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Christopher has written 128 reviews for films during 2017.

  • Mudbound

    Mudbound

    ★★★★

    MUDBOUND does well what so many period dramas fail to do. It creates a sprawling story that focuses and finds emotional resonance in a key relationship, in this case the relationship between Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel (Jason Mitchell).

    MUDBOUND concerns itself with two families in World War II-era Mississippi, one black (the Jacksons), one white (the McAllans), both struggling, but, the Jacksons struggling under the weight of history and societal prejudice, and the McAllans struggling solely against economic hardship.…

  • The Night Of

    The Night Of

    ★★★½

    Slickly made and tidy package that falters in some of its character motivations but explores some thematically worthy material nonetheless. Jeannie Berlin is a golden goddess.

  • Downsizing

    Downsizing

    ★★★

    It’s weird and choppy and eventually a tad trite but DOWNSIZING is a film with ideas and for that it has some sticking power. 

    There’s a disconnect between the movie that was marketed and the movie that was delivered. That’s nothing new, but I think it could have helped to have audiences gear their expectations toward a more episodic, less conventional narrative, à la a contemporary ODYSSEY or GULLIVER’S TRAVELS. Not that DOWNSIZING is either of their equal, but its…

  • The Lovers

    The Lovers

    ★★★½

    The collapse of the DVD market helped usher in the decline of the mid-budget “adult” film, meaning films not specifically marketed to teenage boys (I’m not sure the collapse of the DVD market did much to hurt other “adult” industries). How refreshing, then, to find a romantic dramedy made for a middling budget that wants to appeal to a demographic that might be outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    There’s a cutesy quality to the setup of THE LOVERS that…

  • Lady Macbeth

    Lady Macbeth

    ★★★★

    Oppression. Pain. And the price of agency. All three are thoroughly explored and inextricably tied in William Oldroyd’s impressive directorial debut LADY MACBETH. As written by Alice Burch and based on a novel by Nikolai Leskov, LADY MACBETH takes place in 19th century rural England and follows young bride Katherine (a stunning Florence Pugh) as she’s involuntarily sold into marriage to an (at best) ambivalent and (at worst) cruel husband, Alexander (Paul Hilton).

    LADY MACBETH can be suffocating in its…

  • The Polar Express

    The Polar Express

    As an action film, Zemeckis brings a great eye for how he stages his sequences and how he transitions from beat to beat. Regardless of one's propensity for dead-eyed zombie from the uncanny valley (for which I have a great propensity) and/or holiday films, Zemeckis can pace a piece of pop entertainment.

  • mother!

    mother!

    ★★★★

    The exclamation point in the title is the star of mother! Two exclamation points may have been gauche, an emoji would have cheapened the lower case ‘m,’ but a single exclamation point hints at some artsy insanity without overplaying the title’s hand. There is an intermittently annoying slow-burn quality to writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s allegorical vision but by its end, the exclamation point was resplendent in its punctuational glory. 

    mother! firmly couches itself in the comfortable recesses of Metaphor. Characters have…

  • Landline

    Landline

    ★★

    Jenny Slate does her darndest but she can’t save LANDLINE. Director Gillian Robespierre follows up her acclaimed 2014 feature OBVIOUS CHILD with a film that, like Slate’s Dana Jacobs, is “flailing.” It’s a shame too since Robespierre has assembled a great cast: in addition to Slate, Edie Falco and John Turturro play her parents, up-and-comer Abby Quinn plays her sister, Jay Duplass plays her fiancé, and Finn Wittrock plays a man with whom Slate has a tryst.

    A lot is…

  • The Lost City of Z

    The Lost City of Z

    ★★★★

    France loves filmmaker James Gray. Elsewhere, he’s more of an acquired taste. His films often have an ostensibly musty old-fashioned genre picture sheen, but peek beneath the surface of WE OWN THE NIGHT or TWO LOVERS and one finds a contemporary sensibility. I think the same could be said of THE LOST CITY OF Z. 

    Z is a handsomely made epic about a man’s obsession with finding a settlement in early 20th century Bolivia. Gorgeously shot by Darius Khondji and…

  • Personal Shopper

    Personal Shopper

    ★★★★

    Our devices are the ghosts we let into our lives, and that doesn’t have to be scary. That’s the thought that kept striking me in the midst of Olivier Assayas’s PERSONAL SHOPPER, an unconventional ghost story and his second collaboration with Kristen Stewart in a lead role. Stewart plays Mureen, an American woman in Paris trying to make contact with the spirit of her recently deceased twin brother. During the day, Mureen is a personal shopper for a fashion icon,…

  • Columbus

    Columbus

    ★★★★★

    COLUMBUS is a quiet, beautifully observed film without a false moment. Emotionally, it positions its audience in a cinematically familiar place, but a place that has been exploited with far less honesty: the precarious transitional moment between precocious adolescence and adulthood. Despite their age difference, this transition is true for both of its leads: Casey, played by an extraordinary Haley Lu Richardson, and Jin, played by John Cho.

    The title refers to the film’s setting in Columbus, Indiana, a sleepy…

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    ★★

    THREE BILLBOARDS should have been a stunner, but somehow, it never coheres into a compelling vision. It's got excellent components: a cast that, uniformly (well, almost uniformly) give superb performances with intelligence and depth, a cinematographer who finds poetry in what could have been a pedestrian setting, and a script that attempts to mix the crass and the sublime (a tonal combination, that, when perfected, hits my sweet spot as a viewer).

    And yet, despite a lot of excellent work,…