Film Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

Second Nature

Two new features on Disney+ showcase a formula that works.

From Screen to Stream

Universal Studios offers new releases for those now unable to visit theaters.

Man of the Cloth

Corpus Christi explores a Catholic Church in need of addressing its members' human needs.

Second Nature

Two new features on Disney+ showcase a formula that works.
When Disney launched Disneynature in 2008—providing a home for nature documentaries—it was actually reviving a formula that had been tremendously successful for the company in the 1950s and 1960s True-Life Adventures series.

Higher Love Story

The romantic tear-jerker I Still Believe delivers its faith-based message without being a jerk about it.
The new faith-based drama I Still Believe really makes the case that you can believe in a higher power—and not be a dick about it.

Slight of Fantasy

Onward can't connect its emotional core to a world that feels fully-formed.
For virtually the entire 25 year history of Pixar's feature films, there's been a running joke about the formula for its world-building.

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.

Power Failure

The Assistant brilliantly captures the dynamics that protect abusers.
The understandable marketing hook for The Assistant is that it's a #MeToo story—and, more specifically and provocatively, that it's a thinly-disguised swipe at Harvey Weinstein.

Snow Job

Downhill remakes a dark character study as broad comedy.
I could write a book-length treatise on how and how not to do a cinematic remake—and given the film industry's fondness for recycling, there would be no shortage of material.

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.

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