Tag: 2017

**** (out of 4)

In 1971, Dirty Harry director Don Siegel decided to helm the first movie adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s novel The Beguiled. From a simple premise – during the Civil War, a wounded Northern soldier named John McBurney is taken in by a group of Southern women, and neither party has had serious contact with the opposite sex in years – Siegel constructed a film that only feels more dated with each passing year. Clint Eastwood’s Corporal McBurney comes off as a saint-like man whose less savory actions – making out with middle-school girls, threatening to rape slaves – can all be forgiven with a few mea culpas. [1] Each of the women, moreover, falls neatly into one of the two reigning stereotypical depictions of female characters in film: the passive maiden or the evil temptress. Add in Siegel’s usage of a happy slave, and you’ve got a movie that promotes a blatantly false view of gender, race, and history.

Thankfully, Sofia Coppola’s refreshing remake of The Beguiled gets rid of all the aforementioned tropes. But more than that, it’s also darker than Siegel’s version, both literally and figuratively.

Reviews - In Theaters

*** (out of 4)

Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz at Dinner is one of the first movies to take a stab at providing social commentary in the Trump era. On the surface, its brevity (82 minutes) and ostensibly simplistic premise – seven people have dinner together – could easily make it seem like a piece of fluff. But don’t be fooled: what goes down here is a bitter yet surprisingly gripping clash of economic, social, and cultural worldviews.

Reviews - In Theaters

* ½ (out of 4)

If you haven’t actually seen Roger Michell’s My Cousin Rachel, you could easily be tricked into believing that it faithfully carries forth the Hitchcockian tradition of suspense. The story, after all, is based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier, the English author of the books that inspired Hitchcock’s Rebecca and The Birds. Rachel’s various trailers take pains to amplify the “mysterious” nature of the plot – which, for reference, follows a man named Philip (Sam Claflin) as he gets to know a woman (named Rachel, played by Rachel Weisz) who may or may not be responsible for the death of his guardian. Even Michell himself has openly stated that he made Rachel with the intention of creating “the sensation of horror hovering at the edge of the frame.”

With such high expectations buffeting Rachel before you enter the theater, you’re bound to come out at least somewhat dissatisfied. Yet even if you watch Rachel with no knowledge of its background, the movie completely underwhelms.

Reviews - In Theaters