San Diego Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
4/5 Honey Boy (2019) Scott Marks When it comes to cinema as therapy, LeBeouf put his time (and ours) to superb use here. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
1/5 Midway (2019) Scott Marks The digitized combat looks like something traced and transplanted from another war, one that took place in a galaxy far, far away. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
1/5 Last Christmas (2019) Scott Marks Still, it's worth a visit to the multiplex to behold cinematographer John Schwartzman (National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Founder) accept the challenge of illuminating a feature almost entirely by Christmas lights. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
0/5 The Good Liar (2019) Scott Marks Wait for Britbox. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
3/5 Synonyms (2018) Scott Marks As stiff-neck storytelling goes, this is pretty damn impressive. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
1/5 Frozen II (2019) Matthew Lickona Not much gain against a good deal of loss. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
3/5 Ford v Ferrari (2019) Matthew Lickona Think Iron Man and Captain America, only it's a (mostly) true story and what's at stake is not the fate of the universe, nor even an auto race, but the glorious, endless pursuit of perfection. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
2/5 The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (2019) Scott Marks The pounding hooves that whisk us through the pre-credit montage recall the manner of storytelling audiences lapped up throughout the '60s, but which is now the stuff that Hallmark Channel dramas are made of. EDIT
Posted Nov 19, 2019
2/5 The Report (2019) Scott Marks A film as thought-provoking as this should pack more thrills; the majority of the suspense is generated from Driver's countenance, not Burns' ability to captivate an audience. EDIT
Posted Nov 19, 2019
3/5 Grâce à Dieu (2018) Scott Marks One is prone to expect excess in a film by François Ozon, [but he] wisely opts to frame the fact-based events as a straightforward crime drama. EDIT
Posted Nov 19, 2019
1/5 Harriet (2019) Matthew Lickona The gospel songs are gorgeously performed and cleverly deployed, but the rest of the soundtrack makes an absolute mess of the film's mood: swoopy where it should be driven, wistful where it should be achingly tense. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
2/5 Jojo Rabbit (2019) Matthew Lickona There's a deep and sincere sweetness in the work of writer-director Taika Waititi. It's a kind of relentless and innocent good cheer that persists in the face of horror - to the point where the horror is obscured, or maybe defanged. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
3/5 Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Scott Marks When it comes to establishing and maintaining tension, there wasn't a better American genre picture released this year. Refrain from viewing it as historical record and you won't leave disappointed. EDIT
Posted Oct 28, 2019
1/5 Cyrano, My Love (2018) Matthew Lickona For us to care about the froth, we need a proper sense of the churning that creates it. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
3/5 The Lighthouse (2019) Matthew Lickona It's rough going, but it's beautifully filmed and framed in black and white, and Dafoe is wild and wildly entertaining in a role that feels written to match his every aspect. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
2/5 Dolor y gloria (2019) Matthew Lickona There's plenty of artfulness on display in the intertwining of life and what gets made of it, but also a fair helping of artifice. Art imitating life, but also improving it a bit. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
1/5 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) Matthew Lickona And [Jolie] is a star here: something amazing to behold, an Old Hollywood glamour shot come to...well, not exactly come to life, but mobile, anyway. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
2/5 Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019) Matthew Lickona Janice Engel's loving portrait of perhaps the most famous liberal journalist in Texas history (there must be a few others, right?) feels a bit like a pitch for a biopic. That is to say, it's more portrait than story. EDIT
Posted Oct 12, 2019
3/5 The Addams Family (2019) Scott Marks Much closer in spirit to Charles Addams' ghoulishly byzantine etchings (Lurch was indeed an escapee from a home for the criminally insane) and the '60s sitcom it spawned than Barry Sonnenfeld's sleepy and pukey remodelings. EDIT
Posted Oct 12, 2019
1/5 Gemini Man (2019) Matthew Lickona The same High Frame Rate that make the actors look like they're on Days of Our Lives makes the colors absolutely pop. And those textures on the skulls in the underground ossuary fight scene! It's cooler than the action, anyway. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
3/5 First Love (2019) Matthew Lickona What keeps it from becoming a bloody farce is Miike's profound sympathy for his leads, innocents trying to find their way out of the maelstrom. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/5 Joker (2019) Matthew Lickona If there is a meaningful difference between performing and acting, Joaquin Phoenix surely exemplifies the former here, creepily contorting as the Clown Prince of Crime in Todd Phillips' timely, toxic take on the Making of a Murdering Madman. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/5 Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019) Matthew Lickona The result, for the most part, is pleasant and informative, if not particularly inspiring or revelatory. But now and then, the music and images can't help but break through. EDIT
Posted Sep 28, 2019
3/5 Official Secrets (2019) Scott Marks Do yourself two favors: see the picture, and if you're unfamiliar with the outcome of the case, avoid the Google before purchasing a ticket. It'll make for a much more nerve-wracking time at the movies. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Hustlers (2019) Scott Marks As good as Lopez and her onscreen accomplice Constance Wu are, they can't act what isn't in the script; other than a dedicated work ethic, we're never given access to their thoughts. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) Scott Marks CNN Films could have taken a lesson from its subject by not pulling any punches. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Rambo: Last Blood (2019) Scott Marks As a fan of the series, I wished for a stronger sendoff with a lot less comic book splatter. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Ad Astra (2019) Scott Marks For most of its running time, Ad Astra amounts to a rather somber and sterile two-hour orbit. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
4/5 The Death of Dick Long (2019) Scott Marks You may not like where the movie takes you, but damn if you won't enjoy the ride. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
3/5 Give Me Liberty (2019) Scott Marks Those who demand at least a modicum of originality in exchange for their entertainment dollar won't be shortchanged by this divinely chaotic comedy. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
1/5 Ms. Purple (2019) Scott Marks It may look and feel like Hou-Hsiao Hsien (Millenium Mambo) and sound like Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love), but writer-director Justin Chon (Gook) doesn't have what it takes to do all that paraphrasing and still make the film his own. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
2/5 Judy (2019) Scott Marks With the exception of the occasional bout of Jim Bailey trout pout, Renée Zellweger's Judy Garland in Judy convinces in close-up. But did they have to let her sing? EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
1/5 Downton Abbey (2019) Matthew Lickona A soufflé is a light and airy confection of unvaryingly smooth consistency, and so is director Michael Engler's movie...everything whipped into a perfect, bland uniformity. EDIT
Posted Sep 19, 2019
2/5 The Sound of Silence (2019) Matthew Lickona Lucian is a man with a theory, desperate to extrapolate from what he knows is true to what it might imply, and if you've ever known such a man, you will likely appreciate Sarsgaard's performance EDIT
Posted Sep 19, 2019
1/5 The Goldfinch (2019) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Sep 13, 2019
1/5 Vita & Virginia (2018) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Sep 6, 2019
2/5 Los Reyes (2018) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Sep 6, 2019
2/5 Love, Antosha (2019) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
2/5 The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
0/5 The Nightingale (2018) Scott Marks Jennifer Kent is more interested in hammering together a soapbox on contemporary societal horrors than she is in mounting a challenging dramatic framework. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
2/5 The Divine Fury (2019) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
3/5 One Child Nation (2019) Matthew Lickona As a rule, talking heads do not make for compelling film. But such heads, and such talk. EDIT
Posted Aug 16, 2019
2/5 Tel Aviv on Fire (2018) Scott Marks Alas, the potential for sharp political satire takes a back seat to small screen spoofery, nudging this more in the direction of Soapdish, rather than Joe Dante's transcendent The Second Civil War. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) Scott Marks If by some chance the kids corral you into this Jumanji rip-off, at least see it all the way through the spirited, semi-reparative closing credits number. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) Scott Marks As per usual with these celebrity biodocs, audience satisfaction is best gauged by one's appreciation for the subject matter, not the documentarian's (in this case first timer A.J. Eaton) ability to wow the crowd with innovation. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) Scott Marks Cancer is to melodrama what CGI is to the MCU: a cheap, easy tool to control audience emotions used by filmmakers (in this case, director Simon Curtis and scenarist Mark Bomback) who have nothing to sell but tripe. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 En guerre (2018) Scott Marks The performances and camerawork are natural and unrehearsed, to the point where one wishes this had something more to show for itself than expert mimicry and an inharmonious act of violence to send audiences packing. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 Them That Follow (2019) Matthew Lickona 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." EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
2/5 Mike Wallace Is Here (2019) Matthew Lickona A solid piece of cultural investigation built around a man who helped write history while it happened. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019
0/5 The Kitchen (2019) Matthew Lickona 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. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2019