Joe Morgenstern

Joe Morgenstern
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
77% Summerland (2020) Ms. Arterton gets to play a few scenes worthy of her art before the film turns into a milking machine designed to wring feelings from a link between past and present that, once again, amounts to a construct. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2020
94% Rebuilding Paradise (2020) Mr. Howard wants us to know that greater challenges lie ahead... Yet his documentary also dramatizes the resilience and resourcefulness we can bring to bear in meeting them. Calamity, the film says, isn't destiny. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2020
60% Radioactive (2020) No one can say Radioactive takes a narrow, or sanitized, view of its subject, but the fallout from this expansiveness is incoherence. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 23, 2020
90% Father Soldier Son (2020) It's research of a profoundly affecting kind -- a study of love and devotion, and the toll taken by machine-gun bullets on a body, a gallant spirit and a family. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
81% The Painted Bird (2020) I must admit that staying with the film required steady purpose, but the experience, far from being numbing, was spellbinding. By the end there was no distance between me and the boy. I could see him thinking. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
92% Relic (2020) First-time filmmaker or no, Ms. James directs actors expertly, and has a fine cast to work with. What's more -- and it's a lot more -- she and her writing partner, Mr. White, have a gift for resonant ambiguity. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
79% Greyhound (2020) Repetitive though still absorbing dramatically... Parts of the drama play out on its star's face, and they're the best parts, because there's no one better at portraying a good man's self-doubts and a frightened man's courage. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
80% The Old Guard (2020) Through it all Ms. Theron makes the fragrant nonsense believable; more than that, she makes it affecting-the physical combat as well as the drama. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 3, 2020
78% The Audition (Das Vorspiel) (2020) A treat that becomes a chilling enthrallment, one of those closely observed dramas you love -- for its intimacy, calm authority and mystery -- even before you begin to get what it's really about. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2020
40% Irresistible (2020) Mr. Stewart is nobody's bumpkin when it comes to dumb stereotypes. Still, the scheme of his script requires them, and they aren't all that amusing, even in retrospect. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2020
82% Sometimes Always Never (Triple Word Score) (2020) What the film does sustain, and quite remarkably, considering its serious theme, is a delicately comic tone. That's due in large measure to the screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 18, 2020
92% Babyteeth (2020) Moments come along, not just a few but many, that stop your heart, leave you grinning with delight or watching breathlessly. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 18, 2020
73% The King of Staten Island (2020) The content can be raw, sometimes startling, but before and after everything else the film is hilarious, and constitutes a cockeyed pantheon of comic performances. On top of that it is beautiful. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2020
92% Da 5 Bloods (2020) Never has a movie matched its moment more remarkably than Da 5 Bloods, an explosive, eloquent cry of black anguish and anger for this seismic season. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2020
79% Judy & Punch (2020) Sometimes a movie is so blithely misconceived that all you can do is smile, then wonder how it got made. And be pleased it got made. Where's the harm? Talented people put it together and it looks like they had fun in the process. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2020
87% Shirley (2020) Earns an A for ambition but a grade average lowered by prolixity, pomposity, murky complexity and an excess of perversity. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2020
97% Tell Me Who I Am (2019) An intriguing documentary about twin brothers, amnesia and a filmmaker functioning as a therapist of last resort. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2020
87% The Trip to Greece (2020) The joy for me, or the steady-state enjoyment that occasionally rises to joy, is the far-ranging, free-associating quality of Rob's and Steve's riffs, and, most deliciously, their wizardly impressions. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 21, 2020
96% The Painter and the Thief (2020) The beauty of the film lies in the bond she forges with one of the thieves... The relationship between Barbora and Bertil, as she calls him, grows on camera from improbable friendship to spiritual love. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 21, 2020
41% Capone (2020) Mr. Hardy does have a few sensationally lurid moments, but the stuff of high drama isn't there... What a waste, and what a downer for Mr. Trank. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2020
99% Saint Frances (2020) The feminism comes with wry twists in a film that's alive at every moment to the meaning of family in all its configurations, and to the self-doubts, uncertainties, and joys of growing up female. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 7, 2020
28% War, Inc. (2008) Surrounded by sententiousness and self-preening, Marisa Tomei manages to play a skeptical journalist with easy charm, but her efforts are doomed by the movie's ceaseless barrage of dumb bombs. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 7, 2020
100% Rewind (2020) Rewind is the adult Sasha's film, a harrowing but enthralling documentary feature that explores his family archive in order to understand the recurring sexual abuse that blighted his childhood. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted May 7, 2020
87% The Infiltrators (2020) The film advances no policies of its own. What it does best is connect human faces to dehumanized places we'd rather not think about. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 30, 2020
87% Deerskin (2020) Quentin Dupieux's glum absurdist fable gives absurdism a bad name. It's a facile notion inflated to feature proportions. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 30, 2020
98% Circus of Books (2020) People can indeed live at war with themselves and not know it. Here's a case of great things happening once peace is declared. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2020
81% To the Stars (2020) The filmmakers' purpose is clear -- to portray the implacable prejudice of the time. But the tenderness and humor of the two girls' friendship, and the poetry of Maggie's pretensions, can't compete with the grotesque grimness of later developments. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2020
43% Sergio (2020) Sergio, a Netflix docudrama directed by Greg Barker from a banal screenplay by Craig Borten, catches flashes of his brilliance from time to time but scatters and dims them through a mosaic structure that's ultimately no structure at all. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 16, 2020
88% Selah and the Spades (2020) The film is funny and astute on the boundless self-seriousness of adolescence, and a formidable start for Ms. Poe's career. Here's looking to her for the next one. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 16, 2020
70% Abe (2020) Abe is one of those movies that come on unheralded and leave you in a state of pleasant surprise. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 16, 2020
80% Tigertail (2020) Mr. Yang's story unfolds with decreasing velocity; in the latter stretches patience is required, though amply rewarded. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2020
100% Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020) Crip Camp conveys, as few films do, a sense of lives lived furiously and passionately across a vast stretch of time. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2020
98% Vitalina Varela (2020) Vitalina Varela is demanding, rewarding, and ineffably stirring. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2020
99% Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) This tough-minded, forthright and exquisitely tender film transcends polemics. It's the odyssey of a lost child in poorly charted territory. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2020
56% The Hunt (2020) This gleeful, gross-out gorefest looks as tacky and violent as its trackdown plot would suggest, and lives up to certain parts of its bad reputation. It is also funny, genuinely topical, extremely shrewd and, heaven help us, slyly wise. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2020
95% First Cow (2020) Some movies feel dead from the first shot, with or without star power, spectacular vistas or the false energy of hurtling pace. First Cow is vividly alive on arrival and grows into pure enchantment. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2020
83% The Way Back (2020) Mr. Affleck owns the role. He plays it with the subtlety of a character actor and the coiled ferocity of the star he has always been, through good roles and bad. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2020
88% Onward (2020) It's enjoyable enough if you don't mind machine-made entertainment, but so desperate to please that it wears out its welcome long before the closing credits. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2020
47% Greed (2020) The film isn't funny at all. It's so didactic and dislikable that it took me a while to realize humor wasn't its main goal. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2020
83% The Whistlers (2020) Good stories thrive on details. The specifics here are abundant, and so charmingly preposterous that they command your rapt attention. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2020
91% The Invisible Man (2020) Leigh Whannell's film is ingenious, frequently scary, and a Grand Guignol tour de force for Ms. Moss. It's also purposeful to a fault as a fable for the #MeToo era. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2020
87% Emma. (2020) Its textures and colors are exotic, and its star, Anya Taylor-Joy, fills the title role with precocious grace. What's missing is nuance, connective tissue, and depth of feeling. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2020
62% The Call of the Wild (2020) We project our feelings on real dogs, in life or on the screen, because we love them for their limitations as well as their abilities. Buck is so precocious, such a relentlessly clever construction, that he leaves nothing to our imagination. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2020
93% Ordinary Love (2020) The film's strength lies in the performances -- two fine actors elevating their roles from the touchingly mundane to the suddenly momentous. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2020
91% Beanpole (Dylda) (2020) The film is an improbably thrilling work of art by virtue of its physical beauty and its relentless intensity of feeling about people who would prefer in their heart of shattered hearts to feel nothing. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2020
74% The Lodge (2020) The premise is serviceable: Who's crazy here, and to what degree? Yet the payoff is ponderous. At one point an annunciatory blast from an organ announces nothing in particular, but at least relieves the tedium. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2020
78% Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) Much of this R-rated movie is chaotic, yet it's a richly hued, madly inventive, gleefully violent and happily slapdash contraption with a formidable female at its center. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2020
28% The Rhythm Section (2020) This is a trackdown-and-revenge tale that keeps losing track of internal logic and narrative connections. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2020
92% The Assistant (2020) Ms. Garner transcends the inherent limits of her role to convey ineffable tenderness and wordless ferocity in a movie that's bigger than it seems. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2020
60% The Last Full Measure (2020) So many good intentions, so little genuine feeling. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2020