Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner tries to make sense of a void

The suicide asks the world, “Why?” The question has levels: Why me? Why am I here? Why should I go on? And the suicide, most often, is answered by the same word with a different meaning: Why did you go? Why did you leave us? Why wasn’t I enough to save you?

‘Werewolves Within’ just doesn’t amount to much

Something about Werewolves Within doesn’t sit right with me. It’s a horror-comedy, which often means that people and even dogs die and you’re not asked to care much, but even so, this is a glib and breezy affair. We may find ourselves asking why we care if the characters live, either. The script, by memoirist Mishna Wolff, based on a video game, hands the actors lumpy mouthfuls of dialogue that they mostly turn into sentences that sound like real people might say them.

The cast is likable and game; the lead, Sam Richardson, is a large and huggable bundle of…

Questlove’s Summer of Soul captures a transportive moment

Image: Searchlight Pictures

If you’ve been on the fence, for whatever reason, about catching Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Summer of Soul, I urge you to fall on the side of seeing it. It’s a guaranteed mood-lifter. Questlove’s achievement here goes far beyond what some might take to be “just a concert film.” The bulk of the film, under the direction of Hal Tulchin, is footage of the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969. …

Robert Cormier’s Chocolate War books haven’t lost their power

Robert Cormier, author of The Chocolate War and its sequel.

The opening salvo of Robert Cormier’s novel The Chocolate War is “They murdered him.” Though the “murder” is a figure of speech, it resonates throughout the book — and also its belated sequel, Beyond the Chocolate War.

Cormier, who died in 2000, started as a journalist and columnist, then branched out into novels for adults (Now and At the Hour, 1960; A Little Raw on Monday Mornings, 1963; Take Me Where the Good Times Are, 1965). In 1974 he published The Chocolate War, which like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was about teenagers but was dark and complex enough…

Lansky is worth a look for Keitel

Harvey Keitel has still got it. The 82-year-old actor reigns over the biopic Lansky despite not being in most of it. That’s partly because the movie itself is pretty dreary weak tea — though handsomely realized on what I imagine was not a large budget — but mostly because Keitel will naturally dominate everything you put him in now, with ease and little effort. In The Irishman, Keitel had scant minutes of screen time and maybe eight words of dialogue that I can remember, but in a room with Robert De Niro and…

Godzilla Vs. Kong shows the limitations of “realistic” giant monsters

The cartoonist Sergio Aragonés once pointed out something in an interview that has stuck with me for some thirty years. He said that when Superman in the comic books was rendered less realistically and more cartoonishly, he could pick up a tall building by its corner and we could believe it. In later years, Aragonés said, when Superman and his surroundings were depicted with more physical realism and you could see all his veins and muscles, all the bricks in the building, we could no longer believe in such a…

Raiders of the Lost Ark still kicks ass at 40

There are greater films, of course. The usual suspects, like Citizen Kane or The Godfather — those are greater, and many others. But if there were only two films left in the world, Citizen Kane and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I had to rescue one and consign the other to flames, I know which way my heart would vote. Citizen Kane, the masterpiece and influential classic, would burn.

Perhaps I speak rashly. Perhaps I was also ten years old when I first saw Raiders, the absolute ideal time…

Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad still confounds at age 60

Ah, Last Year at Marienbad, the mystery all film lovers eventually must grapple with. Denounced as impenetrable, lionized as richly accessible, this damn thing has had ’em buzzing for over half a century (it turns 60 on June 25), and nobody has quite pinned this butterfly to the board. Its makers, writer Alain Robbe-Grillet and director Alain Resnais, devised Marienbad as the ultimate Rorschach test — the movie is almost entirely what you bring to it. Thus, it has attracted ecstasies of interpretation; this seemingly genre-free work has been…

George Romero’s “lost” film The Amusement Park resurfaces

The prospect of a “lost film” from George A. Romero (1940–2017), director of Night of the Living Dead and its several sequels, may sound as mouthwatering to you as it did to me. A word of warning, though: don’t let anyone overhype it for you. The Amusement Park, a 54-minute film completed in 1973 but unseen until recently (it will have its streaming debut on Shudder next week), is a downer of an allegory about discrimination against the elderly. Romero, at loose ends at the time, was hired by the Lutheran Society…

Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead is a bland mouthful of red meat

Image: The Stone Quarry

It’d be nice if Athena Perample got a career bump from Zack Snyder’s mediocrity at length Army of the Dead. A stuntwoman, Perample appears in the new zombie film as a character credited as Alpha Queen, and she slinks around hissing and looking fabulous in an undead Corpse Bride fashion. (Even the zombies are hotties in Snyderland.) I’ve seen Army of the Dead described as being full of characters who could carry their own interesting movies, but are instead all stuck with each other in a boring…

Rob Gonsalves

I see movies and write about ’em. Old, new, makes no difference.

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