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      Melanie McFarland

      Melanie McFarland

      Tomatometer-approved critic

      Movies reviews only

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      Rating T-Meter Title | Year Review
      Chris Rock: Selective Outrage (2023) Netflix sold the show as if it were steak when, at best, we were only ever going to get a McDonald's hamburger. Now, is that an acceptable, solid substitution for the best version of his work? -
      Read More | Posted Mar 07, 2023
      Your Place or Mine (2023) Your Place or Mine is... fine. It does not ruin a great American rock band's catalog. But doesn't make the viewer feel much of anything, which is antithetical to the rom-com. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2023
      You People (2023) Now, there are enough thoughtful screen examinations of racial politics along with normalized visions of inclusive casting to make "You People" stand out as a gormless throwback. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 04, 2023
      A Christmas… Present (2022) Even by retrograde Hallmark holiday movie standards, it's a blizzard of poor writing and empty schmaltz devoid of propulsive tension or profound resolution, but with 500 percent more scripture references. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2022
      Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Wakanda Forever may not be the perfect Marvel movie, but [it] prove its worthiness as a bridge – not merely between Phase 4 and Phase 5... but from the bleakness of loss to a stable place from which a new generation can move forward. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2022
      Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022) The reality of a rock star's story is often more sobering than the fantasy built around them. Whether that's true of Yankovic may be revealed in another work. He's in control of this one, and we'll happily laugh along. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 04, 2022
      A Tree of Life: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting (2021) The main takeaway from A Tree of Life is the awe-inspiring resilience of the people who lived through the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2022
      The Woman King (2022) If you're someone who loves action movies that use "true events" as an entry to a deeper narrative about surviving trauma, defying misogyny and overcoming personal torment in the face, along with all the ass-kicking, then The Woman King is a masterpiece. -
      Read More | Posted Sep 26, 2022
      Nope (2022) Hunting for hidden meaning within the story and the pictures deepens the complexity of our relationship with the movie, but that's also a distraction from the simple enjoyment of its popcorn flick simplicity. -
      Read More | Posted Aug 01, 2022
      The Janes (2022) Directors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes permeate "The Janes" with unforced wry humor that adds a triumphant glow to a story that other filmmakers may have presented as a grim struggle. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2022
      RRR (2022) All that's required is an appreciation for the director's aptitude for wielding visual chaos with the delight and vigor of an orchestra conductor. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 08, 2022
      The Adam Project (2022) Reynolds' singular style, however, taps into a plausible, palpable sadness that The Adam Project capitalizes upon tremendously. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2022
      The Tinder Swindler (2022) The most compelling part of the movie isn't the crook or the nature of the scam, whose mechanics work like a well-oiled Ponzi scheme. It is the visible evidence that despite it all, these women haven't given up on finding love. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 07, 2022
      The Matrix Resurrections (2021) The Matrix Resurrections is a better messenger and cultural analyst than a cinematic spectacle... It may not deliver the original's thrills, but at the least it'll start some conversations. -
      Read More | Posted Dec 23, 2021
      Annie Live! (2021) [Celina Smith] proves some tomorrow needn't be permanently elusive. For once the sun is shining on her today. -
      Read More | Posted Dec 03, 2021
      Passing (2021) Hall breathes life and light into it in a way that lends a weight of beauty and honesty to its immersion into a world of purposeful pretense. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2021
      Love Hard (2021) Opposites attract, always and forever... and yet the screenwriters never bother to develop a plausible path for the destined couple to find its way to each other. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 05, 2021
      Dune (2021) [Denis Villeneuve's] take on Dune isn't merely fascinating and narratively coherent. It is a gorgeous sensory immersion that holds us in its spell for hours, with an ending that sparks yearning to see what comes next. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2021
      Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace (2021) You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to put aside your cynicism for 88 minutes or so and enjoy the efforts to place a tiara on a story with an ending isn't necessarily happy but registers as satisfyingly resolute. -
      Read More | Posted Sep 07, 2021
      Vacation Friends (2021) These actors are audience favorites, evidenced in the number of summer movies they've showed up in lately. They could pull this off. It's a shame nothing in the script gives them a chance to do so. -
      Read More | Posted Aug 30, 2021
      Candyman (2021) You should feel something. That the overwhelming sensation provoked by Nia DaCosta's Candyman is numbness, then, is a problem. -
      Read More | Posted Aug 30, 2021
      Black Widow (2021) In all the ways that matter to an MCU fan, Black Widow the film meets or exceeds all expectations. It is a killer action flick, and a unique viewing experience... in that I loved it, and the fact that I loved it also makes me livid. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 12, 2021
      America: The Motion Picture (2021) Rarely have I seen a movie so confident that its audience not only revels in American benightedness but is eager to identify with it. That makes America: The Motion Picture not only a waste of time but an insult to ignoramuses. -
      Read More | Posted Jul 01, 2021
      Zola (2020) Only Bravo's aesthetic approach to recreating this legendary road trip gone dangerously awry, blended with Harris' and King's compatible senses of humor, could result in art and entertainment this spectacular. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 30, 2021
      Bo Burnham: Inside (2021) Maybe five years from now it, too, will be hailed as a classic. Or, once the apathy subsides and we all transition out of the liminal space between lockdown and full reopening, maybe we'll recall it, vaguely, as some decent content about and of its time. -
      Read More | Posted Jun 16, 2021
      Friends: The Reunion (2021) The "Friends: Reunion" isn't in the business of looking back through time with brash clarity or sobering perspective. If -
      Read More | Posted May 31, 2021
      Army Of The Dead (2021) Death comes for us all, and if we're fortunate, it's a very slow walker. Enjoying "Army of the Dead" doesn't require much more than appreciating that. Our collective starvation for thrills and wonder probably sauces its appeal even more. -
      Read More | Posted May 23, 2021
      Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia (2021) Thanks to Brooks' resolute performance and Kenny Leon's sturdy directing style, Mahalia successfully argues for our attention. -
      Read More | Posted Apr 06, 2021
      Tina (2021) The fact that the filmmakers don't overstuff the film with friends and experts lets her career and life speak for itself. When you look at who is featured, there aren't many more people who need to be brought in to tell her tale. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2021
      Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) Zack Snyder's Justice League shows Snyder's evolution from a director known for emphasizing style over substance to a man who understands why we love superhero myths, whether they live in the DC Universe or Marvel's. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2021
      Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (2021) Whether the star's successful performance is entirely of his own making or if as much praise is due the production's wig wrangler is hard to say. Together, though, they're probably enough. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 18, 2021
      Coming 2 America (2021) Coming 2 America confidently moves to the comedy rhythms of where we are now. And because of its willingness to transform it is a smarter, funnier and ultimately sweeter movie than the legend that begat it. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 06, 2021
      Moxie (2021) Moxie wants to capture the spirit of youth revolt but alas, this is without a doubt your mother's film. -
      Read More | Posted Mar 04, 2021
      The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) In her feature debut Day effortlessly cultivates the hunger that drove Holiday, and that passion holds together a period piece that otherwise leaves us wanting. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2021
      Malcolm & Marie (2021) The message at the core of Malcolm & Marie is facile, vain and undemanding, an attempt to sell a loud, sullen tantrum about artistic work as soulful debate shot on 35 mm film. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 09, 2021
      The Little Things (2021) Holding this film back is something more significant, a flaccid script written around a half-decent premise that some of the best actors currently working can sell in moments, but not as a whole. -
      Read More | Posted Feb 01, 2021
      One Night in Miami (2020) Here King lets narrative ingenuity permeate each frame as she remains behind the camera, drawing us inside this circle of legends, each of whom represents distinct aspects of Black identity and struggle. -
      Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2021
      Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) Like Ma demanded in her time, Davis claims every scene in which she's centered without dimming the performances of her co-stars. As if that were possible. -
      Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2020
      Belushi (2020) His fatal flaw was that he could never be completely satisfied. Fortunately anyone watching this documentary is bound to be precisely that. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 23, 2020
      Between the World and Me (2020) Coates' writing packs clarity into its lyricism, and at just shy of an hour and 20 minutes Forbes' film honors the book's relative economy while enriching every frame with poignance, augmented by Bradford Young's arresting cinematography. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 23, 2020
      Crazy, Not Insane (2020) It's the names of the murderers that draw us as opposed to the doctor who spoke with them... But filmmaker Alex Gibney is careful to centralize Lewis and her work, creating a fascinating portrait in personality contrasts. -
      Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
      Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine (2020) Happily for everyone involved and the audience, it works. This is in no small part due to Cooper knowing her audience's expectations and limitations. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 28, 2020
      Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) It is enormously entertaining and for the reasons listed above a healthy treatment to whatever anxieties plaguing us a little more than a week leading up to the election. Whatever faults it has aren't deadly. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2020
      American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself (2020) The terrifying part about this documentary is that it's highly likely that any American who watches will recognize a version of themselves in here -- and Pelosi doesn't put a pretty filter on any of what her camera captures. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2020
      What the Constitution Means to Me (2020) Between Schreck, Ciprian, and Williams What the Constitution Means to Me becomes a hopeful vision and reminder that the Constitution a living document, but one that needs to be brought alive constantly by successive generations. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2020
      The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) It may be messy, but it's fleet-footed and it means well, and in the way of any good caper flick it extols the virtue of breaking the law for all the right reasons, come what may. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2020
      Totally Under Control (2020) It reconstructs recent history to remind us of how recently and quickly this pandemic changed life as we know it. Simultaneously, it calls attention to the many missed opportunities officials could have seized that may have altered the course we're on. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 14, 2020
      Kingdom of Silence (2020) In examining Khashoggi's professional life from its beginning... to its untimely end, Rowley draws a map of how journalistic censorship can extinguish a nation's democratic ambitions almost overnight. -
      Read More | Posted Oct 05, 2020
      This Is Paris (2020) This Is Paris isn't apt to change the minds of any Paris Hilton detractors. But as a whole, it stands as a fascinating study of what happens when a human being's personality is entirely subsumed by the construct she creates. -
      Read More | Posted Sep 15, 2020
      Coastal Elites (2020) It's about as direct in its play to the anti-Trump crowd as it can possibly be. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder who actually has the stomach for Rudnick's Trump-enraged quarantine view into the left-leaning electorate psyche. -
      Read More | Posted Sep 14, 2020
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