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Christopher has written 84 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    ★★★★

    My only disappointment was learning that CHILDREN OF MEN and ROMA are both thinly veiled rip-offs of the Wizarding World. Bravo, Mr. Cuarón. And shame on you, Mr. Cuarón.

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    ★★★★

    HP1 sets the aesthetic which is largely associated with the series to this day. I think a little Chris Columbus corniness was actually beneficial in starting Mr. Potter & Co.'s foray into the cinematic realm. The schmaltz and the heart (the latter of which is of course baked into J.K. Rowling's source material) are as important as the mythology and adventure in the Wizarding World.

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

    ★★★★

    THE FAREWELL sustains an enviable melancholic and comedic tone. It's bolstered with great performances, including Awkwafina's deservedly hyped role. The score by Alex Weston and cinematography by Anna Franquesa Solano square the circle for writer/director Lulu Wang's personal vision. I look forward to seeing how this one settles in my brain - a couple scenes are already getting under my skin after an initial viewing.

  • Toy Story 4

    Toy Story 4

    ★★★★

    TOY STORY 4 feels like the most episodic entry in the series - a well-formed coda outside of a core story. That's not necessarily a dig. It may feel more slight, but it's also one of Pixar's most tonally self-assured films, mixing heart, humor, nostalgia, and light melodrama (the classic TOY STORY stew), without letting any one element overpower the other. You may not be bludgeoned to your knees and forced to bawl openly as in TOY STORY 3, but you may find certain notes linger longer in your palette as you digest the events of TOY STORY 4.

  • The Strange Thing About the Johnsons

    The Strange Thing About the Johnsons

    ★★★★

    Delights in its conceptual provocation in a way that delights me (because I am an eternal juvenile), but also shows Ari Aster's knack for telling a story cinematically (even concisely where necessary) and his ability to work well with actors.

  • Us

    Us

    ★★★★

    You want to be stylish. You want to be insightful. You want to be cheeky. Who do you think you are, Jordan Peele?

    That’s ok, very few people are – in fact, you could argue that only Jordan Peele is Jordan Peele, although if we’re to believe the premise of US, he’s probably got a shadow self out there too, wielding scissors, wearing gloves, freaking people out.

    US was a critical darling a couple months ago, and, anecdotally, slightly more…

  • Leaving Neverland

    Leaving Neverland

    ★★★★

    A complicated portrait of love and abuse.

  • Cold War

    Cold War

    ★★★★

    Technically, it’s a fantastic piece of work. Narratively, it’s got an episodic quality I’ve got to let sit for a while to properly gauge its eventual power. In the immediate aftermath of the film, the episodic nature kept the whole thing from coalescing in a slam-dunk POW in my heart, but I could see this lingering in my mind for a long time to come.

  • High Flying Bird

    High Flying Bird

    ★★★★

    The screenplay by Tarell Alvin McCrnaey is really what makes this film work so well. Soderbergh can keep messing on iPhones as long as he wants provided he has the privilege to translate good material like this.

  • Howl's Moving Castle

    Howl's Moving Castle

    ★★★★

    Christian Bale's performance in the English-language dub is helped by the vast amounts of weight he gained, lost, then gained again.

  • Leave No Trace

    Leave No Trace

    ★★★★

    There’s a lot to love here, and a genuinely complicated life philosophy debate that’s given its due at the center of the film. As with WINTER’S BONE, I find LEAVE NO TRACE is a slightly “prettified” version of circumstances that usually look a lot tougher in real life, but it’s a small thought for what I otherwise think is a beautifully acted, directed, and crafted film.

  • Autism in Love

    Autism in Love

    ★★★★

    This documentary captures a swath of subjects who represent the difficulties of living on the spectrum as well as the joys of our shared humanity, regardless of cognitive orientation.