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

Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

Jojo Rabbit is a tonal minefield. Taking place during the waning months of World War II and featuring a 10-year-old boy’s imaginary friend version of Hitler (played by writer-director Taika Waititi), the film is an anti-hate dramedy with plenty of Third Reich hate being tossed around as jokes of absurdity.

The 10-year-old gives the film its perspective. Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) stands in front of the mirror pumping himself up for Continue reading Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review

The opening scene to Joe Talbot’s directorial feature debut, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, based on a story by the film’s lead performer Jimmie Fails, packs in a lot. So much so that it can be off-putting. It starts on a child walking down the street, who finds blocking her path a sanitation worker in a hazmat suit. They are cleaning the heavily contaminated water of the San Francisco Bay. The camera keeps on her for a time, then pivots to a man on a soapbox decrying the poor current state of the city—“whole blocks half in the past, half in the future.”

We then settle on our protagonists, who sit at a bus stop watching the man preach. Jimmie Fails (played by Fails) and Montgomery “Mont” Allen (Jonathan Majors) get impatient of the bus (which never seems to come when they want it to) and decide to skateboard to their destination instead. The pair stand on one skateboard and coast across the city. Where they land is Continue reading The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review

Luce (2019) Movie Review

Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a specimen of excellence, a future model citizen. A high schooler on his way to a prominent career in whatever he pleases, Luce is charismatic, intelligent, athletic, a quiet leader, and an ace debater. He has the ability to convince others that what he is saying is correct. The audience included, perhaps.

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When history teacher Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer) presents to Luce’s parents (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) a paper Luce wrote in the voice of Frantz Fanon, an anti-colonial revolutionary that argued for the necessity of violence to fight colonialization, his ideal character comes into question.

To Harriet, Luce may be Continue reading Luce (2019) Movie Review

The Souvenir (2019) Movie Review

Honor Swinton Byrne is phenomenal in The Souvenir. The film from Joanna Hogg presents a coming of age story for Swinton Byrne’s Julie, who is in the process of making a feature for film school. If you don’t recognize Swinton Byrne’s talent by this late juncture of the film, then you will see it when she looks directly at you, through the camera, following filming a take of her own. It is a shot that really shouldn’t be this powerful. It is too reflexive, too direct. But Swinton Byrne carries the weight of the film that has played out before her, and she puts that weight on you when she goes direct-to-camera.

Julie’s relationship to the audience may be as fraught as her romantic relationship with Anthony (Tom Burke) is. For one, it becomes increasingly hard for Continue reading The Souvenir (2019) Movie Review

Blinded by the Light (2019) Movie Review

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real” reads the epigraph that begins Blinded by the Light. It is a lyric from Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands:” “I don’t give a damn for the same old played out scenes. I don’t give a damn for just the in-betweens. Honey I want the heart. I want the soul. I want control right now … Spend your life waiting for a moment that just don’t come. Well, don’t waste your time waiting.”

When me meet Javed (Viveik Kalra) in Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light, he has not yet heard these lyrics. But they describe the Continue reading Blinded by the Light (2019) Movie Review

The Kitchen (2019) Movie Review

1978, Hell’s Kitchen. Three Irish gangsters (James Badge Dale, Brian d’Arcy James, and Jeremy Bobb) get arrested following a police sting and are sentenced to three years in prison. Their wives (Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy, and Elisabeth Moss) are effectively cut off from their source of income. Their mob ties start short-shrifting their cash kickback. Kathy Brennan (McCarthy) tries to get work, but she is turned away because she has young children.

The three women decide to take over their husbands’ business, spreading more lucrative support to local business and strong-arming the men that Continue reading The Kitchen (2019) Movie Review

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019) Movie Review

If the late ’60s were a freewheeling time in America, and its Hollywood filled with lounging hippies and the dimly glinting stars of an ending Golden Age of film, then Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a complete tonal recreation of this period of time.

In February 1969, former television cowboy Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) has lost his luster in La La Land, resorting to Continue reading Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019) Movie Review