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movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson


Queen of the Desert movie review: Gertrude Bell gets forgotten again

Wed Apr 26 2017, 08:30pm | 0 comments

This may be Werner Herzog’s most conventional film, but its mostly untold true story knows what it means for a woman to choose a life of adventure and intellect.

curated: Ikea’s response to Balenciaga’s theft of its bag design

Wed Apr 26 2017, 02:52pm | 0 comments

Not what I expected.

curated: torching the modern-day Library of Alexandria

Wed Apr 26 2017, 02:51pm | 1 comment

This is fascinating, and depressing, and infuriating.

curated: Wes Anderson’s next movie is set in Japan, has mostly white cast

Wed Apr 26 2017, 02:49pm | 0 comments


curated: ‘Mad Men‘ creator Matthew Weiner fails to recognize all the privilege that allowed him to succeed

Wed Apr 26 2017, 02:44pm | 0 comments

I’m shocked.

curated: where is the saturation marketing for ‘Wonder Woman’?

Wed Apr 26 2017, 02:43pm | 2 comments

Why is Warner Bros. pretending this movie isn’t opening really soon?

curated: dudes make movie about teenage female sexuality

Wed Apr 26 2017, 02:41pm | 0 comments

I foresee NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER with this.

new and ongoing dvd & vod releases, US/Can, from Apr 25

Tue Apr 25 2017, 02:08pm | comments off

A simple listing of new releases and other stuff currently available.

new and ongoing dvd & vod releases, UK/Ire, from Apr 24

Tue Apr 25 2017, 01:16pm | comments off

A simple listing of new releases and other stuff currently available.

curated: adorable Jyn Erso cosplay proves (yet again) that representation matters

Mon Apr 24 2017, 07:24pm | 0 comments


Unforgettable movie review: toxic femininity

Mon Apr 24 2017, 06:31pm | 3 comments

Sure, Ice Queen is the villain here. She’s the one who’s in the wrong for doin’ ALL THE THINGS she was supposed to do, and her promised man-prize was stolen.

new and ongoing cinema releases, UK/Ire, from Apr 21

Fri Apr 21 2017, 09:51pm | comments off

A simple listing of movies opening this week and in continuing release.

new and ongoing cinema releases, US/Can, from Apr 21

Fri Apr 21 2017, 09:44pm | comments off

A simple listing of movies opening this week and in continuing release.

2017’s films ranked

Fri Apr 21 2017, 09:37pm | 0 comments

I rank films on the fly as I see them during the 2017 awards year. (Exclusively for subscribers only, until the end of the year, when it will be made public.)

2016’s films ranked

Fri Apr 21 2017, 09:33pm | 29 comments

I rank films on the fly as I see them during the 2016 awards year, still ongoing while I catch up with a last few films. (Now available to all readers.)

Finding Fatimah movie review: dating while Muslim

Fri Apr 21 2017, 09:07pm | 0 comments

There’s lots to like in this mostly sweet British Muslim rom-com. Pity, then, that it tries too hard, instead of trusting its characters, and sabotages itself.

curated: Mr. Bean as everyone

Fri Apr 21 2017, 07:55pm | 1 comment


Clash (Eshtebak) movie review: the view from inside social upheaval

Fri Apr 21 2017, 02:54pm | 0 comments

Challenging and provocative, but the limitations it places on itself restrict the appreciation for anyone not already steeped in its culture and politics.

Letters from Baghdad documentary review: Gertrude Bell, the original Lawrence of Arabia

Fri Apr 21 2017, 12:32pm | 2 comments

One of the most cinematically beautiful documentaries ever is a phenomenal portrait of a shamefully forgotten woman who helped shape political history.

curated: Chris Pratt stunned by all the complaints about ‘Passengers’

Wed Apr 19 2017, 09:16pm | 11 comments

Color me not in the least bit stunned.

Raw movie review: girly gory allegory

Wed Apr 19 2017, 02:22pm | 4 comments

Cinema as a punch in the gut and not for the squeamish, casting female desire as ravenously predatory in a way that few films have ever had the audacity to do.

The Lost City of Z movie review: archaeology was his religion

Tue Apr 18 2017, 10:26pm | 4 comments

An adventure of the intellect and of the heart with the real-life explorer who inspired Indiana Jones, one more about the journey than the destination.

curated: The New York Times hires climate-change denier Bret Stephens as columnist

Tue Apr 18 2017, 04:27pm | 8 comments

“Millions agree with him.”

curated: Taco Bell’s bro-tastic “friend zone” ad

Tue Apr 18 2017, 04:23pm | 7 comments

Taco Bell: down with male sexual entitlement.

curated: Hollywood writers’ strike looms…

Tue Apr 18 2017, 04:19pm | 0 comments

“I was just thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process…”–Griffin Mill, The Player

Free Fire movie review: guns a-boring

Mon Apr 17 2017, 10:02pm | 2 comments

A 90-minute shootout that never makes us care who lives and who dies. In attempting to send up a cinematic cliché, this only becomes a tedious example of same.

London photo: architectural black face

Fri Apr 14 2017, 08:41pm | 0 comments

But in a good way!

The Handmaiden movie review: the women pushing back against misogyny, thwarted by their own film

Fri Apr 14 2017, 05:49pm | 34 comments

The intrigue, shifting alliances, and twisted revenge? Delicious, pulpy fun. The male-gazey soft-core porn that undermines the female protagonists? Not so much.

curated: Cognitive Dissonance: A Star Wars Story

Fri Apr 14 2017, 01:45pm | 3 comments

If little boys cannot see themselves in the characters in Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, they’ll just die, or something.

curated: a tribute to Carrie Fisher

Fri Apr 14 2017, 01:20pm | 0 comments


ads now appearing in Disqus threads (updated)

Thu Apr 13 2017, 01:01pm | 12 comments

A reader has generously offered to cover the $10-per-month charge to remove ads from Disqus…

curated: “how can smug, stale Doctor Who get back to its glory days?”

Thu Apr 13 2017, 12:59pm | 10 comments

I worry about this too…

Fast & Furious 8 (aka The Fate of the Furious) movie review: notes from the critics’ ward

Wed Apr 12 2017, 10:09pm | 18 comments

EMPs and nukular codes and cyber crap and submarines, oh my! “What does this have to do with us?” Michelle Rodriguez cries, and I’m like I know, right?

curated: soundscape of my adolescence

Tue Apr 11 2017, 01:01pm | 2 comments

Ah, to hear that again…

curated: “Rescued by Rover,” 1905

Tue Apr 11 2017, 11:50am | 1 comment

Meet Blair the collie, the first dog movie star.

curated: a new service for streaming classic ‘Doctor Who’ in the US

Mon Apr 10 2017, 10:26pm | 0 comments

Get out yer wallets…

curated: why CG sucks (except it doesn’t)

Mon Apr 10 2017, 10:25pm | 2 comments


God Knows Where I Am documentary review: into her mind

Mon Apr 10 2017, 04:58pm | 0 comments

A meditative, enormously sad, and sometimes angry-making portrait; provides a stark peek into a mind mentally ill yet remarkably confident and determined.

The Belko Experiment movie review: team-killing exercise

Mon Apr 10 2017, 01:20pm | 4 comments

A one-note scenario that never ups the ante on itself, and never even bothers to use its extreme situation to send up office politics or corporate policies.

curated: Star Trek Continues E08: “Still Treads the Shadow”

Sat Apr 08 2017, 04:04pm | 3 comments

I’m still absolutely thrilled at what a perfect pastiche of the original Star Trek series this fan-made project is.

Going in Style movie review: pabulum and circuses

Fri Apr 07 2017, 07:54pm | 0 comments

Bland, tasteless entertainmentstuff intended to neither move nor offend, and succeeds as such. A sad pile of unfunny nothing that falls painfully flat.

curated: Bad Lip Reading Star Wars The Force Awakens

Thu Apr 06 2017, 09:42pm | 4 comments

You’re welcome.

City of Tiny Lights movie review: mushy modern noir

Thu Apr 06 2017, 05:06pm | 3 comments

Doesn’t hit all the noir tropes so much as it wrings all the gloomy joy from them, and the mystery is underwhelming and unmysterious, but still: Riz Ahmed.

Aftermath movie review: a series of unfortunate events

Thu Apr 06 2017, 01:52pm | 1 comment

Deeply uninvolving, often weirdly stilted and amateurish, and emotionally inert, which is pretty unforgivable given its subject matter of grief and despair.

curated: explaining the problem of black Brits playing African Americans onscreen

Thu Apr 06 2017, 11:45am | 1 comment

Good stuff here.

Their Finest movie review: keeping calm and carrying on making movies

Wed Apr 05 2017, 02:08pm | 6 comments

Delightful dry and snarky satire on wartime propaganda, sharp feminist commentary, and a brilliant cast make this snappy historical dramedy a real corker.

curated: screenings of ‘1984’ happening across the US and Canada (and one screen in England) today

Tue Apr 04 2017, 11:17am | 0 comments

April 4th was chosen to commemorate the day that Winston Smith began writing his diary.

Snowden movie review: the system’s self-correction

Mon Apr 03 2017, 09:47pm | 0 comments

A gripping précis of what Edward Snowden learned at the CIA and NSA, why he went public, and why it matters. Entertaining yet also deeply unsettling.

curated: Marvel dance-off

Mon Apr 03 2017, 03:32pm | 2 comments

Best. Thing. Ever.

curated: good rundown of Hollywood whitewashing as exemplified by ‘Ghost in the Shell’

Mon Apr 03 2017, 03:30pm | 6 comments

All of this cannot be repeated often enough.

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