Joe Morgenstern


Joe Morgenstern
Tomatometer-approved critic

movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year Review
93% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) Harrowing in its repetitive violence, but never less than fascinating as a piece of ethnology, with magic-realist dimensions, that amounts to an origin story of the Latin American drug trade. It's an extraordinarily accomplished piece of filmmaking. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
59% Alita: Battle Angel (2019) I loved watching this sci-fi spectacle's moving parts. I just couldn't get past its brain. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
71% Cold Pursuit (2019) The stupidity lacks smarts in the script department, and the joke, such as it is, wears thin, then turns sour. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
86% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) A hugely ambitious sequel, joyous and genuinely complex, that's charged with dramatic and musical energy to the very last frame. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
76% Never Look Away (2019) Rich as the film may be in aesthetic considerations -- very rich indeed -- it's the startling arc of Kurt's life story that sustains the dramatic narrative. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
23% Miss Bala (2019) The film is calculation impure and simple. It's a box-ticking exercise in female jeopardy, survival and empowerment, oppressively efficient in its relentless way but unrelieved by emotional resonance. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
80% Daughter of Mine (Figlia mia) (2019) Asks big questions and answers them fully, vividly and affectingly, without a trace of sentimentality. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
88% Arctic (2019) "Arctic" is a lesson in lessness, coolly observed and warmly felt. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2019
89% The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) It's a charming notion, worked out zestfully by the writer-director, Joe Cornish, until the charm falls victim to familiar CGI Halloweenery. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
82% The Invisibles (2019) Documentaries with dramatized re-creations are an elusive genre. Can the re-created passages do justice to the factual or historical material? The answer is yes in the case of The Invisibles. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
37% Glass (2019) The concept is intriguing but the emotional payoff is negligible, the surprise ending is feeble and the whole enterprise resembles a recycling bin. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2019
40% The Upside (2019) What's needed between the two is electricity, and spontaneous warmth, not chemistry by the numbers in a movie so addicted to milking that it should have been set in a dairy. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
48% The First Wives Club (1996) Yet the real genius of this saga of sisterhood ascendant is its, um, marriage of revenge fantasy and exuberant spirit. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 8, 2019
93% Stan & Ollie (2019) The real head-scratcher is how such an endearingly modest, gentle film can say so much with such eloquence about a professional partnership... about the mysterious business of being funny; and about the toll taken by the passage of time. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
72% Destroyer (2018) [Nicole Kidman] is a force, and a relentless one, but she does what she does with the unswerving focus of a Terminator gone rogue, and female rage can become just as numbing as its male counterpart. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
73% On the Basis of Sex (2019) Mostly the film, directed by Mimi Leder, takes its cues not from real life but from film clichés. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
66% Vice (2018) Exhilarating but ultimately off-putting... The gleefully scattershot style that gave so much pleasure in The Big Short ill-befits the somber subject of Vice. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 26, 2018
78% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) I found this sequel deeply slumping, not to mention unnecessary, unmagical and often unfunny. The misuse of talent is what slumped me the most. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
31% Welcome to Marwen (2018) Mind-numbingly immense, joylessly violent and utterly lifeless... You've got to see it to believe it, though I wouldn't advise doing so. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
70% The Mule (2018) The story at its core deals with matters that have long been Mr. Eastwood's professional, and clearly personal, concern... When the old man finally mans up to his failings, the movie succeeds with special poignancy. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
94% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) A period piece that feels beautifully and painfully present: beautifully because love stories are timeless, painfully because the spectacle of racial injustice feels up to date. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) The scale feels vast, yet the spirit is joyous. It's as if everyone had set out to make the best Spider-Man movie ever, which is exactly what they've done. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
52% Stealing Beauty (1996) Very pretty, and very creepy. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
53% The Cable Guy (1996) [The Cable Guy] is so repellent as to be almost literally unwatchable. This comedy isn't dark, it's extinguished. It isn't entertainment, it's pathology. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
45% Miami Vice (2006) Miami Vice is a movie made by a man whose mastery of the medium, and whose obsessive concerns for detail, put images of uncommon distinction on the big screen. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 8, 2018
60% Vox Lux (2018) For all its fancy style and philosophical posturing, Vox Lux wears its vacuousness on its sleeve. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
63% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) What's mysterious about this film is why, with so much on its mind and such gifted stars to express it, the drama should be so unaffecting. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
77% Anna and the Apocalypse (2018) Anna and the Apocalypse does have its singular moments. On the whole, though, I'd say don't bite. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
91% Mirai (2018) Expands into a lyrical realm that is both very Japanese and entirely universal. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
79% Green Book (2018) A fine setup for two strong-willed characters to have at each other... Yet Green Book wears thin, and how could it not, since it's basically an illustrative construction in which each scene has a predictable shape and a clear-cut purpose. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018
91% Widows (2018) Simultaneously an affecting drama of self-discovery and hard-won female power, a vision of limitless civic corruption, and an incendiary, sometimes violent variation on the theme of carrying a torch. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
59% The Front Runner (2018) Given the profound currents and countercurrents that have transformed-and menaced-the news media in the last few years, this story plays like quaintly ancient history. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
40% The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) Lisbeth is asked to save civilization... but she can't save the film because there's nothing for her to do but fight and suffer, suffer and fight, and there's no one around her to hold our interest, let alone catch our fancy. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
34% The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) Be forewarned that Disney's latest holiday offering has reprocessed nothing but bits, pieces, slivers and chunks of Nutcrackery into a colorful, sumptuously produced confection with barely detectable nutritional value. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2018
94% Burning (Beoning) (2018) "Burning" keeps reminding us how little we can be sure of. Its mysteries extend through character, plot and the essence of fiction to the real world as we think we know it. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2018
90% A Private War (2018) In Ms. Pike's fierce yet laconic portrayal, this tormented woman commands a fateful grace under the fire that will consume her. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2018
88% Horn From the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story (2018) It's full of music that makes the case for its subject's pre-eminence... and has an interesting slant on the issue of cultural appropriation. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
84% Monrovia, Indiana (2018) The pace is slow over the course of 143 minutes, sometimes maddeningly so, even for a Wiseman documentary, but the film rewards patience. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
98% Border (Gräns) (2018) "Border" may not be everyone's idea of a fun night out, but it takes you to places you won't forget, and that's nothing to sniff at. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
65% Suspiria (2018) In Suspiria, style stomps fun into submission. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
98% Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Yet Lee, played with unerring wit and ferocious verve by Melissa McCarthy, turns out to be terrific company; so does her raffish companion in crime, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant). - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
94% Wildlife (2018) Ms. Mulligan shows her character no mercy, at least on the surface; her performance is startling, and for the most part unsparing. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
88% What They Had (2018) Yet the cast is exceptional, the performances are extraordinary, the writing and direction are heartfelt, and the film is, consequently, stirring, frequently funny and consistently affecting. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
87% First Man (2018) Most movies aim to take us out of ourselves. This one goes to majestic extremes. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2018
69% Beautiful Boy (2018) The root problem is repetitiveness, the seemingly endless cycle of progress and relapse that causes heartbreak in real life and induces déjà vu in audiences - even dejà déjà vu, since there's repetition within the already familiar pattern. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2018
93% Private Life (2018) In Richard [director Tamara] Jenkins has created a role that fits Mr. Giamatti, who has always been great at comic gloom, like a glove that should have been one size larger. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2018
90% A Star Is Born (2018) The film feels fresh from thunderous start to exquisite finish. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2018
82% Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) The good stuff -- and there's some extremely good stuff -- keeps getting tainted by Mr. Moore's poison-camera penchant for drawing dark inferences from dubious evidence. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2018
92% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) Still, it's a modest treat for movie lovers with memories that extend beyond last summer's comic-book extravaganzas, and not only because of Mr. Redford's presence. - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 27, 2018
No Score Yet It Must Schwing - The Blue Note Story (2018) An unusually lustrous-though admittedly esoteric-gem was Eric Friedler's "It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story." - Wall Street Journal EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 10, 2018