Annihilation

Movie review by Greg Carlson Considerably less accessible than his directorial debut “Ex Machina,” veteran writer Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” very loosely adapts Jeff VanderMeer’s novel into a demanding thought experiment bound to frustrate viewers counting on some of the trailer’s promise and premise. As multiple critics have pointed out, the new film owes a thematic […]

On Body and Soul

Movie review by Greg Carlson Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi, whose 1989 debut “My Twentieth Century” won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, achieved another career highlight recently with an Oscar nomination for her most recent feature. “On Body and Soul” has been selected to compete for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th […]

Icarus

Movie review by Greg Carlson Given the film’s somewhat odd marriage of style — the personality-driven presence of chatty neophyte documentarian Bryan Fogel — and substance — the ugly realities of the longtime Russian doping program for Olympic competitors — the inclusion of “Icarus” as one of the five Oscar-nominated nonfiction features came as something […]

The Shape of Water

Movie review by Greg Carlson Of the great designs in the history of movie monsters, there are few as satisfying as Universal’s stunning Gill-man. First envisioned by William Alland by way of Gabriel Figueroa’s Amazonian campfire story, the look of the Creature from the Black Lagoon belongs principally to Milicent Patrick. Christened “The Beauty Who […]

Phantom Thread

Movie review by Greg Carlson A delectable and devilish exercise in exquisite restraint, “Phantom Thread” offers compelling evidence that Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis can do quiet and still as effectively as the thunder and lightning they made together in “There Will Be Blood.” A supremely funny homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” the new […]

The Polka King

Movie review by Greg Carlson Making its way to Netflix a year after debuting at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, “The Polka King” is the fictionalized version of Ponzi schemer Jan Lewan’s jaw-dropping journey from bandstand to prison cell. Played with his usual antic panache by Jack Black as an optimistic entrepreneur with mostly benevolent […]

Voyeur

Movie review by Greg Carlson Now playing on Netflix instant watch, “Voyeur” is the curious story of strange bedfellows Gay Talese — the once influential and celebrated journalist — and Gerald Foos — a creepy peeper who spied on the guests at his hotel, chronicling their behavior, erotic and otherwise, in a quasi-scientific record book. […]

Risk

Movie review by Greg Carlson The indomitable Laura Poitras adds to her fascinating filmography with “Risk,” a years-in-the-making (and unmaking) portrait of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, beginning prior to his retreat into the embassy of Ecuador in London under threat of eventual extradition to the United States. Less immediate and urgent than her Oscar-winner “Citizenfour,” […]

One of Us

Movie review by Greg Carlson On the occasion of the Netflix release of “One of Us,” veteran filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady shared with writer Kate Erbland some of the self-imposed “rules” to their formidable approach. The documentarians indicated that potential subjects must offer rare and special access. They also make sure that the […]

Mudbound

Movie review by Greg Carlson On her biggest canvas to date, filmmaker Dee Rees paints a vivid picture of two American families in “Mudbound,” a deeply satisfying drama based on Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel. Adapting the screenplay with collaborator Virgil Williams, Rees skillfully weaves a tale that dissects and addresses race, war, poverty, alcoholism, adultery, […]