Articles By: Steven

Dumplin’ Review

A lighthearted, music-driven comedy about friendship, self-love and boldly defying expectations, “Dumplin’” is the modern-day small-town Texas answer to the stage musical “Hairspray.” Somehow, however, it was conceived as a book and adapted into a film for purposes of streaming on personal devices despite its clear Broadway desires.

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On the Basis of Sex Review

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s catapulting from venerated Supreme Court Justice to cultural icon and patron saint of liberalism has unsurprisingly led to the release of two films about her in 2018, the documentary “RBG” and now the feature film “On the Basis of Sex.”

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The Rider Review

A real-life South Dakota cowboy stars in a film based on his personal story in Chloé Zhao’s “The Rider,” an exquisitely shot portrait that shows just how powerful film can be when it blurs the line between fiction and reality.

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Children of Men Review

Futuristic Dystopias are exciting to imagine, and there’s a certain thrill to seeing filmmakers execute a vision of what could be. Alfonso Cuarón, however, ruins all that fun in “Children of Men.” The world in 2027 is bleak, chaotic and hopeless, and the Mexican-born, London-based director puts us in the thick of the mayhem. Based […]

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Review

The Coen Brothers return to the West (following 2010’s “True Grit”) with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” but what seems like a gleeful and glib anthology inspired by tall tales and dipped in their signature dark wit turns out to be fraught with darkness, unpredictability and arguably nihilism.

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Searching Review

Gimmicky concept films such as “Searching” — a mystery that takes place “entirely on a screen” — bravely put themselves out there. They aim to be the first to uncharted cinematic territory while opening themselves up for scrutiny. Aneesh Chaganty’s feature film debut dares to be a pioneer in the category of films that reflect our digitized lives, and while it will take a lot of deserved fire, it does a few things exceptionally well.

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Call Me by Your Name Review

“Call Me by Your Name” recounts a magical whirlwind of a summer young romance in the ‘80s, but shares very few qualities of most films that have told a similar story. Luca Guadagnino’s film fits squarely in the definition of arthouse rather than in the mainstream or even “indie” mold of nostalgic romantic comedy.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Review

The second film in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” gives us a clearer sense of where “Harry Potter” author-turned-screenwriter J.K. Rowling intends to go with this supposed five-film prequel arc. The first installment, 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” took us to a whole new corner of Rowling’s universe – […]

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Green Book Review

We have no shortage of challenging/feel-good educational films about the Civil Rights era and Jim Crow South. That puts “Green Book” in the position to prove its salt, and while it doesn’t necessary exceed the accomplishments of the prestige films of its ilk, it does enough to belong in the conversation among this frequented sub-genre’s […]

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Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench Review

Damien Chazelle’s debut feels somewhere between a Jim Jarmusch indie and an Astaire-Roger musical. Here’s a filmmaker with a deep love of the movie musical trying to make it work on a shoestring budget. The musical genre begs for rich production, so Chazelle tries to circumvent it with a nontraditional script; the central relationship is […]

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Eighth Grade Review

You’ve never experienced your middle school years thrown back at you with the same acne-covered-skin-crawling authenticity as Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade.” Maybe the film’s insane relatability factor doesn’t climb up to the oldest-living branches on our family trees, but awkward is awkward whether you’re a digital native or walked five miles in the snow to […]

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Incredibles 2 Review

Sometimes more of the same is a good thing. “Incredibles 2” feels like it could’ve come out a week after “The Incredibles” was released in 2004, but Pixar just decided to hang on to it for 14 years. It presents as “the next episode” and that consistency counts.

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Leave No Trace Review

The fast-paced technology-driven world we live in is reason enough for filmmakers to gravitate to stories of detachment. There’s strong thematic appeal in characters not only stripping themselves of these dependencies, but also completely removing themselves from society. Yet that’s not what director Debra Granik appears to be after in “Leave No Trace” despite that […]

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Pitch Perfect 2 Review

The surest way to ruin a great, original comedy is to give it a sequel. Fortunately, in all the ways that “Pitch Perfect 2” is pointless, it’s equally harmless. The movie knows it’s a studio cash-grab, and the effort behind it shows, but the care-free attitude from the onset also appropriately lowers expectations.

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Sorry to Bother You Review

To blend in or stick out; to speak up against injustice or ignore it; to prioritize one’s self or put the needs of the community ahead of our own — these are choices we make every day with little thought to the consequences. But Boots Riley makes us think long and hard about them in […]

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