This film’s slightness is meant to simplify proceedings to their truest essence. Mary Magdalene contains the bare minimum of theatrics. The result may be painstakingly slow at times, but its grounded firmness is precisely its beauty. There is a calmly effective empathetic power to that method and approach. The specifying or sermonizing is scant and still stoic. The poignancy is pitched and still powerful. The grace is consoling and still genuine. All of that is mightily impressive.Read More
Ten life lessons than pet ownership can teach children include responsibility, trust, bereavement, respect, self-esteem, physical activity, loyalty, patience, and social skills. Now, for most of us stateside, our preferred companions are often dogs and cats. The canines and felines get movies for days from Old Yeller to The Secret Life of Pets. In South Australia’s coastlands, the prevailing animal neighbors are birds. So, how well do you know a pelican? Come to Storm Boy and find yourself newly enamored.Read More
Too often nowadays in our headline-seeking and attention-starved society, that first definition of “miracle” is stretched and overused to the point of hyperbole, right there next to other words like “epic” and “masterpiece.” There are places where effectiveness has been lost. That second definition calling for divine intervention is a doozy. It calls for higher piety. Well, good believers love divine challenges and so does this Breakthrough starring Chrissy Metz.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What film has most defied your expectations, either for better or for worse?
I harp often about unreasonable expectations. Between giving up trailers and really trying to bring a little more objective grading into subjective criticism, I’ve come to hate the term “expectations.” I really stretch to stay neutral at all times. That said, having zero expectations is impossible, which means, like this week’s question, plenty of movies will surprise me from what they were billed to be. For my answer this week, I dug back to 1999 and picked out a silly movie that really won my over, cheese and all.Read More
The number of debated points in The Public outnumber the aisles and stacks. On one hand, that crowding creates an involving and intriguing machine of tied fates and a roundtable forum sampler for the viewer. On the other, that same populated weight does make the film saturated with many bouncing tangents of rhetoric, not all of which mesh fluidly. Nevertheless, the debate balance of this brouhaha of hubris and sentiment favors the rightly idealized and positive. The Public makes a worthy stump speech for its checklist of modest societal issues.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Is “elevated horror” a real thing"?
I’m not a horror film regular or connoisseur, but I know and appreciate a good horror film when I see one. I know “elevated horror” has become a buzz term, as evidenced by David Ehrlich’s survey this week, but I think the unlabeled idea of it has been around since the beginning of the genre. I consider it’s a compliment, which puts me in the slim minority this week on the dais.Read More
One’s communal theater experience and entertainment value is addictively fed and your mind will race afterword, preserving the impact for even more internalization, compartmentalization, and surprise. That said, what do these lessons and all of this in Us mean? If the details do not expand the buzz of the mindf — k at hand, nothing will. Keep Peele’s targeted purpose in mind when you dig into Us for what you can extract. Open your perceptions and hold your s — t together.Read More
There are about three levels of “how in the hell did they do that?” that come from watching the sterling documentary Apollo 11. That exasperating and jaw-dropping question comes out often when we watch fantastical cinematic tales of fiction. But it’s different with Apollo 11 because of the non-fiction nature. Dozens of brilliant-yet-unassuming scientists, engineers, and specialists poured their lives and livelihoods into this mission and the entire program. In their honor, the documentary team led by director/producer/editor Todd Douglas Miller, have now echoed that monumental achievement with an artistic one of their own.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best documentary about the American political system?
Documentaries are not my strong suit. I’m a big An Inconvenient Truth mark, but I wouldn’t call that a documentary about the American political system just because of the presence and olive branch policies of former Vice President Al Gore. Ava DuVernay’s 13th also has scope beyond the business and posturing of D.C., but the political threads run farther and deeper, making it my worthy pick this week.Read More
Finding Steve McQueen carries the boasting superlatives of the detailing the “largest bank heist in U.S. history” and, according to director Mark Steven Johnson, one of “the greatest stories never told.” Don’t expect a film of that kind of scope and size. This is a big crime orchestrated by small people who think they are bigger than they really are. The year is 1972 and the illegal act is the United California Bank Robbery.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Who is the greatest movie cat of all-time?
Eschewing the rest of the trollish buzz surrounding Captain Marvel, I really appreciated that David Ehrlich picked a lighter question this week. In honor of the scene-stealing “Goose” from that new Marvel entry, we critics were asked to elect a top feline. Honestly, it was hard not to just picked the marmalade-colored Flerken. It took a little soul-searching (and Google searching) to remind myself of the toilet-flusher himself.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Who is the best villain so far this century?
Gosh, this one was a hard one. For every obvious Heath Ledger Joker from The Dark Knight or Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men, you could site anything Philip Seymour Hoffman in from Mission: Impossible III to Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls and still land on a good pick. I emphasized the dastardly and went smaller with J.K. Simmons’ Oscar-winning antagonist from the masterful Whiplash.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Who should play James Bond after Daniel Craig is done?
Between Connery, Moore, Dalton, and especially Brosnan, I credit my mother for making me a James Bond fan. Though the Mission: Impossible franchise is on quite a run, I still consider Ian Fleming’s character king of the spy game. With Daniel Craig north of 50 and rumored to be done, the decadent tuxedo will be open to a new actor soon. I think I know just the guy and it’s an eclectic choice.Read More
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is one silver lining of this year's awards season, and why?
The 2018-2019 awards season has been a contentious and challenging up-and-down chore. Unpredictable one moment and inflexible the next, it was hard to find what David Ehrlich was looking for. Then I remembered the stature and history of Spike Lee and what a win for him would mean. I found my answer right there.Read More
It’s time to breakdown each category and put some stone cold predictions into digital ink. Throughout the busy awards season, this website’s 2019 Awards Tracker has been my workspace to tally all the early award winners. That prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the race for Best Picture. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!Read More
It’s time to breakdown each category and put some stone cold predictions into digital ink. Throughout the busy awards season, this website’s 2019 Awards Tracker has been my workspace to tally all the early award winners. That prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the minor film categories of foreign film, documentaries, animated films, and short films. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!Read More
Peter Hutchings’ comedy Then Came You presents romance entangled by terminal illness. That topic seeped in gallows humor is far from new territory, meaning this is not a very deep film. Then Came You doesn’t have to be a message-thumping torchbearer for anything. Instead, it is squarely comfortable with its pile of pluck and parade of quirks. There’s a place for an easy film like this. Why? Look no further than those qualities of personality and earnestness. Everything difficult and rough is softened by cheeky and easy charm.Read More
Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work. Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 50 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate. I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.Read More