audience members will sense from the moment the "family" is introduced in its idyllic woodland retreat.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home furiously swings for and clears the MCU fences as a rousing treatise on truth and lies in which star Tom Holland’s teenaged hero struggles with love, identity and duty while battling elemental evils during a class trip across Europe. Watts weaves into the story numerous references (not even thinly veiled) to public trust and deception and the power one wields with plausible deceit. An impressive set piece three-quarters of the way through the film depicts a green and naive Spider-Man being confronted and confounded by multiple holographic "realities," playing his nature against him time after time. It's not only a beautifuly crafted passage but the message resonates like the tolling of a bell.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Shaft (2019)

Tim Story's tribute to toxic masculinity, Shaft, gives filmgoers Samuel L. Jackson swaggering through frustratingly predictable gangland set pieces that portray him as invincible and his estranged FBI data analyst son (Jessie T. Usher) as an undersexed geek. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Interestingly, even though Chad Stahelski's John Wick: Chapter 3 —Parabellum delivers deliciously brutal set pieces where our hero (Keanu Reeves) dispatches with zen master efficiency armies of bounty hunters, its biggest stomach-turner is a stoic ballerina pulling off a toenail.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Guava Island

Donald Glover's "This is America" was more Fela Kuti than minstrel provocateur to me. Glover continues his indictment of racial and cultural oppression in his peculiar but pleasing "Guava Island," where he is a guileless singer angering island bosses while lifting people's spirits.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Long Shot

Jonathan Levine's gushily giddy Long Shot is not pitching the believability of a lovely gov't officer (Charlize Theron) falling for an untidy news reporter (Seth Rogen), an old childhood friend. Rather it appears to be hawking principles over politics, a more interesting premise.


  Director Danny Boyle's hummably insightful morality tale, Yesterday, is a sure starmaker for amiable Hamish Patel, who plays ...