• Over the Moon

    Over the Moon

    ★★★

    Quite a whacky movie in several regards. It doesn't all work (and the songs are especially underwhelming), but there's enough imagination to keep it semi-interesting, and it's good-hearted enough to make me think "yeah, I'd let kids watch this without worry about it polluting their brain", although the story is ultimately superficial. It's easily summed up as being a lesser version of Moana, actually slightly more ambitious in terms of poetic visuals, but not as effective overall.

  • Da 5 Bloods

    Da 5 Bloods

    ★★★★½

    This is the most interesting Spike Lee has ever been as a director for me. The visuals are pulsating with a kaleidoscopic energy, and ballsy choices are made across the board, which mostly all work. At times the film feels akin to Predator, if the enemy was systemic injustice and violence, instead of a random alien. A mixture of Predator, The Deer Hunter, and Spike Lee's own personal sensibilities and thematic concerns; it's wild! The immersion into history, both personal…

  • Happiest Season

    Happiest Season

    ★★★½

    The cute, wholesome holiday movie we deserve! Life-affirming with enough bite to keep it from being maudlin, gently revolutionary with its welcome display of overcoming fear and societal misjudgment, a breezy example of how easy it could be for people to be more open-minded and understanding. The ensemble is charming and full of fun quirks, with particularly great displays of talent from Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy, and Mary Steenburgen.

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★½

    Umm...Viola Davis gave a very good performance, but the movie provides her character with very little depth or at least chances to be entertaining. After the first scene, which is very promising, it's all downhill here (aside from a scene towards the end that manages to momentarily bring some gravitas). A truly thin story and completely pedestrian as a film. Chadwick Boseman's performance is very overrated too, it's mostly exterior and full of affectation, rather than soulful and lived-in. The way he constantly grins and glares, you can see the wheels turning underneath of him knowing a camera is right there. No thank you.

  • A Good Marriage

    A Good Marriage

    ★★★★½

    Rohmer is at his best in this key - beautiful scenery, effortlessly insightful character study centering around the indecision of relationships, unexpected music used briefly, and ultimately uplifting but without a concrete resolution. The central character of Sabine may seem to be an impulsive gold digger, but her actions are truthful of the human condition; people naturally look for relationships where they will gain something that suits them. Her practical explanation of her own behavior makes perfect sense: she believes…

  • Fall Guy

    Fall Guy

    ★★★½

    Love that theme song. I'm just going to write the lyrics here as my review, because for some reason when I search online they don't appear anywhere. Also who wrote these song lyrics (and music)?

    Kamata, city of rainbows, harbor of light, the world of film
    Flowers and the smell of spring everywhere you look
    Even a short romance gets burned into the camera's eye
    Brimming with youth and full of life is the world of film

    Gripping the heart,…

  • Over the Garden Wall

    Over the Garden Wall

    ★★

    Did not care for the simplistic animation (it's so flat, lacking dimensionality), did not care for the disconnected story structure, did not find the characters to be remarkable. Moments of peculiar intrigue keep this from being a total waste of time, but there's a lack of thematic and emotional depth, and it's not much fun, which leaves us with...what? A scattered handful of semi-interesting asides, held within a thin and partitioned shell, decorated with some sense of adventure, but quite…

  • Queen Millennia

    Queen Millennia

    ★★★★

    A hidden gem of animation and music (quite literally hidden; message me for a good quality english subtitled version, it's very hard to find). It's kind of like a cataclysmic version of Princess Kaguya where she must turn against her own kind in order to protect humanity from invasion. The fantastical and action elements are executed with a mixture of elegance and terror, alongside a solid reservoir of emotion. There's a tv series of the same name that stretches out…

  • The Return of the Soldier

    The Return of the Soldier

    ★★★★

    What a tragically underseen mini-classic. Circling around memory, love, lost time, and social construct, powered by the women at its core. The opposing forces of Julie Christie and Glenda Jackson, discreetly maneuvering through the shattering prospects of their lives being turned upside down. Ann-Margret is unrecognizable in a very demure role, filled with sensitivity. Is happiness via ignorance something that should be allowed, when the course of your life was drastically altered because of a simple miscommunication? Can 20 years just be set aside?

  • The Prodigal Son

    The Prodigal Son

    ★★★★

    Most films of this type are eye-rolling schlock to me, but this was actually hilarious and the fighting was very well executed, with somewhat more purpose behind it. There's a knowing understanding here of how silly these stories can be, with tongue-in-cheek dialogue and scenarios that create a fun sense of heightened reality, but still with a kind of seriousness towards the desires and motivations of the characters. It's a very tricky balancing act that takes quite a bit of skill to pull off, and this is one of the best I've ever seen of a kung fu comedy threading that needle.

  • Oblomov

    Oblomov

    ★★★★

    Interesting character study of ennui and lacking self-confidence, with imagery I found bewitching. There's constantly a musty darkness being contrasted with the comforting repose of nature. Attractive homes and clothing and food, but with a kind of rot underneath, a reflection of Russian society at the time it would seem. The director uses distance within the frame quite well, and camera movements, although on a technical level there's something lacking with the cinematography to fulfill the complete vision (and the…

  • The Animals Film

    The Animals Film

    ★★★★

    Very well made and crucial film for its time, while still being timeless with how it queries animal rights. The cross-cutting of small animals being caught in traps where they suffer, with fur coats going down the runway of a fashion show. Quite potent, as are other visualizations and implications presented here, most notably how overdone animal experimentation is. Other docs have expanded further on the extent of environmental and biological issues with the meat industry, but to have the…