Queen and Slim Review: Race and Fate in America

Queen and Slim’s title characters (Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, respectively) are billed as the black Bonnie & Clyde. Screenwriter Lena Waithe (Master of None) draws parallels to the infamous outlaw couple throughout the film; although both parties are fugitive lovers on the run, the circumstances surrounding their most-wanted statuses are determined by the racial history of the country hunting them.

Oscars: Is 1917 Inevitable?

Bong Joon-ho’s splendid class-war thriller, Parasite, is waiting in the wings to become the Academy Awards’ first foreign-language Best Picture winner. Only one thing stands in the South Korean film’s way: the dogged, irrepressible march of history. If Bong hadn’t devised the year’s singular masterpiece, a perfect butter-and-salt blend of popcorn entertainment and shrewd cultural commentary, the betting-market favorite (and admittedly good) 1917 would be a respectable winner. With Parasite in the mix, 1917 is a tired return to the familiar.

Joker Review: An Empty Origin for Batman’s Archenemy

The origin story for the Clown Prince of Crime, whose history is often as fluid as his sanity, is firmly established in Joker. Loosely remaking Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, director Todd Phillips riffs on the Martin Scorsese classics without revamping them. Star Joaquin Phoenix is contorted and damaged as Batman’s notorious archnemesis, but never approaches Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Joker masquerades as prestige film without revealing emotional, political, or intellectual depth behind its clown-shaped mask.

Little Women Review: Finding Originality on Well-Tread Ground

A hectic opening 15 minutes set the pace for writer-director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s literary classic. The seventh adaptation (!) of Little Women extracts its tone from its frenetic, distinctive, engrossing quadrivium of stars. Gerwig’s optimistic, feministic take on the 1868 novel uncovers an original film, even on the seventh try.