‘Hands Of Stone’ Review: Roberto Duran Boxing Biopic Takes Too Many Swings
Robert De Niro’s presence in the new Roberto Duran boxing bio Hands Of Stone only served to remind me how inferior this picture is to many other films revolving around the sport including Martin Scorsese’s 1980 classic Raging Bull, which won De Niro an Oscar for his immortal portrayal of Jake La Motta. As I say in my video review above, there is nothing horribly wrong with this story of Duran’s life and times in and out of the ring, it’s just that as a standard biopic… Read
‘Better Things’ Review: Pamela Adlon’s FX Series Will Be One Of Best Things On TV
Debuting on September 8 on FX, the Pamela Adlon-starring Better Things is the lead role the Emmy winner has long deserved. The smart and strong look at the perils of parenthood, parents, love and the chaos of modern life amid the constant notifications of smartphones will be one of the best things you'll see on TV this fall.
Far more than a West Coast female version of Louie, which she has appeared on more than two dozen times, the semi-autobiographical series co-created… Read
‘Don’t Breathe’ Review: Don’t Go
You can certainly tell it’s not only getting to be the dog days of summer but also the summer movie season, which is going out with a whimper — at least as far as this year’s obligatory cheapie Screen Gems end-of-August release goes. Don’t Breathe is a pretty good title for an ultra-violent, ultra-derivative and ultra-nauseating suspense thriller in which a blind old ex-military man (Stephen Lang) squares off against a trio of young thieves out to rob him. But the movie… Read
‘StartUp’ Review: Crackle Drama Gritty But Not A Great Investment
As we all know about today's economic environment, starting a new company comes with a lot of risk and, with rare exceptions, distant or mixed rewards. In many ways, launching a new TV series in the Peak TV Era faces a lot of the same problems and possibilities. When it comes to StartUp, the Crackle original series that debuts September 6, the drama is not a venture I recommend you invest in.
With the plot revolving around the creation of a digital currency system that… Read
‘Southside With You’ Review: Date Night With The Obamas Sweet & Enlightening
One of the most unexpected movie ideas of the year, Southside With You, writer-director Richard Tanne’s account of the 1989 first date between Barack Obama and future FLOTUS Michelle Robinson, turns out to be lovely to watch and absorb. I doubt the Obamas themselves would think this would make compelling summertime screen entertainment, but it is sweet stuff with lots of food for thought. As I say in my video review above, what makes it really hum are the exceptional… Read
‘War Dogs’ Review: Jonah Hill & Miles Teller Take On The Military In Darkly Funny Excellent Adventure
Take a little American Hustle, add a bit of The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, then throw in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and you have the recipe for War Dogs, a rather incredible true story and the first semi-serious movie from The Hangover director Todd Phillips. I say semi-serious because despite some fascinating insights into the business of war, this is really a funny buddy picture at heart. But as I say in my video review (click the link above to… Read
‘Queen Sugar’ Review: Ava DuVernay & Oprah Winfrey Series Far From Saccharine
Debuting ad-free on September 6, OWN's family drama Queen Sugar is a potent and loving meditation on mourning and reconciliation. The 13-episode first season executive produced by Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Melissa Carter thankfully stays away from the saccharine and goes solidly for the sensual and the emotionally stark as a trio of estranged siblings deal with death and the entangling ties of blood and land.
The result, as I say in my video review above, is that… Read
‘Ben-Hur’ Review: I’m With Hur – Just Not This Version
I just don’t get why certain filmmakers are drawn to doing big-screen remakes of major Oscar-winning movies that should be untouchable. If you want to remake something, do movies that didn’t work the first time around, like Howard The Duck or Ishtar. But why Ben-Hur, which with 11 Oscars for 1959’s William Wyler-directed classic shares an Academy record with Titanic and Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King? This hasn’t stopped Paramount and MGM (which made that 1959… Read
‘Atlanta’ Review: Donald Glover’s FX Series Is A Place You Need To Go To
Debuting on a crowded September 6, the genre-defying Atlanta is very funny but also dramatically of its time and place. Created by Donald Glover and co-starring Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz and Lakeith Stanfield, the FX comedy has a distinctly original voice in a TV universe that too often can be full of echoes. As I say in my video review above, Atlanta is a place you need to go — at least figuratively.
As a writer, executive producer and star, the former Community… Read
‘Kubo And The Two Strings’ Review: Epic Toon Adventure Combines Art With Heart
Oregon-based animation house Laika has been on a roll as all of its first three stop-motion-animated movies — Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls — were nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. And as I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), the company probably will make it 4-for-4 with its masterful new entry, Kubo and the Two Strings, an exciting, original and unforgettable adventure for the whole family that will also likely tug at your… Read
‘Better Late Than Never’ Review: William Shatner, Henry Winkler & Pals’ Waggish Asia Trip A Real Romp
In the DMZ between the end of the Summer Olympics and the start of Sunday Night Football and the fall season, NBC has dropped in the sometimes surreal Better Late Than Never, which starts its four-episode romp through Asia run on August 23.
Leaving all but the loosest of narrative and structure on this side of the Pacific, the William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw-starring reality travel show is, as I say in my video review above, not to be… Read
‘The Get Down’ Review: Baz Luhrmann’s Sprawling Netflix Series Scores Scope Of Hip Hop’s Best
Launching on August 12 on Netflix, The Get Down is an ambitious, exciting and yet sometimes unwieldy affair. The musical drama created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis and set in 1977 NYC can be fickle in its aesthetics but also a hell of a lot of mash-up fun, with a strapping cultural and personal coming-of-age story at its hip-hop-history core. As I say in my video review above, The Get Down is not just the sum of its much-sampled parts but all about the groove… Read