I have been a film critic for nearly 20 years and worked professionally, as a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association for the past 9 years. My favorite movie of all time is The Big Lebowski because it always feels new.
Director Chloe Zhao is fast becoming one of the most reliably fascinating directors on the planet. Her stories are some of the most unique and challenging being told in modern American cinema. Zhao has an eye for detail in character that marks the truly great storytellers. The latest example of Chloe Zhao’s expanding brilliance is Nomadland, a beautifully sprawling story unfolding in the lower economic rungs of society.
I’ve never been much of a traveler. I understand the desire to see foreign locations and to lay eyes on things you’ve only ever imagined or experienced at the distance of media. That said, I’ve just never had the desire to travel. I don’t like planes, I don’t like being out of my comfort zone, and being a single man in my 40’s, I have no one who could push me to get outside of myself and find joy in the experience of traveling by having someone to share the experience with.
On the Everyone’s a Critic Movie Review Podcast we’ve been exploring the work of Alfred Hitchcock of late, specifically his less remembered catalog. A few weeks ago, we were rightly appalled by the misogyny and dimwitted pop psychology of his Marnie, starring the recently departed Sean Connery. This week, November 29th, with Paul Newman starring in one of our featured movies of 1990, the crazy terrible Mr and Mrs Bridge, we decided to take the opportunity to watch Newman work with Hitchcock in 1966’s Torn Curtain.
Mr and Mrs Bridge is a criminally boring 1990 drama about a couple in the 1940s dealing with a changing world that is leaving them behind. Mr and Mrs Bridge are played by real life, beloved Hollywood couple, Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward as two characters so astonishingly dull that I am shocked someone decided to make a movie about them. That this was based on a beloved novel by an award winning novelist isn't surprising as I will explain.
I am in the great minority of people who enjoyed the comedy Life of the Party. It’s a deeply flawed film but it has a genial spirit and enough good jokes to get by. I mention it here because Life of the Party was directed by Ben Falcone and starred Melissa McCarthy, the same married couple pair who are behind the new comedy Superintelligence, another middling, old school, high concept comedy that fails a good deal more than Life of the Party did due to a lack of really great characters.
This will not be a widely held opinion, but it’s mine: Continental Divide is my favorite John Belushi movie. Don’t misunderstand, I enjoy Bluto Blutarsky and the comic shenanigans of Animal House but that’s not the best of Belushi. The Blue Brothers? You’re going to hate me, but The Blues Brothers is a desperately overrated vanity piece. No, for me, Continental Divide, the mostly forgotten 1981 romantic comedy from director Michael Apted gave John Belushi the best vehicle for his talents.
Pieces of a Woman may be the best Netflix movie of 2020. That’s a shockingly short list however as Netflix has been rather slipshod when it comes to their original pieces in 2020. Movies such as Hillbilly Elegy, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and The Devil All the Time have been hit and miss fare with Hillbilly Elegy as a significant miss. Movies such as the remake of The Boys in the Band and the fresh comedy The 40 Year old Version have been highlights but until now, the company had yet to produce anything nearly as transcendent as 2019’s incredible Marriage Story.
Disney and Pixar have done it again. The brilliant team at Pixar have created yet another masterwork. Soul is the kind of thoughtful, deeply felt and warm work of art that Pixar has become known for. The formula is perhaps, overly familiar, sticking to mainly two quibbling characters in a relatively predictable series of events, but nevertheless, Soul has the best qualities of a Pixar movie well in place.