Diederik van Hoogstraten

Diederik van Hoogstraten is a writer in Los Angeles, covering Hollywood.

When Actor, Director, and Script Merge Perfectly

 

Christopher Plummer has played so many memorable roles. I mean, The Sound of Music! But here’s a question. As a spry 88-year-old, has the British master ever been better than he is in All the Money in the World? We see actor and role come together in perfect harmony. Embodying John Paul Getty under the […]

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Two Excellent Holiday Movies, But Hold the Talk of Heroism

 

Before we move on to the Earnest and Important, a word about Father Figures. I didn’t expect it, but this movie is smart, witty, and even moving. Owen Wilson and Ed Helms star in a film that fits squarely in the Hangover genre (there will be swearing) and director Lawrence Sher makes it work. Happily, […]

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A Brutal Western With a Heart

 

Good actors show up in terrible films. This year’s The Leisure Seeker is an example: the great Helen Mirren works with a sublimely bad script and the resulting Very Ill Senior Citizen comedy is utterly unwatchable. Bad actors sometimes show up in good films. It’s rare. But think of the appealing yet modestly talented Vin […]

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Beauty and the Beast for Adults

 

The voice of Sally Hawkins is appealingly clear. Just last year she hummed and muttered her way through the overlooked indy Maude. So seeing this English actress shine in a film without saying a word is, to say the least, odd. It is true, though: The British actress doesn’t speak in The Shape of Water, […]

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Rejecting Victimhood

 

The waves of the Pacific Ocean can be mesmerizing, providing solace and peace and, for surfers, excitement — a welcome counterpoint to the noise of Southern California’s daily grind. The Mason family seems to be looking for this sort peace when they move from Michigan to Palos Verdes, a wealthy enclave along the rocky coast […]

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Redemption Is Possible, for Countries and Kids

 

Films about race and racism can be important. They’re also difficult to make. Witness Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation, which failed last year to convince moviegoers and award voters. Now, 2017 has been a better year for the genre. The dark and brilliant satire/suspense/horror/social commentary Get Out — it is not easy to categorize […]

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A Need for Vengeance

 

Frances McDormand is a force. It’s something in the actress’s voice, her eyes, her sense of humor and her quiet charisma. Look at her, engage with her character, and you are off on a trip. That’s certainly true for her role in Three Billboards Outside Edding, Missouri, a weird, wild, very good movie written and […]

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The Pain of Fathers and Daughters

 

Steve Carell has often said the way to deal with hardship is through humor. The man we know from The Office certainly knows how to make you laugh, but those projects were hardly serious or painful, setting aside the famous chest wax in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. As the title suggests, Last Flag Flying is no […]

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Some of the Young Embrace God and Country

 

Growing up with a Protestant minister for a father, I learned very little about Catholicism. I knew Christianity — the Dutch-reformed kind. Catholics? We didn’t like them and, supposedly, we weren’t like them. Now some of my best friends are Catholics. But as I write about a deeply Catholic film I know that I know […]

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‘Only the Brave’ — Running Into the Danger

 

The towers burned, the city was in a panic. Most of us fled as smoke and fear filled the air. Still, a small group of men and women moved toward the danger. It was September 11, 2001, when new generations, raised without war or imminent threats, became acutely aware what heroes do: the opposite of […]

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