• Little Women

    Little Women

    ★★★★½

    Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel might seem an odd choice for 2019. Jo March’s limited options in the 1860s-set story may not resonate as much with girls of today as much as they have in the past.

    But in presenting this classic story with this much passion and care, with this great a cast and with a script and editing style that feel this lively, what Gerwig does is assert that the great stories that have resonated with women deserve a spot in the canon, and that stories by and about women’s lives and experiences are sacred things deserving of respect.

  • Marriage Story

    Marriage Story

    ★★★★

    A sort of updated version of Kramer vs. Kramer, Noah Baumbach's drama of a marriage ending and a child caught in the middle is similarly balanced on the shoulders of a pair of strong leading performances, in this case Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. And if Marriage Story shares a touch of Kramer's jaded view of the legal system as singularly aligned with mothers, it avoids the latter's screen time imbalance whereby the hapless and abandoned father becomes the de…

  • Pizza My Heart

    Pizza My Heart

    Who could have imagined there is a version of Little Italy that's worse than Little Italy?

  • Toy Story 4

    Toy Story 4

    ★★★★½

    You have to hand it to Pixar, who, like the Linklater/Hawke/Delpy team behind the Before series of films, keep managing to reinvent the lives of their characters to tackle new existential and relational challenges at various stages of life. After what felt like a perfect, bittersweet finale in Toy Story 3, this fourth chapter seemed unnecessary. We had already seen how Andy's transition to young adulthood and Woody's fear of abandonment required both of them to accept loss as a…

  • They Shall Not Grow Old

    They Shall Not Grow Old

    ★★★★½

    World War I rendered as you’ve never seen it before, They Shall Not Grow Old transports the viewer back into the trenches through restored and colourized footage mixed with voiceover interviews from soldiers who were there. The mixture of emotions shared by the men bring to life the experiences of war—the horror, the despair, the camaraderie, the boredom—in a way that enhances the already remarkable imagery. Narrative voices blend together with images that retains a ghostike impression to create an…

  • Booksmart

    Booksmart

    ★★★★½

    The most fun teen comedy I’ve seen in years, Booksmart takes the language of high school party movies and gives the genre a shot in the arm. Like the recent Game Night, it makes great use of a story structure that plays like a quest, with its bookish leads (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) determined to track down the year's best graduation party and have a slice of typical teen debauchery they've spent all of high school avoiding. But what…

  • Midsommar

    Midsommar

    ★★★★

    On the heels of the great Hereditary Ari Aster similarly revisits that realm of "grief horror" with his second feature film, Midsommar. The movie is unique for the way it uses the constant daylight of the Scandinavian north as a way to mask the threats posed to the characters. At the same time, threat is culturally-relative. So is horror.

    Midsommar makes Aster feel like he definitely has a "type" of film he wants to make. Many of the recognizable elements…

  • The Two Popes

    The Two Popes

    ★★★½

    The Two Popes is surprisingly lively and entertaining for a movie that is essentially about two old men talking. Even for someone like me whose overall opinion of the Catholic Church as an institution leans towards disinterest at best and suspicious hostility at worst, the film is an interesting look at the issues that separate and unite these two men, the more traditional Joseph Ratzinger AKA Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the comparatively progressive Jesuit and future Pope Francis,…

  • The Irishman

    The Irishman

    ★★★★½

    The Irishman is a behemoth of a movie, one that at three and a half hours could only have been made with the good will granted someone who has reached the kind of cinematic hall of fame Martin Scorsese has with his 50+ year career. It's also a movie that fundamentally is about that kind of lengthy career and the weight of aging. For large parts of it, The Irishman is an entertaining hangout movie that might test viewers' patience,…

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

    A Charlie Brown Christmas

    ★★★★

    Wild how head on this movie tackles childhood depression. That Vince Guaraldi score is legendary.

  • Home Alone

    Home Alone

    ★★★★

    While it's no cinematic masterpiece, Home Alone is a holiday classic in that nostalgic sense. Macaulay Culkin's Kevin and Pesci and Stern's bumbling burglars are truly memorable characters. The film has a rousing third act, twisted sense of humor, great John Williams score, and it somehow manages to make the reunion pretty moving despite everyone in this family being awful. Culkin's weirdly precocious screen presence doesn't make him feel like a real kid, but it does make him an overwhelming…

  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

    Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

    ★★★½

    This one is way more violent than the first one. But it works surprisingly well as a sequel given how much the plot is a beat-for-beat copy of the first one. Brenda Fricker is so great as Pigeon Lady, and the character development of Buzz from the beginning of the first movie to the end of this one is a nice touch.

    I also love the moment where Kevin and the robbers first meet in a public setting, and for…