• The Matrix Resurrections

    The Matrix Resurrections

    ★½

    Making a sequel of a beloved franchise that knows what it is, and doubles down on all the baggage that comes with that with a ‘meta’ approach, is not a good turn for modern cinema.

    The exhaustive self-reference, winking, irony, self-deprecation, and recycled nostalgia is exhausting and the lack of any originality or creativity is blinding, no matter how hard one works to make every moment bear the mark of one of these above elements. 

    Once you take all that…

  • Bergman Island

    Bergman Island

    ★★★½

    Always down for a little “film about filmwriters while a film plays within their film, all wrapped up in Bergman wrapping paper and milieu.”

    Loved seeing Danielson Lie and Kriep again.  Well constructed, well paced, and well acted, it does feel a little lost in its own abstract nature. It’s desire to mine art, our love of those idols who inspire us, and what we leave behind in the wake of that which we spend our lives creating all ends…

  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    ★★★½

    Waititi’s heart and ability to draw us in to his characters’ familiar yet quirky world disarms our expectations and allows him to approach his subject material on his own terms. His smart humor and deft emotional work make up for some narrative plot device drawbacks and a thin concept which ends in a way that feels lesser for its neatness after all that came before.

  • Spencer

    Spencer

    ★★★★½

    There are a few missteps and some heavily done thematic elements, but Larrain’s portrait is still a devastating work of a haunting, the ghost of humanity alway seen, never realized, told through a muted, cerebral mental degradation. It works. 

    It  has the best actress, best scene, and best bloodhound of 2021.

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Spider-Man: Homecoming

    ★★

    Wanted to watch this because, dammit, Alfred Molina is Doc Oc and the Green Goblin is back in that trailer and I’m a sucker. Spider-Man is my favorite superhero, but I knew the MCU treatment would be rough so I resisted until now. 

    The fact that Michael Keaton plays Vulture after Birdman (unironically) probably best encapsulates how glib, tongue-in-cheek, and self-aware this iteration plays. It’s just too much, lends zero gravity to the character as it labors to overemphasize Peter’s light-hearted side, is tedious, and very long. Woof.

  • Blue Bayou

    Blue Bayou

    ★★½

    Reminded me of Blindspotting in its purpose and approach. Unfortunately where the former dances a fine line and largely strikes the balance by using indirect elements to strengthen its impact, everything in this film feels directed and focused on solely making its point. That air of fabrication for maximum effect, robbed much of the emotion and creativity of the film for me. The writing and some of the narrative beats suffer for that heavy-handed intent. In a word, it’s overdone. …

  • Licorice Pizza

    Licorice Pizza

    ★★★★

    A personal, deeply felt film from PTA, meandering, yet deftly written. PTA’s flair for dialogue and rich, colorful characters are at the forefront and incredibly strong. 

    His use of misadventure and absurdity to highlight the humanity of our two leads is an effective misdirection. The tension between legitimacy (to leave behind childish ways) and the sheer joy of meaningful connection (even with those who seem to hold us back) is touching in Gary and Alana’s relationship. 

    It is an accomplished…

  • The Tree of Life

    The Tree of Life

    ★★★★★

    Perhaps referring to a film as visual poetry is overdone, but not with this film. The composition and marriage of image is singular and deeply moving. Malick merely imitates his best with his follow-up films. His lyrical masterpiece captures a human existence living both beneath the yawning scope of the universe’s grandeur and in the granular details and forgotten wonders in our backyard. We know both terrible good and terrible evil, and so we know a life that is, at its bottom,…

  • The Lost Daughter

    The Lost Daughter

    ★★★

    Colman mesmerizes and the film admirably dips and dives between her inner life and her island getaway. I appreciate the camera’s intimate, lingering gaze, catching glimpses, glances and nonverbals between characters, with the meat of this film being what is left unsaid but still excruciatingly felt. 

    It falters a bit in its indulgence in it’s flashback narrative and the drama between Colman and the family.  Many of the scenes feel bloated when the cutaways worked more effectively for the intended…

  • In Bruges

    In Bruges

    ★★★★★

    The annual Christmas viewing,

    The more times I see this film, the more I feel the film bends toward the allegorical in its setting and the two warring entities presiding over Ray's fate and soul. The way Harry and Ken experience Bruges, their two approaches to reconciling Ray's actions, it is all a deeply human portrait, ugly, broken, and ultimately failing to answer the question of Ray's guilt. Thus the brilliance of the film's end, and my continually strengthening belief…

  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★★★★

    Will require a rewatch but everything in this film simmers just below the surface, any vulnerability or weakness repressed excepting one character. This conceit then plays out in the unraveling of desire, tension, composure, masculinity, and disguise. 

    Greenwood’s marvelous score sets the tone reminiscent of There Will Be Blood.  Best of the year. Gorgeously shot. The smart turn at the end, was not only a piece of brilliance but lends real clout to the film’s impact and (debatable) close. 

    I…

  • Pig

    Pig

    ★★★★½

    So much to be said about this thing. It's tongue-in-cheek at times, its weird most of the time, but mostly its just incredible.

    First, for all the times Nic Cage is struck, only two blows land and Sarnoski and Scola depict them wonderfully with some intuitive camera movement.

    Second, the parallels to Nathan's parable to King David are distinct and the film gently traces them out into a beautiful lamentation.

    The score is pitch perfect. Nic Cage primally yells in someone’s face. 

    What more could you want? I absolutely love it. Still the best film of the year.