Author: Amy Nicholson

  • Benicio Del Toro Shines in Dark War Comedy ‘A Perfect Day’

    Benicio Del Toro has the basset-hound look of a beast you can trust — or, at least, he’ll happily admit when he’s lying. He’s the right man for a rotten world, with heavy-lidded, handsome eyes made for giving any tough spot an appraising squint. Recently, he’s played a string of scoundrels: cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar […]

  • Tim Blake Nelson’s ‘Anesthesia’ Assumes the Worst About Us All

    In the opening shot of Tim Blake Nelson’s Anesthesia, the great character actor’s fifth and most ambitious film as a writer-director, the screen is suddenly filled with the face of an old man (Sam Waterston) crossing a New York street, fully alert and demanding to be seen. Walter is a philosophy professor, though we don’t […]

  • Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Anomalisa’ Pulls All Our Strings

    Charlie Kaufman is a cartographer of the soul. You can picture him hunched over parchment accurately inking each dark river and, off to the side, cautioning that there be dragons. What makes Kaufman cinema’s best psychoanalyst is a contradiction. He sees people for who we are — hurtful, hopeful, lovely, lonely, and dull — and […]

  • Quentin Tarantino Is About to Drop His Most Unconventional Film in Decades

    Here’s a true story about a St. Louis murder that changed America. In 1837, a black freeman named Francis McIntosh stepped off a Mississippi riverboat and blundered into two white cops chasing a drunk sailor who’d called them names. They ordered McIntosh to stop the perp; when he refused, they arrested him for breaching the […]

  • Relax — ‘The Force Awakens’ Is the Third Good ‘Star Wars’ Movie

    George Lucas is the L. Ron Hubbard of Hollywood. Both men were sci-fi dreamers turned mega-millionaires who spun their pulp adventures into a religion. Tap the power within yourself, they urged. The faithful forked over their dollars. Then both Lucas and Hubbard mucked up their simple premise with add-ons like magic floating particles and space […]

  • The Top 10 Films of 2015: The Best of the Year That Kept Giving

    How good was 2015 for movies? My first draft of a top ten was a staggering top thirty. I had to make some agonizing cuts and punt by giving documentaries their own sidebar — this year, they’ve earned it. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: Watch every one by New Year’s Eve. OK, […]

  • ‘Sisters’ Isn’t Brilliant, but Fey and Poehler Make It a Bash

    What’s quietly revolutionary about Sisters is that it’s a dumb party movie like a million others. The hosts score booze, invite over dozens of friends and frenemies, and then watch in horror — and a touch of self-congratulatory awe — as their house gets trashed. With the sunrise come lessons, hugs, and a hell of […]

  • Captain Ron: Howard’s Whale Flick Ain’t ‘Dick,’ but It Ain’t Bad

    Years after Moby-Dick was a flop, Herman Melville visited an old ship’s captain named George Pollard. Both men had seen better days. In their youth, both had sailed the seas with some success. Melville had written novels about his adventures with island girls, and Pollard had once helmed one of Nantucket’s most successful whaling ships, […]

  • For ‘Chi-Raq,’ His Best in Years, Spike Lee Looks to the Ancients

    Oh Zeus, hear my lament that I was not present when Spike Lee imagined updating Lysistrata to present-day Chicago. I bet he burst himself cackling. Aristophanes’ 411 B.C. comedy, written during the three-decade Peloponnesian War, concocts a crazy scheme: Women refuse sex until their blue-balled men give in and declare a truce. With Lee’s Chi-Raq, […]

  • Telling Its Story of a Gender Pioneer, ‘The Danish Girl’ Holds to Formula

    The Danish Girl, Tom Hooper’s portrait of Jazz Age painters Gerda Wegener and her spouse, Einar, who butterflied into Lili Elbe via the first sexual-assignment surgery, is about gender and it isn’t. Like its subject, it’s fatally resolved to fit an ideal: the noble Oscar-bait biopic. If the script swapped transsexuality for heroin addiction, the […]