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‘American Pastoral’ Review: Ewan McGregor’s Directorial Debut Deserves A Better Reception

American Pastoral Movie Review

I am not sure why critics, or at least many of them, have seemed to go after Ewan McGregor’s very fine directorial debut American Pastoral since its debut last month at the Toronto Film Festival. It is baffling to me that a complex and challenging work like this sterling adaptation of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer-winning novel would not make more of an impact. I guess I am in the critical minority here, but I find the film, in which McGregor also stars, to be a riveting and… Read


‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Preview: Who Does Negan Kill? Is It [Spoiler]?

The Walking Dead Negan

SPOILER ALERT: Contains details of tonight’s Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead. Eeny, meeny, miny, moe — you’ve been warned. Edgar Allen Poe, America's original master of the macabre, once wrote, "As no thought can perish, so no act is without infinite result." With the guessing game reaching fever pitch, that certainly seems to be true Sunday’s Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead and the revelation of who dies from villain Negan's barbed-wired-covered bat. Check… Read


‘Dirk Gently’ & ‘Black Mirror’ Season 3 Review: Brits Coming With Savory Treats


Have plans for the weekend before The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season October 23? If you want to treat yourself to some smart and enticing TV, those plans should include a binge of Season 3 of Black Mirror on Netflix and the debut of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency on BBC America. With the third season of the Charlie Brooker-created anthology launching its six episodes October 21 on the streaming service and the eight-part Max Landis-penned adaptation… Read


‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ Review: Cast Is Game, But Comedy Is Tame


Light on big laughs, entirely predictable and almost completely forgotten five minutes after you leave the theater, Keeping Up With The Joneses can’t really keep up with much of anything that matters. Of course, a rather dumb comedy like this will inevitably hit its marks every now and then, and most of that is thanks to a game cast who do their best with slight material written by Michael LeSieur and directed by Greg Mottola, who in the past has done much better movies… Read


‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ Review: Tom Cruise Rules In Throwback Action Flick

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Review

Jack is back — Reacher that is — in this second in a series of films based on author Lee Child’s bestselling books chronicling the adventures of the former elite Army MP who now operates on his own. Modest in ambition and execution, this franchise might seem to be a kind of poorer cousin to star Tom Cruise’s blockbuster Mission: Impossible movies, but I happen to find the Reacher films just as satisfying in their own way, an old-fashioned throwback to bread-and-butter… Read


‘Chance’ Review: Even With Hugh Laurie, Hulu Series Not Worth Taking A Chance On


Yes, Hugh Laurie plays a doctor on Hulu’s Chance, but the October 19-debuting series is no House – and I don't mean that in a good way. The series based on Kem Nunn's 2014 novel is, as I say in my video review above, an ill-considered step backwards for the home of Casual and The Path. Few actors can do empathy or haunted as well as Laurie, and he is asked to do that a lot in this Fox 21 Studios-produced series as the broke, divorced and obsessed neuropsychiatrist Dr… Read


‘The Accountant’ Review: Ben Affleck Kills In Entertaining Action Flick


It must have been a swell meeting when writer Bill Dubuque went in to pitch a movie about an accountant who not only knows how to add numbers, but also body counts. Somehow though, the ludicrous-sounding premise of the resulting The Accountant makes for a nicely entertaining action movie vehicle for an understated (to say the least) Ben Affleck, who kills as the accountant who kills. Nice work if you can get it, and it turns out to be pretty lucrative for Christian Wolff… Read


‘Goliath’ & ‘Graves’ Review: Maria Bello & Molly Parker Shine In David E. Kelley Drama; Sela Ward Soars In Comedy


The launch of Goliath on Amazon on October 14 and the debut of Graves on Epix on October 16 show that originality is not the only currency in this era of Peak TV. The Billy Bob Thornton-starring legal drama from David E. Kelley and the Nick Nolte-led comedy created by Joshua Michael Stern also reveal that the fuel in certain vehicles are sometimes not the stars. In both cases here, the real power comes from Maria Bello and Molly Parker in Goliath and Sela Ward in… Read


‘Falling Water’ & ‘Berlin Station’ Review: Ambitious Dramas Succeed With Smarts


With the debuts of USA Network’s Falling Water on October 13 and Epix’s Berlin Station on October 16, the battle to be a cable contender just became more interesting. As I say in my video review above, both series — Gale Anne Hurd and Blake Masters’ on the home of Mr. Robot, and the Olen Steinhauer-created and Bradford Winters-showrun spy thriller, respectively — succeed admirably in planting flags for their channels, though with very different approaches. If you are… Read


‘Christine’ Review: Rebecca Hall Is Oscar-Worthy As Local News Reporter On The Edge

Christine Rebecca Hall

In 1974, as the Nixon presidency was unraveling due to Watergate, so too was the life of a local Sarasota, FL, TV news reporter named Christine Chubbuck. Despite being the most talented on her team, she found her personal and professional life careening out of control and eventually committed suicide on air during a broadcast. It has taken 42 years for her story to reach the screen, but director Antonio Campos and writer Craig Shilowich finally have done it. As I say in… Read


‘Desierto’ Review: Gael Garcia Bernal Plays Mexican Immigrant On The Run In Timely Thriller


Talk about timely. Jonas Cuaron’s riveting, pulse-pounding Desierto premiered not at this year’s Toronto Film Festival but during the 2015 edition. Finally, STX Entertainment, which picked up the movie for domestic distribution, will release it this week, and the movie certainly touches on the hot-button topic of illegal immigration that Donald Trump made a cornerstone of his presidential bid. The film — which deals with a right-wing American wacko (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)… Read


‘13th’ Review: Ava DuVernay’s Searing Documentary Exposes Glaring Loophole In The Constitution


The words of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were supposed to guarantee that slavery and involuntary servitude effectively were outlawed with the exception of punishment for a crime where the “party shall have been convicted.” That’s the loophole. And as detailed in 13th, director Ava DuVernay’s stunning and enlightening new Netflix documentary, the system of injustice in America has not changed all that much since the earliest days of slavery. The movie… Read