Movies Review

Movies Review

Boys State review – amazing study of teenagers running for pretend office | Film

It’s not clear to me if this is a heartwarming study in young people’s idealism or a Lord of the Flies bloodbath with smug feral demons in white T-shirts. It’s not clear if it’s funny or tragic, if it’s reality TV or reality itself. But Boys State is as exciting and moving as Steve James’s …

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Brigitte Amiri and Dale Ho in THE FIGHT

‘The Fight’ Review: Defending Freedom, One Court Case at a Time

Formed in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union, a.k.a. the ACLU, had been defending the rights of the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free for nearly a century when Donald Trump was sworn in to the presidency in January of 2017. The organization knew they would have their hands full when …

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Howard review – the lyricist who made Disney’s hits soar | Film

There’s something exciting about a film that immerses you in the life of a creative artist, and so it proves with this documentary about Howard Ashman. He was the fiercely talented lyricist and musical-theatre wizard who ran his own off-off-Broadway producing venue in the 70s, turned Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors into a mainstream …

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An American Pickle

‘American Pickle’: Two Seth Rogens Aren’t Always Better Than One

Before it hits a bump in the plot that throws it out of whack, An American Pickle rides high on a double dose of Seth Rogen, with the brash comedian plays dual roles separated by a century. The first is Herschel Greenbaum, a ditch-digger from the fictional Eastern European shtetl of Schlupsk circa 1919, and …

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An American Pickle review – Seth Rogen doubles up in zany time-slip comedy | Comedy films

Simon Rich is the New Yorker humorist and Pixar writer whose short stories are as addictive as crack. One of these, Sell Out, from his 2014 collection Spoilt Brats, has now been turned into a movie, with Rich as screenwriter and producer, cinematographer Brandon Trost making his feature directing debut, and Seth Rogen playing both …

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Howard Ashman and Paige O'Hara, in a scene from the Disney+ documentary 'Howard.'

‘Howard’ Review: Meet the Lyricist Behind Your Favorite Disney Tunes

There is nothing Disneyfied about this frankly intimate documentary on the late Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist behind such animated Mouse House musicals as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Ashman was only 40 when he died of complications from AIDS in 1991. His life partner, architect Bill Lauch, picked up the …

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Echo review – a mesmerising mosaic of Icelandic festivities | Film

Don’t waste time looking for a narrative thread or common character in Echo. The third feature from director Rúnar Rúnarsson is a series of single-shot vignettes (56 in total), connected only by their setting: Iceland, around Christmas and new year. The brevity of these scenes doesn’t prevent them depicting nuanced emotions: a teenage girl visiting …

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María Mercedes Coroy in 'La Llorona.'

‘La Llorona’ Review: Dictatorships, Denial and the Spirits of the Dead

Folklorists will tell you that la llorona is a ghostly figure said to be a crying mother doomed to grieve for her drowned, dead offspring in perpetuity, and it takes a while to figure out how the Latin American legend fits into Jayro Bustamante’s extraordinary, eerie-as-hell horror movie. (It streams on Shudder starting August 6th.) …

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Casting review – film-set furore is a meta-salute to Fassbinder | Drama films

In a German film studio amid a half-built set, documentarian-turned-feature director Vera (Judith Engel) is trying to pull together a remake of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. This adaptation of Fassbinder’s own play, now considered a queer classic, featured an all-female cast orbiting around the manipulative titular protagonist. …

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Gillian Jacobs and Jishn Wiggins in 'I Used to Go Here.'

‘I Used to Go Here’: Gillian Jacobs Heads Back to College

“Critics are the worst kind of humans,” says Jemaine Clement in the role of David Kirkpatrick, a horndog college professor trying to comfort Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs), a former student whose first novel has just been savaged in The New York Times as an “amateurish beach read.” But the critic isn’t saying anything worse than …

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