Peter Debruge: Last News

Harriet Tubman - Ryan Coogler - Peter Debruge - Rosa Parks - Emmett Till - Mamie Till Mobley - ‘Till’ Review: Chinonye Chukwu Re-Centers the Story of a Hate-Crime Victim on the Mother Who Made History - variety.com - USA - Texas - Chicago - state Mississippi
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‘Till’ Review: Chinonye Chukwu Re-Centers the Story of a Hate-Crime Victim on the Mother Who Made History
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic Growing up in Texas toward the tail end of the 20th century, I was not taught about Emmett Till. I’ve learned about him since, of course. Till’s name adorns this year’s overdue federal antilynching act, and his tragic fate has inspired plays and films, including 2018’s Oscar-nominated short, “My Nephew Emmett,” and now a powerful new feature from Chinonye Chukwu, who gave Alfre Woodard one of her greatest roles in 2019 Sundance winner “Clemency.” Till’s story — that of a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who was kidnapped in the middle of the night and lynched while visiting his family in Mississippi — may have been omitted from my Southern schooling for racist reasons, though I suspect it had as much to do with Western culture’s “great man” bias. History, as a field of study, celebrates the achievements of heroic individuals. Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks. Those names were all taught. But Emmett Till was a kid whose murder galvanized the American civil rights movement, and it has taken a different kind of thinking — à la “Say Their Names” campaign or Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” — to position victims in the public’s mind.
Peter Debruge - ‘The Good House’ Review: Sigourney Weaver Plays a Woman With a Secret Everyone Else Can See - variety.com
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‘The Good House’ Review: Sigourney Weaver Plays a Woman With a Secret Everyone Else Can See
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic A middling movie with a must-see performance at its core, “The Good House” does something interesting with the notion of the unreliable narrator. As the unfortunately named Hildy Good (blame novelist Ann Leary, not married filmmakers Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky for that decision), Sigourney Weaver brings deceptive self-confidence to the role of a small-town Realtor. We meet Hildy introducing a couple to the fictional New England fishing village of where the Good family has lived for so long, there’s talk of witches in their past. But Hildy can’t be trusted — not because her character is bad (she’s Good, get it?), but because she’s in denial. “I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist … could in a year of sessions,” Hildy boasts, addressing the audience directly. In truth, she’s not talking to us so much as she is rationalizing things to herself. The slyly insightful way Forbes (“Infinitely Polar Bear”) and Wolodarsky (who spent years writing for animation) have constructed “The Good House,” watching Hildy throw down boss energy to clients and the camera is like being inside her head, where the first person she has to convince that she’s in control is herself. We buy it — for a time — but the characters don’t, and that mismatch is the crux of all that follows.
Bette Midler - Kenny Ortega - Peter Debruge - Kathy Najimy - Parker Najimy - ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Review: Bette Midler and Sisters Conjure More of the Same in Decades-Later Disney+ Sequel - variety.com - city Sanderson - city Salem
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‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Review: Bette Midler and Sisters Conjure More of the Same in Decades-Later Disney+ Sequel
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic What strange sorcery is this that “Hocus Pocus” — a so-so comedy turned campy cult favorite starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as absolutely fabulous Salem witch sisters — should be getting a sequel nearly three decades after its 1993 release? At the time, Variety speculated that, were it not for the film’s three stars, “‘Hocus Pocus’ wouldn’t seem out of place on the Disney Channel, and perhaps belongs there.” (Its director, Kenny Ortega, would go on to helm the “High School Musical” franchise for the cabler.) In a sense, that’s what’s happened with this follow-up, aimed to breathe some life into the graveyard that is Disney+. The sequel’s existence owes less to popular demand (the original earned a respectable $39.3 million stateside and went on to become a Halloween season staple) than the realization that the film had tapped into preteens’ fascination with witchcraft before Harry Potter came along. It can be no coincidence that the new feature lifts so much of its look and feel from that franchise — with eye of newt, a dead man’s head and some aspects of “The Craft” tossed in for good measure. In “Hocus Pocus 2,” the three teens called upon to save Salem from the Sanderson sisters’ return are themselves budding witches, which means the movie is less about scaring kids away from magic than indulging their post-Potter junior wizarding fantasies.
Oprah Winfrey - Peter Debruge - Sidney Poitier - Reginald Hudlin - ‘Sidney’ Review: Top Black Talents Pay Homage to Poitier’s Legacy in Oprah Winfrey-Produced Doc - variety.com - Miami
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‘Sidney’ Review: Top Black Talents Pay Homage to Poitier’s Legacy in Oprah Winfrey-Produced Doc
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic A pioneering movie star intensely aware of his place in film history, Sidney Poitier published no fewer than three autobiographies during his life, generously sharing what he’d lived and learned with those who’d appreciated his work in films such as “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” But words can only reach so far in an era dominated by the moving image, and as such, we’re fortunate that Poitier was open to repeating himself one last time for “Sidney” — director Reginald Hudlin’s definitive portrait for Apple TV+ — before his death this year at the age of 94. Few movie stars have been more inspirational than Poitier, who was more than just a star, but also a symbol to so many — be they aspiring Black performers or the public at large, who saw their own views on civil rights embodied in the characters he played. But what of those who were born too late to fully appreciate what this remarkable actor meant to audiences deprived of role models? Produced by Oprah Winfrey (who appears frequently throughout) with the participation of Poitier and his family, “Sidney” puts that legacy in context, retracing a career that changed the way that Hollywood — and the world — saw the Black experience.
Glen Powell - Muhammad Ali - Peter Debruge - Jackie Robinson - ‘Devotion’ Review: JD Dillard Brings ‘Top Gun’ Mojo to Historic Account of a Barrier-Breaking Black Pilot - variety.com - USA - North Korea
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‘Devotion’ Review: JD Dillard Brings ‘Top Gun’ Mojo to Historic Account of a Barrier-Breaking Black Pilot
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic African American boxing champ Muhammad Ali famously refused to fight for his country, justifying himself with the oft-quoted quip, “No Viet Cong ever called me n—–.” That’s one-half of American history, and an important one. “Devotion” tells the other, presenting the story of a Black pilot so determined to defend — and die for, if need be — the United States that he was willing to endure institutional bigotry to become the Jackie Robinson of the skies: Jesse Brown, the first aviator of color to complete the Navy’s basic training program. A square but satisfying social justice drama set against the backdrop of the Korean War, “Devotion” impressed on the biggest screen possible at the Toronto Film Festival two months before its Nov. 23 theatrical release. Featuring elements of both “Green Book” and “Red Tails,” the film is more than just a stirring case of Black exceptionalism; it also celebrates the one white officer who had Brown’s back, Tom Hudner, treating the bond these two men formed as something exceptional unto itself. Director JD Dillard dazzles with see-it-in-Imax airborne sequences, but the meat of the film focuses on the friendship between Brown (“Da 5 Bloods” star Jonathan Majors) and his white wingman, played by Glen Powell, the “Hidden Figures” actor who most recently appeared in “Top Gun: Maverick.”
Bruce Wayne - Peter Debruge - ‘The People’s Joker’ Review: Trans Comic Finds Her Truth in Unauthorized Batman Parody - variety.com - USA - county Clark
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‘The People’s Joker’ Review: Trans Comic Finds Her Truth in Unauthorized Batman Parody
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic In the DC Extended Universe, it’s not the villains who have identity issues, but the heroes. Bruce Wayne watched his parents get murdered, adopted a teenage sidekick and now spends his nights cosplaying as the creature everyone associates with vampires. Kal-El also saw his parents die and goes through life trying to pass as the earthling Clark Kent, wearing spandex under his work clothes, just in case. These are not the traits of well-adjusted normies, and as such, there’s enormous subversive appeal in seeing trans artist Vera Drew turn such iconic characters inside-out in the illicitly made marvel that is “The People’s Joker.” Coming from a place of deep fan love and equally profound institutional mistrust, Drew’s anarchic feature-length parody impishly treads the line of fair use, so much so that the helmer pulled the film from the Toronto Film Festival after its raucous Midnight Madness premiere, citing “rights issues.” But what did she expect? The irreverent underground project reimagines the Joker’s origin story as a queer coming-of-age/coming-to-terms narrative, using a mishmash of styles: mostly crude live-action of the kind you expect from public-access programming (shot against greenscreens, then composited with rudimentary CG sets), embellished with various forms of homemade animation.
Woody Allen - Steven Spielberg - Peter Debruge - John Ford - ‘The Fabelmans’ Review: Steven Spielberg Takes a Sweet, Heavily Filtered Selfie of His Formative Years - variety.com - USA
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‘The Fabelmans’ Review: Steven Spielberg Takes a Sweet, Heavily Filtered Selfie of His Formative Years
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic No director has done more to deconstruct the myth of the suburban American family than Steven Spielberg. Dissertations have been written and documentaries made on the subject. And now, at the spry young age of 75, Spielberg himself weighs in on where his preoccupations come from in “The Fabelmans,” a personal account of his upbringing that feels like listening to two and a half hours’ worth of well-polished cocktail-party anecdotes, only better, since he’s gone to the trouble of staging them all for our benefit. Spielberg’s a born storyteller, and these are arguably his most precious stories. From the first movie he saw (“The Greatest Show on Earth”) to memories of meeting filmmaker John Ford on the Paramount lot, this endearing, broadly appealing account of how Spielberg was smitten by the medium — and why the prodigy nearly abandoned picture-making before his career even started — holds the keys to so much of the master’s filmography. More similar to Woody Allen’s autobiographical “Radio Days” than it is to European art films such as “The 400 Blows” and “Amistad” (the more highbrow models other directors typically point to when re-creating their childhoods), “The Fabelmans” invites audiences into the home and headspace of the world’s most beloved living director, an oddly sanitized zone where even the trauma — which includes anti-Semitism, financial disadvantage and divorce — seems to go better with fresh-buttered popcorn.
Peter Debruge - ‘The Grab’ Review: Exposing a Nearly Invisible Conspiracy to Control the World’s Food and Water - variety.com - China - USA - Saudi Arabia - Arizona
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‘The Grab’ Review: Exposing a Nearly Invisible Conspiracy to Control the World’s Food and Water
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic You’ve heard the expression, “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.” Well, “The Grab” makes the case that society had best brace itself for disorder, since certain parties are gobbling up the world’s food and water resources while the rest of us are distracted by other things. Produced in association with the Center for Investigative Reporting, “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s astonishing, eye-opening doc hits us with the idea that the next world war won’t be fought over ideology, oil or border disputes, but basic resources like meat, wheat and water, none of which should be taken for granted. Experts call this field “food security,” and the entire system is more fragile than it looks. World populations are climbing while water resources are dwindling, which has led countries such as Saudi Arabia and China to seek farmland on other continents. Among its myriad examples, “The Grab” focuses on a 15-square-mile expanse in La Paz, Ariz., an arid desert locale where there’s no limit to the amount of water landowners can pump from the aquifers. Arizona’s policy of unrestricted access means Saudi investors can legally tap into the water table to grow fields of hay, which will be shipped home to feed their cattle, even if it means draining the wells of local farmers in the process.
Matthew Heineman - Peter Debruge - ‘Retrograde’ Review: Matthew Heineman Risks His Neck to Record America’s Exit From Afghanistan - variety.com - USA - Afghanistan
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‘Retrograde’ Review: Matthew Heineman Risks His Neck to Record America’s Exit From Afghanistan
Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic In early 2021, while Americans were focused on the transfer of power back home, daredevil director Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land,” “City of Ghosts”) assembled a crew and flew to Afghanistan to check in on the status of America’s longest war. At that point, Osama bin Laden had been dead a decade, the Taliban was weakened but not defeated, and the U.S.-trained Afghan Army was holding its own fairly well — and yet, nearly 20 years in, there was still no end in sight for American involvement. That changed almost as soon as Heineman arrived, as the Biden administration made plans to pull out. In that moment, what might have been another business-as-usual desert war doc — with routine patrols, precisely targeted drone strikes and soldiers expressing their ennui — shifted to something audiences hadn’t seen before. The title, “Retrograde,” refers to the process by which military forces extricate themselves from conflict, removing or otherwise rendering useless the equipment they’d used to engage the enemy. For Heineman, that meant capturing all kinds of cinematic sights: A brawny soldier smashes a heap of computer monitors, helicopters airlift vehicles out, and things go boom as a team tosses all remaining ammo into a trench, douses it in gasoline and lights the pile with a well-aimed rocket. The Taliban won’t be using these bullets.
Brad Pitt - David Leitch - Peter Debruge - Brian Tyree-Henry - Bullet Train goes off the rails: Movie is slammed by critics saying it gets 'real tedious real fast' - dailymail.co.uk - Britain - USA - Japan - city Sanada
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Bullet Train goes off the rails: Movie is slammed by critics saying it gets 'real tedious real fast'
David Leitch's action comedy Bullet Train starring Brad Pitt doesn't hit UK theaters until Wednesday and US theaters until Friday, but critics are not exactly loving the 'high-octane bore.'Many reviewers singled out their praise for the 58-year-old Oscar winner, the fight sequences, and performances from Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tyree Henry, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson - but not much else.THR's David Rooney called the Japan-set two-hour flick 'soulless' and wrote it was 'so busy delivering violent action with a self-satisfied wink that its contorted plotting and one-note characters get real tedious real fast.' Reviews are in! David Leitch's action comedy Bullet Train starring Brad Pitt (R) doesn't hit UK theaters until Wednesday and US theaters until Friday, but critics are not exactly loving the 'high-octane bore'Rooney added: 'It's dispiriting to see so many capable actors put to such poor use...We don't care about who gets pounded to a pulp or shot to pieces because there are no characters to root for - good guys or bad.'Variety's Peter Debruge called Bullet Train 'a Kill Bill-like mix of martial arts, manga, and gabby hitman movie influences, minus the vision or wit that implies.' 'It's essentially a live-action cartoon, with high-profile cameos sprinkled in for added laughs,' Debruge noted.'Stylistically, Leitch is trying his darnedest to channel the likes of Tarantino and Ritchie, even if the dialogue and mock-British accents aren't nearly strong enough to earn such comparisons.' Standouts: Many reviewers singled out their praise for the 58-year-old Oscar winner, the fight sequences, and performances from Hiroyuki Sanada (pictured), Brian Tyree Henry, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson - but not much else 'There are no characters
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