• One Night in Miami...

    One Night in Miami...

    ★★★★

    I had this on my speculative Best-Pictures-to-watch Oscar list and then it wasn't nominated for Best Picture. I expected a ton of star power and a big party - and was surprised (as the partygoers are) that there is not a party to be had. We're just gonna sit and talk.

    Not totally clear on whether this is an imagined conversation between four people or whether it's supposed to be historically accurate in some sense. Whatever the case, it does…

  • Toy Story 4

    Toy Story 4

    ★★★

    Good, I've finally caught up on the Toy Storys.

    4 is a little bit of a letdown after the emotional rollercoaster of 2 and 3, and I guess I didn't find it completely compelling. But there's certainly nothing wrong with it.

  • Jodorowsky's Dune

    Jodorowsky's Dune

    ★★★★

    Tremendously eye-opening look at a film that was never made - yeah, you remember a Dune from the 70's, but when Jodorowsky's film option expired, De Laurentiis and Lynch started over from scratch.

    What could have been is pretty amazing - I won't ruin any of the madness, but trust me that there's about ten "wait, what?" moments in a breezy ninety-minute runtime. Probably better for you if you're into science-fiction art and film history, but entertaining enough for anyone I'd think.

  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    ★★★★

    This had been recommended to me more than once by one particular HftW super-fan, and I was sort of avoiding it, to be honest. Then, flipping through Netflix, I saw that it was Taika Waititi-written-and-directed, which is more than enough after his brilliant "What We Do in the Shadows".

    Some of the humor is a little broad, I guess, but we care enough about the characters and the stakes that it doesn't feel shallow. And, for all that, the central…

  • Kubo and the Two Strings

    Kubo and the Two Strings

    ★★★★½

    I had really been meaning to get to this, but had put it off. My wife is involved in some Twitter "Summer Movie Night" and this came up - so I was eager to get to it.

    I didn't know what to expect, except that it might be very good, and it's way better than that. I can't speak to the technical part of it - it's clear from the credits that some of this is practical effects or at…

  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines

    The Mitchells vs. The Machines

    ★★★★

    I picked this on the strength of Lord/Miller, and wasn't disappointed. Now, it's a movie about sending your daughter out to college, and tripping over yourself as an inept father who means well, so it's sort of over the plate for me. (It also points out that we've bought into a technology-entertainment complex with stakeholders we don't know and can't possibly trust - which, yeah.)

    But it's pretty effective when things line up, including emotionally, which can be tough for…

  • Rams

    Rams

    ★★★½

    I bought the soundtrack to this at Record Store Day last year and never got around to watching the movie itself. The music (by Brian Eno) is in fact excellent. The film covers a lot of ground for as long as it runs, and illuminates influence of Rams, if it doesn't talk too much about his influences. It's somewhat interesting to get to know this man a little bit better.

    But here's the deal: Rams and his work are understated…

  • Eraserhead

    Eraserhead

    ★★★★

    It turns out that "I Gotta Move" by Frank Black and the Catholics is about Eraserhead, or I guess it's about Eraserhead star Jack Nance and his mysterious death one day after a drunken fistfight outside of a Winchell's.

    But there's no wrong reason to watch Eraserhead, really. I probably haven't checked this out in 10-or-so years, so I had forgotten a lot of the plot, what there is of it. But the dread still matches today's dread (particularly the…

  • Summer of Sam

    Summer of Sam

    ★★★★

    For a couple different reasons, I was thinking that I might enjoy a flavorful snapshot of the late 70's in the tension of the Son of Sam murders. (We're having a summer and it's got its own sort of tension.) But, like any Spike Lee film, we're going wherever he wants to drive.

    This is way more interested in punk, disco, sex, class, and race than I was thinking it would be, but again, that's Spike. Satisfying on a number of different levels (looks and sounds great, interesting most of the runtime), but also inconsistent and spotty when it isn't.

  • Cobain: Montage of Heck

    Cobain: Montage of Heck

    ★★★

    Not hugely revelatory, in light of the tons of notebooks and journals and documentaries that have come out since Cobain's death. Suffers from the same issue I have with a lot of these films - they're only saleable with the cooperation of survivors, and are almost certainly compromised by that cooperation.

    But even cast in the most positive of lights, Cobain was truly not well. Watching the evidence of it, I'm not convinced it's any of our business. The animations,…

  • Happy Death Day

    Happy Death Day

    ★★½

    Again I want to come to you after a movie and say "who is this for?" and the answer is probably "for people who are younger than me". Happy Death Day starts with an aggressively unlikeable protagonist, which is intriguing for a horror movie with such a high concept. She navigates a day she must relive over and over, and her progression into someone who is somewhat redeemable is about the only thing that works here. The who-done-it plot makes…

  • Castle in the Sky

    Castle in the Sky

    ★★★½

    11yo saw this suggestion in "related films" after Kiki's Delivery Service was over, and insisted we watch it. I liked this more than I liked that.

    I don't do a lot of back-to-back viewing, but when I do, the similarities and common themes pop out to me. Both films deal with young people, independence, found family, and flying, so aspects of that seemed really double-emphasized.

    But this one deals sort of directly, I thought, with destruction and grief, which you…