Movies like "Tár" seem to come along once every awards season. It's a stylish, yet self-indulgent, overlong, character-driven epic. It features an award-worthy performance at its center. Some will call it a "masterpiece."
For me however, "Tár" falls way short of that top-tier status. That's not to take anything away from the performance of Cate Blanchett, who is truly fantastic as the influential (and fictional!) composer, Lydia Tár. Like a classic orchestral arrangement, the film builds slowly until it finally hits the crescendo, before soaring through its final act. Blanchett is there in the middle of it all, a great actress keeping the tempo of the film as steady as she can.
And while "Tár" ends up being worth the trek in the end, the first 90 minutes of this colossal 158-minute opus is such a dreary, artsy slog, that I could see casual movie-goers wanting to head out the doors early. For those that do stay however (mostly film critics), they will be rewarded - critics and regular folk alike - mostly, by seeing how Blanchett sticks the landing.
Musically-inclined director Baz Lurhmann cannot be criticized for his Elvis biopic containing "a little less conversation, a little more action."
"Elvis" is a sprawling, swirling, glitzy and glamorous remembrance of the King. It ends up being so fast-paced that it comes across as hollow, but that's not to say there isn't a lot to like about it. Carrying the lyrics to that aforementioned song like a motto for the film, Luhrmann infuses his story of Elvis Presley with "a little more bite and a little less bark, a little less fight and a little more spark."
It's a bit of a spectacle, not quite life-changing but larger-than-life...a whirlwind of flashing lights, gaudy costumes and shaking hips.
In other words, it's exactly what "Elvis" would have wanted it to be.
If Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is capable of doing anything wrong, he's yet to prove it. His directorial debut, "tick, tick...BOOM!" is a gloriously energetic ode to the theater, and one of its greatest creative minds, Jonathan Larson, the one-of-a-kind talent who gave us "Rent."
Before you go off ready to hand this year's Oscar to Will Smith or Benedict Cumberbatch, don't sleep on Andrew Garfield. He is an absolute firecracker as Larson and a commanding screen presence who single-handedly energizes each frame he's in. This is a crackling performance in an equally impressive film...one of the best of 2021 for sure ("tick, tick...BOOM!" is streaming on Netflix starting 11/19/21).
One of the most delightful, impressive, heart-warming and optimistic productions you will ever witness comes to Apple TV+ this weekend. "Come From Away" is a Tony-winning musical that was filmed and made into a movie (just like "Hamilton" was for Disney+ in 2020), and it comes just in time for the 20-year anniversary of 9/11.
Yes, the "feel good" movie of the year centers around one of the worst, horrific tragedies in American history, and if there was ever something that this divided nation should be able to agree on, it's that "Come From Away" is an absolute treasure and should be seen by every American...despite it taking place in Newfoundland, Canada.
I've always been a sucker for "coming-of-age" movies, but "Coda" is a fresh and endlessly compelling entry into the genre, made great by the performance of 19-year-old Emilia Jones (Kinsley from Netflix's "Locke & Key").This isn't the first film Jones has appeared in, but it is destined to be a game-changing one for her promising, budding career.
"Coda" killed earlier this year at Sundance, and now we know why: It's simply one of the best films of 2021, living up to all of the hype.
Interviews with Jennifer Hudson and director Liesl Tommy, about the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, 'Respect' [VIDEO]
The long-awaited Aretha Franklin biopic movie is finally coming to theaters. Star Jennifer Hudson and director Liesl Tommy were in Detroit at the FOX Theater on Monday to discuss the new film.
For those that thought that the recent Fyre Festival was a sham, wait until your memory is jogged about the disastrous Woodstock '99. All of its ugliness is brought to light in the stunning and captivating new HBO Max documentary, "Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage."
History is a funny thing, in that it takes blood, sweat and tears to sometimes set the record straight. We know what we are taught, and we don't know what we're not told about. And in some cases, history is simply lost to the winds of time.
Thank goodness then, for Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the prolific musician and frontman for the hip hop band "the Roots." He's the man responsible for preserving the memory of the Harlem Cultural Festival, a massive celebration of music, heritage, culture and Black Pride, that took course over six days spread out over the Summer of 1969. Questlove directs "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)" and in doing so, he has not only preserved an important piece of history, but he's unearthed a treasure trove of clips that will live on forever.
If you've never heard of the pop band Sparks, you're not alone. Heck, director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") is basically counting on that.
"The Sparks Brothers" is a loving, light trip down memory lane with two real-life brothers, Ron and Russell Mael, who just so happen to be the most influential musicians you've never heard of before.
A play like "Hamilton" is a one-in-a-million sort of production. From the original cast to the costumes and choreography, to the unprecedented word-play and unforgettable lyrics from the mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda, to its cultural significance, "Hamilton" was lightning in a bottle...the stage play of our time and one of the few creations in the history of the stage or cinema that cannot be over-hyped regardless of how much praise is heaped upon it. It really is that good.
But before "Hamilton," there was "In the Heights," the debut production from Miranda that he originally wrote his sophomore year in college back in 1999. The play finally reached Broadway, from 2008 to 2011, scoring 13 Tony nominations (winning four, including Best Original Score for Miranda, the youngest recipient ever to win the category).
Now after a full year of postponements due to COVID-19, the big-screen adaptation of "In the Heights" reaches theaters (it is also available to stream on HBO Max). If you're familiar with "Hamilton," you know that "In the Heights" is a lesser overall production...how could it not be? But on its own it's a rich celebration of the immigrant experience in America, and one of the most joyous, unapologetic and optimistic films in quite some time.
"In the Heights" is no "Hamilton," but that is just fine.
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