• The Cheat

    The Cheat

    ★★

    The script is incredibly rudimentary and the direction almost perversely inert—even for 1931—but what you can't turn away from is the uniquely magnetic persona of Tallulah Bankhead, a true goddess if ever there was one. She owns the screen in a way few actresses have ever come close to, and it's her performance that makes this otherwise unremarkable production memorable.

  • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

    Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

    ★★★★½

    Showed it to my daughter, who just couldn't believe that these stunts were practical and that Tom Cruise performed any of them. It's funny to see how the predominance of CG and green screen effects have robbed kids of the ability to believe anything is real; they're clearly smart enough to know that nothing in an MCU film actually happened, so they're stunned when a movie defies that logic. McQuarrie is an under appreciated 21st Century auteur.

  • Operation Mincemeat

    Operation Mincemeat

    ★½

    The core story at the heart of this exceptionally, overly polite historical drama remains fascinating. I remember vividly how taken I was with it when I watched "The Man Who Never Was" on TV as a kid. But in this somnambulant new adaptation that storyline is drowned out by wave upon wave of requisite prestige drama clichés. Colin Firth, in particular, phones in his performance.

  • Adaptation.

    Adaptation.

    ★★★★½

    Virtually perfect interrogation of the Hollywood formula that manages to be as entertaining as it is provocative.

  • Flora & Ulysses

    Flora & Ulysses

    ★★

    Some real directing chops interspersed among a sea of typical Disney-isms.

  • Official Secrets

    Official Secrets

    ★★★½

    Despite periodically tripping into less than elegant speechifying, this tautly made political drama is consistently gripping and, occasionally, surprisingly emotional.

  • The Batman

    The Batman

    ★★★★

    Pattinson’s performance improves on each rewatch.

  • Free Guy

    Free Guy

    Slick, soulless garbage.

  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    ★★½

    This has always held a special place in my heart because the filmmakers—and the star—are clearly trying to do something grounded and real and honest. But it’s just not that good. It’s a bit slow and boring, but more than anything, the characters don’t work. It’s not just that Lazenby isn’t Connery; it’s that, despite his athleticism, he just doesn’t feel like he’s truly inhabiting the Bond character; it’s more a case of vacationing in the role. I also just…

  • Z

    Z

    ★★★★½

    A political thriller made with shocking confidence and shocking resonance, even by today’s standards.

  • The Player

    The Player

    ★★★★

    This may have been the first Robert Altman film I ever saw, way back when. Having watched a lot more of his work since, it’s easier for me to recognize the parts where he’s riffing and the parts are where the underlying script is driving the narrative. The riffing, the overlapping dialogue, the choreography of a large cast with each member on their own trajectory, is gorgeous, but there isn’t quite enough of it; I wanted more. But the overarching story is exceedingly well structured and zips along beautifully. It just doesn’t always feel Altman-esque in the truest sense.

  • Happy Hour

    Happy Hour

    ★★★

    I was all in on the extensive runtime but if as a director you take the audience on a five-plus hour ride, you'd better have the internal logic of this world figured out before say, hour three. The first 180 minutes or so trade on the transfixing performances of the four leads, who add tremendous warmth and authenticity to their elliptically motivated characters. The last two hours though, never quite progress beyond those opaquely drawn character sketches, and it left…