Menu

SUBURBICON: YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO LIVE THERE

There’s no use beating about the bush: I really didn’t like this movie. It tries to embrace both social satire and black comedy but its tone is strangely somber and its approach heavy-handed. With a screenplay credited to Joel and Ethan Coen, George Clooney and his longtime partner Grant Heslov, it’s clear that there were smart people behind the camera, but the end result is a serious misfire. (The A-list team also includes such collaborators as cinematographer Robert Elswit, composer Alexandre Desplat, production designer James Bissell and costume designer Jenny Eagan.) Suburbicon is set in a planned suburban community in 1959. It was built in 1947 and has been a utopian success…until the day a black family moves into the all-white enclave. Outraged members of the…

Read More…

NOVITIATE: A PEEK INSIDE A SECRET WORLD

What motivates a girl to join a convent and give herself over to Jesus Christ? That’s the question writer-director Maggie Betts attempts to answer in her compelling drama Novitiate. The story is set in the early 1960s for a specific reason. This was the era of Vatican II, the groundbreaking series of reforms that shook the Catholic church: forsaking Latin in favor of English, relaxing other ancient customs, and demoting the status of nuns. Margaret Qualley plays a teenage girl who’s a loner and something of a misfit. . Encouraged by one of her teachers at the Catholic school she attends, she enters a convent and begins the arduous process of becoming a nun. Her mother (Julianne Nicholson) is puzzled, even horrified, by this decision but…

Read More…

THE SQUARE: SATIRE THAT’S WORTH YOUR TIME

The Square is a sly social satire that demands patience from its audience, but like last year’s Toni Erdmann, there are ample rewards for those who stay the course. If you saw Swedish writer-director Ruben Östland’s previous film, Force Majeure, you may recognize his mordant sense of humor: it’s bone-dry but hard to resist. Claes Bang plays a museum curator who’s not a bad person but makes some bad decisions. From a chance encounter with a pickpocket to a clash with a homeless person, he suffers a seemingly endless series of slings and arrows—the kind that could happen to any of us if we were careless at just the wrong moment. Whether it’s driving his expensive car to a dodgy neighborhood or having sex with a journalist (Elisabeth…

Read More…

HALLOWEEN SLEEPERS AND SHOCKERS

Lists…everybody loves lists. I don’t pretend that this selection of Halloween favorites is definitive; it’s a completely arbitrary roster of movies I like and recommend. Bear in mind that I am a major wimp and will not watch graphic horror or slasher films. I prefer “creepy” to “scary” and I’m always a sucker for movies that blend horror and humor.   For parents with younger kids I recommend indoctrinating your family to the Universal Pictures horror classics, especially Bride of Frankenstein (a great warmup for Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder’s brilliant parody Young Frankenstein) and The Wolf Man.   Let the Right One In – this highly original Swedish vampire tale is bloodier than most of my picks but I found it impossible to look away. A 12-year-old girl moves…

Read More…

THE SEA WOLF: LONGER AND BETTER!

I’ve always liked The Sea Wolf (1941), a Warner Bros. production that eschews formula clichés and offers a meaty, intelligent story. Edward G. Robinson gives one of his best performances as the brutal, would-be intellectual Captain Wolf Larsen, with Alexander Knox as a literary fellow who winds up on his devil-ship along with John Garfield (who’s been shanghaied) and Ida Lupino. Robert Rossen adapted the Jack London story and provided juicy material for all these stars as well as a strong supporting cast, led by Barry Fitzgerald, Gene Lockhart, Stanley Ridges, and a young Howard Da Silva. But it’s the dynamic staging by director Michael Curtiz, working hand-in-hand with cinematographer Sol Polito and the ace visual effects men at Warners (who earned an Oscar nomination for their…

Read More…

FROM LON CHANEY TO LOUISE BROOKS: SILENT FILMS THAT SPEAK

An uncommon number of rare and significant silent films have made their way to DVD and Blu-ray in recent months…and I want to spread the word about them.   On the documentary front, Milestone has issued a valuable two-disc set called The Champion: A Story of America’s First Film Town. That would be Fort Lee, New Jersey, where filmmaking flourished in the earliest days of motion pictures. The bittersweet story is presented by Marc J. Perez in his 35-minute documentary, with important contributions from such scholars as Richard Koszarski and loyalists like Tom Meyers, who has spent years trying to gain recognition for the city’s cinematic history. The documentary is accompanied by a number of interesting films: three shorts made at the Champion studio from 1910 to…

Read More…

ONLY THE BRAVE: TRUE TO ITS PROMISE

I wasn’t anxious to see Only the Brave, as I knew it would be upsetting. What I didn’t expect was a film that would make me care so deeply about its heroes, the members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. As director Joseph Kosinski told my class at USC, “I wanted to focus on how they lived, not how they died.” True to his word, he and his team have crafted a film that is genuinely uplifting. And I can’t think of another actor who could have played the leading role better than Josh Brolin. You will learn, as I did, exactly what this close-knit group accomplished in their brief time together. These Arizona firefighters strove to be certified as “hot shots,” an elite core of…

Read More…

78/52: EXPLORING HITCHCOCK’S SHOWER SCENE

How many movie sequences have taken on the mythic power of the shower scene in Psycho? Few, if any, I would say. It is for that reason that Alexandre O. Philippe has been able to build an entire feature film around this legendary moment in movie (and pop culture) history. I found it mesmerizing. The title refers to 78 camera set-ups and 52 cuts, but 78/52 deals with more than just that landmark scene: it explains why Psycho was a game-changer for Hollywood and for audiences. Some of this has become movie lore but none of it seems redundant in the context of this valuable documentary. Peter Bogdanovich provides a first-hand account of seeing Psycho when it was new. (Ever the showman, Hitchcock refused to allow moviegoers to enter the theater after…

Read More…

THE SNOWMAN: NO THRILLS, NO CHILLS

It’s often a sign of trouble when there are three prominent screenwriters credited for a movie, especially one that’s based on a successful novel. The fact that The Snowman also features separate credits for two editors (one of them Thelma Schoonmaker, executive producer Martin Scorsese’s longtime colleague) doesn’t bode well, either. These warning signs accurately foretell a bad movie. Michael Fassbender stars in this muddled adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s best-selling thriller about police detective Harry Hole and the hunt for a brutal and insidious serial killer. Set in Norway, with atmospheric shots of the snowy landscape and isolation of its locations, the screenplay also tries—and fails—to interest us in Hole’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her teenage son. I couldn’t have cared less. I’m hard…

Read More…

WONDERSTRUCK: NOT WHAT I HOPED FOR

I wanted to love this movie and had every reason to think I would. Wonderstruck wowed many critics on the festival circuit, but somehow it never drew me in. Much as I wanted to be engaged, I remained aloof from the story and characters. It’s not for lack of effort on the part of director Todd Haynes or screenwriter Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret), who adapted his own novel. They have created two worlds fifty years apart and provided clues to the connection between them. We are challenged to put the pieces together as the parallel stories develop. Oakes Fegley, who was so good in Pete’s Dragon, plays a boy who desperately misses his mother (Michelle Williams), who has died in an auto accident. She frustrated…

Read More…

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Ad

PODCAST

 photo MALTIN_ON_NOVIES_AD2_zpsboz6pvfm.png

PAST MALTIN ON MOVIES PODCASTS

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

 photo MALTIN_APPEARANCESON_NOVIES_AD_v2_zpscy41sntv.png

Ad

CALENDAR

November 2017
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930