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!
Review coming soon!
The nature of the relationship at the center of Entanglement is, to say the least, awkward, and that is before a pair of third-act revelations that force us to reevaluate everything we know. Jason Filiatrault's screenplay is a balancing act teetering constantly between genuine insight into our protagonist and sanctimonious claptrap that involves a lot of existential hooey about fate. Director Jason Jones' achievement is to make this story at least slightly palatable, at least until the second revelation. Yes, it is difficult to discuss without going into detail, and yes, the film treats these developments as revelations, meaning that it would be unfair to go into detail.
The Female Brain
The central joke of The Female Brain is that men and women, as (reductively speaking) the two halves of the human species, fall into certain stereotypes on principle: Men are domineering, and women are emotional. It provides a lot of scientific information via freeze-frames on some external examples of these stereotypes to support that hypothesis, pointing to a certain area of the human brain in the two genders and explaining to the audience (quite literally, as the framing device is a TEDtalk-type event at which our protagonist is speaking) what control those areas of the brain have over the humans in the story being told. Then the film paints itself into a corner.
Review coming soon!
Golden Exits is one of those movies in which characters who wallow in the ennui of their dull lives elucidate sociological and philosophical ideas that, one might think, would be beyond their abilities to comprehend. They know themselves so well, conveying to each other the deepest fears and insecurities of their soul (as well as their desires) to people who might not be prepared for such openness, that it is possibly more frustrating to us than to them that they will not act on behalf of those fears, insecurities, and desires. That is not, unfortunately, a testament to authenticity on the part of director Alex Ross Perry's screenplay but an acknowledgment of its limitations.
Review coming soon!
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.