• Petite Maman

    Petite Maman

    ★★★½

    Petite Maman is perhaps Céline Sciamma's most meditative work yet, and admittedly I was unsure about it in its earlier moments due to how slowly the central concept and themes are built up to, but it snuck up on me as it progressed and in retrospect I can appreciate how subtly and elegantly Céline Sciamma tells this story. Although I wouldn't consider this one of my favourite films of hers, I still found it to be very resonant and skilfully made, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

  • Wasp

    Wasp

    ★★★★

    Wasp has much of the grittiness that made Milk and Dog so effective, but with a slightly extended runtime Andrea Arnold is able to delve more into the character's struggles, with the harsh living conditions reinforced through many small details that collectively give the film its emotional weight alongside the main plot. The fact that the family has a system in which they flip the bird on the count of three already says a lot from the get go, and it doesn't let up from then onwards.

  • Dog

    Dog

    ★★★

    Watching this was like putting your hand in a flame despite knowing how much it'll burn.

  • Hop

    Hop

    ★½

    Going in, I was vaguely aware that Hop was poorly received, but I so desperately wanted to be wrong, especially given how I still like Despicable Me years later. Nowadays I try to be as positive as I can be, to give each film I watch a fair shot. But no, Hop crossed the line.

    This might be the most agonisingly generic film I have watched in recent memory. It's like they ripped out every page from the book of…

  • My Life as a Zucchini

    My Life as a Zucchini

    ★★★★

    A delicate and empathic film that even with its dark and tragic underlying themes ends up a heartwarming tale of friendship, compassion and finding hope following trauma. I found the balance to be just about perfect, embracing the good moments as they happen, but not ignoring the tough realities of the kids' situations. Though she did not direct, Céline Sciamma's narrative style comes through here, with the plot even bearing some resemblance to Tomboy.

    Everything about the animation, from the…

  • Despicable Me

    Despicable Me

    ★★★

    This begins what I call my Illumination watch-a-thon of 2022, my journey to watch each of the studio's feature films each month to truly get an understanding of them, to see if they truly deserve the criticism that some have directed towards them, and because this time next year we'll have the Mario movie they're producing.

    I first saw Despicable Me when it was released into cinemas in 2010 and re-watched it a few times since. Back then, my younger…

  • Horton Hears a Who!

    Horton Hears a Who!

    ★★★

    Despite some of the humour not landing for me, I enjoyed the animation, the voice cast is pretty solid and the themes and positive messages are what ultimately won me over.

    I'd also like to take this opportunity to highlight John Powell, who is gradually becoming one of my favourite film score composers that I don't see people talk about enough.

  • Milk

    Milk

    ★★★★

    Absolutely no time is wasted in setting up the main thread of the film. In what felt like barely a minute, we know everything we need to about Hetty and the devastation that she wrestles with, and despite the almost dizzying pace of the intro, it lacks anything superfluous, a factor that extends to the dialogue that follows.

    The hard cut after Hetty wakes up in the hospital is one of the most effective pieces of editing I have seen…

  • Comets

    Comets

    ★★★½

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

    Comets is a contemplative and subtly melancholy meditation on nostalgia, missed opportunities and the effects of separation over time. It's a slow burner for sure, but each scene felt intentional to me, and I felt that Tamar Shavgulidze used flashbacks in an incredibly concise way that complimented the narrative while keeping the focus on the present.

    In the final few minutes, the film takes a turn that is a stylistic 180, turning into a sort of arthouse sci-fi piece. Some…

  • Songs My Brothers Taught Me

    Songs My Brothers Taught Me

    ★★★

    Chloé Zhao's feature debut is a respectable one, telling a small-scale story set on the Pine Ridge Reservation that explores themes of family and discovering what matters the most to you in life. The cinematography, particularly in scenes set in vast landscapes, is stunning, and the cast bring such a believable sensitivity to their roles that it's amazing to think they consist of non-professional actors.

  • In the Heat of the Night

    In the Heat of the Night

    ★★★★½

    Re-watched in memory of Sidney Poitier, whose performance in this is the stuff of legends.

    I certainly like In the Heat of the Night much more than I did the first time, with me now appreciating its deliberate pacing, how it best captures Virgil's attempts to proceed with the case in the face of bigotry, including the frustration that he and the audience feel.

    Additionally, something I had forgotten is how infrequent Quincy Jones' score is used, as many scenes are allowed to speak for themselves. This makes the moments when the score, and the wonderful Ray Charles song, that much more effective.

  • Cover Girl

    Cover Girl

    ★★★½

    The premise has some interesting undercurrents of nostalgic obsession, but the overall story became predictable fairly soon. What makes this film, however, are of course the musical numbers and radiant performances of Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly.

    I liked how many of the numbers were various on-stage productions taking place within the world itself. Not that I have a problem with the spontaneous singing and dancing, but the more seamlessly integrated ones stood out to me the most in how…