Film Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

What's In a Name?

Seberg is at its best when it's not just about the famous actress in its title.

Power Failure

The Assistant brilliantly captures the dynamics that protect abusers.

Snow Job

Downhill remakes a dark character study as broad comedy.

What's In a Name?

Seberg is at its best when it's not just about the famous actress in its title.
A movie's title is no small thing; one only need to look at Warner Bros.' desperate second-week rebranding of Birds of Prey as Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for a reminder that you're selling your audience on what they should expect. Sometimes, however, a misjudged title isn't simply an indication that the distributor doesn't know what their audience wants.

Finding Patterns

The subjects of Sundance 2020 films had some similarities, but it was really about how those stories were told.
Sundance 2020 offered several different ways to answer the question, even if they might say more about the lens of the interpreter than about something deliberate or inevitable.

Blunderworld Figures

Guy Ritchie's The Gentlemen mixes a slick crime caper with a Brexit metaphor.
It's full of sufficiently-advanced crime and criminals barely indistinguishable from legitimate business and entrepreneurs, and oozing with crackling cynicism about culture and politics.

What Women Want

Little Women and Hustlers tell the same story that is too rarely told.
I am going to drop a truth bomb, and you are probably not ready for it: Little Women and Hustlers are the same movie.

Hot Take

The gimmick at the heart of 1917 sometimes distracts from its urgent wartime drama.
If you're telling a story, and you want your viewers completely immersed, what value is there in repeatedly reminding them, "This shot was really hard to pull off?"

Simply the Year's Best

Wrapping up 2019 at the movies.
It's understandable that we're all in a rush to move on to 2020, the year when (please Lord) sanity might be restored. But let's take one last look back at the best films of 2019—and all things considered, despite crazy polarizing debates over the definition of "cinema," it was a pretty solid year at the movies.

New Eyes

Greta Gerwig restructures Little Women into a collision between aspirations and societal reality.
Every remake or re-telling of a story on screen comes with an implicit question: Why? What reason is there to do this again, and what new idea do the filmmakers bring to it?

They Retort, You Deride

Bombshell's dead-ringer performances don't elevate a self-congratulatory poke in the eye at Fox News.
Whatever movie magic was employed—digital, prosthetic, makeup, hairstyling, pure physical performance—it yielded an uncanny resemblance between the actor and the real-life individual that actor is portraying.

Blame Game

Richard Jewell gives us easy villains in a story about carelessly seeking easy villains.
In a world increasingly defined by binary thinking, there is a phrase I have grown fond of using: Two things can both be true.

Stayin' Alive

The survival adventure of The Aeronauts gets bogged down in backstory.
Is it possible to spend too much time drawing those characters?

Hedunit

Rian Johnson turns Knives Out into a uniquely entertaining spin on murder mystery.
It's hard to explore just how effectively Rian Johnson upends the idea of a whodunit in Knives Out without spoiling whodunit.

Sadfellas

The Irishman turns mob life into a melancholy tragedy.
It shouldn't be surprising that Scorsese finds plenty new to say, and in a way that's actually in fascinating conversation with his earlier mob-themed films.

Playing Chicken

Ford v Ferrari and the balance between highbrow cinema and pure entertainment.
To reduce it to its crudest essentials, it involves Scorsese's distinction between what he considers "cinema" and what he considers "worldwide audiovisual entertainment"—risk-taking storytelling, as opposed to safe, financially lucrative franchise installments.

Shine On

Doctor Sleep effectively embraces the legacy of The Shining.
Would this Doctor Sleep be a sequel to King's book, or to Kubrick's movie? Or could it somehow manage to be both?

What the Heil

A twinkly, precious approach to un-learning hate doesn't serve Jojo Rabbit well.
Maybe you can craft a "once upon a time" narrative into something that eviscerates the childish ignorance behind racism and anti-Semitism, and makes swastika-clad goons into subjects of much-deserved scorn.

Fiend-ers Keepers

Isolation turns horrific—and also crudely funny—in The Lighthouse. Lighthouse
You might have seen movies before with some of the same visual artistic ambition as The Lighthouse—a movie that plays with your sense of reality, or captures its characters in forbidding black-and-white cinematography.

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