A Work in Progress

My website it currently undergoing a pretty major design overhaul. Please bear with me as progress continues. All of the links should still work, but you may find yourself on a page that still has the old design.

Coming soon to Joel on Film: Joel on Oscars! I'm making changes, some cosmetic and others a bit more necessary, to the front page of this website and various others throughout (Pardon my dust as I clean up around here), and that includes tackling the awards season. Yes, this will be a permanent fixture at the site now, updated every two weeks from October to broadcast. Just keep an eye on the top of the page for that soon!

Lean on Pete

Review coming soon!

Submergence

Submergence is a prolonged experiment in seeing how convincingly and for how long it can separate its central pair of lovers until an inevitable kind of frustration sets in. That frustration comes pretty quickly in the screenplay by Erin Dignam (adapting J.M. Ledgard's novel) and in director Wim Wenders's tendency to overly dramatize every, solitary development in the plot. The film flashes from the present to a moment in the recent past with little attention paid to its human element, and by the time the final shot, blanketed in white and conveying a certain hopelessness, arrives, it has long become difficult to care.

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You Were Never Really Here

Review coming soon!

Proud Mary

One can vaguely detect, far beneath the decidedly familiar surface of Proud Mary, a movie that is trying to say something about the trickle-down effect of violence within the succession of generations. After all, the eponymous assassin was born into a crime family, and the main thread of the screenplay has her attempting to escape that life. The climax is a violent shootout, which is pretty much the only way such a person could escape such a life. Unfortunately, director Babak Najafi and screenwriters John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal, and Steve Antin do nothing to comment on this idea, which has some potential that has gone completely unexplored.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

(In preparation for Avengers: Infinity War, to be released near the franchise's tenth anniversary, I am embarking upon a reevaluation of Phases One and Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Phase Three is still in progress, none of those films will be included. Click Continue reading... to find out my updated thoughts on 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron and stay tuned for more during the next few weeks!)

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Ant-Man

(In preparation for Avengers: Infinity War, to be released near the franchise's tenth anniversary, I am embarking upon a reevaluation of Phases One and Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Phase Three is still in progress, none of those films will be included. Click Continue reading... to find out my updated thoughts on 2015's Ant-Man and stay tuned for more during the next few weeks!)

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Classic Cinema Corner
Classic Corner

Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope

Even today, "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope" is relentless in its pacing and highly effective in its relaying of the hero's journey, told through the prism of an oddball space western never expected to succeed by writer/director George Lucas. It's amusing now, seeing the film as a fairly straightforward study of good vs. evil, to consider that it was mocked by those contemporary filmmakers who thought Lucas foolish to take on such fringe genre material. This is a story of light and dark, of a force that binds the galaxy together, and of three ragtag antiheroes forced into a conflict that seems to have spanned decades.

There is the young man whose past dictates his future and his fate and who dreams of better things off in the space outside his planet that includes two suns to the west. There is the young woman, a member of her planet's royal family but far more headstrong and willful than that implies, who simply wants peace for her people. There is the scoundrel, whose gruffness is as lovable as his ruthlessness is disarming (He kills another smuggler out of both self-defense and self-preservation). There is the main heavy, a villain of real menace whose connection to the hero is the fuel for a classic revenge story and who has the physical presence necessary for the job of villain.

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