1. 
"You’ll probably be wowed by Birdman, by how the camera hurtles after characters in what’s made to look like a single, fluid, movie-long take, transcending space and often time, even soaring off into fantasy while viscerally evoking the desperation of a washed-up film actor to bring off his Broadway debut. You should be wowed; I was, too—and I didn’t even like the movie. I had to marvel at director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s choreography, at the go-for-broke performances."
- David Edelstein

'Birdman' Follows A Film Actor Frantic To Prove Himself Onstage View in High-Res

    "You’ll probably be wowed by Birdman, by how the camera hurtles after characters in what’s made to look like a single, fluid, movie-long take, transcending space and often time, even soaring off into fantasy while viscerally evoking the desperation of a washed-up film actor to bring off his Broadway debut. You should be wowed; I was, too—and I didn’t even like the movie. I had to marvel at director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s choreography, at the go-for-broke performances."

    - David Edelstein

    'Birdman' Follows A Film Actor Frantic To Prove Himself Onstage

  2. birdman

    review

    david edelstein

    alejandro gonzález iñárritu

    michael keaton

  1. David Edelstein reviews Whiplash: 

"Whiplash charts the education—and torture—of ambitious young drummer Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller. The inflicter of pain is a teacher, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons; Fletcher conducts the elite jazz band at the Manhattan conservatory where Andrew is a student. Film has a long dishonor role of sadistic authority figures, but few of them get as much of a charge as Fletcher out of messing with pupil’s heads, even driving them from the school in tears. Writer-director Damien Chazelle, has you wondering two things at once. Will Andrew succeed in wowing this most exacting of all judges? And, more important: What can be gained by doing so when the teacher is manifestly psychotic? 


There’s also a larger question: Does the director finally vindicate Fletcher’s methods, suggesting that only a harsh taskmaster can spur an artist like Andrew to the next level?


Before I try to answer, let me say I love this movie. The title is dead on. Whiplash twists you into knots. The fear of failure is omnipresent, but so—somehow—is the jazz vibe.”

In ‘Whiplash,’ A Young Drummer Plays Till He Bleeds View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews Whiplash

    "Whiplash charts the education—and torture—of ambitious young drummer Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller. The inflicter of pain is a teacher, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons; Fletcher conducts the elite jazz band at the Manhattan conservatory where Andrew is a student. Film has a long dishonor role of sadistic authority figures, but few of them get as much of a charge as Fletcher out of messing with pupil’s heads, even driving them from the school in tears. Writer-director Damien Chazelle, has you wondering two things at once. Will Andrew succeed in wowing this most exacting of all judges? And, more important: What can be gained by doing so when the teacher is manifestly psychotic? 

    There’s also a larger question: Does the director finally vindicate Fletcher’s methods, suggesting that only a harsh taskmaster can spur an artist like Andrew to the next level?

    Before I try to answer, let me say I love this movie. The title is dead on. Whiplash twists you into knots. The fear of failure is omnipresent, but so—somehow—is the jazz vibe.”

    In ‘Whiplash,’ A Young Drummer Plays Till He Bleeds

  2. whiplash

    drums

    movie

    review

    david edelstein

    fresh air

  1. Gone Girl is the film adaptation of the 2012 mystery novel by Gillian Flynn.  Director David Fincher’s previous films include Fight Club, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. David Edelstein reviews (with no spoilers, don’t worry!):

"The movie … is sensationally effective—it’s even more fun than the book. It’s made like a classic noir: evenly paced, with an elegance that in context is deeply perverse. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, an ex-magazine writer who’s about to celebrate his fifth anniversary of marriage to his wife, Amy, but sits that afternoon in the Missouri bar he runs with his twin sister looking glum and antsy. He arrives at his suburban McMansion to find signs of a struggle and no Amy. So far, so straightforward. But detectives linger over the incongruities of the scene. Did Nick murder Amy and make it look like a kidnapping? He’s evasive about something.”


'Gone Girl': A Gripping Film That's More Fun Than The Book View in High-Res

    Gone Girl is the film adaptation of the 2012 mystery novel by Gillian Flynn.  Director David Fincher’s previous films include Fight Club, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. David Edelstein reviews (with no spoilers, don’t worry!):

    "The movie … is sensationally effective—it’s even more fun than the book. It’s made like a classic noir: evenly paced, with an elegance that in context is deeply perverse. Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, an ex-magazine writer who’s about to celebrate his fifth anniversary of marriage to his wife, Amy, but sits that afternoon in the Missouri bar he runs with his twin sister looking glum and antsy. He arrives at his suburban McMansion to find signs of a struggle and no Amy. So far, so straightforward. But detectives linger over the incongruities of the scene. Did Nick murder Amy and make it look like a kidnapping? He’s evasive about something.”

    'Gone Girl': A Gripping Film That's More Fun Than The Book

  2. gone girl

    ben affleck

    david fincher

    mystery

    kidnap

    movie

    david edelstein

  1. Today our film critic, David Edelstein, reviews The Drop, starring Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini.
In the film, Hardy plays Bob, a lonely bartender who works at a bar in Brooklyn, owned by his cousin Marv (Gandolfini). The place is a “drop bar” for a Chechen mobster laundering money. Later Bob discovers a “drop” of a different kind when he rescues a battered pit bull from the garbage. 
Edelstein says: 

"The Drop is directed by Michael R. Roskam, who made an excellent Belgian thriller called Bullhead, and he gives the milieu a layered, lived-in texture. But the film doesn’t have a satisfying shape; its threads aren’t tightly wound. [Writer Dennis] Lehane is clearly taking his cues from the terrific Boston writer George V. Higgins, whose novel Cogan’s Trade became a good 2012 thriller called Killing Them Softly. Higgins found the poetry in garrulous hoods, but Lehane isn’t yet in that league. There’s a psycho played by Bullhead star Matthias Schoenaerts who factors in the climax but until then seems peripheral, and a key plot point turns on a character who disappeared—probably bumped off—ten years earlier, which doesn’t give the narrative much urgency. Nearly every character wears a beard, which makes them hard to tell apart at first glance—apart from Hardy and Gandolfini, of course.


They’re the reason The Drop is worth seeing. The movie does work well as a character study of hoods who’ve learned to take their sorry fate as it comes versus hoods who try to change things—in most cases stupidly—and end up lying in puddles of their own blood. What can you say about a film where the pit bull is the most adorable character?”
View in High-Res

    Today our film critic, David Edelstein, reviews The Drop, starring Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini.

    In the film, Hardy plays Bob, a lonely bartender who works at a bar in Brooklyn, owned by his cousin Marv (Gandolfini). The place is a “drop bar” for a Chechen mobster laundering money. Later Bob discovers a “drop” of a different kind when he rescues a battered pit bull from the garbage. 

    Edelstein says: 

    "The Drop is directed by Michael R. Roskam, who made an excellent Belgian thriller called Bullhead, and he gives the milieu a layered, lived-in texture. But the film doesn’t have a satisfying shape; its threads aren’t tightly wound. [Writer Dennis] Lehane is clearly taking his cues from the terrific Boston writer George V. Higgins, whose novel Cogan’s Trade became a good 2012 thriller called Killing Them Softly. Higgins found the poetry in garrulous hoods, but Lehane isn’t yet in that league. There’s a psycho played by Bullhead star Matthias Schoenaerts who factors in the climax but until then seems peripheral, and a key plot point turns on a character who disappeared—probably bumped off—ten years earlier, which doesn’t give the narrative much urgency. Nearly every character wears a beard, which makes them hard to tell apart at first glance—apart from Hardy and Gandolfini, of course.

    They’re the reason The Drop is worth seeing. The movie does work well as a character study of hoods who’ve learned to take their sorry fate as it comes versus hoods who try to change things—in most cases stupidly—and end up lying in puddles of their own blood. What can you say about a film where the pit bull is the most adorable character?”

  2. the drop

    james gandolfini

    tom hardy

    movie review

    fresh air

    david edelstein

  1. Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews  Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:

None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews  Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:

    None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.

  2. starred up

    david edelstein

    fresh air

    review

    prison

  1. The question hangs for me whether these movies are worth doing given how their budgets soak up Hollywood studios’ capital—leaving relatively little for films not leading to so-called “franchises.” The answer is no: Junky sci-fi should be a part of a studio’s portfolio, not the be-all and end-all. Still, given that, if you have to see one big-budget effects-laden behemoth this summer… Where else will see a raccoon and a tree piloting a spaceship?

    — David Edelstein reviews Guardians of the Galaxy

  2. guardians of the galaxy

    david edelstein

    sci-fi

    movie review

  1. David Edelstein reviews A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman: 


Part of me wishes that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final lead performance, in A Most Wanted Man, wasn’t very good. I know that sounds perverse. But if he’d been flailing as an actor at the end, it would make his loss easier to bear from an artistic—if not a human—perspective. The thing is, though, the actor we see in this movie is at his absolute peak. This might even be my favorite Hoffman performance of all, damn it. 


  View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews A Most Wanted Man, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman:

    Part of me wishes that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final lead performance, in A Most Wanted Man, wasn’t very good. I know that sounds perverse. But if he’d been flailing as an actor at the end, it would make his loss easier to bear from an artistic—if not a human—perspective. The thing is, though, the actor we see in this movie is at his absolute peak. This might even be my favorite Hoffman performance of all, damn it.

     

  2. philip seymour hoffman

    a most wanted man

    david edelstein

    movie review

    fresh air

  1. Linklater has always used time as a character. It’s in the titles of his Before trilogy, featuring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as characters at different junctures: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight. They have to reconnect in each film—and fast, because the clock is ticking. I love these films, but they’re talky. Linklater is so literal about time he never seems to use the full, transcendent resources of cinema.

    He does in Boyhood.

    — David Edelstein reviews Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater

  2. david edelstein

    boyhood

    richard linklater

    before sunrise

    before sunset

    before midnight

    film

    review

    movies

  1. David Edelstein reviews Begin Again starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine:

The Irish director John Carney has a touching faith in the idea that people who are culturally and temperamentally unalike can achieve oneness by making music together. That’s not exactly a radical idea in the world of musicals, but in his 2006 hit, Once, he proved he had a knack for giving sentimental showbiz fairy tales the texture and tang of real life, and for knowing when to darken the mood with harsh notes. In Begin Again, he makes the case once more that a song can save your life. The original title was even, Can A Song Save Your Life? which sounds like a name for the worst quiz show ever.
View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews Begin Again starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine:

    The Irish director John Carney has a touching faith in the idea that people who are culturally and temperamentally unalike can achieve oneness by making music together. That’s not exactly a radical idea in the world of musicals, but in his 2006 hit, Once, he proved he had a knack for giving sentimental showbiz fairy tales the texture and tang of real life, and for knowing when to darken the mood with harsh notes. In Begin Again, he makes the case once more that a song can save your life. The original title was even, Can A Song Save Your Life? which sounds like a name for the worst quiz show ever.

  2. begin again

    david edelstein

    keira knightley

    once

    fresh air

    review

  1. David Edelstein reviews Transformers 4 and another apocalyptic action movie, Snowpiercer, by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho:

Based on a French graphic novel, it’s set on a long, long, long train carrying the frozen Earth’s only survivors after an attempt to stop global warming backfires spectacularly. The problem is, the population is cruelly sub-divided. The Richie Riches lead lives of luxury in front, while the back cars are filled with ragged proles forced to eat protein mush and watch as, seemingly at random, soldiers drag off their children… 
The action scenes in Snowpiercer are choppy and gracelesss, and many of the actors ham it up. But the combination of B-movie tackiness and broad social satire is strangely potent. As the rebels push through more and more surreal settings—greenhouses, schoolrooms, health spas—and rebels fall by the wayside—shot, stabbed, disemboweled—the film is like a class warfare version of The Poseidon Adventure.  

Still of Tilda Swinton and cast from Snowpiercer View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews Transformers 4 and another apocalyptic action movie, Snowpiercer, by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho:

    Based on a French graphic novel, it’s set on a long, long, long train carrying the frozen Earth’s only survivors after an attempt to stop global warming backfires spectacularly. The problem is, the population is cruelly sub-divided. The Richie Riches lead lives of luxury in front, while the back cars are filled with ragged proles forced to eat protein mush and watch as, seemingly at random, soldiers drag off their children…

    The action scenes in Snowpiercer are choppy and gracelesss, and many of the actors ham it up. But the combination of B-movie tackiness and broad social satire is strangely potent. As the rebels push through more and more surreal settings—greenhouses, schoolrooms, health spas—and rebels fall by the wayside—shot, stabbed, disemboweled—the film is like a class warfare version of The Poseidon Adventure.  

    Still of Tilda Swinton and cast from Snowpiercer

  2. transformers 4

    snowpiercer

    david edelstein

    global warming

    movie

    tilda swinton

  1. 
"At the end of Jersey Boys, after trials and tragedies, Valli says nothing in his life compares to the moment they found their sound “under a Jersey streetlight.” Except that isn’t in the movie! It’s a huge loss: If there’s one thing artist biopics can do, it’s dramatize the alchemy of discipline and inspiration. But if Jersey Boys has many flaws of oversimplified musical theater, it has so very many of the corny joys.” 

-David Edelstein reviews Jersey Boys
View in High-Res

    "At the end of Jersey Boys, after trials and tragedies, Valli says nothing in his life compares to the moment they found their sound “under a Jersey streetlight.” Except that isn’t in the movie! It’s a huge loss: If there’s one thing artist biopics can do, it’s dramatize the alchemy of discipline and inspiration. But if Jersey Boys has many flaws of oversimplified musical theater, it has so very many of the corny joys.”

    -David Edelstein reviews Jersey Boys

  2. jersey boys

    frankie valli

    review

    david edelstein

  1. Obvious Child centers on Donna Stern, played by Jenny Slate, an aspiring stand-up comic in her late 20s who’s out of her depth in the grown-up world. After getting smashed and having unprotected sex with a guy she barely knows, Donna discovers she’s pregnant and decides to have an abortion. 
Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews: 

Donna feels so real she could be sitting next to you in the theater. Jenny Slate can be seen opposite Nick Kroll in drag on the Kroll Show in a weekly reality-TV send-up called Publizity about two jittery L.A. publicists named Liz. She’s even more famous for blowing her Saturday Night Live debut several years ago by blurting the f-word on live TV. I found that rather endearing and hoped Slate would get her own show. She didn’t—she barely lasted out the year. But what I love about her in Obvious Child is that sense of danger she brings. She’s all frizzy little coils of neurotic energy. Anything could pop out of her mouth.
That fits a character who has no self-control. She’s a big baby, someone who can’t take care of herself, let alone a little baby. Director Gillian Robespierre lets you take Donna as you will. Robespierre has the courage of her ambivalence. The best thing about Obvious Child is that there’s nothing obvious about it.
View in High-Res

    Obvious Child centers on Donna Stern, played by Jenny Slate, an aspiring stand-up comic in her late 20s who’s out of her depth in the grown-up world. After getting smashed and having unprotected sex with a guy she barely knows, Donna discovers she’s pregnant and decides to have an abortion. 

    Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews: 

    Donna feels so real she could be sitting next to you in the theater. Jenny Slate can be seen opposite Nick Kroll in drag on the Kroll Show in a weekly reality-TV send-up called Publizity about two jittery L.A. publicists named Liz. She’s even more famous for blowing her Saturday Night Live debut several years ago by blurting the f-word on live TV. I found that rather endearing and hoped Slate would get her own show. She didn’t—she barely lasted out the year. But what I love about her in Obvious Child is that sense of danger she brings. She’s all frizzy little coils of neurotic energy. Anything could pop out of her mouth.

    That fits a character who has no self-control. She’s a big baby, someone who can’t take care of herself, let alone a little baby. Director Gillian Robespierre lets you take Donna as you will. Robespierre has the courage of her ambivalence. The best thing about Obvious Child is that there’s nothing obvious about it.

  2. obvious child

    abortion

    film

    comedy

    jenny slate

    david edelstein

  1. Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews The Fault in Our Stars: 

I know people who cried at the trailer of the romantic teen cancer movie The Fault in Our Stars—at the movie they’ll need a life preserver to keep from drowning in a flood of tears. Me, I didn’t cry, though at times my tear ducts tingled; I was on the verge. The film is a little slick for my taste, too engineered. But it’s gently directed by Josh Boone and beautifully acted. Whatever the faults, it’s not in the stars.



Full review
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews The Fault in Our Stars

    I know people who cried at the trailer of the romantic teen cancer movie The Fault in Our Stars—at the movie they’ll need a life preserver to keep from drowning in a flood of tears. Me, I didn’t cry, though at times my tear ducts tingled; I was on the verge. The film is a little slick for my taste, too engineered. But it’s gently directed by Josh Boone and beautifully acted. Whatever the faults, it’s not in the stars.

    Full review

  2. the fault in our stars

    movie review

    david edelstein

    shailene woodley

    cancer

  1. Director James Gray has made four features since his 1994 debut, Little Odessa, and all four have starred Joaquin Phoenix. There was The Yards, We Own the Night, and Two Lovers — and now, the actor co-stars as a shady businessman in Gray’s new movie, The Immigrant. It’s a period piece that also features Marion Cotillard as a Polish woman trying to free her sister from the infirmary at Ellis Island.
Film critic David Edelstein reviews —- 

“The Immigrant has been the source of a semi-public battle between director Gray and the impresario and distributor Harvey Weinstein, who reportedly pressed for cuts to the nearly two-hour running time. The movie is, indeed, slowly-paced, but I’m damned if I know what Gray should have cut. The scenes are meant to be grueling—to show Ewa (Marion Cotillard) fighting Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) while Bruno fights himself. And the movie doesn’t end on the upbeat, Oscar-bait note that marks so many of Weinstein’s prestige projects: Even when things take a turn—morally speaking—for the better, the aura of hopelessness never fully dissipates.” 

You can listen to the rest of the review here. 
Still from The Immigrant View in High-Res

    Director James Gray has made four features since his 1994 debut, Little Odessa, and all four have starred Joaquin Phoenix. There was The Yards, We Own the Night, and Two Lovers — and now, the actor co-stars as a shady businessman in Gray’s new movie, The Immigrant. It’s a period piece that also features Marion Cotillard as a Polish woman trying to free her sister from the infirmary at Ellis Island.

    Film critic David Edelstein reviews —- 

    The Immigrant has been the source of a semi-public battle between director Gray and the impresario and distributor Harvey Weinstein, who reportedly pressed for cuts to the nearly two-hour running time. The movie is, indeed, slowly-paced, but I’m damned if I know what Gray should have cut. The scenes are meant to be grueling—to show Ewa (Marion Cotillard) fighting Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) while Bruno fights himself. And the movie doesn’t end on the upbeat, Oscar-bait note that marks so many of Weinstein’s prestige projects: Even when things take a turn—morally speaking—for the better, the aura of hopelessness never fully dissipates.” 

    You can listen to the rest of the review here

    Still from The Immigrant

  2. David Edelstein

    The Immigrant

    James Gray

    marion cotillard

  1. Fresh Air’s film critic David Edelstein reviews the latest in a long line of Godzilla movies: 

The original Godzilla was a cautionary tale, and in the big monster movies that followed in Japan and America, the invaders were emblems of humanity’s arrogance. We’ve poisoned the Earth, the movies said, and the Earth has come back at us.


But this Godzilla says—explicitly—that Nature is self-correcting, that no matter what we do a higher power will belch forth a savior. With so many threats to the planet, the timing is odd, don’t you think? I know it’s just a dumb genre picture but even dumb genre pictures have a tradition of speaking to their era. In this one, the nuclear roar becomes a reassuring purr.


You can also read critic at-large John Powers’ piece “Movie Monsters, Monster Movies and Why ‘Godzilla’ Endures’ here.  View in High-Res

    Fresh Air’s film critic David Edelstein reviews the latest in a long line of Godzilla movies: 

    The original Godzilla was a cautionary tale, and in the big monster movies that followed in Japan and America, the invaders were emblems of humanity’s arrogance. We’ve poisoned the Earth, the movies said, and the Earth has come back at us.

    But this Godzilla says—explicitly—that Nature is self-correcting, that no matter what we do a higher power will belch forth a savior. With so many threats to the planet, the timing is odd, don’t you think? I know it’s just a dumb genre picture but even dumb genre pictures have a tradition of speaking to their era. In this one, the nuclear roar becomes a reassuring purr.

    You can also read critic at-large John Powers’ piece “Movie Monsters, Monster Movies and Why ‘Godzilla’ Endures’ here

  2. godzilla

    film

    david edelstein

    review