SCRAPPER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

There are way too few movies about girls, and even fewer about girls in the precarious tween years. Scrapper’s protagonist, 12-year-old Georgie, is more precarious than most. Oh, it’s not that the trials and dangers of female adolescence have hit her yet — in fact, she’s lingering in that strange preteen twilight of imagining you’re much more grown up than you actually are.

Read more

REVOIR PARIS (aka PARIS MEMORIES) – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

It feels like a precious gift, the latest film from French director Alice Winocour, a delicately constructed journey through trauma and recovery that cuts like a knife and soothes like a hug, somehow, miraculously, managing both bundles of feeling at the same time.

Read more

OPPENHEIMER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

In a way, Christopher Nolan’s three-hour, shot-in-IMAX historical docudrama epic entitled Oppenheimer isn’t really about J. Robert Oppenheimer at all. Yes, even though it’s full of extreme closeups of the anguished scientist and much figurative rending of garments over his role in the creation of our modern world in which an atomic sword of Damocles hangs over us all.

Read more

RARE OBJECTS – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

For her third feature film, actor-turned-director Katie Holmes appointed herself a challenging task: adapting a novel that is introspective and meandering, neither of which are qualities that easily translate to the screen. The result? Rare Objects is not entirely successful. But it is honest and unassuming, a story about kindness and gentleness that is never insipid or sentimental.

Read more

HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Even before I saw this movie, I thought it had a good chance of being the film of the year. Of the decade, even. And I don’t mean that I think it’s gonna win tons of Oscars. I mean in a more fundamental, profoundly philosophical way. I wondered if this might even feel like the first movie of the 21st century, zeitgeist-wise.

Read more

FULL TIME – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

I can’t believe it’s taken this long for someone to make a movie about single-motherhood as a relentless heart-in-your-throat ticking-clock thriller. I’m not a mom of any stripe, but I have friends who are single moms, and I’ve seen how absolutely precarious it is, every day, balancing work and child care and a woman’s own sanity.

Read more

BLUE JEAN – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

This is a powerful, necessary film. It is 1988, and Jean is a PE teacher in Newcastle, in the northeast of England. A new law, known as Section 28, is about to come into force under the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. It is meant to restrict the “promotion of homosexuality,” which means pretty much any acknowledgement that gay people exist.

Read more

MAGIC MIKE’S LAST DANCE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

His last dance? Magic Mike’s last dance? Promise? I am not a Channing Tatum fan, and I am not a fan of these Magic Mike movies. But even I can see that many of the things that so many people liked about the first two movies are simply missing here. There’s no comedy. There’s no buddy bromance.

Read more

A MAN CALLED OTTO – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

The film never hits on anything that Otto is being truly unreasonable about, which deflates the premise of the story: that Otto is allegedly such a preposterous grump that other people have trouble liking him, but that somehow, their persistent and, I guess, unexpectedly cheerful kindness will eventually bust through his irascibility and save him from his life of angry aloneness.

Read more

TURN EVERY PAGE: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBERT CARO AND ROBERT GOTTLIEB – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

An exploration of a working partnership of half a century that is perhaps more intimate than another filmmaker might have achieved — the director is the daughter of one of its subjects, after all. But its crisp, congenial charms overlay a clear-eyed, unsentimental elegy for an era in journalism and publishing that even dedicated culture-watchers may not have realized has all but disappeared.

Read more