Movie Review

Movie reviewer Fletcher Powell shares his opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

The movie review can also be heard on iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

Just four days into its release, Black Panther had grossed more than $426 million worldwide, and that’s before it’s even opened in China. Which means that other than maybe a Star Wars movie or two, this is basically the biggest opening for any movie ever. 

In August of 2015, a gunman attacked a train from Amsterdam to Paris. After short skirmishes with some passengers, his rifle jammed, and three Americans on the train overwhelmed the man and subdued him with the help of a couple of other passengers.

Roger Ebert often pointed out that the movies that made him cry weren’t the ones that were supposed to be sad, but rather those that showed the goodness that lies within people. I thought of this as my eyes got a bit teary while watching Call Me By Your Name, a Best Picture nominee, and the most humane and kind movie in a year that featured so many others filled with anxiety and darkness.

The director Ernst Lubitsch said, “Any good movie is filled with secrets. If a director doesn’t leave anything unsaid, it’s a lousy movie.” It’s a good bet, then, that Lubitsch would have loved Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, Phantom Thread, where what’s left unsaid is weaponized and turned into the artillery of a smoldering power struggle.

We are—most of us—enchanted by fairy tales when we’re young. Stories of princesses and monsters, heroes and villains and magic. And then we grow up, and become cynical. These stories turn into just stories, they lose their ability to move us and amaze us and scare us.

Steven Spielberg’s The Post seems specifically engineered to be the most Oscar bait-y of Oscar bait movies. Spielberg is arguably the most prominent director in the film industry, it features two of our biggest movie stars, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, and it deals in the grand themes that Spielberg so loves. Really, what could go wrong?

I doubt you can say much about Molly’s Game without talking about Aaron Sorkin. 

This review originally aired on September 14, 2017. It will be released on DVD next week.  

The humorist John Hodgman teaches us that nostalgia is a toxic impulse. He says the idea that things from our past are better than what we have now fuels the worst in contemporary culture. This doesn’t exactly capture the problems with the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It, but it gets close.

I’ve seen a lot of high-minded movies this year: A Ghost Story, Darren Aronofsky’s mother!... even Blade Runner 2049 dealt in some very lofty themes. So I decided to close out the year by going in the exact opposite direction—I decided it was time for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

If you’ve heard of Errol Morris, then you likely know that he’s one of the great documentarians of all time, and one of our greatest living filmmakers working in any genre.

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