Niels has written 26 reviews for films during 2019.

  • The Two Popes

    The Two Popes

    ★★★★

    Ancient institutions, such as the Catholic Church, have always been a curiosity of mine. This film doesn’t just feed that interest, but it attempts to enlighten us as to the spiritual reminiscing of two great preachers of the faith. 
    Though I appreciated some of the film’s literary tangents, I also found myself at odds with the film’s attempt to lecture us about politics and economic models. 
    As much time as the film spent as a simple conversation between two very…

  • Good Boys

    Good Boys

    ★★★½

    For every childish joke, there were at least twice as many clever ones. From the childproof caps, to all of their innocent remarks about sex, Good Boys manages to push boundaries without being downright offensive. 
    The three “tweens” in the lead are all magnificent in different ways. Really good casting. 
    To echo what many others have already said about the film: the last few scenes were the weakest and they felt out of place. It was as if the writers (or the studio) were compelled to teach a lesson about friendship and growing up in the last act. This particular film didn’t need any of that.

  • Marriage Story

    Marriage Story

    ★★★★½

    Or the story about how two people so right for each other can also be so wrong. 
    Beautifully written. Devastating and real. Career best performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and also a career-high for director Noah Baumbach. One of the best films of 2019.

  • The Dead Don't Die

    The Dead Don't Die

    ★★½

    An occasional metaphor and a rare funny exchange cannot save this tedious and largely uninspired exercise in the satirical (and political) horror genre. 
    George Romero did it best decades ago, giving audiences something to fear when the undead came out from their graves to eat the living. 
    The film’s saving grace is the cast. The straight-faced Bill Murray is, per usual, perfectly apt for satire. The equally unmoved and unimpressed Adam Driver has the best lines in the film, but…

  • Treasure Planet

    Treasure Planet

    ★★★½

    It is surprising that more people didn’t go for this back in 2002. Without high expectations, I found Treasure Planet to be quite interesting; having more in common with a studio Ghibli production than with its western counterparts.
    The experimental approach of combining CGI with traditional hand-drawn animation was mostly successful. Though the character design itself may have been a bit too odd (or ugly some may say) to be embraced by Western audiences, the experience of watching Treasure Planet…

  • The Irishman

    The Irishman

    ★★★★

    A ruminative and surprisingly introspective film. Director Martin Scorsese looks back at the work that made him a household name by tinkering with the formula, without revising it entirely. 
    A near-masterwork if it weren’t for the overindulgence of its running time, and the near-absence of a female point of view (Anna Paquin, who comes the closest to giving a female perspective acts more as a God-like, all-seeing and all-judging entity that serves and reacts to the doings of the lead character).

  • Rocketman

    Rocketman

    ★★★

    A musical extravaganza that exploits our collective nostalgia for the music of Elton John (beautifully played by Taron Egerton). 
    Rocketman follows the typical structure of a biopic, starting at the beginning, before Elton was Elton and his name was still Reginald Dwight. His childhood, interestingly, isn’t entirely dysfunctional. He gets love and support from grandma (or “nana”), and he gets attitude and resilience from his mother, even if their relationship was always difficult. 
    Because Rocketman dedicates so much running time…

  • Star Wars

    Star Wars

    ★★★½

    Over 40 years later the appeal remains largely unaltered. Star Wars was, and continues to be, a wonderfully conceived universe where creatures, planets, races and religions are conceived without sacrificing plot or forward momentum. 
    There is, of course, something to be said about the nostalgic and cultural resonance of the film, and what it must have felt like to watch it in the late 70s.
    While the artistry of 2001: Space Odyssey predates it, Star Wars is a different kind…

  • Nosferatu

    Nosferatu

    How does a film of this scale and ambition get made in 1922? 
    How can the look and feel of Nosferatu himself still feel right almost 100 years later? 
    Though it wasn’t the first great horror film (that title forever remains in the hands of the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), Nosferatu’s operatic construction was a stepping stone for cinema; demonstrating that a literary work of art could be successfully adapted to film form under the right direction. 

    A classic that still feels relevant.

  • The King

    The King

    ★★★★

    If you’re looking for a poetic rendition of Shakespeare’s Henry V, look elsewhere. 
    If your expectations aren’t so grand, The King is a perfectly adept film about a young man whose reluctancy to be the leader of his empire made him uniquely and ironically qualified for the position. 
    What works: 
    The performances, especially that of Timothee Chalamet in the lead role showing, yet again, his precocious talent. The small role played by Robert Pattison is also especially satisfying. 
    The cinematography,…

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ★★★★

    It is said authors fall in love with their characters. Such is the case of Vince Gilligan with Jesse Pinkman, the unlikely hero of the Breaking Bad franchise. 
    El Camino greatest success is that it feels like a natural progression to the show, albeit a less cathartic yet more redemptive finale to a fantastically told tragedy. 
    Aaron Paul’s deserves some attention for seamlessly recapturing the magic of his most famous character.

  • Cold War

    Cold War

    ★★★

    A love story filled with the vicisitudes and tribulations of life in Europe during the Cold War.  
    The film’s cinematography is note-worthy, beautifully composed and shot in black and white. The acting is solid and the musical numbers are a highlight. 
    Unfortunately, I found the script to be underwritten, jumping forward in time with a kind of rapidity that skips over opportunities to make the lead characters whole.  
    My rating of the film is a recognition of its technical prowess.