Tagged 2019

The Lion King (Favreau, 2019)

I have criticized Disney remakes in the past for their pointlessness; I have also given some a pass for their ability to entertain. The Lion King is not only a black hole of entertainment, it even goes beyond the realm of pointlessness. It makes no logical sense. It wants these animals to be majestic and lifelike beings.…

The Souvenir (Hogg, 2019)

I have read criticisms of Joanna Hogg’s formal austerity, particularly as it pertains to audience connection. What good is it, they say, if the film purposely frustrates our ability to unlock these characters and their milieus? Why watch these lives if we are prevented from fully accessing them? And it’s true, Hogg is not keen…

The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019)

When you hear the call of Harmony Korine, you are likely to either turn away or heed it. I can understand why some impulsively have no interest in him, especially considering the uncompromising oddness of his earlier works, which repulse as much as they fascinate with their brazen crudity and abject shocks to the system.…

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (Tarantino, 2019)

Please note that this review includes spoilers about the film’s conclusion. Fairy tales are the spaces in which our childhoods dream. Their worlds are enormous in their specificity, for the greater the specificity, the greater our imaginations roam free. They contain both the mystical and the practical. They use the lives of people far above…

Apollo 11 (Miller, 2019)

It’s so gratifying to go into a documentary and not have to be talked at for two hours. For those that feel differently, there are many other films you can watch about the Apollo 11 mission that have the traditional talking heads in place. They can give you better explanations and direct testimony about the…

Yesterday (Boyle, 2019)

The premise of Yesterday works in some respects. Imagining a world without a particular cultural commodity, with all its associated prestige and iconography, can yield intriguing implications—especially if a few select people still know such a commodity once existed. The route Yesterday takes is the easiest: what if one of those people assumed creatorship of the commodity and reaped…

Murder Mystery (Newacheck, 2019)

I’ve gobbled up my fair share of mystery novels when I was growing up. I still do, on occasion. I even took a class on detective novels in university because I thought it’d be fun. So this latest Netflix original was kind of irresistible to me, since it promised to pay homage to a genre…

Rocketman (Fletcher, 2019)

I’ll give Rocketman this much: it is a more credible endeavour than its closest antecedent, Bohemian Rhapsody. On the aesthetic front, Rocketman is not as visually shoddy or bogged down by competing artistic visions. Dexter Fletcher had a clear concept in mind and ran with it, whereas with Bohemian Rhapsody he was forced to paste together a film from scraps left behind…

Aladdin (Ritchie, 2019)

It is quite the relief when a movie that has been beleaguered with terrible promotion turns out to be better than expected. And let me tell you, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin instilled no confidence before its release date. When Will Smith’s buff and blue Genie was finally unveiled to a flurry of online backlash and mockery, I couldn’t…

Booksmart (Wilde, 2019)

Social media has been abuzz with debates about Olivia Wilde’s debut, from its marketing campaign to its struggle to make gains at the box office to questions about its diversity (or lack thereof). I want to review Booksmart on its own terms, so forgive me if what I write doesn’t substantially contribute to the current discourse. I’d…

Poms (Hayes, 2019)

Anyone who watches Poms will manage to crack a smile a few times, even if they recognize internally that they’re smiling at shtick that isn’t particularly intelligent. It’s humour that’s meant to be broad and instantly digestible, like one punchline early on that explains why a woman got second place at a talent contest in the ‘50s…

Guava Island (Murai, 2019)

Last year Janelle Monáe released a conceptual “emotion picture” to act as a thematic and visual supplement to her third studio album Dirty Computer. Now Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) is taking a similar approach with Guava Island, an hour-long film directed by frequent collaborator Hiro Murai that gives us a cogent tour of his musical career…

Dumbo (Burton, 2019)

These Disney live-action remakes are threatening to create more cynics than converts, as we haven’t yet seen one that can stand on its own and make a case for itself. Worse yet, 2019 is going to be inundated with them, and there’s no telling if any will succeed in having artistic merit. Tim Burton’s take…

High Flying Bird (Soderbergh, 2019)

Steven Soderbergh’s iPhone rush is not over. With Unsane, he made it possible to make an effective thriller with minimal fuss, and now with High Flying Bird, he’s clamped down on his values and refuses to budge an inch. This is, in a way, his revenge against the system that once pushed him aside. This is his Moneyball and,…

Velvet Buzzsaw (Gilroy, 2019)

If Velvet Buzzsaw was going for incisive critique of the art world’s myriad frivolities, it doesn’t work well. The best it can do is to emulate the kind of dead air that’s generated by those who equate premium connoisseurship with maximum pretension. And even then it can only go so far without looking incompetently cartoonish—and oftentimes it…