A Star is Born (2018)

When Lady Gaga's The Monster Ball concert tour first hit amphitheaters in late 2009, it was hailed as transcending the traditional live music experience. While formally a rock concert, her breakout tour had equal components of underground dance rave (first-pumping fury with pulsating trance beats), experimental avant-garde filmmaking (projected as thought-provoking interludes between sets), and … Continue reading A Star is Born (2018)

Joy (2015)

I wouldn't call Joy the best collaboration between writer/director David O. Russell and actress Jennifer Lawrence; I don't even know if it's their second-best. Not to blame them -  it's no easy feat to follow up the superb Silver Linings Playbook and the pretty-good American Hustle. Joy is the real-life story of a struggling divorced mother who's put her … Continue reading Joy (2015)

American Sniper (2014)

It would be easy to make a film turning all soldiers into heroes. That’s why it’s been done so many times in the past. It’s maybe even easier to play the cynic, critiquing the chaos and senselessness before and on the battlefield. It is a difficult, and challenging, task to develop soldiers into flawed heroes. … Continue reading American Sniper (2014)

American Hustle (2013)

Unlike its predecessor Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle is a slow-cooking picture. It takes a long time to get going, and doesn’t really explain where we’re going, but once we start rolling it becomes a cinematic dream. The exposition, weirdly, is the film at some of its clunkiest. Maybe it’s the gradual, deliberate pacing or the oddly … Continue reading American Hustle (2013)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

In a ho-hum year for American cinema, Silver Linings Playbook gleams out of the dull woodwork as a modest film about people with modest ambitions, told at such a painfully honest level that it rises above as the best film of 2012. The straightforward narrative, of a middle-aged man living with his parents and dealing with bipolar … Continue reading Silver Linings Playbook (2012)