Thursday, January 31, 2019

KIlling Eve

BBC America's intoxicating Killing Eve is an intricate pas de deux for its splendid leads, with Sandra Oh's fractured, obsessive MI6 intelligence agent transforming into a hapless fly, struggling frantically in the seductive web of Jodie Comer's icily efficient Russian assassin.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Kid Who Would Be King

Joe Cornish’s exuberant The Kid Who Would Be King plants Arthurian legend in the midst of a gloomy modern-day England where an unassuming and good-hearted school boy, Alex (Andy Serkis’s son Louis), pulls Excalibur from a stone in an excavation site and awakens ancient evils.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Oscar Notes

Thoughts about some Oscar noms:


"Black Panther" -- Big personal and professional accomplishment for the director, enormous box office, positive message. Comics don't win.
"BlacKkKlansman" -- Spike is back and is in the same groove. Uneven tonally and the lead is not strong despite being Denzel's kid. Won't win.
"Bohemian Rhapsody" -- One truly unbelievable performance does not a winner make.
"The Favourite" -- Rich and ribald. Multiple strong performances and broken rules. Could win.
"Green Book" -- It made a lot of people feel good and a bunch of people feel bad. Mahershala Ali will win supporting actor. And that might be it.
"Roma" -- Impeccable film. Understated and lovely. Hypnotic, heartbreaking and troubling. Should win.
"A Star Is Born" -- Lots of heart, good tunes, but a familiarity that will not be rewarded over the freshness of The Favorite and Roma.
"Vice" -- Fine acting, disjointed script, self-satisfied and not as resonant as most of the rest of the list.


Yalitza Aparicio, "Roma" -- Will break your heart.
Glenn Close, "The Wife" -- Will have you cheering in the last reel.
Olivia Colman, "The Favourite" -- Will hypnotize you.
Lady Gaga, "A Star Is Born" -- Will have you singing.
Melissa McCarthy, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" -- Will have you reaching for the scotch -- in a good way.


Amy Adams, "Vice" -- Not her strongest performance but that's not to say it's weak.
Marina De Tavira, "Roma" -- She plays overwhelmed like few performers I've seen.
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk" -- She's loved by everyone, and her Puerto Rico breakdown is the dramatic heart of this picture. Will win.
Emma Stone, "The Favourite" -- Her amazing performance is canceled by Weisz.
Rachel Weisz, "The Favourite" -- Her amazing performance is canceled by Stone.


Christian Bale, "Vice" -- Bale brings Bale to every picture. It's a prosthetics tour de force. Could win.
Bradley Cooper, "A Star Is Born" -- Bradley does Barbra. Won't win.
Willem Dafoe, "At Eternity's Gate" -- Little seen, disorienting film with a wonderful performance.
Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- A little gimmicky but the kid worked his arse off. Might win.
Viggo Mortensen, "Green Book" -- Audiences loved the chemistry between Tony the Lip and Dr. Shirley but may have loved Shirley more. Dunno.

Mahershala Ali, "Green Book" -- He won for Moonlight two years ago. Too soon for a repeat? Maybe not. Too thematically similar? Maybe so.
Adam Driver, "BlacKkKlansman" -- A good performance in an uneven picture.
Sam Elliott, "A Star Is Born" -- There are no small parts but this one might be.
Richard E. Grant, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" -- Actually, a bit more than a supporting role and remarkable. Should win.
Sam Rockwell, "Vice" -- He won for Three Billboards ... last year. It was a stronger performance than George W.


Spike Lee, "BlacKkKlansman" -- Spike does Spike.
Pawel Pawlikowski, "Cold War" -- Who has seen it?
Yorgos Lanthimos, "The Favourite" -- Brilliant and rococo and in English.
Alfonso Cuarón, "Roma" -- Lovely and humane and in Spanish.
Adam McKay, "Vice" -- Too much clever rehashery from The Big Short.


"The Favourite" -- The language was glorious.
"First Reformed" -- Truly disturbing
"Green Book" -- Whose story is it?
"Roma" -- Personal and elegant
"Vice" -- Smart but a bit clownish


"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" -- Masterful weaving together of disparate tales of western woe.
"BlackkKlansman" -- Gaps and gaffes.
"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" -- Sassy and sorrowful.
"If Beale Street Could Talk" -- Truncates much of Baldwin's brilliant prose but will probably win.
"A Star Is Born" -- Not enough story.


"Cold War" -- Who has seen it?
"The Favourite" -- Some nice, disorienting fish bowling effects.
"Never Look Away" -- Who has seen it?
"Roma" -- The beach rescue scene is phenomenal. Should win.
"A Star Is Born" -- Moody and dour in spots, lustrous and intimate in others.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Writer/ Director Jonah Hill’s spirited study of LA lost boys, Mid90s, is told through the often impassive eyes of 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic), who is battered by his bitter older brother (Lucas Hedges) but befriended by four rootless teen skaters, a damaged but caring crew.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ben is Back

Peter Hedges directs A-lister Julia Roberts and his uncannily reliable son Lucas in the somber film Ben is Back, a teen drug addict tale that is more existential than cautionary as it considers the limits of love and family and asks how much of what we become is in our control.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

On the Basis of Sex

Mimi Leder's rousing biopic On the Basis of Sex delivers the requisite dramatic moments as it blends stories of the evolution of law professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) as champion of women's rights with her role as a devoted wife and the mother of a defiant feminist.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Hedges and Chalamet

Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet (here at the Golden Globes) approach acting with fearlessness and generosity. Each routinely hits his marks and delivers truth while leaving space for others on the screen, in the story, unlike many older actors who fret and crowd to no effect.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Escape Room

Adam Robitel's high-concept Escape Room recasts the entrapment puzzle game as a fairly entertaining and plausible franchise bid complete with a beautiful and brainy lead (Taylor Russell) and an ethnically diverse Six Little Indians who bicker while warding off artful termination.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Lifespan of a Fact.

John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's fiery disquisition on the nature of "non-fiction" ~ The Lifespan of a Fact. (now a Broadway play) ~offers readers (and no doubt playgoers) a probing, often infuriating exercise in truth mining, with an article on a teen's death-by-suicide as ore.

Queen & Slim

In the soon to be iconic photograph from Melina Matsoukas's distressing Queen & Slim, stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith...