• Solaris

    Solaris

    “I was haunted by the idea that I remembered her wrong...”

  • Judas and the Black Messiah

    Judas and the Black Messiah

    ★★★½

    Can’t help but feel restrained by a need to hit all the bullet points of its real-life inspiration, instead of giving its compelling figures more breathing room to become complete characters. Luckily, the cast does heavy lifting that’s not happening with the script, and I couldn’t help but become more invested as it went along. Daniel Kaluuya is now unquestionably one of the most interesting actors working, but I was especially intrigued by LaKeith Stanfield, typically relied on as a…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    Moves along at a soothing, steady pace with an astonishing eye for detail and genuine interest in every individual’s story. Some of the most beautiful lighting I can recall in recent memory, and features a number of genuinely captivating conversations. 

    So I’m at a loss why I’m a bit cold to this, having been absolutely floored by THE RIDER. It could be a mix of the presence of Hollywood actors breaking the pure sense of immersion that had into its…

  • What Lies Beneath

    What Lies Beneath

    ★★★

    A deeply silly, borderline hysterical genre mash-up that also has some great movie star performances and a fantastic climactic setpiece. Has an interesting psychological set-up but drives right past any meaningful reflection or payoff.

    It’s basically FATAL ATTRACTION that way.

  • Tenet

    Tenet

    Nolan seems to be moving away from the brief stab at cerebral melodrama that defined his early 2010s blockbusters. The result here is a film that has a similar pace and scope to INCEPTION and INTERSTELLAR, in theory, but ultimately feels more of a piece with MEMENTO — characters struggling to regain the agency stolen by their skewed perception of time. It’s the most blatantly one of his films has dealt with archetypes instead of fully-formed, conversational humans, but it’s…

  • Little Children

    Little Children

    ★★★

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

    I’ve made an effort to be more openminded to narration ever since AD ASTRA grew so wildly in my estimation over a year, but I don’t know. All I’m getting out of its use here is a conflict with the deceptively disturbing tone that works wonders through the middle of this.

    It should go without saying that putting a sex offender as part of a multi-story narrative is a risky proposition, but the resolution of Jackie Earl Haley’s first date…

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★★★

    I’m woefully unqualified to say how this handles its source material or many of the issues on its mind, and without having seen or read this play, even I can tell this is a very actorly exercise with limitations as a piece of filmmaking. Yet I found it engrossing all the same. Boseman and Davis are both so gripping as two sides of the same unapologetic coin — the former’s self-conscious bravado and the latter’s blatant disregard for her reputation…

  • Wonder Woman

    Wonder Woman

    ★★★½

    Parts of this were better than I remembered. Gadot and Pine giving such sincere movie star performances goes a long way, and I was especially taken by their Diana and Steve dancing under the snow, reflecting on the mundane parts of couples’ daily routines. There’s a refreshing humility to what both characters want out of their lives together, in a post-war world they may never see. It reminded me of Aileen Wuornos’ and her lover’s first embrace at a roller…

  • Let Them All Talk

    Let Them All Talk

    ★★★★½

    Casual excellence. Keeps you at a distance in regards to what it’s actually about, but it’s laid-back enough to not make that feel like trickery for the sake of it. It would make a good 2020 double feature with ON THE ROCKS — you could make the mistake of calling them minor works from brilliant artists, but I could watch these characters talk about absolutely anything, so why would you?

  • Lovers Rock

    Lovers Rock

    ★★★★★

    Anxiety and adrenaline mixed with love and joy under the same roof. The type of gathering that no one involved will ever forget, regardless of any external stress — and in a tragic sign of the times, one that would be discouraged these days.

    Seeing Steve McQueen make a mostly happy movie, even one with an omnipresent sense of dread given the setting, fills my heart. It reminded me structurally of the first act of THE DEER HUNTER, though that’s always been a film I’ve admired more from a detached academic standpoint. Conversely, I found this largely delightful and never wanted it to end.

  • Happiest Season

    Happiest Season

    What is there to gain from putting a coming out narrative into the type of movie that’s formulaic and painstakingly apolitical by design? It could be an effective juxtaposition in the vein of FAR FROM HEAVEN... but this is far from that, unfortunately. The fact that all the conversations I’ve seen about this online can be whittled down to a binary of who KStew should’ve ended up with are pretty telling. There’s a few funny scenes, Aubrey Plaza is good, but it just feels like everyone involved could be doing better.

    But... progress?

  • Run

    Run

    I liked but didn’t love SEARCHING, the type of movie I’ll always make an effort to get behind. It was consistently gripping, had a great lead performance, but seemed held back from being a truly provocative work by its insistence on being so tidy, groundbreaking tech aside. Still, Chaganty’s devotion to the thriller fills my paperback-devouring soul.

    I did wonder how all that film’s cutesy nods to Shyamalan would pan out with subsequent movies. To do more than pay lip…