Sam B.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Much of the film is excellent. There are so many details of performances and set design and script and vibe. There is such specificity in its rendition of Grey’s childhood, so visceral it made my skin buzz. I can’t speak to much of what it has to say about being Jewish in America but to my eyes, it felt real and alive and so wise and thoroughly considered. There are other writers who have articulated this better - go read them.
Armageddon Time is such a strong movie about assimilation, about how terrifyingly easy it is to give in and benefit from whiteness, especially after being barred even proxy access for so long because of antisemitism, how this action is not neutral but an inherently violent act, how liberalism can be so deeply self-loathing in its allowances for fascism and the echo chambers that we build. The Jeremy Strong monologue at the end so perfectly articulates how it feels to watch someone lie to themselves about their own beliefs. The Trump stuff in this movie is really good!!
I think re: Johnny, switching to mode where the dramatic irony is not in conversation with the characters but the camera…I think it’s a failure of the film’s imagination, which is especially disappointing because like there’s so much of the opposite of that elsewhere. I get it, I get how the film is playing with subjectivity in this really bleak regretful way, I get how he is taught to see his friend as a kind of moral prop, but I don’t this adequately counteracts the imo fundamental racism of this creative choice.
None of this stuff exists sectioned off, Grey’s too smart for that. Everything flows into one another - the rocket drawing being the kind of piece de resistance off the braided essay format this film takes. So perhaps the Johnny scenes do not work, but their contextualization in the surrounding scenes is really strong. And perhaps its overall thesis is startlingly complex and honest, but the moments where it indulges that liberal pity instead of damning inditements of inaction, where there are so many fewer details in Johnny and Paul’s interaction’s, leaves it in a “only as strong as your weakest link” situation…or maybe not! Still can’t wrap my brain around it. Been a minute since I saw a movie that couldn’t settle in me. Grateful for that.