Hollywood Films

Death of British filmmaker Michael Apted at 79, director of Up documentary series, Coal Miner’s Daughter

By Paul Bond and Kevin Martinez, 12 January 2021

Film director Michael Apted, who died January 7, was responsible for an intriguing variety of work over his lengthy career. We are reposting here the review of 63 Up as a tribute.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: The joke’s on who?

By Ed Hightower, 7 December 2020

Writer-performer Sacha Baron Cohen cannot resist mocking even the most undeserving targets, including a Holocaust survivor who tries to disabuse the title character of his (feigned) anti-Semitism.

Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7: An important historical episode

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 24 October 2020

The film deals with the court proceedings in 1969–70 in which organizers of protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago faced charges of conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot.

Hollywood unions ratify return to work agreement dictated by giant corporations

By Marc Wells, 25 September 2020

After months of negotiations behind closed doors, the Hollywood unions reached a return-to-work agreement that will expose entertainment industry workers to the COVID-19 contagion as television and film production resumes.

Chadwick Boseman (1976–2020): A talented actor, now hailed as a “king”

By Carlos Delgado, 5 September 2020

Far from honoring his memory, the media’s over-the-top eulogizing demeans the actor’s work and serves reactionary political ends.

Uncut Gems: How to win bets and alienate people

By Erik Schreiber, 6 June 2020

The latest film from the Safdie brothers has much momentum, but little insight into its grasping protagonist or his tawdry world.

National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood—How the US military and CIA go about their propaganda operations

By Charles Bogle, 27 February 2020

The book, by Matthew Alford and Tom Secker, presents extensive evidence that US government departments and agencies use multiple means to manipulate content and even block production of Hollywood films.

The New York Times attempts to discredit defense as Harvey Weinstein trial begins

By Tom Carter, 23 January 2020

Weinstein has every right to confront his accusers—and yes, attempt to discredit them.

Bombshell invents a ruling-class hero

By Erik Schreiber, 11 January 2020

To present former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as a truth-teller and role model, Bombshell minimizes Kelly’s right-wing views and largely ignores her employer’s role in promoting them.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—All the gimmicks to rake in the revenue

By Matthew MacEgan, 27 December 2019

December 2019 saw the end of the “Skywalker Saga” with the latest entry in the Star Wars franchise of films.

Joker: An unenlightening approach to serious problems

By Carlos Delgado, 9 October 2019

The film attempts to treat a number of critical social issues, but falls short of making much sense of them.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood: Quentin Tarantino’s non-conformist conformism

By Joanne Laurier, 31 July 2019

Tarantino’s latest film reimagines 1969 Los Angeles and the disintegration of the traditional studio system.

Jordan Peele’s horror film, Us: “Us” and them

By Kevin Martinez, 6 April 2019

Director Jordan Peele’s latest horror film tells the story of a vacationing family stalked by their doppelgängers. The results are murky, pretentious and strangely unaffecting.

Warner Bros. CEO’s resignation sheds revealing light on Hollywood and #MeToo campaign

By David Walsh, 22 March 2019

Kevin Tsujihara, one of the American film industry’s most powerful executives, resigned March 18 after texts were made public indicating he had promised to promote an actress’ career in exchange for sex.

Ocean’s 8: A “gender-swapped” caper

By Carlos Delgado, 20 June 2018

The film stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, a professional criminal who concocts a plan to steal a $150 million diamond necklace during New York City’s Met Gala.

Wonder Wheel: Woody Allen’s latest film—and the campaign to drive him out of the film industry

By Joanne Laurier, 17 March 2018

Woody Allen’s newest film, Wonder Wheel, set in the 1950s, involves four characters whose unhappy lives become entwined in Coney Island—New York’s iconic amusement park.

Downsizing: Alexander Payne’s take on climate change, overpopulation, social inequality … and more

By Joanne Laurier, 23 December 2017

Payne’s latest work is a science-fiction satire that proposes to solve the earth’s ecological and other problems by “downsizing,” or physically shrinking, human beings.

Far-right Trump ally Thomas Barrack negotiating to buy Weinstein Company

By Eric London, 18 October 2017

The Weinstein sex scandal clears the way for the far-right takeover of a major Hollywood studio.

Allied: Conventional warfare

By Kevin Martinez, 28 December 2016

Despite its use of exotic locales and beautiful people, this World War II era “romantic thriller” fails to make a lasting—or much of any—impression.

Rogue One: Does it really “stand alone”?

By Matthew MacEgan, 21 December 2016

December 16 saw the release of the first stand-alone Star Wars film. The plot of Rogue One is an exact prequel to the 1977 original.

Racism and revenge: Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

By Hiram Lee, 7 January 2016

Tarantino’s latest is a deeply unpleasant work, another in a long line of the director’s blood-soaked revenge fantasies.

Chi-Raq: A satire of social life in Chicago

By George Marlowe, 14 December 2015

In Spike Lee’s latest film, young women in Chicago seek to end gang violence and social breakdown by means of a sex strike.

87th Academy Awards: A more intriguing event than in recent years

By David Walsh, 24 February 2015

Social and political realities found expression on Sunday in a manner that accords with the film world’s peculiarities and contradictions.

2014 Academy Awards: Life versus the film industry

By David Walsh, 4 March 2014

Sunday’s awards ceremony in Hollywood was undistinguished for the most part by excitement, urgency or social insight.

The Monuments Men: An establishment film, in almost every way

By Joanne Laurier, 11 February 2014

George Clooney’s new film is the story of a squad of art experts serving in the US and Allied military who, toward the end of World War II, attempt to rescue art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis.

The Place Beyond the Pines: Fathers and sons

By David Walsh, 18 April 2013

The new film from director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, 2010), set in and around Schenectady, New York, is made up of several interconnected stories that take place over the course of fifteen years.

Director Kathryn Bigelow defends her indefensible Zero Dark Thirty

By David Walsh, 18 January 2013

The filmmaker and her screenwriter Mark Boal, in their political blindness and misreading of the current state of American public opinion, thought they could get away with murder, as it were.

2013 Academy Award nominations: Extraordinary and glaring contradictions, even greater than usual

By David Walsh, 11 January 2013

This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning during a media event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California.

Hitchcock: Small change, for the most part

By Joanne Laurier, 10 January 2013

Sacha Gervasi’s new film focuses on the making of Psycho (1960), one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best known works.

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained

By David Walsh, 5 January 2013

A German-born bounty hunter teams up with an ex-slave in the antebellum South in Quentin Tarantino’s newest film.

Cloud Atlas: Six stories in search of a genuine connection

By David Walsh, 2 November 2012

German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Heaven) and Andy and Lana Wachowski, responsible for the Matrix films, have teamed up to adapt David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, for the screen.

Ben Affleck’s Argo: An embrace of US foreign policy

By Dan Brennan, 24 October 2012

Argo, a new political thriller starring and directed by Ben Affleck, is based on declassified information about a little-known episode during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1980.

Moneyball, and the uneven playing field of professional sports

By Hiram Lee, 28 October 2011

Filmmaker Bennett Miller turns a critical eye on the American professional sports industry in Moneyball.

From Shakespeare to comic books: Kenneth Branagh directs Thor

By Hiram Lee, 26 May 2011

Thor, directed by actor-director Kenneth Branagh, is this year’s first blockbuster comic book movie.

Source Code and Hanna—two new Hollywood thrillers

By Hiram Lee, 3 May 2011

Source Code and Hanna are among the most recent and, unfortunately, most typical of Hollywood thrillers.

The Lincoln Lawyer: A morally “gray” attorney and his discontents

By David Walsh, 8 April 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer is a thriller-courtroom drama centering on Los Angeles attorney Mickey Haller, directed by Brad Furman (The Take) and adapted from the best-selling 2005 novel by veteran crime writer Michael Connelly.

83rd Academy Awards: Appealing personalities, but they still need something to say

By David Walsh, 1 March 2011

The 83rd Academy Awards ceremony, held Sunday night in Los Angeles, yielded few surprises, in terms of either the various presentations and special appearances or the winners in the most-prized categories.

Cedar Rapids: Does Hollywood know much about American life?

By David Walsh, 23 February 2011

Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a sheltered insurance agent from a small town in Wisconsin in Cedar Rapids, a comedy directed by Miguel Arteta.

The Company Men: what the economic crisis has wrought

By David Walsh, 9 February 2011

In The Company Men, writer-director John Wells aims to dramatize the devastating consequences of the financial crash of September 2008.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations—the worst of times, the best of times

By David Walsh, 26 January 2011

The Academy Awards process, like a good many social events in the US at this point, has a largely ritualistic character. Very little is left to chance, either in the nomination process or the ceremony itself.

David O. Russell’s The Fighter: “Big-hearted” people treated seriously

By Joanne Laurier, 11 January 2011

Set in the early 1990s, the movie fictionally recounts the story of welterweight Micky Ward and his trainer, half-brother Dicky Eklund, as they battle poverty and adversity.

James L. Brooks’ How Do You Know inspires a question in return: Why this film?

By Ramon Valle, 4 January 2011

Well-known filmmaker James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News) has directed an insipid, fairly pointless comedy.

Morning Glory: A film about American television, to no great effect

By David Walsh, 2 December 2010

Why do make people make films? Why do people go see them? These questions come up in relation to Morning Glory, a film about the television business, directed by Roger Michell, because it seems such an essentially empty exercise.

Oliver Stone returns to Wall Street

By Hiram Lee, 7 October 2010

In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, director Oliver Stone once again turns his attention to the crimes of the financial elite, which he first addressed in his 1987 film Wall Street.

Inception: But where are the ideas?

By Kevin Martinez, 3 August 2010

The latest film from British director Christopher Nolan, responsible for Memento and The Dark Knight, in which a team of corporate spies are able to travel inside a person’s dreams to obtain valuable company secrets on behalf of wealthy clients.

Solitary Man: But what made this man solitary?

By Charles Bogle, 13 July 2010

Solitary Man continues the unfortunate trend of American films on social problems that lack perspective and much understanding of the phenomena they set out to examine.

When You’re Strange: A Film about the Doors—what was it about the 1960s?

By Kevin Martinez, 24 June 2010

The recently released documentary about Jim Morrison and the Doors presents many intriguing images, but comes up short on explaining much about what produced the creative outburst of the time.

Letters to Juliet: A mushy bon-bon

By Ramón Valle, 22 June 2010

Latest film starring Vanessa Redgrave has enough sentimentality and predictability to go around.

Iron Man 2 and the sad state of American filmmaking today

By Hiram Lee, 18 May 2010

Iron Man 2 is the latest comic book blockbuster to hit the big screen. It continues the saga of wealthy weapons manufacturer Tony Stark who battles super-powered villains with the aid of a special armored suit.

On the road to ruin: The Runaways

By Hiram Lee, 27 April 2010

The Runaways tells the story of the all-girl rock band with the same name that began performing in the 1970s and whose rise to fame was as much a tragedy as it was a success.

“Crime is common. Logic is rare”: Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes

By Kevin Martinez, 14 April 2010

British director Guy Ritchie’s portrait of the famous Victorian detective, in his recent Sherlock Holmes, more closely resembles a quasi-superhero who likes to brawl and fight opponents with his bare hands.

Repo Men lingers on all the wrong things

By Hiram Lee, 13 April 2010

Repo Men is science fiction set at a time when artificial organs are sold on a payment plan and may be repossessed in the event that a transplant recipient can no longer pay his or her bills.

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards: Hollywood celebrates itself, undeservedly

By Hiram Lee and David Walsh, 9 March 2010

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony has come and gone. The broadcast Sunday night from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, at three hours and 32 minutes, was a long and dull affair in which relatively little of real life found its way into the proceedings.

Armored, but not bulletproof

By Hiram Lee, 27 January 2010

In Armored, a struggling Iraq war veteran gets a job as a guard with an armored car company and agrees to take part in a heist planned by his co-workers.

Me and Orson Welles, but too much of the former

By Tracy Montry, 25 January 2010

Director Linklater wants it both ways: to associate himself with Welles’s well-known “anti-establishment” credentials, his most positive attributes, on the one hand, while shaking a politically correct finger at Welles’s personal ‘excesses,’ on the other.

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra—yet another celebration of militarism and war

By Christie Schaefer and Hiram Lee, 5 September 2009

Based on a popular toy and cartoon franchise, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a film that does little more than glorify militarism and war.

Inglourious Basterds: Quentin Tarantino goes to war

By Hiram Lee, 1 September 2009

Director Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is another sadistic revenge tale, this time set during the Second World War.

Funny People: Requiem for a paperweight

By Tom Horton, 14 August 2009

Funny People, producer-director Judd Apatow’s bid for recognition as a serious filmmaker, serves instead as the first major theatrical failure since his string of hits began in 2004.

Public Enemies and a pivotal moment in American history

By Joanne Laurier, 11 July 2009

Based on material in Bryan Burrough’s Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, Michael Mann’s new film chronicles John Dillinger’s spectacular and shortlived crime spree.

Karl Malden: a serious actor

By David Walsh, 3 July 2009

Malden first made his name in the New York theater as part of a generally left-wing group of writers, directors and performers and later enjoyed a long career in Hollywood extending from the postwar years to the early 1970s.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: A tale of two movies

By Alan Whyte, 2 July 2009

A remake of the 1974 film, the new version of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 retains the same plotline: a gang of criminals hijacks a single New York City subway car and attempts to extort cash from city officials.

Six pre-Production Code films from William Wellman: an uneven but welcome collection

By Charles Bogle, 22 June 2009

In one astonishing 12-month period, 1932 to 1933, American filmmaker William Wellman directed 13 movies, 6 of which are included in this, the third volume in Turner Classic Movies’ “Forbidden Hollywood” collection.

Lymelife: How filmmakers look at recent American life

By David Walsh, 30 May 2009

Lymelife, directed and co-written by Derick Martini (along with his brother Steven), takes place in a New York City suburb in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The film has its share of clichés, but it also reveals a certain insight.

Duplicity: The essential unseriousness of it

By David Walsh, 27 March 2009

After the relatively critical edge of Michael Clayton, filmmaker Tony Gilroy appears to offer an olive branch to Hollywood in the form of the trivial, unengaged Duplicity.

Watchmen and Hollywood’s advanced state of decay

By David Walsh, 13 March 2009

Films are only going to get worse before they get better, if Watchmen and the noisy, bombastic trailers accompanying it are any indication.

Behind the times: the nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Awards

By Hiram Lee and David Walsh, 23 January 2009

The nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards were announced on Thursday. In general, it’s a poor showing of films not up to the task of treating real life with any complexity.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Too little made of a life led in reverse

By Kevin Martinez, 6 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button concerns itself with the fate of an individual who ages in reverse. Born a shriveled old man, Benjamin Button experiences the natural aging process backward.

The Wrestler: Vigorous, but opaque

By Jordan Mattos, 27 December 2008

In Darren Aronofsky’s fourth feature film, The Wrestler, veteran actor Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a professional wrestler in his fifties who is coping with life as a prisoner of his own mistakes.

W: A crude approach is not good for grasping much of anything

By David Walsh, 22 October 2008

Directed by Oliver Stone, screenplay by Stanley Weiser W. is veteran American director Oliver Stone's film about the life and career of President George W. Bush. It was shot and edited rapidly for release while Bush was still in office. The November 4 election was no doubt a consideration as well.

Paul Newman (1925-2008)

By Hiram Lee, 1 October 2008

The death of actor Paul Newman on September 26, after a long battle with lung cancer, was followed by a flood of tributes and remembrances.

The play’s the thing: Andrew Fleming’s Hamlet 2

By Hiram Lee, 9 September 2008

Almost immediately, Hamlet 2, the new film from director Andrew Fleming and South Park writer Pam Brady, takes up a number of interesting and important themes. The film contains more than its share of promising material.

Touch of Evil: that ticking noise in our heads

By David Walsh, 20 October 1998

Orson Welles directed the filming of Touch of Evil, his seventh feature, in early 1957. He got the assignment from Universal Studios in part due to the urging of the film's leading actor, Charlton Heston. It was Welles's first Hollywood film in a decade, and his only one of the 1950s.