agamboi has written 70 reviews for films rated ★★★★ during 2019.

  • In the Absence

    In the Absence

    ★★★★

    Just tragic.

  • The Irishman

    The Irishman

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    I have a complicated take on the Last Supper scene (around the 3:00:00 mark) that I think Scorsese uses as a hinge to turn the entire film's meaning onto its primarily religious ending. I want to explore it again but it needs a full rewatch and I'm just not sure that will happen any time soon. Here's to a great story and even greater filmmaking.

  • Raging Bull

    Raging Bull

    ★★★★

    Turned it off twice, not because the violence was overwhelming (it was not) but because the characters were insufferable, I felt degraded watching them. The beginning scenes, the montage scene, and the post-retirement scenes were all that mattered to me. Others have criticized Scorsese for not pulling back his gaze from Jake's violence and predation. The film follows those themes too up-close to be able to offer a real critique, which leaves viewers with the heftier responsibility of making moral…

  • Love, Simon

    Love, Simon

    ★★★★

    What stuck out the most on this rewatch was the early scenes where Simon has a hard time vocalizing the word "gay." He either cuts himself off mid-sentence, or finds some roundabout way to say "you know...". Nick Robinson acts these scenes so well. He gets fluttery not at the topic, but right at the word. His eyes dart, his head goes down. When we are a taboo, our words become taboo as well. Simon feels that shame, whether he…

  • Waves

    Waves

    ★★★★

    This year's Beautiful Boy:

    Phenomenal acting,

    hard to watch, gritty depictions of a son's life falling apart,

    unconventional editing and narrative structure,

    and a film that, while ultimately very imperfect, lands every emotional beat in a devastating succession.

  • Honey Boy

    Honey Boy

    ★★★★

    Shia LaBeouf wrote a screenplay in his rehab program of himself (Lucas Hedges) writing a screenplay in his rehab program about himself (Noah Jupe) and his father (Shia LaBeouf).

    Honey Boy will make anyone with a functioning heart rage at the trap in which this poor kid lives. I have strong Tom energy (the Big Brother role model guy), so yeah this movie was hard. I know a few kids that come from environments not far off from this one. It wrecks them.

    Watch Honey Boy, you'll hate the film's content but love its craft, its acting, and its meta-movie structure.

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

    ★★★★

    Smooth, compelling, wonderfully acted and inspiring as only Mr. Rogers can be. I connected with the early scenes about anger and finding forgiveness for others (that's been my life lately) but not much at all with the final third. Really, the emotional magic wears off as the film goes on. Fantastic in every way, though, and exactly the wholesome big warm hug I wanted it to be. To call this film hagiography is not wrong but in the singular case of Fred Rogers that is okay.

  • Genesis

    Genesis

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Milwaukee Film Festival 2019

    Genesis plays on all my particular fears and anxieties as well as hopes and longings. Guillaume's storyline completely engrossed me and I couldn't look away in horror at how it ended. I can't go into details in writing, here or anywhere else, but yeah that fucking hits home.

    The structural issue with the third act. It is isolated as its own continuous story while the first and second acts were two stories intertwined. Why not just…

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★

    Chicago International Film Festival 2019

    Beautiful. Every scene filled with sadness and longing and joy and romance. The main characters’ love was slow but later electric. As far as style goes Sciamma found a striking visual language (with painting close-ups and fire and visions) and effective camera work (lots of close-ups, sustained long takes, minimal cuts) that all together fit the story well. Very fine boringcore.

  • Pain and Glory

    Pain and Glory

    ★★★★

    Beautiful, graceful, and so bittersweet. One of the best of the year. I connected with this story so much. Well, not the black tar heroin addiction part. But the rest. Pain and Glory is so emotionally honest and reflective that it is like a giant, 2 hour long breath of fresh air.

  • Upstream Color

    Upstream Color

    ★★★★

    While I would never have dreamed of this plot in my wildest imagination, Upstream Color has exactly the kind of free-association plot structure that I have come to love in film. Some of that comes from Malick, obviously, but Carruth's plot here is thicker and denser than any Malick plot and less spiritual, despite its magical or surreal elements. Where Malick uses associative plotting and non-linear theme-ing to zoom out from the subject matter and look at all of Life…

  • High Life

    High Life

    ★★★★

    Same loose editing and pacing and narrative structure as White Material and it works better here (bored and floating through space) than there (frenzied and about to be massacred). High Life alternates between extremely boring shots of Robert Pattinson trying to not wake a sleeping baby, and other cast members violently raping one another and cracking skulls with a shovel. Denis really packed everything in.

    At the center of the movie is a short scene where Pattinson talks about abstinence…