• Maestro



    Though not a great film, A Star Is Born so dramatically exceeded the low expectations born of well-trod material adapted by a perennially unengaging, middlebrow actor that it was hard not to root for Cooper. But whatever miracle kept the worst aspects of star vanity projects at bay for that film hit this with the force of a tsunami. The positives here start and stop with Matthew Libatique's cinematography; Cooper does still know how to pick a good crew, and…

  • Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

    Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.


    Kelly Fremon Craig should have right of first refusal to all coming-of-age stories going forward. Rachel McAdams's best work yet and maybe this is aided by rewatching Titanic right before this but I'm beginning to think that Kathy Bates being great is an immutable law of the universe, like gravity.

  • You Hurt My Feelings

    You Hurt My Feelings


    There’s plenty to say about Holofcener’s gift for writing characters who are simultaneously over-blunt and incapable of spitting out what they want to say; of her firm command of the “petty” in petty bourgeois; of her ability to navigate a low-stakes, relatable conflict of simmering grievances exploding into asymmetrical conflicts between someone who has died by a thousand cuts and a loved one who has become a nemesis without ever realizing it.

    That’s all great but beside the point. The…

  • Past Lives

    Past Lives


    There's a lot to admire here, particularly in Song's direction. Intimate compositions balance an off-the-cuff simplicity with some precisely ordered details (Nora's English lit reading stack, the pointed way that Hae-sung always looks like he's aged years with each return to his side of the story simply from the way he dresses and grooms himself). She especially nails the weird cadences of long-distance video calls, where both time lag and buffering force strange, disjointed pauses where neither party is sure…

  • Saltburn


    Matches the staggering misconception of Promising Young Woman's decision to turn the rape revenge movie into a series of Scared Straight lectures prefiguring a self-martyring turn to the cops with an equally baffling approach to class satire. Fennell superficially clones The Talented Mr. Ripley but shifts it from a broadly implicating portrait of the corrupt rich and the sociopathy of aspirational strivers into a toothless portrait of a clumsy but fundamentally sweet family ultimately punished for their naive noblesse oblige.…

  • Poor Things

    Poor Things


    Lanthimos never fully wows me but he keeps raising his ceiling a bit more with each film. This takes Frankenstein by way of Candide, making even more obvious the themes of thwarted male desires for procreation and the question of what or who is the real abomination in a warped act of playing god. But Lanthimos takes it a step further and uses his “monster” to present a woman so completely alienated from norms that her purely sensual, id-driven arrested…

  • All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

    All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt


    Take away the elegance of the direction and you're left with a fairly rudderless series of vignettes that never offer much more than surface insights into the characters, but of course the same can be said of Malick, early David Gordon Green, or any other filmmaker whose roving, impressionistic style gives richness to what could so easily have been trite image porn. Whatever narrative deficiencies are here are more than overpowered by a remarkably confident visual voice, with Jackson out…

  • Priscilla



    It's hard not to view this as a companion to Marie Antoinette, and admittedly one that does not go as far in examining the gilded-cage existence of its pampered but stifled protagonist. But for a movie forced to deal with all the usual restraints of the "authorized" biography, this cuts deeper than many; the average depiction of Elvis ties his mental decline to his physical bloating, but Coppola wastes little time going for the jugular in depicting the King's fraught…

  • The Daughters of Fire

    The Daughters of Fire


    A work in progress with more to intoxicate a viewer (and listener) in eight minutes than too many filmmakers now can do with 150. It's as alive and present in its bold digital experiments of light and color as anything, but every aspect is so clearly of the past (the Gance-esque tripytch, the middle screen evoking both Costa's own Casa de lava and the Straubs' Black Sin, the ecstatic neo-neorealist transcendentalism of Rossellini's work with Ingrid Bergman). Whatever full-length project Costa develops aesthetically and narratively out of this is sure to be a knockout.

  • Purple Noon

    Purple Noon


    Delon's performance is proof that "surface-level" should not inherently connote a negative meaning. This film lacks pretty much all of the homoerotic elements of most treatments of Tom Ripley, but in the absence of that psychological motivation we are given a much more direct portrait of a sociopath. Delon stresses Ripley as a creature of pure impulse—intelligent, yes, but he is not so much a mastermind as someone who lives by unexamined whim and gets away with it on pure…

  • As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty

    As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty


    Obviously the collection of home video footage, when assembled via fractious and impressionistic editing, gives the sense of stepping into memory, but that seems too trite and semi-accurate a summary. The images unfurl in too much of a blur to really give the sense that we are dwelling for even a second on a moment that truly sticks in the brain. I spent most of this thinking of a similar but musically oriented project by Leyland Kirby under his Caretaker…

  • American Graffiti

    American Graffiti


    It's so funny that Happy Days was already in production, George got to see the pilot before it aired, poached Howard for his own cast and then made a movie that so perfectly nailed nostalgia that everything remotely like it since feels like a pale imitator. Shame about this godawful 4K www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/american-graffiti-4k-ultra-hd-blu-ray-review-george-lucas/