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).

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Movie Reviews
11:11 am
Fri March 28, 2014

In 'Noah,' Earth And The Bible Get A Computer-Generated Reboot

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 2:20 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Darren Aronofsky had a surprise hit in 2010 with "Black Swan," which won an Oscar for its star, Natalie Portman. His latest film, "Noah," is a big budget Bible epic based on the story of Noah's Ark. Russell Crowe plays the title character, and the movie also features Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson.

Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Movie Reviews
10:13 am
Fri March 21, 2014

'Nymphomaniac': Chasing Sex, But Only On Her Terms

Felicity Gilbert, Shia LaBeouf and Stacy Martin in one of the episodic flashbacks that spin out the story of Nymphomaniac: Volume I.
Christian Geisnaes Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:09 pm

Lars von Trier's latest provocation is an episodic sexual epic called Nymphomaniac, which comes in two two-hour parts, or "volumes," though it's basically one movie sliced in half. The thinking must have been, "Who wants four hours of hardcore sex and philosophizing?," and if you say, "Me, me!," I suggest seeing both back to back: It's an art-house orgy!

Should you see it at all? I recommend it guardedly. It's dumb, but in a bold, ambitious way movies mostly aren't these days, especially when there's sex in the equation. And it's funny, sometimes intentionally.

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Movie Reviews
4:02 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

'Grand Budapest Hotel': Kitsch, Cameos And A Gloriously Stylized Europe

Ralph Fiennes plays Gustave H., a hotel concierge given to bedding his elderly guests, in Wes Anderson's latest film.
Bob Yeoman Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 4:46 pm

Wes Anderson has his share of groupies and his somewhat smaller share of skeptics who find him a tad precious. As someone who leans toward the precious view, but is open to his grace notes, I found The Grand Budapest Hotel mostly delightful.

It's a madcap comedy, but with hints of tragedy lurking outside the usual Anderson dollhouse frames. The central character is Gustave H., played by Ralph Fiennes. He's the concierge of a kitschy, opulent, high-class European hotel between World Wars I and II.

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Movie Reviews
1:24 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Liam Neeson's Action Chops Take Flight In 'Non-Stop'

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Liam Neeson became a bankable action hero in 2008 with the thriller "Taken." Now almost 62, he's still getting out of tight corners with his fists in the new action thriller "Non-Stop," most of which unfolds on a transatlantic flight from New York to London. The film also stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Movie Reviews
1:14 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

'Wind Rises' Is Exquisite, And Likely To Be Hayao Miyazaki's Last

In the film, which Miyazaki says is his last, the wind carries off the parasol of a fragile girl, Nahoko, into the hands of Jiro — who will fall in love with her.
Studio Ghibli Nibariki

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:57 pm

The 73-year-old Japanese animation titan Hayao Miyazaki says The Wind Rises is his final film, and if that's true — and I hope it's not but fear it is, since he's not the type to make rash declarations — he's going out on a high.

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Movie Reviews
2:18 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Masterpieces In Peril, 'Monuments Men' Protects, But Also Panders

Critic David Edelstein says that The Monuments Men has "an all-star cast" — including Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett — but that "the stars are all low-wattage."
Claudette Barius Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 3:32 pm

George Clooney's The Monuments Men tells the largely true story of a squad of art experts who, near the end of World War II, are assigned to protect the masterworks of European society from Nazi theft and Allied bombardment. You'll notice those are two separate goals.

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Movie Reviews
10:31 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Middle-Aged And Divorced, 'Gloria' Takes On Life's Uncertainties

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 4:23 pm

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. "Gloria" is a new film from Chile that centers on a late-middle-aged divorced woman whose life is full of uncertainties. She's played by Paulina Garcia, who won the top acting prize - the Silver Bear - at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, where the movie was a surprise hit. It opens this week in New York and Los Angeles, and wider next month. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Movie Reviews
11:59 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Jack Ryan Gets A Makeover, And A Quick Trip To Moscow

Chris Pine and Keira Knightley anchor Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, opposite Kevin Costner as a CIA veteran and Kenneth Branagh as the story's big bad.
Larry Horricks Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 3:05 pm

A franchise is what we used to call a Burger King or a Shell station, but nowadays the word appears more often in relation to movies: the Star Wars franchise, the Hunger Games franchise, the Jack Ryan franchise — or in the case of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the Jack Ryan franchise reboot. I don't know what's more depressing: that what fires up studio execs is the hunt for a new franchise or that critics have adopted this business lingo uncritically.

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Movie Reviews
1:59 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

'Invisible Woman' Charts Charles Dickens' Hidden Relationship

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 2:30 pm

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. The new film, "The Invisible Woman," charts the hidden relationship between Charles Dickens and a young actress for whom left his wife, but who for years never showed up in biographies of Dickens. It's the second film directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also plays Dickens and features Felicity Jones as the actress, Nelly Ternan.

Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Movie Reviews
12:18 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

A Man And His Machine, Finding Out What Love Is

In the sci-fi romance Her, a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in a rather unexpected place — with a computer operating system named Samantha.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:24 pm

Her is the best film of the year by a so-wide margin. It's gorgeous, funny, deep — and I can hear some smart aleck say, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" Let me tell you, I'd like to!

I certainly identify with the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, who falls in love with his computer operating system, his OS, which calls itself — sorry, I gotta say "who calls herself" — Samantha, and who sounds like a breathy young woman.

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Movie Reviews
12:34 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

A 'Hustle' With Flow (And Plenty Of Flair)

A '70s con-artist couple (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) are forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper, right) in American Hustle, inspired by a real-life sting targeting corrupt politicians.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 2:46 pm

David O. Russell hovers at the top of my list of favorite directors. He captures the messy collision of self-interests that for him defines America. In American Hustle, he whips up a black comedy based on Abscam, the late-'70s FBI sting that centered on a bogus sheik and led to the bribery convictions of sundry U.S. politicians. But he doesn't tell the real Abscam story; he adapts it to fit his theme, which is that most of us are busy reinventing ourselves and conning one another.

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Movie Reviews
1:34 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Great Soundtrack Aside, 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Hits A Sour Note

In the Coen brothers' latest film, down and out Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is trying to make ends meet as a folk singer in New York in the early 1960s.
Alison Rosa Long Strange Trip/CBS Films

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:05 pm

The films of Joel and Ethan Coen pose a challenge: How do we reconcile their wildly disparate tones? Consider O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a burlesque of Homer's Odyssey centering on three stumblebums — but with a soundtrack assembled by T Bone Burnett of heartfelt historical gospel and country music. Ditto The Ladykillers: venal idiot characters, soaring African-American spirituals. The ridiculous and the sublime sit side by side, with no spillover.

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Movie Reviews
7:03 am
Fri November 29, 2013

A Korean Cult Thriller Gets A Spike Lee Makeover

After 20 years in captivity, Joe (Josh Brolin) is released into the world with a hammer and an appetite for revenge in Oldboy, a Spike Lee remake of the 2003 South Korean film.
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle FilmDistrict

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 10:04 am

Spike Lee's movies typically carry the label "A Spike Lee Joint," but Oldboy doesn't. He calls it "a Spike Lee Film," which my guess is Lee's way of saying he's a gun for hire — and that after a line of box office failures and difficulty getting financing for personal projects, he can make a fast, violent action thriller.

And as it happens, he can — a more-than-decent one. But this is also the first time I've come out of a Spike Lee film, bad or good, and not known why it had to be made. It's brutal, effective and utterly without urgency.

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Movie Reviews
2:57 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Across 'Nebraska,' On A Journey That Goes Beyond The Trip

David (Will Forte, left) and his father, Woody (Bruce Dern, center), take time out of their quixotic journey to stop in Woody's small Nebraska hometown — where Woody's old business partner, Ed (Stacy Keach), is still nursing a grudge.
Merie W. Wallace Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 5:47 pm

Last month, I saw the trailer for Alexander Payne's Nebraska, and only the fact that it was a Payne film made me want to see it.

The premise seemed a dead end: Bruce Dern plays an elderly man named Woody Grant living in Billings, Mont., who gets a letter saying he's won $1 million. All he needs to do is call a number and maybe buy a magazine subscription.

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Movie Reviews
11:49 am
Fri October 25, 2013

In Emotionally Charged 'Blue,' Sex Is Graphic, But Not Gratuitous

Blue Is the Warmest Color chronicles the love affair between high school student Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos, left) and Emma (Léa Seydoux), who is older and more experienced.
IFC Films/Sundance Selects/Wild Bunch

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 2:30 pm

Blue Is the Warmest Color is a lesbian coming-of-age movie, and its long and graphic sex scenes have already generated controversy. The director, Abdellatif Kechiche, is a man, and at least one prominent female critic has accused him of leading with his own libido — a charge that I vigorously dispute, but of course I'm a man so take that as you will. Here's what I saw: a film that captures the intensity of sexual discovery — and dependency — in a way I've never seen. It's 179 minutes, every one of them charged. It's a remarkable experience.

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Movie Reviews
11:50 am
Fri October 18, 2013

At Home At Sea: Robert Redford, At His Best Alone

Robert Redford stars in All Is Lost as a solitary man struggling to make his yacht seaworthy again after it collides with a rogue shipping container adrift in the Indian Ocean.
Richard Foreman Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 3:38 pm

As I watched Robert Redford acting all by himself in the superlative survival-at-sea movie All Is Lost, I suddenly realized why the setup feels so perfect: Redford is most in his element when he's alone.

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Movie Reviews
12:11 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

A Pirate Saga More Sobering Than Swashbuckling

Barkhad Abdi (middle) plays Muse, the leader of a band of Somali pirates who take over a freighter in Captain Phillips.
Hopper Stone Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 1:52 pm

Most kidnapping melodramas have final scenes — after their climaxes — that are, effectively, throwaways. There are sighs of relief, tearful reunions with families, cameras that dolly back on domestic tableaux to suggest the world has at last been righted.

I think it's telling that in Captain Phillips the most overwhelming scene is after the resolution, in the infirmary of a ship. So much terror and moral confusion has gone down — so much pain — that the cumulative tension can't be resolved by violence. The movie's grip remains strong even when it cuts to black.

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Movie Reviews
1:58 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Houston, We Have A Space Flick: A Sentimental Mission In Zero 'Gravity'

In Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, an astronaut careening through space after an accident.
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 2:51 pm

In a season in which we're all talking about AMC's phenomenal Breaking Bad and Netflix's elating Orange Is the New Black, Hollywood needs you, your kids and everyone in Europe and China to get out from behind those TV monitors and into theaters. Movie studios are falling behind on compelling narratives. But they can give you what TV can't: absolute, total bombardment.

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Movie Reviews
12:16 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Gordon-Levitt's 'Don Jon' Is An Openhearted Directorial Debut

Joseph Gordon-Levitt --€” in his writing and directing debut --€” plays Jon, a porn addict with no interest in relationships until Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) changes things.
Relativity Media

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 2:15 pm

In phe last decade, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has worked hard to establish himself as a serious actor, and he's been so successful it's easy to forget he came of age in the '90s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. The guy has comedy chops, and he's exercising them again in a smart new movie he wrote and directed called Don Jon.

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Movie Reviews
1:30 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Gandolfini Is So Vivid In 'Enough Said,' You Forget He's Gone

James Gandolfini plays a divorced TV archivist who falls in love with a divorced masseuse, played by Julia-Louis Dreyfus, in Nicole Holofcener'€™s Enough Said.
Lacey Terrell Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 1:42 pm

Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said is her most conventional comedy since her 1996 debut, Walking and Talking. I don't love it as much as her scattershot ensemble movies Friends With Money and Please Give, but it has enough weird dissonances and hilarious little curlicues to remind you her voice is like no other. I love it enough.

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