Weekend film reviews: ‘Asteroid City,’ ‘No Hard Feelings,’ more

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Sarah Sweeney

“Asteroid City” is set in a fictional desert town during the 1950s, and stars Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Scarlet Johannson, and Tom Hanks. Credit: YouTube.

The latest film releases include “Asteroid City,” “No Hard Feelings,” “Nobody's Hero,” and “Desperate Souls, Dark City, and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy.” KCRW gets reviews from Alonso Duralde and Dave White, co-hosts of movie podcast LinoleumKnife.com.

“Asteroid City”

The latest Wes Anderson film is set in a fictional desert town during the 1950s, and stars Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Scarlet Johannson, Tom Hanks, and many others. 

Duralde: “If you are somebody who is resolutely anti-Wes Anderson, this won't be the one that will change your mind. But I had the luxury of seeing this one twice. And I have to say: The first time I found myself distanced from it because I thought it was a movie about Asteroid City. But when I watched it the second time, I realized no, no. This is a movie about theater, and this is a movie about performance. And this is a movie about artifice, and thus, squarely in Wes Anderson's wheelhouse.”

White: “Its multiple plots overlap in these circles that are figuratively speaking, of course, held up to a mirror, held up to another mirror. Even the dialogue at times, the various sentences that are spoken, become circular. … What I think the point of the film is, is what people will do to tell a story to others, and also to themselves, about who they are in the world [and] what they want from life.” 

“No Hard Feelings” 

Jennifer Lawrence stars in this comedy as a down-and-out Uber driver who owes the IRS so much money that she might lose her house. To make some cash, she agrees to date a rich family’s introverted 19-year-old son. 

Duralde: “What begins as a rather raucous R-rated comedy with her trying to aggressively seduce this very sheltered, stuck-on-his-phone kid evolves into a sweeter story in which the two of them bring each other out of their respective shells, obviously. And so it winds up becoming a story about the friendship between these two people. Now, if you are expecting the hard R comedy that is being aggressively marketed to you, you may find that that shift midway through is not what you were there for.”

White: “It is very pleasant. And that is not what I came to this movie for. It starts strong, and ends on a bit of a sigh. …  It's not a bad movie. It's just not the strong, aggressive film that they are marketing. And that annoyed me a bit too much.” 

“Nobody's Hero” 

Set in central France, a man named Médéric falls in love with a married sex worker named Isadora. 

Duralde: “This is definitely a movie that keeps you on your toes because it is just constantly throwing new things at you. … Médéric and Isadora are wildly sexually attracted to each other, but every time they have sex, it is always interrupted by something, whether it is a nosy neighbor, or a terrorist attack or something else. And it becomes one of many running gags through this film that is both deadly serious and quite funny.”

White: “It is a farce about contemporary France, but also in turn, about all modern western industrialized countries where racial and sexual and political turmoil keeps turning people against each other. … It is also about desire and identity and distrust and how people are never strictly one thing at a time. It's very funny. It's full of surprises.”

“Desperate Souls, Dark City, and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy”

The 1969 film “Midnight Cowboy” took home that year’s Academy Award for Best Picture. The story of its creation and cultural impact is explored in this documentary from director Nancy Buirski. 

Duralde: “You hear about something like this, you think it's gonna be a glorified DVD extra about the making of this classic landmark movie. But what director Nancy Buirski is doing here is to really create this fascinating examination of the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and how ‘Midnight Cowboy’ fits into it.

… It's also about the change in the culture. It's about the rise of queer culture. It's about the end of old Hollywood and the dawn of the new Hollywood. It takes a very impressionist approach because you get the clips from the movie that you expect. But you also get clips from a lot of other films. You get footage of protests against Vietnam and the Vietnam War and inner city turmoil and all these other things that were unfolding and provide the context and the milieu out of which ‘Midnight Cowboy’ emerged.”

White: “This film shows you how the past is the past. … A film is always, I believe, an expression of where the world is at the time of its production. … [‘Midnight Cowboy’ director John Schlesinger] took that to the mainstream, and he did so with one foot in the idea of queer representation and storytelling. As a gay filmmaker, he was able to create this very generous, very tender relationship between these two men. And that is a film relationship that other directors may very well, at the time, have sneered at or held at arm's distance.”  



  • Alonso Duralde - film critic, co-host of the movie podcast “Linoleum Knife,” author of “Hollywood Pride: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Representation and Perseverance in Film” - @ADuralde
  • Dave White - film critic and co-host of the movie podcast Linoleum Knife - @dlelandwhite