Joe Friar

Joe Friar
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Apart from the mainstream releases, I seek out indie and foreign films to write about. I am a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association-Los Angeles (BFCA) and the Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS). I review films in print for The Victoria Advocate newspaper for my column Flix which covers Houston and Austin releases. I also review films for radio stations KVIC and KBAR.
Publications: The Victoria Advocate

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3.5/4 88% Hustlers (2019) Jennifer Lopez delivers her best performance since Out of Sight while an even better Constance Wu makes this brazen crime caper a must-see. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 12, 2019
3/4 89% Depraved (2019) Fessenden gives us one of the most vulnerable manifestations of Frankenstein leaving the depravity to mankind which is far more frightening than any monster ever created. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2019
4/4 89% Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) The significant contribution Linda Ronstadt made to the music industry can't be measured in a 95-minute documentary. She is the true definition of a superstar and an artist who refused to be labeled. A fitting tribute to a multicultural icon. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 10, 2019
3/4 58% Satanic Panic (2019) The Real Housewives summon demons in the entertaining and gory horror-comedy that feels like a throwback from the 80s. Bloody fun! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 7, 2019
2.5/4 63% It Chapter Two (2019) Bill Hader gets MVP and the special effects are first-rate. But in the end, the film is an extravagant display of excess that gets predictable and convoluted. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2019
4/4 97% Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven) (2019) Elements of horror and fantasy permeate the gritty drama that leaves the audience spellbound. This is powerful filmmaking at its best. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 5, 2019
3.5/4 88% Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) The funny and savage comedy is led by a brilliant Jillian Bell in a career-changing performance! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2019
3/4 89% Give Me Liberty (2019) A funny and charming indie with good performances by the non-professional cast. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 29, 2019
3.5/4 93% Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019) An entertaining tribute to Texas political journalist Molly Ivins who we could use a dose of right about now. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2019
3.5/4 46% Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019) Linklater's polished interpretation of Semple's novel flourishes under Cate Blanchett's performance and newcomer Emma Nelson. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2019
3.5/4 88% Ready or Not (2019) The dark comedy offers plenty of laughs as Clue meets Rosemary's Baby in the bloody entertaining film driven by a superb Samara Weaving - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 27, 2019
3.5/4 65% The Mountain (2019) Sheridan and Goldblum are a ghastly duo in the spellbinding film that falls somewhere between David Lynch and Yorgos Lanthimos. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2019
4/4 92% David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) Cameron Crowe reunites with the iconic singer for an unforgettable candid interview and one of the best music documentaries ever made. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2019
3.5/4 97% American Factory (2019) A Chinese billionaire restores hope to 2,000 former GM employees in the first documentary from the Obama's production company. Compelling. Both a warning and a sign of hope for the future. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2019
3.5/4 82% Cold Case Hammarskjöld (2019) Crime of the century or foolhardy conspiracy theory? Riveting! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 18, 2019
3.5/4 80% This is not Berlin (2019) An accurate slice of adolescent life is portrayed in Hari Sama's coming of age drama that takes place in the new wave post-modern scene of 1986 Mexico. First-rate performances and a killer soundtrack. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 12, 2019
3/4 64% Them That Follow (2019) The dark faith-driven film doesn't resort to vilifying it's characters. The performances by Goggins, Colman, and Englert are so natural that at times it feels like you're watching a documentary. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2019
3.5/4 86% The Nightingale (2019) The evil that men do in Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale is far more frightening than any monster from her 2014 horror debut The Babadook. Brutal and chilling. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 2, 2019
3.5/4 93% Luce (2019) The thought-provoking psychodrama by director and co-writer Julius Onah forces you to reexamine your POV as the complex story unfolds. Kelvin Harris Jr. delivers a breakthrough performance. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 2, 2019
3.5/4 93% Sword of Trust (2019) Spending 89 minutes with these four actors is delightful and once again Shelton churns out another whimsical comedy. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 29, 2019
4/4 99% Honeyland (2019) Vivid storytelling and visually stunning. The delicate balance between nature and humanity is on display in this award-winning Sundance documentary. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 29, 2019
3.5/4 98% Maiden (2019) Alex Homes' wonderful documentary features remarkable footage and new interviews with Tracy Edwards and the all-female crew as they recount their inspiring story that took place thirty years ago. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 25, 2019
4/4 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) This is Tarantino's love letter to the end of an era. The filmmaker's alternate timeline makes you wish for a way to swap it with reality. A killer cast, lots of laughs, and a finale that unleashes the director's fury one more time. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2019
2/4 53% The Lion King (2019) The live-action remake features an A-list of talent and impressive special effects but the film is missing a soul. The magic of the animated classic is gone. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/4 85% Luz (2019) The demonic tale resembles an obscure 80s horror film that could have been discovered in a vault or better yet a crypt. Heavy on atmosphere and ambiguity but a fitting tribute to Cronenberg and Argento. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 18, 2019
4/4 99% The Farewell (2019) Lulu Wang's semi-autobiographical film will make you laugh and cry. Awkwafina's natural intensity is a dynamic match for Shuzhen Zhao's energetic performance. The best film of 2019. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2019
3.5/4 82% Crawl (2019) Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario as a father-daughter duo battling alligators in Florida during a Category 5 hurricane is scary good fun. The sleeper hit of the summer. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 14, 2019
3.5/4 83% The Art of Self-Defense (2019) This dark and twisted comedy from Riley Stearns should be required viewing for Social Studies students, the topic How Toxic-Masculinity is detrimental to society. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 13, 2019
3/4 80% Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (2019) It sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel, but this true story of legendary folk singer Leonard Cohen and his Norwegian muse Marianne Ihlen features amazing footage, audio snippets, and interviews to tell this enduring love story. Captivating. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
3.5/4 100% The Chambermaid (La camarista) (2019) Lila Avilés' debut feature takes us behind the scenes in a tribute to the service industry with an exquisite performance by Gabriela Cartol. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 6, 2019
3.5/4 83% Midsommar (2019) The hills are alive with the sound of mayhem as Florence Pugh delivers a stirring performance in this unconventional odyssey that borrows elements from The Wicker Man, and Ti West's The Sacrament. Make no mistake, this is visionary horror. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 5, 2019
4/4 No Score Yet Nothing Stays the Same: The Story of the Saxon Pub (2019) Jeff Sandmann's SXSW 2019 Audience Award-winning documentary is just as much a tribute to Austin's musicians as it is to the legendary live music venue established almost 30 years ago in the state capital of Texas. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 2, 2019
3/4 65% Annabelle Comes Home (2019) Screenwriter-turned-director Gary Dauberman takes the less-is-more approach as building tension replaces cheap scares leading to a finale where Pandora's box of paranormal frights is blown wide open. Refreshing! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 26, 2019
3.5/4 97% Toy Story 4 (2019) Stunning animation and a storyline filled with adventure, comedy, and a few frights (as with any good Disney film) make this a welcomed return to the Pixar franchise. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 23, 2019
3/4 59% The Fall of the American Empire (La chute de l'empire américain) (2019) Denys Arcand once again explores society's downfall in a tale about greed, corruption, and extravagance. The crime caper is reminiscent of an Ocean's film as the thieves make it look easy. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 23, 2019
3.5/4 93% Wild Rose (2019) Jessie Buckley is a revelation as an aspiring country singer living in Glasgow who dreams of making it to Nashville. Director Tom Harper captures the struggles of raising kids as a single parent while balancing a career. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 23, 2019
4/4 93% The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) I felt like I was watching a mesmerizing play as the characters, dialogue, and plot complemented each other forming a visual poem. Joe Talbot's debut feature had the same effect on me as Boots Riley's "Sorry to Bother You." - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 16, 2019
3/4 55% The Dead Don't Die (2019) Think of the comedy as the bonus track of a greatest hits package featuring several Jarmusch regulars. It may lack frights but not laughs and with a cast like this, you can bet it's headed for midnight movie cult status. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 15, 2019
3.5/4 83% American Woman (2019) Sienna Miller delivers her greatest performance and one of 2019's best as a grandmother searching for her missing daughter in Jake Scott's drama that develops within the framework of a thriller - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
3/4 79% Free Trip to Egypt (2019) Tarek Mounib's documentary attempts to bridge the kindness gap between Americans and Muslims with free trips to Egypt. Can we get along with Muslims? Yes. Other Americans? Maybe. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2019
3.5/4 75% Halston (2019) The rise and fall of the iconic fashion designer are explored in Frédéric Tcheng's documentary featuring great behind the scenes footage, celebrity interviews, and candid moments. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2019
3/4 100% The Proposal (2019) Like a good sleuth thriller, Jill Magid's documentary explores the legacy of Mexican architect Luis Barragán whose archived has been inaccessible to scholars and family for over two decades. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2019
3/4 69% Ghost Fleet (2019) It sounds like the latest release from Blumhouse Productions, but the documentary from filmmakers Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron is more frightening than any fabricated specter as the underbelly of Thailand's seafood trade is exposed. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2019
3.5/4 43% The Tomorrow Man (2019) John Lithgow and Blythe Danner are a pleasure to watch in Noble Jones' charming film about two seniors who find love as Lithgow's character would say, "on the wrong side of 60." - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
3.5/4 89% Non-Fiction (Doubles vies) (2019) Smart, funny, and immensely entertaining. Binoche leads an exceptional cast in the dialogue-heavy film that perfectly balances drama with comedy. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 2, 2019
2.5/4 54% Ma (2019) I had fun watching Octavia Spencer get nutty as a fruitcake on some of the dumbest teenagers to ever appear in a film. There are more laughs than screams but it's worth seeing thanks to Spencer's off-the-rails performance. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 1, 2019
3.5/4 79% Photograph (2019) Writer-director Ritesh Batra heads back to Mumbai, the setting of his 2014 debut The Lunchbox, for another story about two lonely people who become bewitched with one another after a chance encounter. It left me wanting more. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 1, 2019
4/4 97% Booksmart (2019) Olivia Wilde's directorial debut is a refreshing coming-of-age comedy that goes against stereotypes thanks to the multi-layered characters. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein get my vote for the best onscreen duo of 2019! - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted May 29, 2019
4/4 71% All Is True (2019) After devoting forty years of his life interpreting Shakespeare's work, Kenneth Branagh plays The Bard in the gracious biopic that features wonderful performances by Branagh, Dench, McKellen, and especially Kathryn Wilder. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2019
4/4 90% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) Reeves and Stahelski reunite for the most violent film in the franchise filled with breathtaking fight sequences that will leave you craving more. - The Victoria Advocate EDIT
Read More | Posted May 18, 2019