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  • Bad Times at the El Royale

    Bad Times at the El Royale

    ★★★½

    Overlong, too indebted to Tarantino, and with a damp squib third act, but otherwise quite delightful. A stacked cast gives wonderful performances across the board, the photography and production design are incredible, the soundtrack rocks, and there's just enough thematic heft and emotional stakes to make the whole thing work. Goddard's script is typically witty and clever, but the bigger surprise is how he's grown as a director since The Cabin in the Woods. There's a showstopping (yet not show-offy) one-er here that I didn't think he had in him. Another moment, also involving singing, is nearly as good.

  • Luz

    Luz

    ★★★

    Felt like it needed to be either more or less surreal, and I wanted it to build to a batshit finale instead of just continuing at the same tone throughout, but man, what a tone. Sound design, score, compositions are extremely on point. This guy knows how to create a mood.

    At the end of the day, it feels more like a promising calling-card film (and a student film at that!) than a great movie on its own, but I'm definitely excited to see what Singer does next.

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  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★

    How I imagine the producers pitched this to Villeneuve:

    VILLENEUVE: I dunno, this seems sort of hopeful and uplifting. I prefer dark stories about serial killers and drug runners. I don't really see why you came to me, to be honest.

    PRODUCERS: Did we mention there's a giant spider creature thing?

    VILLENEUVE: I'M IN.

    (This joke for the thirty people who saw ENEMY).

  • Paterson

    Paterson

    ★★★★★

    I used to respect Jarmusch more than I loved him, but with this and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE he's tapped into something potent, a sort of wise, middle-aged artist's humanism that I find devastatingly lovely.