Film

THE KARATE KID

I didn’t want to see this movie. I took one look at the title and figured it was either (a) a sequel to Toenails of Vengeance, or (b) an adventure pitting Ricky Schroder against the Megaloth Man. I was completely wrong. “The Karate Kid” was one of the nice surprises of 1984 — an exciting, sweet-tempered, heart-warming story with one of the most interesting friendships in a long time. The friends come from different worlds. A kid named Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is a New Jersey teenager who moves with his mother to Los Angeles. An old guy named Miyagi (Pat Morita) is the Japanese janitor in their Read More

FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN

The title of “Framing John DeLorean” has two different meanings in this hybrid, mosaic-style story of the man who is now best remembered for the namesake car featured in “Back to the Future.” After stunning success in creating the muscle car at General Motors, DeLorean started his own company to compete with them. And then, when it was about to fail, he made a desperate attempt to raise money with a drug deal that turned out to be put together by undercover FBI agents.

Summer Lovers

“Summer Lovers” is a beach party movie for the 1980s. It begins with the genre’s basic ingredients: sun, sand, surf, bikinis and a nearby disco. But we no longer live in quite such an innocent world as the one inhabited by the beach party gang, so in addition to the sun, sand, etc., this movie also contains graduate students, Greek wine, ennui, troubled relationships, problems with self-image, visits to an archeological dig and the current war-cry of love affairs, “Trust me.”

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

Much like “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” was a perfectly enjoyable if inferior follow-up to the genre-defining, zany ‘80s comedy “Vacation,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” changes the scenery but can’t quite match the inspired heights of its predecessor.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM

There are any number of thrilling passages in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” but a moment of true inspiration—when you know that you’re in the hands of filmmakers who are intent on creating a work of wit, style, and vision—comes relatively early. Our hero, soulful assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves), is at the New York Public Library to find a very specific book when he’s interrupted by one of the approximately 11 million people who will attempt to kill him over the course of the next two hours of screen time. Eventually John kills him by utilizing the book he’s holding as a weapon. That part Read More

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” has a sense of wonder. After I left the screening late at night and emerged onto a dark city street at nearly one a.m., I wanted to look up rather than straight ahead, just in case Ghidorah the three-headed dragon or Rodan the giant pterodactyl came screaming down from the clouds. That’s not the same thing as saying this is a perfect movie. It’s far from that. But its errors fall mainly under the heading of failing to get out of its own way, and its imperfections are compensated by magnificence. Directed and cowritten by Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”), the movie follows on Read More

DARK PHOENIX

“You’re always sorry and there’s always a speech. But nobody cares anymore.” It’s rare for a character to speak dialogue that so perfectly captures the critically flawed foundation of a film as completely as that particular line from “Dark Phoenix,” the last gasp of a franchise that has had remarkable highs and remarkable lows but never quite seen a film that felt so much like nobody cared anymore. Allegedly conceived as a send-off to the characters and cast introduced over the course of “X-Men: First Class,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Simon Kinberg’s directorial debut simply has nothing going on under the surface, and Read More

TOY STORY 4

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” sings Randy Newman, Pixar’s bard, in a montage from “Toy Story 4.” The song’s title is aimed at Woody (Tom Hanks), a friend to his original owner, Andy, and later to Bonnie, a five-year old who inherited Andy’s toys at the end of “Toy Story 3” and is shown refining her own playtime rituals that don’t always include Woody. Secondarily, the song is officially aimed at a new character, Forky (Tony Hale), a plastic spork with popsicle-stick feet and pipe cleaner arms, created by Bonnie with material supplied by Woody during orientation day at kindergarten. Typical of “Toy Story,” a Read More

FINDING STEVE MCQUEEN

In 1972, Amil Dinsio and his bank robber crew broke into the United California Bank in Laguna Nagel (a long way from Youngstown, Ohio, where the burglars originated) and stole an estimated $9 million, the biggest bank heist in U.S. history up until that time. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this particular heist was the burglars’ sophisticated knowledge of explosives and different alarm systems. They got into the bank through a dynamite blast in the roof. The crew was eventually busted, and have remained folk heroes of a sort. The plan was to steal the “dirty money” donated by all sorts of unsavory people to President Read More

A Star Is Born Movie Poster

A STAR IS BORN

There’s a scene early into Bradley Cooper’s crowd-pleasing “A Star is Born” that distills what it’s really about and why it will hook viewers till the last frame. Cooper’s Jackson Maine, an alt-country singer with a bit more heavy guitar, is getting drunk in a drag club after a show when he meets Lady Gaga’s Ally. Having worked at the club before, and now waitressing elsewhere, she’s come back to sing a song, a jaw-dropping version of “La Vie en Rose.” She sashays her way down the bar and ends up locking eyes with Maine as her vocals continue to rise. He is blown away by her Read More