Screen Savor

  • Screen Savor: 'Kin' You Believe It?

    At first glance, “Kin” (Summit) looks like another in a long line of movies about the disruption caused by a parolee returning home after doing time. But, as we soon discover, there’s much more to “Kin” than meets the eye.

  • Screen Savor: “20th Century Women” is a Wasted Opportunity

    “20th Century Women”(A24) is such a major disappointment; it’s almost difficult to put it into words. In fact, it’s hard to believe that this chaotic mess is the work of writer/director Mike Mills, the man behind the Oscar-winning 2010 gay movie “Beginners.” Where that movie was effortlessly balanced and emotionally on the level, “20th Century Women”is sloppy, forced and unpleasant. It’s a complete waste of the talents of Annette Bening, on par with Ryan Murphy’s abysmal “Running With Scissors.”

  • Screen Savor: “Gloria Bell” Of The Ball-Film Trailer Included

     

    There are few filmmakers who have experienced the degree of acclaim and recognition achieved by Chilean writer/director Sebastián Lelio in recent years. “Gloria”, his fourth full-length feature from 2013, brought Lelio both his widest audience and his most consistently favorable reviews.

  • Screen Savor: “Monster,” Inc.

    When Oscar (Connor Jessup) was a little boy, instead of telling him a bedtime story, his father Peter (Aaron Abrams) would give him a “dream.” As he made up the dream for Oscar’s sleep, Peter would also blow up a balloon, hold the opening to Oscar’s forehead and let the air escape. This is a wonderful image and not the most surreal one in “Closet Monster” (Strand Releasing) by a long shot.

  • Screen Savor: “Wick”ed Good

    It helps when going in to “John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum” (Lionsgate), starring Keanu Reeves in the title role,to know that “para bellum” is a reference to preparing (“para”) for war (“bellum”).  This is useful because, as we find out, John Wick means war.

  • Screen Savor: (Un)planned parenthood

    There are some movies that, if possible, need to be seen within the first week of opening. Often, they are movies with unexpected twists and surprises that are difficult to keep secret. “The Crying Game”, from 1992, was one of the best examples of that. “Tully” (Focus), which reunites “Juno”’s director Jason Reitman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody with their “Young Adult” star Charlize Theron, is another such movie.

  • Screen Savor: A rupture in time

    Just a few years before Jake Gyllenhaal broke our hearts as Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain, he was seriously messing with our minds in 2001’s “Donnie Darko” (Arrow), newly reissued in a 4K Blu-ray special edition theatrical cut. Gyllenhaal, no stranger to taking on bizarre content (see 2013’s Enemy), not only set the bar higher for himself with this Richard Kelly movie, but also for all other films of this ilk.

  • Screen Savor: A Wong time Ago W/Trailer

    First the bad news. Almost 25 years after its theatrical release, “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar” (Universal/Shout Select), newly reissued on Blu-ray, doesn’t hold up so well. While the concept for the screenplay by Douglas Carter Beane supposedly predates the superior “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, “To Wong Foo…” suffers by comparison.
  • Screen Savor: After Simon

    Gay filmmaker Greg Berlanti revolutionized the high school teen coming out story for good with “Love, Simon”, his 2018 movie adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s Y/A novel. It was both a commercial and critical hit (although overlooked at the Oscars), setting a new standard for everything that would follow.
  • Screen Savor: All Wet

    When it comes to “Aquaman” (WB/DC), this origin story has it all; and by all I mean every possible detail packed into a screenplay bulging as tightly as anything covering Jason Momoa's upper body. While it’s as faithful as it can be to Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris’ original creation, it also takes its share of liberties.

  • Screen Savor: Another Star is Born W/Trailer

    For his feature film directorial debut, actor Max Minghella, son of the late Oscar-winning filmmaker Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”), tells a familiar tale with a twist. “Teen Spirit” (Bleecker Street), combines the melodramatics of “A Star Is Born” (still fresh in our memories from Bradley Cooper’s 2019 remake) with the TV talent show competition concept.

  • Screen Savor: Anti-Climactic

    French filmmaker Gaspar Noé is no stranger to controversy. His 2002 movie Irreversible, starring Monica Bellucci, is famous for its brutal depiction of the rape of the lead character. Additionally, Noé was criticized for the film also being homophobic, something he vehemently denied.
  • Screen Savor: Author! Author! W/Trailer

    If co-writer/director Justin Kelly’s biopic “JT Leroy” (Universal) feels familiar, it’s might be because you may have already seen Jeff Feuerzeig’s 2016 doc “Author: The JT LeRoy Story”, which traverses similar territory.  Both movies attempt to make sense of the rapid rise and even faster fall of socially withdrawn writer JT Leroy and his obnoxious manager Speedie beginning in 2001. 

  • Screen Savor: Being neighborly

    Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville has a talent for making riveting documentaries about unexpected subjects. He took home an Oscar for 2013’s “Twenty Feet from Stardom”, about the lives of backing vocalists, and 2015’s critically acclaimed “Best of Enemies” was an intimate portrait of the contentious relationship between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. Neville’s Mr. Rogers doc,”Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Focus), joins Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s “RBG” and Jeffrey Schwarz’s “The Fabulous Allan Carr” among the best documentaries of the year so far.

  • Screen Savor: Bird on a wire

    Greta Gerwig may lack range as an actress, but it’s possible that her real talent lies behind the camera instead of in front of it. With “Lady Bird” (A24), her second full-length feature film as writer/director (and first since she co-wrote and co-directed the 2008 mumblecore movie Nights and Weekends), Gerwig joins the ranks of acclaimed female filmmakers such as Jill Soloway, Nicole Holofcener, Dee Rees, Lisa Cholodenko, Gillian Robespierre and Sofia Coppola.

  • Screen Savor: Black and blue

    At the risk of offending every comic book geek across the globe, the truth is, Black Panther (Marvel Studios) is a self-indulgent, formulaic, overly long origin story that is a declawed disappointment. Borrowing liberally from “Wonder Woman”, “The Lion King” and the James Bond series, “Black Panther” is surprisingly unoriginal and toothless.

  • Screen Savor: Black Beauty

    Since the mid-1980s, prolific filmmaker Spike Lee has been blowing our minds with films such as “She’s Gotta Have It”, “Do The Right Thing”, “Jungle Fever”, “Malcolm X”, “25th Hour”, “Inside Man”, and more recently “Chi-Raq”. Along the way, especially during the late `90s and early years of the 21st century, Lee stumbled a bit with films such as “Girl 6”, “Bamboozled”, “Red Hook Summer” and “Old Boy”.
  • Screen Savor: Brad's Status

    It looks like 2017 could be the year that queer screenwriter and director Mike White (“Year of the Dog”) might just get his first Academy Award nomination and may even take home an Oscar. White, who also has the smudge of “The Emoji Movie” on his screenplay resume, along with outstanding films such as “School of Rock” and “The Good Girl,” wrote director Miguel Arteta’s 2017 film “Beatriz at Dinner,” which has received raves from critics and audiences alike.

  • Screen Savor: Breathing lessons

    It’s probably not fair to compare actor Andy Serkis’ directorial debut “Breathe” (Bleecker Street) with the Oscar-winning “The Theory of Everything,” but people will. Both films are based on true stories. Both films deal with young British men who develop significant disabilities in the prime of life. Both films are about the power of love and the strength of the human spirit to overcome the odds. Unfortunately, when comparing both films, it’s “Breathe” that will come up short (of breath).

  • Screen Savor: Bred in the bone

    Beginning with 2014’s terror double-whammy of “The Babadook” and “It Follows", the big-screen horror genre has been undergoing a thrilling transformation. The trend continued with 2015’s “The Witch” and 2018’s “Annihilation”. With the arrival of “Hereditary” (A24), it would appear that this new breed of horror is here to stay. Sure, there will always be more traditional scary movies such as 2017’s “It”, but this exciting new take on a classic variety of cinema is a welcome addition to the oeuvre.