• Possessor

    Possessor

    ★★★★

    A few stray thoughts:

    • I love listening to David Cronenberg talk about the thematic underpinnings of his films, but I find that his work rarely lives up to his descriptions of it. Possessor, directed by his son Brandon, is more like what those descriptions would lead me to expect; its ideas about the intersections of technology and identity are neither plainly stated nor willfully obfuscated.

    Possessor is a welcome heir to the elder Cronenberg’s most interesting body horror…

  • The January Man

    The January Man

    ★★★

    Took a chance on this one knowing nothing about it but Hulu’s description of it (including the cast), which made it sound like a pretty standard late-80s cat-and-mouse serial killer thriller. What I got instead was maybe the most tonally confused movie I have ever seen, something like the product of a neural network trained on Sea of Love and A Fish Called Wanda. It doesn’t work at all, and I kind of love it.

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★★½

    Much of the criticism I’ve heard about Nomadland is that it doesn’t more forcefully editorialize. America’s broken healthcare system, Amazon’s labor practices, the shredding of the social safety net: they’re all there, but we don’t hear about them. And indeed, I was surprised by the gentleness of the film, waiting in vain for something terrible to happen. In her Vulture profile of Chloe Zhao, Allison Willmore nicely sums up the difficulty of telling these kinds of stories:

    That remains the…

  • Kusama : Infinity

    Kusama : Infinity

    ★★½

    As fond as Kusama: Infinity is of its subject, the film does Yayoi Kusama a disservice by framing her story in a typically American binary notion of success. Apparently, prior to the last few decades of her status as one of the world’s most celebrated living artists, Kusama’s visionary talent was uniformly overlooked and/or disrespected, which is a funny thing to say about someone who spent the ’60s and ’70s exhibiting all over Europe and orchestrating antiwar happenings consisting of thousands of people.

  • Derek DelGaudio's In & of Itself

    Derek DelGaudio's In & of Itself

    ★★½

    Most of the magic tricks are neat. Most of the self-satisfied pseudo-profundity is not.

  • Minari

    Minari

    ★★★½

    Not an overtly political film, but its distinctly American story, told mostly in Korean, puts the lie to so much of the right’s empty nativist rhetoric.

  • Beanpole

    Beanpole

    ★★★½

    War is hell.

  • Tim's Vermeer

    Tim's Vermeer

    ★★★★

    A sloppy film in many respects, but its formal shortcomings do little to diminish how fascinating its subject’s single-minded obsession is. Reading some of the more prominent critiques of said subject in the Guardian and the New York Times, which describe Tim Jenison as a philistine whose attempted deconstruction of Vermeer’s technique is an act of denigration, I was struck by how willfully they miss the point. Jenison makes no bones about being a dilettante, insisting time and again that…

  • Terminator: Dark Fate

    Terminator: Dark Fate

    ★★½

    The Terminator movies are all basically the same: a bad robot is sent from an apocalyptic future to kill someone who will later be important to humanity’s survival, and a good person or robot is sent to protect that important person. One of the main things that determines a Terminator movie’s quality is how much it ties itself in knots to justify the inclusion of an aging Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose titular character is conveniently (if not logically) mass produced. Dark…

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show

    ★★★½

    I avoided seeing Rocky Horror forever, mostly because throughout high school and college, I found all the attention-starved theater kids who worshipped it to be so irritating. Decades later, I can’t help but be charmed by how giddily transgressive it is.

  • The Girl with All the Gifts

    The Girl with All the Gifts

    ★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    When Melanie says to Sgt. Parks, “It’s not over, it’s just not yours anymore,” I so badly wanted Sgt. Parks to be Mitch McConnell.

  • The Witches

    The Witches

    ★★★½

    Like all Dahl adaptations, this pulls its punches more than it should, but Jim Henson’s magic and the crazy camera work manage to make it truly special, and it’s miles beyond the atrocious Zemeckis version that came 30 years later. The experience was also elevated for me by watching it with my partner, whose lifelong idolization of the titular witches is morbidly adorable.