Movie Review

Veteran movie reviewer Jim Erickson shares his no-holds-barred opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

Tell the judge—tell the judge I love my wife.

It’s not often that the climax of a movie lies in a single line of dialogue, and especially when that line comes directly before one of the most consequential Supreme Court cases in U.S. history.

There’s a moment fairly early on in The Edge of Seventeen when Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), angry with her friend, takes off her shoe and throws it at the wall of a burger joint. It’s a strange thing to do, and it’s one of those scenes that bothers me in movies—no one in real life takes off their shoe and throws it at the wall in a burger joint. It’s just a bit too scripted.

The three reviews I have read about Arrival all seemed to be about the opening situation; they said that Amy Adams was recruited to establish communication with a group of outer-space aliens who had landed in various spots all over the world, and that her military boss was Forest Whitaker and a fellow scientist was Jeremy Renner, but they said almost nothing about anything beyond that starting situation.

When I was younger, I was both terrified and fascinated by three things: dinosaurs, volcanoes and quicksand. Probably in that order. I’m not sure things have changed all that much.

Hacksaw Ridge ​is interestingly similar to the Gary Cooper classic Sergeant York. Both tell the supposedly true story of an unsophisticated young man with religious objections to killing, even in war, who goes on to win a Congressional Medal of Honor in combat without changing his religious beliefs, though only Hacksaw Ridge has him doing this without so much as touching a weapon.

It is a puzzle to me that all the promotions I have seen for Denial insist that Rachel Weisz has to prove that the Holocaust really happened. There are hundreds of hours of newsreels to prove that, and hundreds of survivors of the death camps, not to mention liberators and railroad records and documents including confessions to prove that. And anyway, that's not what she's asked to prove.

The Girl on the Train is one of those movies you admire more than you really like; you even rather admire yourself for going to see it when so many things would be more relaxing.

In these days of mayhem and massacre on the screen, The Birth of a Nation is not as brutal as you might expect; the inevitable flogging scene is almost too gentle. But where it is brutal, it is almost unbearable: I do not wish ever to see the mercifully brief scene of dental work by hammer and chisel again.

With Deepwater Horizon, Hollywood just about reaches its ultimate goal: a movie that consists simply of one long series of orange explosions, black smoke, and quick-cut action violence.

Denzel Washington's Magnificent Seven is a sight better than most westerns in most important ways, but it labors under the same handicaps that bothered the old Yul Brynner version lo these many years ago. Both are eventually based on the still-older Japanese movie Seven Samurai, and the samurai legend of Japan is pretty incompatible with the American western.

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