• The Zone of Interest

    The Zone of Interest

    ★★★★½

    "The Zone of Interest" is not just presenting a story—it is showing a side of humanity that is rooted in so much hatred and evil to the point of disinterest in the cruelty around them. Jonathan Glazer directs a bleak and searing look at a Nazi family living beside the Auschwitz concentration camp and trying to make a comfortable life for themselves. This a sparsely-written, slow-paced film that warrants patience, but this approach captures a seeming banality masking man's complicity…

  • Four Daughters

    Four Daughters

    ★★★½

    "Four Daughters" explores the difficulties of womanhood in Tunisia's conservative times using an intriguing reenactment method that involves the participation of the real-life counterparts. The themes of the film, from generational trauma to domestic abuse to extremist radicalization, are emotionally resonant. The film also gives enlightening insights into Tunisia's culture that are new to me.

    Kaouther Ben Hania proves to be a director to watch—the framing and use of color in the film are creative and evocative. She was able…

  • Next Goal Wins

    Next Goal Wins

    ★★★

    This is not as bad as I expected. Taika Waititi's humor can be very hit-or-miss, and "Next Goal Wins" is no exception, but the film's heartwarming intentions still have a few impacts. In an underdog sports movie formula, the film follows a dissatisfied coach going to American Samoa to train what was the lowest-ranking football team in the world. The made-for-TV filmmaking is mediocre and lacking in ambition, but the film still finds some fun.

    Michael Fassbender doing a comedic…

  • The Iron Claw

    The Iron Claw

    ★★★★

    Films that dissect the tragic consequences of both generational trauma and toxic masculinity are quite rare, so Sean Durkin's "The Iron Claw" is a surprising achievement. This is based on the tragic true story of the Von Erich family of wrestlers whose ambitions turn into their Achilles heels. The film is very raw, grounded, heartfelt, and at times terrifying, examining how a father's intense pressuring of his sons prolongs a family's pain. The acting ensemble consisting of Zac Efron, Jeremy…

  • Poor Things

    Poor Things

    ★★★½

    Women must have autonomy over their bodies: this is a recurring theme of multiple 2023 films, from "Barbie" to Yorgos Lanthimos's "Poor Things" which builds an immersive surrealistic world surrounding a woman's quest for freedom and self-determination. In the film, Bella Baxter has the body of an adult woman and the brain of an infant. This is a career-best turn from Emma Stone who plays Bella Baxter's development with astounding physicality and commitment. In compelling supporting roles are Willem Dafoe,…

  • The Eternal Memory

    The Eternal Memory

    ★★★½

    Maite Alberdi's Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Eternal Memory," captures the strength of love unbounded by one's memories, describing the heartfelt relationship between Chilean journalist Augusto Góngora and actress Paulina Urrutia with intimacy and sensitivity. Góngora is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease which causes him to become unfamiliar with the people around him and his memories for some time. Góngora stalwartly documented the Pinochet dictatorship, and the film intersperses footage of his journalism with his moments with his wife.

    It is heartbreaking but…

  • The End We Start From

    The End We Start From

    ★★★

    "The End We Start From" benefits from a committed Jodie Comer whose performance truly soars, even if the film is sluggish and lacking in dramatic intensity. In the film, terrible storms lead to massive, apocalyptic flooding in England, leading to social crises. A woman and her newborn son have to travel through dangerous places in order to survive. The starry supporting cast of Joel Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Katherine Waterston, and Mark Strong are solid, although most of them only appear briefly. This is a vehicle for the excellent Comer, but the film sadly feels underdeveloped and a bit dull.

  • Anyone But You

    Anyone But You

    ★★½

    "Anyone But You" has the potential to be a memorable funny and sexy romcom hit, if only it sustained the fun factor throughout and stayed truer to its "Much Ado About Nothing" interpretation. Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney have the looks and charm to be the leading duo, and they do deliver some funny moments. However, their chemistry can still feel like just two blondes arguing/making out.

    The story follows Ben and Bea as they bicker, pretend to be lovers,…

  • American Fiction

    American Fiction

    ★★★½

    "American Fiction" is a combination of a humorous cultural satire about prevailing Black stereotypes and a family drama, although it does not seamlessly execute the two. The cast of the film is terrific, especially Jeffrey Wright playing the uptight professor, Monk, and Sterling K. Brown as the charismatic Cliff. The writing is pretty funny for the most part, featuring some witty insights on White people's tendencies to favor simplistic portrayals of the Black community. Meanwhile, there are also some struggles…

  • Robot Dreams

    Robot Dreams

    ★★★★

    Oscar nominee "Robot Dreams" features charming 2D animation and an affectionate story of friendship. The film follows a dog who purchases a robot as his friend and their eventual "Past Lives"-esque story. The depiction of loneliness and companionship are emotionally resonant to reality and the human experience even if the film is fantastical and at times surreal.

    There are vignettes and episodic subplots that the dog and the robot encounter. The robot's story with a bird almost made me cry,…

  • A Royal Affair

    A Royal Affair

    ★★★½

    "A Royal Affair" elegantly tells the scandalous and tragic history of an affair between a Danish queen and a royal physician who was also the leader of the kingdom for a time. This historical drama is well-produced with its lavish costuming and sets, although something is lacking in the intensity of the storytelling. Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen are reliably talented actors, but Mikkel Følsgaard is the one who emerges as the standout actor with his complex and compelling portrayal…

  • Suzume

    Suzume

    ★★★½

    "Suzume" gives a colorful fantasy adventure that dissects the earthquake tragedies in Japan, even if it still follows every Makoto Shinkai narrative mold and features an odd romantic age gap. The film follows Suzume as she meets Souta and teams up with him to defeat a "worm" that causes massive earthquakes. The film has a combination of thrilling adventure, road movie, and fantasy elements well-rendered by gorgeous animation.

    The supporting characters including Serizawa, Tamaki, and the two quite frustrating cats…