October box office roundup: Frighteningly good

The October box office has a history of under-performing releases, often mired by overdone horror movies in honor of Halloween. Prior to this year’s record-breaking “Venom” release, “Gravity” (2013) held October’s highest opening weekend, followed by a line of horror films, including most of the “Saw” saga and some random outliers, like “High School Musical […]

‘A Star is Born’ is an absolutely authentic, rich remake

Content warning: This article discusses alcohol abuse, drug abuse and suicide. In a scene from “A Star Is Born,” Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) invites love interest and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Ally Campana (Lady Gaga) on stage at a concert to perform “Shallow,” a song Ally had just begun writing. It is at this moment that both Cooper […]

‘Kusama: Infinity’ narrows in on Yayoi Kusama’s life, artistic legacy

Content Warning: This article mentions self-harm. Visionary contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s work may be instantly recognizable. Her rise to international fame, however, was not a linear or easy path, as depicted in Magnolia Pictures’ biopic “Kusama: Infinity” (2018). Kusama’s “White No. 28” (1960) became the most expensive work by a living female artist when it was sold […]

Despite pretty good intentions, ‘I Feel Pretty’ pretty much fails

Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty” (2018) poses an interesting question: What would happen if women simply decided to find themselves beautiful? What kind of confidence would they be able to awaken with such an attitude? Unfortunately, “I Feel Pretty’s” premise and intentions are its only strong characteristics. The film follows physically insecure Renee Bennett (Schumer), who […]

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’ is a ghost in disguise

On its surface, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” (2017) is an elegant, sumptuous period piece, one that promises to envelop you in the distant world of a high-society designer in post-War London. From Mark Bridges’ couture costume design to Jonny Greenwood’s lush orchestral score, the film’s basic elements add up to something that looks familiar: a […]

‘The Divine Order’ is a familial power struggle writ large

From the opening of “The Divine Order,” the rollicking German-language Swiss drama from writer and director Petra Volpe, the family is painted as manufactured. Theresa (Rachel Braunschweig) asks her sister Nora (Marie Leuenberger) to talk some sense into Theresa’s daughter, Hanna (Ella Rumpf). Theresa frames her daughter’s behavior by the gaze, remarking on her daughter’s new nickname: “The Village Bike.” From the outset, the women are […]

With ‘Lady Bird,’ Greta Gerwig soars as a storyteller

Greta Gerwig knows there are no new stories. The actress, writer and now director has made roughly the same movie many times over in her decade-young career, about an educated and white 20-something feeling lost in the world and trying their best to find a way forward. But from starring in 2000s mumblecore films like […]

Pixar’s latest film ‘Coco’ makes for pleasant family viewing

The concept of life beyond death draws much fascination from storytellers. Pixar’s newest film, “Coco” (2017), does not necessarily stage it as a central point, but rather uses it to emphasize the coexistence of family and ambition. This idea develops through the actions of an eager boy from Mexico who breaks from tradition on Día […]

‘Blade Runner 2049’ is a lesson in how to continue a classic

The year is 2049. Los Angeles, a megacity suffering from overpopulation, ecological upheaval and an ever increasing reliance on technology, finds itself confronted with greater issues regarding the android slave laborers, or replicants. Renowned replicant hunter, or blade runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) has vanished. Shortly after 2019, the Tyrell Corporation dissolved due to replicant insurrection. In […]

‘It’ adaptation strives for universal appeal with jumps and laughs

What’s the scariest thing you can think of? Horror has built an entire industry trying to answer that question, and while most Hollywood films in the genre act on a single possibility, Andy Muschietti’s “It” (2017) guesses over, and over and over again. The second adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic 1986 novel (following the 1990 […]