Alan has written 19 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • The Worst Person in the World

    The Worst Person in the World

    My goodness, now I just want to see Renata Reinsve in everything. And visit Oslo. (My only trip to Norway went to Bergen, which is also lovely.)

  • Heaven Can Wait

    Heaven Can Wait

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

    We watched this movie a million times on TV when I was a kid, even though (like most of the films my parents exposed me to back then), I was not in any way the target demo. It remains incredibly charming, and one of the best pure distillations of Warren Beatty: Movie Star.

    That said, I cannot let go of the same feeling I had as a kid: Joe Pendleton gets an incredibly raw deal.

    It's not just that Buck…

  • Drive My Car

    Drive My Car

    A feat of magic that tonally is nothing like Better Things (one of my favorite shows of recent vintage), but that has a similar quality in which nothing seems to be happening for long stretches, and yet every moment is so deeply felt that I am engaged throughout. And all of it builds beautifully to the necessary moments at the end.

  • Barton Fink

    Barton Fink

    This is a movie I had somehow never seen before, while also being one where I had been exposed to enough clips and images and memes over the years that it kind of felt like I had — which in turn made me less eager to watch it, despite the consensus that it's among the Coens' best.

    But this is definitely a case where seeing the whole thing — and, in particular, seeing exactly how the Barton/Charlie relationship plays out — gave so…

  • Licorice Pizza

    Licorice Pizza

    ★★★★

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

    What an absolutely lovely vibe of a movie, which I would have gladly lived in for many more hours than PTA and company chose to give us. Both this and Almost Famous take place in the year I was born, and thus a time I'm too young to remember (though long lines at the gas station remained a problem long enough for me to notice), but each film recreates this moment with such love and specificity that it feels like…

  • Stagecoach

    Stagecoach

    ★★★★

    I love westerns, but somehow never saw this one before today. For that matter, I realize that other than Seven Sinners (which I watched ages ago on a Marlene Dietrich kick), I’d never seen a movie where John Wayne was a relatively young man. (My next earliest: The Quiet Man.) My god, to see him in his physical prime is to understand far more deeply how and why he became a star than I did from watching his classics from…

  • Casino Royale

    Casino Royale

    ★★★★

    The Screen Drafts eps on James Bond inspired me to finally revisit Craig’s debut in its entirety for the first time in forever, rather than just rewatching the Parkour chase, or the collapsing house sequence, or James and Vesper’s first conversation. To my amusement, I realized I’d utterly forgotten about the existence of the Miami airport, which is one of the bigger set pieces the series had done to that point! It hangs together as a whole movie better than…

  • Gravity

    Gravity

    ★★★★

    Rarely have I seen a film that feels so different at home than in the theater. Even something like Lawrence of Arabia maintains a lot of its majesty if I watch it on a big enough TV here, whereas a lot of the immersive nature of this one went away when viewing it here (and without 3D, for that matter). It’s still a technical marvel, Bullock is still great, and it still makes space seem terrifying. Just not nearly as terrifying as the last time I watched it, back on initial release.

  • Skyfall

    Skyfall

    ★★★★

    Still haven’t seen No Time To Die, but the promotion for it made me nostalgic for Daniel Craig as Bond. Though the highs of Casino Royale are higher, I think this is the best overall Craig as 007 movie. The imagery is incredible (I’m still knocked out by the long static shot of Silva’s entrance in that server room), the supporting cast is great (even if they couldn’t get a former Bond actor to play Kincaid), the opening action set…

  • The Personal History of David Copperfield

    The Personal History of David Copperfield

    ★★★★

    What a thrillingly lively, absolutely lovely, Dickens adaptation by Armando Iannucci and company. Imagination, oddly, can be a hard thing for movies to bring to life, but this telling does it so vividly. It’s a modern adaptation in technique, but other than the race blind casting that allows Dev Patel to play the title character, or Benedict Wong to play Mr. Wickfield, etc, it’s not winking at the era or the source material. A real pleasure from start to finish.

  • Thor: Ragnarok

    Thor: Ragnarok

    ★★★★

    Haven't rewatched this in its entirety since the theater, though I'm always happy to watch bits and pieces on cable or YouTube. It's one of the most fun and weird MCU movies of them all, but it's also really overstuffed. Ideally, it would have been just Grandmaster/Sakaar, or just Hela/Asgard, without trying to squeeze both into the same movie. Waititi gets maximum value out of Jeff Goldblum, but Cate Blanchett feels shortchanged, even though she's fabulous in every minute she's…

  • Plan B

    Plan B

    "Plan B" made me very happy.

    I may do a second spoiler review later this weekend, but the short version is this: Natalie Morales, in one of two films the actor directed last year, absolutely nails the tricky tonal balance of a movie that's one part raunchy as hell (we're talking hard-R, two scenes in particular) teen party comedy, one part wise and sweet coming-of-age tale. Maybe it doesn't have quite as many explosive comic set pieces as a Superbad…