Showing posts from December, 2021

Film Review: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)

Licorice Pizza , the auteur's ninth feature film, is probably Paul Thomas Anderson's most personal film to date, which is weird when one considers the story he is telling here is someone else's story. The story is set in a 1973 Southern California that is probably more idealized than the actual time and place were - but that's part of what makes the film so goddamn good.  Based on the life of former child actor turned movie producer Gary Goetzman, whom Anderson had worked with before going the director route himself, the film is a series of charming vignettes in and around the fringes of Hollywood. Anderson himself had grown up in and around the fringes of Hollywood, but about a decade or so after the setting of this film. That being that, even though the brunt of the scenarios, such as starring in a film with Lucille Ball (played loosely her by Christine Ebersole), or starting a waterbed company and delivering a waterbed to Jon Peter's home (played to the height of

Back to the Cinema: My New Film Writing Gigs

So, back in the day, I used to write film reviews. Both for my own various blogs and whatnots, and for other publications such as The Burg, Filmspeak, & Central Pa Voice (all Harrisburg area alt-newspapers). For a while, I was even running a small three screen arthouse cinema (along with my loverly wife) for a few years too. Press passes to screenings and film festivals. It was a good life. I was a bonafide film critic - back when that term meant something. Or at least in the waning years of the era that film criticism meant something.  Well, that was a long time ago. The powers that be at the aforementioned arthouse cinema (aka the shady, backstabbing owners - not that I'm bitter) let my wife and I go in order to put their friends in positions of so-called power there. This along with me being burnt out on movies (I had just finished a project where I watched every movie on a 1000 Greatest Films list compiled online - in just two years!!) sent me in other directions in life. B

Film Review: Nightmare Alley (Guillermno del Toro, 2021)

When one thinks of Guillermo del Toro, one thinks of the cinema of the macabre. Cinema with a supernatural bent. Films such as The Devil's Backbone , Pan's Labyrinth,  or the Oscar winning The Shape of Water . Well, the Mexican Maestro's latest film is a departure of sorts. Nightmare Alley is a film noir - but even though it technically doesn't delve into the supernatural, it does still have that certain del Toro je ne sais quoi. And it has it in spades. Adapted from William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel by del Toro and his new wife, Kim Morgan, a film critic and historian, and possibly a soon-to-be Oscar nominated screenwriter, Nightmare Alley is the story of a grifter who gets a bit too into his latest grift. Starting in the seedy world of carnies before expanding into the equally seedy world of nightclubs, Nightmare Alley is pure unadulterated noir. Save for a neo-noir movement in the 1980's & 90's, we haven't seen true noir like this since the h

Film Review: West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, 2021)

The film has been in the making for several years now. Filming ceased during the pandemic but picked up as soon as it could. The general consensus was this had disaster written all over it. Like last year's Cats  fiasco by Tom Hooper. Spielberg was remaking West Side Story ? Are they for real? This was going to be bad. At least that's what everyone was predicting - myself included. An unmitigated disaster in the making. At least that's what we all thought. Would it be as bad as we were anticipating? When it finally hit the big screen last week, we finally got our answer. I'm happy to say that we naysayers were proven wrong. Dead wrong. Not only was it not a disaster, in this critic's opinion, it is not only one of Steven Spielberg's finest works (I'd place it in the auteur's top 5 all-time), but the damn thing is better than the original. There, I said it. Steven Spielberg's West Side Story is a better film than the Oscar winning 1961 version by Rob

Film Review: The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion, 2021)

Jane Campion, the first woman to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes and just the second female director to be nominated for the Academy Award (accomplishing both of these feats with 1993's The Piano ) is finally back on the big screen. Her first feature film in twelve years (2009's Bright Star was her last) Campion is in probably the best form of her life. The Power of the Dog is an astonishingly brilliant film, and probably the filmmaker's best film, or at least equal to the brilliant aforementioned The Piano . The film, adapted by Campion from Thomas Savage's novel, takes place in 1925 Montana and is the story of wealthy ranch owner brothers Phil & George Burbank who meet suicide widow Rose and her effeminate son Peter. Phil, played with the greatest aplomb by Benedict Cumberbatch, is the brutal and broken brother, while George, played with a quiet sincerity by Jesse Plemons, is the kind-hearted brother. When they first meet Rose and Peter, played by  Kirsten Duns