Crooklyn ★★★★½

Less effusive with nostalgia than it is both edifying and wholesome, Crooklyn is seminal in the fact that it allowed Spike to indulge in the past, in the building blocks of his life, so he could embrace the future. Speaking of building blocks, most of the film takes place on the block — cars drive down the street avoiding the girls jumping rope and hopping scotch, stoops line the sidewalks filled with boys playing board games and avoiding the girls, parents yell outside like bells calling cattle home, 70’s soul music permeates the air from the radio, pianos and trumpets blast from within open windows, old ladies sit on the curb in their lawn chairs taking it all in, paint huffers maraud down the street upside down, a couple argues loudly on the corner. Spike takes his time here, carefully constructing a believable community. He takes his time because this is specifically about time. The time you spend with your family, the time you spend with one another. Time is often populated in the mind with traces of happiness or sadness; nostalgia only balloons it all up, growing it with seeds of pain and suns of glory. Happiness as a child can be a box of lemonheads and your favorite cartoon, or time spent around the dinner table cajoling your parents and torturing your siblings. Sadness as a child can be the times when you’re sent away to stay the night somewhere else, or when tragedy strikes and you’re just barely old enough to comprehend what “gone” really means. It’s that permanent devastation of “gone,” along with the everlasting enjoyment of a lemonhead, that proves these memories will never fade. Not for Spike, not for me, and not for you. Crooklyn is eternal.