The cinematic qualities of Fighting With My Family, a biopic about WWE Diva Paige’s rise to the top of the professional wrestling world, aren’t really what interests me about the picture: It’s funny and sweet and pretty basic, a standard underdog-triumphs-in-sports (entertainment) story along the lines of Rudy. Director Stephen Merchant, perhaps best known as Ricky Gervais’s better half …
Alita: Battle Angel may not be the best movie of the year. Heck, it may not even be director Robert Rodriguez’s best adaptation of a comic book. But it will almost certainly be the best big-budget comic book movie released in the first half of 2019 about a super-powered young woman who feels compelled to protect the innocent and is having trouble remembering her past.
Arctic seems at first to be the latest in a long line of films about one man, alone, attempting to survive in a pitiless environment. Unlike All is Lost (2013), which pitted Robert Redford against the ocean, or Cast Away (2000), which pitted Tom Hanks against a desert island, Arctic pits Mads Mikkelsen against the frozen wastes.
It would be fun if streaming services provided any useful data about their viewership. Then, we’d be able to declare an official winner between the dueling documentaries about the ill-fated Fyre Festival. But the producers of Fyre Fraud (Hulu) and FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix) probably don’t care—both movies are receiving plenty of attention. So let me just cut to the chase: The Netflix one is better.
At the request of Free Beaconhead honcho Michael Goldfarb, I recently checked out Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero. Though dismissive at first of the idea of reviewing an animated film about America’s most-decorated dog, I eventually came around. After all, as Mr. Goldfarb put it: “Every cartoon my kids watch is cramming social justice bullshit down their little throats and finally—a movie about killing the Hun!”
There’s something delightfully regressive about the first half or so of Polar, debuting on Netflix this Friday. Unrepentantly violent and unapologetically sexual (and sexy), Polar is happy to rely on cardboard cutouts prancing about in absurd costuming in lieu of characterization and seems charmingly unconcerned with just how distasteful the proceedings are. Unfortunately, director Jonas Akerlund and writer Jayson Rothwell ditch this madcap mode as the film reaches its climax, retreating to an oddly maudlin mood that feels slightly out of step with the rest of the movie.
They Shall Not Grow Old is a truly fascinating cinematic document, the sort of thing that shows the power, and the limitations, of the artform to transport audiences through space and time. Peter Jackson’s documentary about World War I is a minor miracle: a rather simple and straightforward story told in such a fantastically original way that many viewers will feel dispatched to the past.