David Edelstein

David Edelstein is a film critic for New York magazine and for NPR's Fresh Air, and an occasional commentator on film for CBS Sunday Morning. He has also written film criticism for the Village Voice, The New York Post, and Rolling Stone, and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times' Arts & Leisure section.

A member of the National Society of Film Critics, he is the author of the play Blaming Mom, and the co-author of Shooting to Kill (with producer Christine Vachon).

Pages

9:57pm

Thu January 19, 2012
Movie Reviews

'Coriolanus': A People's Hero Turns On His Own

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 10:16 am

Bare-Knuckle Politics: The battle-hardened Roman general Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) runs for office at the urging of his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) β€” but it turns out he's no booster of majority rule.
Larry D. Horricks The Weinstein Co.

Ralph Fiennes showed up for a frenzied cameo near the end of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, and her hand-held, adrenaline-charged approach clearly inspired his film of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which he both acts and directs the bloody hell out of.

Read more

1:02pm

Thu January 12, 2012
Movie Reviews

An 'Iron Lady' Fully Inhabited By Meryl Streep

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 10:12 am

Meryl Streep (center) stars as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's biopic about the former prime minister of the United Kingdom.
The Weinstein Co.

I admit I was biased against the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady. Not, you understand, against Thatcher and her Tory politics. Against Meryl Streep and her accents. Which are great, no doubt. But I went in resolved not to fall for her pyrotechnics yet again. I wanted realism.

Well, it didn't take long to realize that I was watching not only one of the greatest impersonations I'd ever seen β€” but one that was also emotionally real.

Read more

9:46am

Fri January 6, 2012
Movie Reviews

'Extremely Loud' And Incredibly Manipulative

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 3:24 pm

A year after his father's death in the World Trade Center, 11-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) sets out on a citywide scavenger hunt to find a missing lock that he hopes will reveal a message from his dad.
Francois Duhamel Warner Bros. Pictures

Some critics are indignant over Stephen Daldry's film of Jonathan Safran Foer's book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They say the appropriation of Sept. 11 for such a sentimental work is exploitation.

Read more

9:05am

Fri December 16, 2011
Movie Reviews

An 'Impossible' Mission Full Of Fun And Wonder

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his Impossible Mission Force go to great heights to combat the threat of a nuclear confrontation in Mission: Impossible β€” Ghost Protocol.
Paramount Pictures

The fourth Mission: Impossible picture is nonsense from beginning to end β€” and wonderful fun. The director is Brad Bird, of Ratatouille and The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, and there's no doubt now, in his live-action debut, that he's a filmmaker first and an animator second. Part 4, titled Mission: Impossible β€” Ghost Protocol, is in a different league from its predecessors.

Read more

9:17am

Fri December 9, 2011
Movie Reviews

Spies Like Them: 'Tinker, Tailor' And Other Odd Ilk

Originally published on Fri December 9, 2011 11:28 am

Operative Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) goes undercover in Hungary to find out more about a possible Russian spy within the U.K.'s secret intelligence agency.
Focus Features

Most people will find the first 20 minutes of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy difficult to follow β€” I did, and I've read John le Carre's novel and seen the haunting 1979 BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness, although decades ago.

The movie is chopped up into short scenes featuring people we don't know working for a circus β€” what? β€” and for someone called "C," and talking about a woman called Karla? Meanwhile, the star, Gary Oldman, doesn't say a word for the first 18 minutes.

Read more

10:23am

Fri December 2, 2011
Movie Reviews

For Fassbender, Two Perspectives On The Perils Of Sex

Fassbender's Carl Jung β€” Sigmund Freud's protege β€” struggles to reconcile theory and practice in A Dangerous Method.
Sony Pictures Classics

The Irish actor Michael Fassbender stars in two current films that revolve around the perils of sex β€” which means you see him have a lot, so he'll have something to regret.

You know how the sex will play out in Shame, because of, well, the title. Fassbender plays a sex addict, Brandon Sullivan, born in Ireland, raised in New Jersey, and he seems to work in advertising, which is unfortunate since he resembles Mad Men's John Hamm.

Read more

11:42am

Wed November 23, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Hugo:' A Dazzling 3-D Display Of Movie Magic

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 10:53 am

Orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield and his vivacious new friend Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) marvel at the magic of the motion picture in Hugo.
Jaap Buitendijk Paramount Pictures

In Hugo, Martin Scorsese has hired himself a bunch of A-plus-list artists and techies, and together they've crafted a deluxe, gargantuan train-set of a movie in which the director and his 3-D camera can whisk and whizz and zig and zag and show off all his expensive toys β€” and wax lyrical on the magic of movies.

The source is Brian Selznick's illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which takes place in 1930 and centers on an orphaned 12-year-old, played in the film by Asa Butterfield, who lives in a flat in the bowels of the Paris station.

Read more

5:58pm

Thu November 17, 2011
Movie Reviews

'The Descendants': In Paradise, A Stranger To Himself

Island Son: George Clooney (left, with Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) navigates tricky territory as a Hawaii man whose wife is on life support.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Writer-director Alexander Payne is either the American cinema's most acerbic humanist or its most empathetic jerk. Whichever it is, the protagonists of the novels he adapts are outsiders who pay an emotional price for their sense of superiority.

Payne's The Descendants is his first film to be told from the perspective of a person of privilege, but real-estate lawyer Matt King (George Clooney) is the ultimate outsider: a stranger to his family and his lifelong home, Hawaii.

Read more

10:10am

Fri November 11, 2011
Movie Reviews

As The World Ends, A Certain 'Melancholia' Sets In

Kirsten Dunst's well-planned wedding takes place as a planet called Melancholia heads directly towards Earth.
Magnolia Pictures

Metaphors don't come balder than the one at the center of Lars von Trier's Melancholia. It's both the emotional state of the protagonist Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, and also the name of a small planet on what might be a collision course with Earth. Actually, it does strike Earth in a lyrical, eight-minute, slow-motion prelude, but there's no way to know if that's real or a dream. Of course, the whole film can be taken as a dream, a bad but gorgeous one scored to the same few bars of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

Read more

11:54pm

Thu November 3, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Crazy' In Love, And Feeling Every Moment Of It

In Drake Doremus's drama Like Crazy, the lovestruck Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) are forced to separate when Anna violates the terms of her student visa.
Fred Hayes Paramount Vantage

Movies are often about falling in love and sometimes falling out of love, but the best for my money are about falling in and out of love in a way you'd need a higher order of physics to graph. That higher physicist could start with Drake Doremus's drama Like Crazy, which evokes as well as any film I've seen the now loopy, now jagged flow from infatuation to intoxication to addiction to withdrawal to re-addiction. It's not an especially deep or psychological movie. It's just crazy painful.

Read more

9:19am

Fri October 28, 2011
Movie Reviews

Shakespeare, Thompson: Stick To The Print Versions

Rhys Ifans plays the Elizabethan aristocrat Edward de Vere in Roland Emmerich's Anonymous. The movie speculates that de Vere, not Shakespeare, was the real author of the bard's works.

Reiner Bajo Columbia Pictures

Two new films show how tough it is to do justice to good writers on-screen. Johnny Depp certainly means to do right by his pal Hunter S. Thompson in The Rum Diary. He played Thompson in Terry Gilliam's rollicking but not especially watchable Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and narrated a documentary about him.

Read more

4:02pm

Thu October 20, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Margin Call': A Movie Occupied With Wall Street

Kevin Spacey gives "a major performance, his best in a decade," as a Wall Street executive trying to do the right thing in the middle of a financial panic.

JoJo Whiden Roadside Attractions

The timing is almost too good: a terrific Wall Street melodrama at the moment the Occupy Wall Street protests are building. We haven't seen the like since Three Mile Island had a near-meltdown a couple of days after The China Syndrome exploded into theaters. Now, Margin Call seems anything but marginal.

Read more

3:30pm

Thu October 13, 2011
Movie Reviews

Almodovar Gets Under The 'Skin,' But How Deeply?

Originally published on Fri October 14, 2011 1:54 pm

Vera (Elena Anaya) is both patient and obsession for plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), who is bent on creating a synthetic skin that can resist any kind of damage.

Sony Pictures Classics

At festivals and in interviews, Pedro Almodovar is such a furry cuddle bear that it's possible to forget what a perverse filmmaker he can be β€” that is, until you watch something like his nasty new gender-bent Frankenstein picture, The Skin I Live In. It's a self-conscious, madly ambitious work, rife with allusions to countless other films. But does it have a soul? I couldn't detect one amid all its borrowed tropes.

Read more

4:32pm

Thu October 6, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Ides Of March': These Days, All Politics Is Lowball

Ryan Gosling plays a cheeky campaign press secretary facing a scandal that could destroy his candidate.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Before it turns predictably cynical, George Clooney's campaign melodrama The Ides of March plays like gangbusters. The banter is fast, the cast in clover: Actors love to play hyperarticulate characters, people who actually know what they're talking about, and there are lots of good details here about How Things Work behind the scenes in a political campaign.

Read more

4:34pm

Thu September 29, 2011
Movie Reviews

An Atmospheric 'Shelter' For Era Full Of Foreboding

Dark Skies: Jeff Nichols' haunting Take Shelter centers on an Ohio man (Michael Shannon, with Tova Stewart) plagued with nightmares about a coming apocalypse.
Sony Pictures Classics

It's easy to giggle at the hero of Jeff Nichols' second feature, Take Shelter. Michael Shannon is Curtis, a crew chief for an Ohio sand-mining company who's ravaged by apocalyptic visions and nightmares. He's wiggy to start with and increasingly more unhinged, on a switchback track to madness that threatens to devastate his family. Curtis sees funnel clouds, locusts, even people staggering through the night like zombies. He knows it might all be in his head: His mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia at about the same age he is now. But in the end, he follows his dreams.

Read more

6:23am

Fri September 23, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Moneyball': A 'Bad News Bears' For MBAs

Brad Pitt plays the former Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane who revolutionized the recruiting analysis in major league baseball.
Melinda Sue Gordon ASSOCIATED PRESS

The film of Michael Lewis's game-changing nonfiction bestseller Moneyball is inside baseball, literally, but it wouldn't be so rousing if that were all it was. The book tells the story of Billy Beane, the General Manager of a small-market ball team, the Oakland Athletics. Heading into the 2002 season, he has a quarter the amount of money to pay players as the near-perennial champions the Yankees.

Read more

4:33pm

Thu September 15, 2011
Movie Reviews

A Twisty, Brutal 'Drive' For A Level-Headed Hero

The Fast Lane: A Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) earns a little extra by driving getaway cars by night.
Richard Foreman FilmDistrict

The hero of Drive is called "Driver" because that's what he does, and in a thriller this self-consciously existential, what he does is who he is.

He's played by Ryan Gosling as a kind of anti-blowhard. He's taciturn, watchful, cool. He works as a mechanic and sometimes a Hollywood driving stuntman. He also drives getaway cars with astonishing proficiency and a computer-like knowledge of L.A. surface streets, holding a matchstick between his teeth as if to keep his mouth from moving, and his feelings under wraps.

Read more

1:36pm

Wed August 31, 2011
Movies

A Graceful Search For 'Higher Ground'

Vera Farmiga plays Corinne Walker, a woman who decides to join and then flee a fundamentalist religious group. The film, directed by Farmiga, is based on Carolyn S. Briggs' memoir This Dark World.
Molly Hawkey Sony Picture Classics

Vera Farmiga's Higher Ground centers on a woman who joins and, after a decade, flees a fundamentalist religious order, but the tone isn't irreverent: The film is flushed with wonder, hope, and, finally, heartbreak. In the memoir on which it's based, This Dark World, writer Carolyn S. Briggs never stops longing for a connection to God.

Read more

10:00am

Thu August 18, 2011
Movie Reviews

Four Hours In 'Lisbon': A Rich And Dreamy Voyage

Pedro da Silva, an orphaned boy trying to uncover his family history, appears in two different incarnations in Mysteries Of Lisbon (including Afonso Pimentel as his older self). He stages all of the events of the film on his own puppet stage, forcing viewers to question what's real and what isn't.
Music Box Films

Chilean-born director Raoul Ruiz is 70 years old has made more than 100 films, only a few of which have been distributed in the U.S. β€” but he's beloved at festivals and in film studies programs everywhere. I've seen seven of his movies, and five struck me as less than meets the eye β€” not just difficult but pointlessly disorienting, the disjunctions like manic tics meant to break up the relationship between image and language.

Read more

9:57am

Wed August 10, 2011
Movie Reviews

Heavy-Handed 'Help' Saved By Great Acting

From left: Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek and Octavia Spencer star in The Help, based on a novel by Kathryn Stockett.
Dale Robinette Dreamworks Pictures

Few fictional films wear their political messages as proudly or loudly as The Help, which centers on black female domestic servants in Jackson, Miss., in the early 60s and a 23-year-old white woman who induces them to tell their stories for a book to be called, appropriately enough, The Help.

Read more

Pages