Matthew Lickona

Matthew Lickona
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Matthew Lickona has been a staff writer for the San Diego Reader since 1995, and a film critic for the paper since 2010.
Publications: San Diego Reader

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
1/5 26% The Goldfinch (2019) There are ideas at work here, about providence and salvation (or at least their secular counterparts), about civilization and the worthwhile work of preserving it, and about defining moments and our response to them. But there isn't much of a movie. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 13, 2019
1/5 40% Vita & Virginia (2019) It's never a good sign for your rulebreaking romance when the occasional bits of dialogue between wayward wives and their sad husbands is more human, more feeling, and more emotionally intelligible than that between the lesbian lovers. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2019
2/5 100% Los Reyes (2019) It's a clever portrait of masculine drift, approached in sly and sidelong fashion: as background to the peaceful days of two happy mammals who never give thought to the approaching and encircling flies. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 6, 2019
2/5 98% Love, Antosha (2019) The title is how the immigrant's child closed his frequent and heartfelt letters to his fiercely devoted mother Irina, and the film plays a bit like her loving reply: a tribute to the son whose grave she still visits daily. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2019
2/5 95% The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) Writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz team up to bring you what is quite possibly the feel-good movie of the year, for good and ill. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 23, 2019
2/5 38% The Divine Fury (2019) What surprises there are are mostly of the pleasant variety, starting with the tone of intelligent sincerity alongside the glowing red pupils and projectile vomiting. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2019
3/5 99% One Child Nation (2019) As a rule, talking heads do not make for compelling film. But such heads, and such talk. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 16, 2019
2/5 64% Them That Follow (2019) Boy howdy, do the serpents ever serve a fine cinematic purpose: visual proofs of invisible things: faith, forgiveness, and the danger to self that makes it "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 94% Mike Wallace Is Here (2019) A solid piece of cultural investigation built around a man who helped write history while it happened. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 21% The Kitchen (2019) The direction is flat (actors taking turns speaking their lines instead of actually conversing, etc.), the characterization baffling, the plot mechanics incredible - as in, not to be believed. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 10, 2019
3/5 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) Meandering but deliberate, gorgeous and garrulous, it is very much the writer-director doing what he does so well, but in very familiar fashion. Which brings up the possibility that in making a movie about movie making, his real subject here is himself. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 26, 2019
3/5 89% The Third Wife (2019) Perhaps most remarkable is the contrast between the intense interior drama and the lush, languorous world in which it rages. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2019
2/5 90% Walking on Water (2019) The film does what it apparently sets out to do, which is to give some account of two statements Christo makes to a group of schoolchildren early on in the proceedings: "I love real things," and, "When you are an artist, you are all the time artist." - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2019
3/5 83% The Art of Self-Defense (2019) It's tempting to imagine that writer-director Riley Stearns caught a screening of the supremely feel-good The Karate Kid and thought, "Yeah, I can make the opposite of that." - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2019
1/5 53% The Lion King (2019) By this point, Disney's do-overs feel a lot like their cash-grabby, inspiration-free '90s direct-to-video sequels, only with vastly better production values. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2019
1/5 69% Ghost Fleet (2019) Alas, it's another heroic and remarkable story undone by muddled and middling moviemaking. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
2/5 74% Halston (2019) How can you stay mad at something so chock full of delicious detail about a man who actually lined his office walls with mirrors? - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
0/5 54% The Dead Don't Die (2019) The scary (and gory) things on screen may be zombies, but the real monster here is the troll in the director's chair. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
3/5 89% Non-Fiction (Doubles vies) (2019) Writer-director Olivier Assayas goes looking for one real thing amid a group of French sophisticates who deal in artifice, both as a way of making a living and (with one possible exception) as a way of life. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2019
1/5 23% Dark Phoenix (2019) It didn't have to end this way...It didn't have to end with so little emotion, so little meaning - with a sad little speech about evolving, for Phoenix's sake. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2019
3/5 92% Sauvage / Wild (2019) What's the old saw about war? That it's long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror? Tweaked a little, the line serves pretty well as a description of Sauvage. All that's required is the addition of "and/or emotion" at the end. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2019
3/5 100% The Silence of Others (2019) Directors Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar's documentary...tracks the dogged efforts of those who refuse to let the past stay buried when the suffering it caused is still very much alive. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2019
0/5 41% Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Budget is not normally the sort of thing you mention in a review, but when you see a film that is almost entirely driven by spectacle and you keep marveling at how slapdash and/or unreal everything looks, you do start to wonder where all the money went. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2019
1/5 57% Aladdin (2019) There are efforts made, whether through good faith or just market savvy, to update Princess Jasmine into a people's champion who might prefer ruling to romance. Enough to make you wish the Disney people had gone whole hog and just called it Jasmine. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 97% Booksmart (2019) Dever and Feldstein's friendship and chemistry provide the film with both its chief appeal and dramatic engine, and the winning pair make Booksmart a film that's very easy to like. But it's less easy to believe. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
2/5 91% The Biggest Little Farm (2019) A splendid commercial - as opposed to argument - for small-scale biodiversity as an effective operative principle for a family farm in Southern California. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
1/5 71% All Is True (2019) Ultimately, it's a bit on-the-nose, and the disconnect between Shakespeare's genius for character and his befuddled attempts at personal relationships makes for a man too bifurcated to believe, as if the fire that gutted the Globe also burned his brain. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
1/5 90% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) It's rather like when Bond films went from Sean Connery to Roger Moore. Plenty of people will find this copacetic. A few will grouse about what's been lost: a touch of the real amid the merely fantastic. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 17, 2019
3/5 96% Hail Satan? (2019) The question mark in the title of Penny Lane's documentary on The Satanic Temple is integral to the story she's telling...a fine, thought-provoking effort. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
1/5 68% Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) For a while, the first live-action Pokemon movie's achievements are enough. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
3/5 51% Tolkien (2019) Tolkien casts a delicate spell: it's not difficult to imagine some viewers proving utterly impervious to its peculiar magic. But some others will be enchanted and even transported by its charms. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 10, 2019
3/5 66% The White Crow (2019) Not exactly a warts-and-all artist biopic. It's more an account of the way that the artistic spirit is a wart, a strange affliction that besets certain people even as it fascinates others. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
1/5 81% Long Shot (2019) It may not work as a movie, but as a love story, it's got great appeal. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2019
2/5 68% Stockholm (2019) Budreau states at the outset that the true story he's working from is absurd, and it's clear that he relishes that absurdity: yes, lives are being threatened throughout and powerful feelings are at play, but this is a strange and amiable comedy at heart. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
2/5 94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) The MCU will go on and on, but this chapter - and the American pragmatism vs. American ideals bromance that drove it - have well and truly come to their "Excelsior! Nuff said!" moment. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 26, 2019
2/5 46% Mary Magdalene (2019) It's a well-meaning, good-looking effort - but those elements don't necessarily make for good watching. One needs to be in the mood for this sort of thing. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
1/5 44% The Chaperone (2019) Between the speakeasies, the orphanages, the sexual energy, and the general air of corset-loosening, the movie should throb and thrum. It doesn't. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
2/5 73% Teen Spirit (2019) You go to the fair, you get your cotton candy, you know what you're in for: nearly unadulterated sweetness that melts into nothing almost as soon as you take it in. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2019
2/5 85% Ramen Shop (Ramen teh) (2019) A food movie that depends very heavily on personal taste. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
1/5 84% The Brink (2019) Aside from Bannon's own weird magnetism - it's fascinating to see the way he attracts some as strongly as he repulses others - there isn't much reason why this isn't a magazine article instead of a movie. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
1/5 58% Pet Sematary (2019) Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer spend waaaay too much time going for tension-building walks through creepy places and not nearly enough developing the stories that would have made this Stephen King adaption put the screws to the soul. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
2/5 66% Storm Boy (2019) It feels honest and alive, however modestly so. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
1/5 91% Shazam! (2019) Director David F. Sandberg remains a horror guy at heart (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation), and the ping-ponging between yuks and yikes leads to a pretty nasty case of aesthetic whiplash. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
1/5 56% The Highwaymen (2019) Director John Lee Hancock (The Founder) mounts a valiant effort to stretch a solid genre picture into an American epic with the tale of two ex-Texas Rangers who get pressed back into service...to stop the popular murder couple Bonnie & Clyde. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
0/5 33% Mapplethorpe (2019) How do you hew so close to biopic conventions -a dutiful recitation of this event happened, this fame arrived, that tragedy struck, etc - when you're dealing with an artist whose whole raison d'etre was finding beauty at the extreme edges of things? - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
1/5 93% Us (2019) The result is bloody but weirdly bloodless, a sort of thinky exercise in horror filmmaking. There's more juice in the laughs here than the scares. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 22, 2019
4/5 96% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) There are numerous echoes of The Godfather, notable among them the way market forces, exemplified by the drug trade, can work to destroy the old ways of doing things, and the old bonds that preserve both family and the civilization it supports. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
3/5 94% Transit (2019) Maybe the place is the point - the story notes that Marseilles is a port city, and "ports are places where stories are told." Stories of survival and escape, but more often, of frustration and heartbreak. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
1/5 78% Captain Marvel (2019) The film may be about women breaking their shackles, but the lead actress feels kept in check for much of the picture. Humor winds up being provided by Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury, heart by Lashana Lynch's Maria Rambeau, and pathos by...well, it ain't Larson - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 8, 2019
2/5 94% Furie (Hai phuong) (2019) Notable finally for making the most of its limited resources: trying mightily to squeeze as much juice from a moped chasing an outboard skiff along a rural river as a Bond movie might have gotten from a superbike zipping after a speedboat through Venice. - San Diego Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019