Category Archives: Drama

Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more

Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review

In Mr. Jones, the eponymous Gareth Jones (James Norton) is a Welsh freelance journalist who travels to the Soviet Union in 1933 to interview Joseph Stalin. But the film begins outside of this man’s story, instead landscaping a pastoral farm—animals milling about, fields of grain waving with the wind. Jones, in his journalistic pursuit, stumbles upon a nefarious truth behind Stalin’s Five Year Plan—the Holodomor, in which Ukraine’s grain was exported in vast quantities that caused mass, genocidal starvation in the region.

Director Agnieszka Holland directs some great sequences in Mr. Jones—this opening sequence; a woozy, heroin-fueled party; a quiet, haunting interlude on a train. Still, stretches of the film are rather staid. The first act relies on undercurrents of tension stemming from Continue reading Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review

Mope (2020) Movie Review

[Warning: this review contains references to sexually explicit acts and therefore is not suitable for those under the age of 18]

mope (/mōp/), noun, “a bottom-tier porn performer willing to do the dirtiest, most depraved work in the business.”

Mope, the directorial debut from Lucas Heyne, begins with a football huddle-style chant of

Continue reading Mope (2020) Movie Review

The King of Staten Island (2020) Movie Review

Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson) is a 24-year-old resident of Staten Island who lives at home with his mother (Marisa Tomei); is still not over his deceased father; suffers from ADD, depression, and Crohns disease; spends his days smoking weed, although it no longer gets him high; and finds it difficult to come to terms with his mother’s new boyfriend (Bill Burr), while also being emotionally incapable of holding a meaningful romantic relationship of his own. His highest aspiration in life is to open a tattoo parlor/restaurant.

The King of Staten Island finds its focus in the Continue reading The King of Staten Island (2020) Movie Review

The Goldfinch (2019): The “Biggest Box-office Flop of the Year” — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we look at the adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch from director John Crowley (Brooklyn, Boy A).

[Normally, Diamonds in the Rough reviews go into full spoiler territory, but this one does not. This is a spoiler-free review of The Goldfinch]

 

The Goldfinch

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 24% (214 reviews) | 72% (1,404 user ratings)
  • Metacritic: 40 (41 reviews) | 6.9/10 (71 user ratings)
  • IMDb: 6.2/10 (11,396 ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 2.9/5 (15,048 ratings)

 

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch proved massively successful in 2013. The novel spent numerous weeks on bestsellers lists and went on to win Continue reading The Goldfinch (2019): The “Biggest Box-office Flop of the Year” — Diamonds in the Rough

Tommaso (2020) Movie Review

Willem Dafoe’s title character in Tommaso is conspicuously similar to the film’s writer-director Abel Ferrara. Tommaso is an American of around Ferrara’s age living in Rome with Nikki (Cristina Chiriac), a wife half his age, and their young daughter (played by Ferrara’s real-life wife and young daughter). He is a writer-director trying to crack the code of his next movie, which sounds like a heavily meditative, self-reflexive piece (not unlike Tommaso itself reads).

Dafoe, no stranger to Ferrara after multiple collaborations over the years, is primed to fill this role. In an early scene at an AA meeting, Dafoe monologues expertly about Continue reading Tommaso (2020) Movie Review

Is Serenity (2019) The Next Great Good-Bad Movie? — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we look at the 2019 Steven Knight drama, Serenity. [Caution: Spoilers Ahead]

Serenity

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 20% (188 reviews) | 29% (1,461 user ratings)
  • Metacritic: 37 (38 critics) | 4.5/10 (90 user ratings)
  • IMDb: 5.3/10 (31,656 ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 2.0/5 (18,729 ratings)

 

To put it plainly, the Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway-starring crime mystery film Serenity is a wild one. It does not Continue reading Is Serenity (2019) The Next Great Good-Bad Movie? — Diamonds in the Rough

Shirley (2020) Movie Review

Josephine Decker’s 2017 film Madeline’s Madeline was fairly electrifying. Armed with a powerhouse performance from Helena Howard, the film resonates with such a unique energy that it is hard to shake. Decker’s latest, an adaptation of a novel about horror author Shirley Jackson, is more subdued in comparison to Madeline’s Madeline. But its energy is similarly unshakeable.

Shirley is initially framed as a biopic, if not a somewhat offbeat one. We enter into the life of Continue reading Shirley (2020) Movie Review

Is the Steven Soderbergh-Produced Movie Perfect (2018) a Hidden Gem? — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we look at the 2018 Steven Soderbergh-produced, Flying Lotus-produced science fiction film from Eddie Alcazar, Perfect. [Caution: Spoilers Ahead].

Perfect

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 17% (12 critics)
  • Metacritic: 36 (7 critics)
  • IMDb: 5.5/10 (1,496 ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 3.6/5 (369 ratings)

 

I should be transparent from the outset: I found Perfect to be insufferable. This is Diamonds in the Rough, though, thus I am here to mine these films for their positives. However, this one was Continue reading Is the Steven Soderbergh-Produced Movie Perfect (2018) a Hidden Gem? — Diamonds in the Rough

Did Audiences Get Killing Them Softly (2012) Wrong? — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we take a look at Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly (2012). [Caution: Spoilers Ahead].

Killing Them Softly

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (226 critics) | 44% (121,417 user ratings)
  • Metacritic: 64 (42 critics) | 6.1/10 (290 user ratings)
  • IMDb: 6.2/10 (128,652 user ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 3.3/5 (27,687 user ratings)
  • CinemaScore: F

 

CinemaScore is a company that gauges initial reactions to newly released films. Representatives in major cities will distribute survey cards to audiences on the opening night of a movie. From this, they calculate a letter rating to represent opening day audience reception. In the history of CinemaScore (the company was founded in 1979), 21 films have received Continue reading Did Audiences Get Killing Them Softly (2012) Wrong? — Diamonds in the Rough

Arkansas (2020) Movie Review

Contemporary crime films are often compared to the defining antecedents to contemporary crime—critical hits from the 1990s like Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction. Generally, these are sites of contention in which it becomes easy to tear down a new film by being too directly inspired by previous, successful films. There is something to these comparisons, given a film like Pulp Fiction, which helped ring in a golden age of independent films in the 1990s, directly influenced a number of films. But this form of criticism by comparison—I’m guilty of doing it often—can come across as limiting and exclusionary in an unproductive way.

With this in mind, I am in something of a bind. Arkansas, which is due to be released on VOD on May 5, feels like an attempt to Continue reading Arkansas (2020) Movie Review