The Netflix movie about a grifty form of elder abuse has no heroes

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike), right, and her associate Fran (Eiza Gonzalez), left, introduce a skeptical Dianne Wiest to her new home. Photo courtesy of Netflix

(3 stars out of 5)

A morality tale can’t have it both ways, but “I Care a Lot” certainly does try.

Movies like these always have options, of course, although nine times out of 10 they ultimately wind up reminding us that crime doesn’t pay (even if it does). Fear not, no spoilers are forthcoming concerning this particular film, which dropped on Netflix on Feb. 19, 2021, but after many twists and turns it appears to end the only way it really can. …


Will the Academy give this racially charged film the attention it deserves?

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Daniel Kaluuya stars as Fred Hampton, leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1969, in the Shaka King film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Photo courtesy of HBO

(4 stars out of 5)

Violence never solved anything. How many times do we have to hear this message?

Well, as many times as it takes.

Every so often, Hollywood gives us two movies about the same subject within 12 or so months of each other. It happened in 2005–06 with two films about Truman Capote’s writing of “In Cold Blood” (“In Cold Blood” and “Infamous”), and in 2017 with two pictures about the British evacuation of Dunkirk at the beginning of World War II (“Dunkirk” and “Darkest Hour”).

Now it’s occurred again with “The Trial of…


Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek live out income inequality in Amazon film

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Salma Hayek points to the planetarium of Owen Wilson’s dreams in the film “Bliss,” now streaming on Amazon. Photo courtesy of Amazon

(2 stars out of 5)

To put it as bluntly as possible, “Bliss” (streaming debut Feb. 5, 2021 on Amazon) is the most confusing movie I’ve seen in years. Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” (2010) was certainly a head-scratcher, but not nearly as itchy as this effort.

No filmmaker sets out to make a bad motion picture, of course (there may be a couple exceptions), but there are any number of complications that can cause a film to suffer. A director may run short on money, or worse, on time. The movie’s lead actors can fail to exude any…


Denzel Washington, star of serial killer flick, acts like he’s been here before

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Denzel Washington, as a disgraced big-city detective, gets up close and personal with a corpse in “The Little Things,” which debuted on the HBO Max streaming platform on Jan. 29, 2021. Photo courtesy of HBO Max

(Two and a half stars out of five)

This is as good a place as any for me to expound on a problem I have with police stakeouts, at least as they’re depicted in grimy crime movies like “The Little Things” (streaming debut Jan. 29, 2021 on HBO Max).

Movie cops have always spent countless hours sitting in parked cars watching buildings wherein persons of interest are ensconced. …


Film tells true story of Britain’s Sutton Hoo excavation

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes go digging for ancient Anglo-Saxon relics in the Netflix film “The Dig.” Photo courtesy of Netflix

(Three and a half stars out of five)

The dirt gets under the fingernails. It settles into the pores of the skin. And when the rains come, of course, the dirt turns into mud. Archaeology can be a very dirty business.

The Netflix original film “The Dig,” which hit the streaming service on Jan. 29, 2021, tells the true story — with some cinematic embellishment, of course — of the famous Sutton Hoo excavation in Britain’s Suffolk County, on the North Sea above London, in 1938–39.

The movie stars Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown, a working-class excavator…


Oscar voters proved that old habits die hard

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Actor James Franco and actress Anne Hathaway co-hosted the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27, 2011 in Hollywood. This was far from the first time hosting duties for the Oscars were shared; actors Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin split the task just a year earlier. Photo courtesy of AMPAS

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to double the number of Best Picture nominees from five to 10 beginning with the Oscars in 2009, the move was widely seen as a reaction to one, perhaps two perceived snubs in the category at the previous Oscars.

Such a move, however, is hardly snub-proof; just ask the people who make what they believe to be the 11th film in the balloting how they feel about still being left out.

But many Oscar watchers were hopeful that the expanded number of Best Picture nominees would provide…


Does ‘silent’ film still stand up as the best of the best? Did it ever?

By Todd Hill

Image for post
Image for post
Jean Dujardin, right, star of Best Picture winner “The Artist,” poses with his Academy Award for Best Actor as he holds his co-star, Uggie, at the 84th Academy Awards on Feb. 26, 2012 in Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Agence France-Presse/AFP

The possibility that hindsight can be 20/20 should never be confused with a guarantee that it will be. This is especially true of motion pictures, and thank goodness.

Professional film critics — an endangered species, although there’s still a few of them around — may appear to have an easy job. Who wouldn’t want to get paid for going to movies every day (or having them come to you as screeners) and then writing about them? …


Movies reflected the news of the day, except when they didn’t

Image for post
Image for post
From left, actors Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”) and Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”) pose with their Oscars at the 85th Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2013 in Hollywood. Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

By Todd Hill

Articles like this one are forever attempting to make connections between the motion pictures that break through and the times that we live in. This particular article will attempt to make the case that these ties are tenuous at best.

In 2011, America’s war in (or with) Iraq finally wound down to something like an official end after eight long years. In that same year, Osama bin Laden was tracked down and killed, concluding the journey begun with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 with considerably more finality.

Was it just a coincidence then, that the…


Did ’12 Years a Slave’ make up for ‘Gone With the Wind’?

Image for post
Image for post
From left, Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) and Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”) pose with their acting Oscars at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood on March 2, 2014. Photo courtesy of Reuters

By Todd Hill

There’s no statute of limitations when it comes to cinematic mea culpas, but should there be?

One of the most popular and important motion pictures in Academy Awards and Hollywood history — 1939’s “Gone With the Wind,” winner of eight Oscars on 13 nominations — hasn’t aged particularly well. Like the novel from which it was derived, it completely ignores the unpleasant realities of slavery in America’s antebellum South.

This article isn’t the place to get into whether “Gone With the Wind” should fall victim to today’s cancel culture; I’ll save that for my piece on 1939’s…


Oscar bait packed the house, but Academy Award went to ‘Birdman’

Image for post
Image for post
The winners of the Academy Awards’ acting Oscars gather backstage during the 87th Oscars in Hollywood on Feb. 22, 2015. From left are Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress for “Boyhood), Eddie Redmayne (Actor, “The Theory of Everything”), Julianne Moore (Actress, “Still Alice”) and J.K. Simmons (Supporting Actor, “Whiplash”). Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

By Todd Hill

The Academy Awards are rich with tradition — well, perhaps “rich” isn’t the best word to use in this instance.

If a tradition can be defined, snarkily, as something that’s repeatedly done a certain way simply because it’s always been done that way then yes, the Oscars are most assuredly traditional. And no, this usually doesn’t work out to be a good thing.

The phenomenon of “Oscar bait,” so called, is one such tried and true Academy Awards tradition. And it is long past time for it to be ditched. …

Warm3wind

Todd Hill is a former journalist with 30 years of experience, much of it in film criticism, who misses neither journalism nor the film beat.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store