Bob Odenkirk gives us a homebody samurai in Nobody

Sometimes you just want a brutality expert wrecking house and perforating faceless bad guys, and Nobody gives you that and then some. At ninety-one minutes, the movie embodies “lean and mean,” and it’s not about anything — it’s just an excuse to get our hero into as many ferocious encounters as possible. It’s the kind of pure cinema that traditionally gets little respect except from action-film fans, who have seen everything and just want to see it done well. Is it realistic? Gedoudda here. It’s a cartoon. But as directed by…


Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari serves up a quietly engaging slice of life

Minari is a modest film about big things — ambition, family, immigration and assimilation. It’s based loosely on writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s experiences in a South Korean family living in rural America. In 1983, Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) brings his wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) and two kids, and all their belongings, to what looks like a godforsaken five acres of Arkansas land, with a forlorn trailer sitting atop the dry grass. Monica hates the place on sight; Jacob hopes to raise a farm here, and one day have…


Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah approaches Shakespearean tragedy

Someone wanna explain to me how Shaka King didn’t get an Oscar nomination for directing the Best Picture nominee Judas and the Black Messiah? King did get nods for producing and co-writing the film, but come on. The filmmaking here is fleet-footed, smooth, alive, and contains (courtesy of cinematographer Sean Bobbitt) the most colorful rainy scenes I’ve seen in a movie in years. Six Black directors have been nominated for Best Director since 1991, and of those, two directed Best Picture — but the Director Oscar went to someone else…


Florian Zeller’s The Father considers the slide into oblivion

“Pray, do not mock me: I am a very foolish fond old man, fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less; and, to deal plainly, I fear I am not in my perfect mind.” Anthony Hopkins spoke those words as King Lear in 1986 and again in 2018, and he voices the sentiment in different words, or with no words at all, in the devastating drama The Father. Hopkins plays Anthony, an aging Englishman who can no longer make the world stay still so that he can get his bearings…


Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal is decently forthright and unsentimental

The refreshing thing about Sound of Metal is that it doesn’t pretend things don’t suck when they do. Ruben (Riz Ahmed), the drummer for the two-person band Blackgammon he shares with girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke), is rapidly losing his hearing. As his doctor says, it doesn’t really matter how or why; this is the fact of his life now. Cochlear implants might help, but they’re expensive, and Ruben isn’t rich. …


Look at that fucking asshole. It’s like that set of photos of four Shiba Inus with the one dog always looking the other way, looking goofy, etc.

For those just joining us, this is the third of several looks back at the movies deemed worthy of ranking among The Best. (The first; the second.) These loose spatterings of prose tend to be intemperate and snarky in the Gen-X tradition, such as when I refer to Oscar winner Roberto Benigni as “that fucking asshole.” Well, so did everyone else on Oscar night.

1999

Best Picture nominees: American Beauty • The Cider House…


Second verse, same as the first: this time we look at the Best Picture nominees from 2000 to 2009, working backward. That’s why we begin with the first year in which the number of films that could rank among the Best Picture nominees expanded from the traditional five to as many as ten. …


This, then, is the first of several looks back on the five-to-ten films considered the five-to-ten best of their year, with the very bestest one honored with a pretty pretty tiara. We will tackle these by decade, working backwards. Without further ado:

2019

Best Picture nominees: Parasite • Ford v Ferrari • The Irishman • Jojo Rabbit • Joker • Little Women • Marriage Story • 1917 • Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood


Sergio Corbucci’s Django still stings 55 years later

In the realm of the spaghetti western, there are the Sergio Leone films and then there’s everything else. The head of the class of “everything else” is generally agreed to be Sergio Corbucci’s Django, which turns 55 on April 6. (Currently, it’s streaming for free on Hoopla, and free with ads on Vudu, Tubi TV and the Roku Channel.) Back in 1978, before he was a film director himself, Alex Cox wrote a 249-page book on the subgenre he loved, called 10,000 Ways to Die. (Cox would return to the manuscript, spruce…


Craig Brewer’s Coming 2 America is authentic nostalgia done warmly and well

Coming 2 America may as well be titled Coming 2 Zamunda, since the movie spends most of its time in that fictional African country. Zamunda, of course, is home to Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), the hero of the hit comedy Coming to America. Rewatching that John Landis film for the first time since 1988, I was struck by how logy and static it was, even for an ’80s comedy. It’s hard to argue that Coming 2 America is a “better” movie, but I liked it more; it’s warmer…

Rob Gonsalves

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

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