‘Molly’s Game’ Review: Jessica Chastain Powers Aaron Sorkin’s Sensational Directorial Debut
It is hard for me to believe that in his long writing career, Aaron Sorkin has never once had the desire to direct, and that includes every episode of The West Wing, Sports Night and other series he created and wrote, along with such bellwether movies as Moneyball, Steve Jobs, Charlie Wilson’s War and The Social Network, which earned him an Adapted Screenplay Oscar. Most of his movies revolve around real people and real stories, and such is the case with Molly’s Game, his… Read
‘Jean-Claude Van Johnson’ Review: Muscles From Brussels Is Strong In Satire
When the pilot for Jean-Claude Van Johnson first popped up on Amazon in August of last year, I have to admit I liked the Dave Callaham-created project, but I really didn't think it could work as a series. Well, now that the six-episode first season of the series starring Jean-Claude Van Damme is set for a December 15 launch, it’s time for me to admit I was so wrong on that one.
Funny, smart where you don't expect it, a bit shameless, framed literally and figuratively like… Read
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Review: About As Much Fun As You Could Have At The Movies
On top of Star Wars: The Force Awakens two years ago, and the side trip last year to the stand-alone Rogue One, Disney has now more than confirmed the wisdom of rebooting Lucasfilm’s crown jewel saga with what just might be the best film in the entire series that started 40 years ago in the mind of George Lucas. That first movie, 1977’s Star Wars, is to date still the only one (and one of the very few science fiction films, period) to have garnered a Best Picture Oscar… Read
‘Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle’ Review: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart & Jack Black Are In The Game, But Laughs Don’t Come Easily
It is not like anyone was asking for a new Jumanji movie, but we got one anyway just in time for Christmas.
Sorry to bah humbug all over this thing, but the 1995 attempt to bring Chris van Allsburg’s 1981 children’s book to the screen wasn’t exactly all that to begin with, despite attempts by star Robin Williams and a menagerie of animals to bring it to life. In this reinvention, the board game of the original is now an early-model video game from the 1990s, which is… Read
‘Counterpart’ Review: Twice The JK Simmons One Of Many Treats In Spy Series
Ever since his stint on those six seasons of Oz, there are more than a few people in the world (and I would include myself among them) who would you tell you there is almost no such thing as too much JK Simmons. Well, there is a double dose of Simmons in Starz's complex and compelling conspiracy drama Counterpart.
Originally set to debut on the premium cabler January 21, Starz is now playing a highly valued promotional card and previewing the Justin Marks-created… Read
‘Phantom Thread’ Review: Daniel Day-Lewis Fashionably Unforgettable In Film He Says Is His Swan Song
Daniel Day-Lewis is being a bit enigmatic when he says Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread shall be his exit from acting, especially as he mysteriously seems to be blaming the apparently disturbing experience of making the film as Exhibit A for his thespian finale. If that is the case, then at least we will always have the odd but mesmerizing delights of the 1950s-set homage to fashion, in particular designers who treat their creations as the second coming — or at least… Read
‘I, Tonya’ Review: Skating Scandal Pic Spins Into Supreme Acting Showcase For Margot Robbie & Allison Janney
Who would have thought the saga of disgraced Olympic figure-skating star Tonya Harding would have made for anything but a sleazy exploitative tale of scandal that someone like Lifetime might want to make? But in the hands of smart screenwriter Steven Rogers and equally sharp director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), I, Tonya turns out to be one of the year’s most welcome and darkly funny surprises.
Covering the waterfront of Harding’s life from when her… Read
‘The Post’ Review: Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks Excel In Spielberg’s Urgent And Timely Newspaper Drama
Let’s just cut right to the chase: Steven Spielberg has crafted yet another masterpiece with The Post, and it fits right in line as the third part of what I will label a trilogy of his recent films about the right people coming along at just the right time to do the right thing. With the precision of a surgeon, Spielberg zeroes in on those significant moments that become greater than any one of us but are possible because of one of us. There was Lincoln, then Bridge of Spi… Read
‘The Crown’ Season 2 & ‘Peaky Blinders’ Season 4 Review: Rule Britannia, Again
The death of Christine Keeler at age 75 on December 4 is both a 20th century footnote now and a poignant reminder of the sweep of history sought in Netflix’s The Crown.
Although rarely seen on screen, the woman at the heart of the Profumo affair scandal that pulled back the veil on the British upper classes in 1963 is a big part of the December 8-launching second season of the Elizabeth II-chronicling series created by Peter Morgan.
Along with the excellent-as-always… Read
‘Happy!’ & ‘Knightfall’ Review: Syfy & History Series Proudly Display Their Influences
In the age of Peak TV, you can do a lot worse that add a slug of watered down Fight Club and Game of Thrones to your holiday viewing mix. With a bellyful of that, December 6 brings the premieres of both Happy! on Syfy and Knightfall on History. You could call Wednesday the “Night of the Derivatives,” or you could settle in for two potentially well-timed homages that have identified a void or two on the small screen are have leaped in to fill them, as I say in my video… Read
‘The Disaster Artist’ Review: James Franco Turns The Making Of A Very Bad Movie Into A Very Good One
Leave it to James Franco to find inspiration for a smart screen comedy from the shambles of perhaps the worst movie ever made.
That is exactly what he has done with The Disaster Artist, a good-natured tribute in some ways to the godawful 2003 “drama” The Room. As I say in my video review above, this is not to be confused with the recent Brie Larson Oscar winner Room. Far from it, in fact about as far as it is possible to get from it.
Based on the book by Greg Sestero and… Read
Broadway Review: Amy Schumer Splashes ‘Meteor Shower’ With A Burst Of Starlight
I could tell you that Amy Schumer is sensational in Meteor Shower and let the box office do the rest, but that would be a disservice to Steve Martin, whose comedy it is, and to the three actors joining Schumer in this 80-minute killer sketch. And to director Jerry Zaks, who now will have three hits running on Broadway simultaneously.
Nevertheless, Schumer, in her Broadway debut, really is sensational. Moreover, she’s not playing Amy Schumer, which is probably different… Read