Category: Blog

Films Seen 9/20 – 12/31

Blue Steel (1990), Kathryn Bigelow, B+
BPM (2017), Robin Campillo, B+
The Day After (2017), Hong Sang-soo, B-
Cielo (2017), Alison McAlpine, A-
American Made (2017), Doug Liman, B
Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Denis Villeneuve, A-
Four Sisters: The Hippocratic Oath (2017), Claude Lanzmann, A
Four Sisters: Baluty (2017), Claude Lanzmann, A-
Four Sisters: The Merry Flea (2017), Claude Lanzmann, B
Four Sisters: Noah’s Ark (2017), Claude Lanzmann, B+
Zama (2017), Lucrecia Martel, B
Voyeur (2017), Miles Kane and Josh Koury, B
The Last of the Unjust (2013), Claude Lanzmann, A
Only the Brave (2017), Joseph Kosinski, B-
I love You, Daddy (2017), Louis C.K., B-
Lady Bird (2017), Greta Gerwig, B+
Wonder Wheel (2017), Woody Allen, A-
78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (2017), Alexandre O. Philippe, C
Mansfield 66/67 (2017), P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, B
1945 (2017), Ferenc Török, B-
The Last of the Mohicans (1936), George Seitz, B
The Disaster Artist (2017), James Franco, B
Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Taika Waititi, B
Gilbert (2017), Neil Berkely, B-
Marathon (1992), Carlos Saura, B
Tokyo Olympiad (1966), Kon Ichikawa, A-
Last Flag Flying (2017), Richard Linklater, B+
The Band’s Visit (2007), Eran Kolirin, A
13 Days in France (1968), Claude Lelouch and Fançois Reichenbach, A-
Visions of Eight (1973), Lelouch et al., A-
Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Adam McKay, D
Thelma (2017), Joachim Trier, A-
Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Kenneth Branagh, C
Galaxy Quest (1999), Dean Parisot, A
Justice League (2017), Zach Snyder, D
I, Tonya (2017), Craig Gillespe, A-
Darkest Hour (2017), Joe Wright, B-
Jane (2017), Brett Morgen, C
The Post (2017), Steven Spielberg, A
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Nicholas Meyer, A+
Wormwood (2017), Errol Morris, A-
The Ornithologist (2017), João Pedro Rodrigues, B+
The Human Surge (2017), Eduardo Williams, C
Princess Cyd (2017), Stephen Cone, B
A Fantastic Woman (2017), Sebastián Lelio, A-
Phantom Thread (2017), Paul Thomas Anderson, A-
The Other Side of Hope (2017), Aki Kaurismäki, B+
It Comes At Night (2017), Trey Edward Shults, C
Bill Frisell: A Portrait (2017), Emma Franz, B
Red Desert (1965), Michelangelo Antonioni, A
The Greatest Showman (2017), Michael Gracey, B
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), Rian Johnson, B+
A German Life (2017), Christian Krönes et al., B
The Mesmerist (2003), Bill Morrison, A
Girls Trip (2017), Malcolm D. Lee, C
Bright (2017), David Ayer, F
The Testament (2017), Amichai Greenberg, A-
My Coffee With Jewish Friends (2017), Manny Kirschheimer, C-
Scrooge (1970), Ronald Neame, B-
Cat People (1942), Jacques Tourneur, A-
Beyond the Clouds (1995), Michelangelo Antonioni with Wim Wenders, A-
Chung Kuo – Cine (China) (1972), Michelangelo Antonioni, B

Films Seen 7/2 – 9/19

The Only Living Boy in New York (2017), Marc Webb, D
Sapphire (1959), Basil Dearden, B+
L’assassin Habite Au 21 (1947), Georges-Henri Clouzot, B+
The Ladies Man (1961), Jerry Lewis, A-
Endless Poetry (2017), Alejandro Jodorowsky, C+
Dunkirk (2017), Christopher Nolan, A-
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017), Luc Besson, A-
Logan Lucky (2017), Steven Soderbergh, A-
Detroit (2017), Kathryn Bigelow, B+
La Chinoise (1967), Jean-Luc Godard, A-
The Emoji Movie (2017), Tony Leondis, D
Marjorie Prime (2017), Michael Almereyda, B+
Human Flow (2017), Ai Weiwei, B
Crown Heights (2017), Matt Ruskin, B-
Ex Libris: New York Public Library (2017), Frederick Wiseman, A
Interstellar (2014), Christopher Nolan, A+
The Dark Crystal (1982), Jim Henson and Frank Oz, A
The Story of the Flaming Years (1961), Yuliya Solntseva, B
The Enchanted Desna (1964), Yuliya Solntseva, A
Tulip Fever (2017), Justin Chadwick, D+
Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), David Lynch, A
Heat and Dust (1983), James Ivory, A-
Autobiography of a Princess (1975), James Ivory, B
Downsizing (2017), Alexander Payne, B+
Borg/McEnroe (2017), Janus Metz Pedersen, C+
The Insult (2017), Ziad Douieri, B-
The Journey (2017), Mohamed Al-Daradj, C
My Days of Mercy (2017), Tali Shalom-Ezer, B+
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House (2017), Peter Landesman, C+
Euphoria (2017), Lisa Langseth, D
The Upside (2017), Neil Burger, B
Plonger (2017), Mélanie Laurent, B+
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017), Angela Robinson, B-
Molly’s Game (2017), Aaron Sorkin, B+
Let The Corpses Tan (2017), Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, B
Foxtrot (2017), Samuel Maoz, A
mother! (2017), Darren Aronofsky, A
The Current War (2017), Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, C
Disobedience (2017), Sebastián Lelio, A-
Chappaquidick (2017), John Curran, B
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017), Martin McDonagh, A-
The Shape of Water (2017), Guillermo Del Toro, B
Papillon (2017), Michael Noer, B
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – The Story of Jim Carey & Andy Kaufman With a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017), Chris Smith, B+
Crossing Delancey (1988), Joan Micklin Silver, A+

Best of 2017: Mid-Terms

I don’t know why I am putting myself through this aggravation. Yet the urge to RANK lurks within me.
My criteria: this movie has to have played in a theater, not at a festival, at some point between Jan 1 and June 30. I am using Mike D’Angelo’s list of theatrical releases as my source for what is legit.
No goddamn television. That means you, too, Twin Peaks Episode 8. 4-wall the IFC Center and get back to me!
Also: I haven’t seen everything. I missed the new Cate Shortland movie (something with Berlin in the title) and It Comes At Night.
I’ve seen a great number of terrific movies at Sundance & Cannes that haven’t come out yet: The Florida Project, A Ghost Story, Call Me By Your Name, Mudbound, Whose Streets? and Good Time are all very likely to end up on the REAL top 10 list at the end of the year.
Tied for 11th place: Kong: Skull Island, The Big Sick, Okja, Baby Driver, Wonder Woman — but this isn’t a top 15, this is a goddamn top 10, so let’s go.
10: Colossal, Nacho Vigalondo
9: Graduation, Cristian Mungiu
8: Manifesto, Julien Rosenfelt
7: The Lure, Agnieszka Smoczynska
6: Dawson City: Frozen Time, Bill Morrison
5: Catfight, Onur Tukel
4: The Lost City of Z, James Gray
3: I Called Him Morgan, Kasper Collin
2: Raw, Julia Ducournau
1: Long Strange Trip, Amir Bar-Lev

Films Seen 5/10 – 7/1

Ismael’s Ghosts (2017), Arnaud Desplechin, B-
Sea Sorrow (2017), Vanessa Redgrave, D
Loveless (2017), Andrey Zvyagintsev, A-
Wonderstruck (2017), Todd Haynes, B
Blade of the Immortal (2017), Takashi Miike, B+
Let the Sunshine In (2017), Claire Denis, B+
Okja (2017), Bong Joon-ho, B+
Visages Villages (Faces Places) (2017), Agnès Varda and JR, A
The Square (2017), Ruben Östlund, A-
Promised Land (2017), Eugene Jarecki, B+
The Rider (2017), Chloé Zhao, B
Le Redoubtable (2017), Michel Hazanavicius, B+
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017), Noah Baumbach, A-
West of the Jordan (Field Diary Revisited) (2017), Amos Gitai, C-
Happy End (2017), Michael Haneke, B
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), Yorgos Lanthimos, B+
The Florida Project (2017), Sean Baker, A
How to Talk To Girls at Parties (2017), John Cameron Mitchell, D
Jeune Femme (Montparnasse-Bienvenue) (2017), Léonor Serraile, A-
Rodin (2017), Jacques Doillon, C+
After the War (2017), Annarita Zambrano, A-
The Beguiled (2017), Sofia Coppola, B
Matzo (1969), Gilberto Tofano, A-
Closeness (2017), Kantemir Balagov, F
A Gentle Creature (2017), Sergei Loznitsa, A-
Good Time (2017), Josh and Benny Safdie, A
The Merciless (2017), Lee Hyo-won, B-
In The Fade (2017), Fatih Akin, B-
I Am Not A Witch (2017), Rungano Nyoni, B+
You Were Never Really Here (2017), Lynne Ramsay, B+
Based on a True Story (2017), Roman Polanski, C+
L’Amant Double (2017), François Ozon, B-
Filmworker (2017), Tony Zierra, B-
Oh Lucy (2017), Atsuko Hirayanagi, B-
Tehran Taboo (2017), Ali Soozandeh, B
Ghostbusters (2016), Paul Feig, B-
Star Trek Beyond (2017), Justin Lin, A+
A Little Romance (1979), George Roy Hill, B+
Wonder Woman (2017), Patty Jenkins, B+
Beau Travail (1999), Claire Denis, A
Dawson City: Frozen Time (2017), Bill Morrison, A
The Mummy (1932), Karl Freund, B
The Mummy (1999), Stephen Sommers, A-
The Mummy (2017), Alex Kurtzman, D
Cars 3 (2017), Brian Fee, C+
My Journey With French Cinema (2017), Bertrand Tavernier, B+
47 Meters Down (2017), Johannes Roberts, B
Starship Troopers (1997), Paul Verhoeven, A
Blaise Pascal (1972), Roberto Rossellini, C
Patriotism (1966), Yukio Mishima, B+
Black Panthers (1968), Agnès Varda, B+
La Cérémonie (1995), Claude Chabrol, B+
City of Ghosts (2017), Matthew Heineman, C
Baby Driver (2017), Edgar Wright, B
War For The Planet of the Apes (2017), Matt Reeves, B-
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Jon Watts, A-
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Nicholas Meyer, A+
The House (2017), Andrew Jay Cohen, C-

Films Seen 4/9 – 5/9

Busy month. But Cannes is coming, and that’ll juke the stats a little.
More (1969), Barbet Schroeder, A-
La Valée (1972), Barbet Schroeder, B
Free Fire (2017), Ben Wheatley, B
Hardware (1990), Richard Stanley, B
Sandy Wexler (2017), Steve Brill, C+
I, Olga Hepnarova (2017), Tomás Weinreb, Petr Kazda, C-
One Week and a Day (2017), Asaph Polonsky, C+
Barry Lyndon (1975), Stanley Kubrick, A
Fantastic Four (2015), Josh Trank, F
Star Trek Nemesis (2002), Stuart Baird, B-
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), George Lucas, D
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), James Gunn, A-
Alien: Covenant (2017), Ridley Scott, C+
The Women’s Balcony (2017), Emil Ben-Shimon, B-

Films Seen 3/12 – 4/8

In Search of Israeli Cuisine (2017), Roger M. Sherman, C-
Drib (2017), Kristoffer Borgli, B+
Porto (2017), Gabe Klinger, B-
The Most Hated Woman In America (2017), Tommy O’Haver, C
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017), Macon Blair, B-
The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017), Niki Caro, C
A Quiet Passion (2017), Terence Davies, A-
Kong: Skull Island (2017), Jordan Vogt-Roberts, B
King Kong (1977), John Guillermin, B
The Unbelievers (2013), Gus Holwerda, C
The Burmese Harp (1956), Kon Ichikawa, A-
Bent (1997), Sean Mathias, B
Tower (2016), Keith Maitland, A-
Holy Air (2017), Shady Srour, B-
The Wedding Plan (2017), Rama Burstein, C
The Boss Baby (2017), Tom McGrath, C+
Ghost in the Shell (2017), Rupert Sanders, B-
Predator (2017), John McTiernan, B
Twin Peaks: Pilot (1990), David Lynch, A-
Eraserhead (1977), David Lynch, A
Mulholland Drive (2000), David Lynch, A-
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (2017), John Scheinfeld, C+
The Mother and the Whore (1973), Jean Eustache, A-
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Stanley Kubrick, A+
Graduation (2017), Cristian Mungiu, A
The Memory of Justice (1976), Marcel Ophuls, A
ARQ (2016), Tony Elliot, D
Chicken Ranch (1983), Nick Broomfield and Sandi Sissel, B

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like Ghost in the Shell?

I was not assigned to review “Ghost in the Shell” but I went to the all-media press screening for it anyway.
I liked it.
Bottom line: I liked it, and if you like weird sci-fi and drowning in a swirl of bold, beautiful imagery, I recommend buying a ticket and seeing it at a good theater. (Not the AMC at Kip’s Bay which had the masking wrong, cropping some of the subtitles.)
I found the plot completely incomprehensible, but that’s my memory of the original, too. My enjoyment of this film was entirely on the surface but that is not necessarily a bad thing. We need pretty things to look at and this movie has that to the nth degree. Truly, I liked the movie.
But the whitewashing is 100% screwed up.
“Ghost in the Shell,” after “Akira,” is the most famous anime ever made. (For adults. Not “Voltron” or “Battle of the Planets” or that “Dragonball” jazz the kids talk about.) The main character is a robot (a shell, if you will) and you can make all the post-human and post-racial arguments you want, but those arguments are founded on bullshit. The movie is Japanese, the character is Japanese.
I like Scarlett Johansson a great deal. From “Ghost World” to “Under the Skin” she’s dynamite. Have you seen “Scoop”? She’s great in “Scoop.”
She’s terrible in this. A snooze. She’s a vessel for a tight outfit. (A shell, if you will.) You can argue that, well, she’s a blank slate, she’s supposed to be vacant. That argument is founded on bullshit. I’m telling you, I love her, and she adds nothing to this movie.
Director Rupert Sanders, who shows visual flair in abundance, can’t direct young women actors. His last movie, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” had me convinced that Kristen Stewart should retire. Oh, thank God she didn’t listen to me, as her post-SWATH career is one of the most exciting in the current cinema.
So here’s the thing: they had to cast a White Chick for monetary reasons, right? I say, again, this is an argument founded on bullshit.
Decades ago big motion pictures would have a title card that read “And introducing.” Like, I dunno, Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia.” How is it that we live in a world with no borders (and where very expensive movies can recoup on Asian markets alone) and we can’t have a “Ghost in the Shell” that introduces some new Japanese star?
The draw for this movie is not Scarlett Johansson. It is the brand name of the title and it is the look of the film. (Again, bravo to Sanders and everyone on the production design team. You all did great.) You can still cut a great TV ad without ScarJo in this. Imagine the good will of using this internationally-known property to deliver us a new worldwide star.
And here’s the best part: she doesn’t even need to be talented! All Scarlett does in this movie is jump around athletically, pout, look quizzical and wear skin-tight clothes! Is there no young woman in Japan who is lithe and buxom and wants to be in front of a camera?
Now that that’s settled, let’s talk about objectification of women in cinema ….

Films Seen 2/12 – 3/12

Hidden Figures (2016), Theodore Melfi, B-
Annie Hall (1977), Woody Allen, A+
Fist Fight (2017), Richie Keen, B+
Ben-Gurion, Epilogue (2017), Yariv Mozer, A-
Logan (2017), James Mangold, B+
Everyone Else (2010), Maren Ade, B
The Lego Batman Movie (2017), Chris McKay, B-
A Man Called Ove (2016), Hannes Holm, C-
Land of Mine (2017), Martin Pieter Zandvliet, C+
The Salesman (2017), Asghar Farhadi, B
Get Out (2017), Jordan Peele, B+
Hacksaw Ridge (2016), Mel Gibson, F
The Settlers (2016), Shimon Dotan, B+
Song to Song (2017), Terrence Malick, A-
Kundun (1997), Martin Scorsese, B
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Martin Scorsese, A
Shane (1953), George Stevens, B
Table 19 (2017), Jeffrey Blitz, D
Kiki (2017), Sara Jordenö, B
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2017), Joseph Cedar, A
Junction 48 (2017), Udi Aloni, C
Fados (2007), Carlos Sauda, B
Colossal (2017), Nacho Vigalondo, B+
The Devils (1971), Ken Russell, B+
Raw (2017), Julia Ducournau, A-
The Sense of an Ending (2017), Ritesh Batra, B-
Mysteries of Lisbon (2010), Raúl Ruiz, B

Maggie Roche, 1951-2017

The news cycle is so bonkers right now that the death of Maggie Roche didn’t cut above the noise for me for almost an entire month. Roche (in center of above pic, flanked by her sisters Suzzy and Terre) died recently, age 65, from cancer. Jon Parales wrote a very nice obituary in the New York Times.
This is quite a significant loss for New York, for music and for a specific type of, oh, how do I say this the right way, the 92nd St Y Lifestyle.
The Roches were never big stars, but they were fairly ubiquitous at just around the time I came to New York, which was the early 1990s. I was listening to a lot of Vin Scelsa’s Idiot’s Delight and going to the Bottom Line. That’s a radio show and club that don’t exist anymore.
What I’ve been lately getting my head around is how damn lucky I was to have my interests at that time in this city. There was an exceptional thing happening in independent film (as has been greatly discussed and analyzed) but also a very slight uptick in the commercial viability in singer-songwriter acts.
I don’t listen to this sort of thing much anymore these days, and when I do it’s the new Richard Thompson album because he also shreds and wails on the guitar. (He does.) But I don’t know if anyone is making music like Maggie, Terre and Suzzy right now. Very doubtful.
Also important: the Roches were hella funny. Their debut as a trio (at a fundraiser for Bill Bradley’s Senate campaign!!) was introduced by Chevy Chase, and they were very tied into that SNL/Paul Schaffer world. They once “guest starred” on Tiny Toons Adventures (because they were roaches!) and they played their goofy “get-to-know-us” number “We.” Suzzy Roche acted in Joan Micklin Silver’s Upper West Side cri-de-coeur “Crossing Delancey,” granting her even more honorary Jewess status. (Believe me, all three sisters had it already; Maggie and Terre Roche’s first gig was singing backup for Paul Simon.)
Anyway, Maggie was the eldest, and now she’s gone.
There are a few good live performances of the Roches floating around on YouTube, but after poking around I’ve decided to embed this studio version of probably their best known song, which was one that Maggie wrote. If that guitar style sounds familiar, that is, indeed, Robert Fripp, who produced this album.

Behold, the new

Hello, and welcome to the new and improved began as a spot for my musings in late 2003 and it’s been pretty quiet around here for quite some time.
The last few years this website’s main purpose has been for my own record keeping, jotting down letter grades on all the movies I’d seen.
But no more! Mach 2 serves multiple purposes!
For starters, I am very much a (clears throat) FREELANCE WRITER and, as such, I’m always looking to work for new outlets. Are you, in fact, an assigning editor at Outlet X or literary agent of some sort, and you’d like to get in touch? That’s what the “Contact” link is all about.
Not sure about Hoffman? Hopefully the highlighted articles in the “Selected Work” tab will put you over the top. That’s where I’ve linked to my best stuff. (You can also dig deep into my personal history at “About Me.”)
As my reviews and articles are published I’ll link to them from the Recent Work tab. This way when you see me you don’t have to say “hey, did you ever review Suchandsuch Movie?” You can just come to and all your problems will be solved.
Same deal with my recent podcast episodes.
For those that can’t get enough of my opinions, I’ve got some good news: I’m bringin’ blogging back. Threaded tweets are lame (and there’s no way to edit them.) I hereby state that from this day forth my half-baked, 2am, semi-coherent angry thoughts are gonna go here, on my blog where they belong. Don’t worry, I’ll still slap a link to ’em on Twitter. Also, more stuff about the music I like.
The decade-plus of old material still exists, don’t worry. Lots of photos and rants about movies and music and politics in the archives (scroll down, look on the right, toggle by month.) Plus you can always hit search. If you remember a funny story about me drinking too much in Staten Island in 2007, you can still find it with a little rooting around.
Thanks for reading.



Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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