They Shall Not Grow Old is a truly fascinating cinematic document, the sort of thing that shows the power, and the limitations, of the artform to transport audiences through space and time. Peter Jackson’s documentary about World War I is a minor miracle: a rather simple and straightforward story told in such a fantastically original way that many viewers will feel dispatched to the past.
If you had told me five years ago that the most successful post-Nolan DC movie would have been a standalone film about the guy who talks to fish, I would’ve laughingly dismissed you with a “sure, Jan,” and gone about my day.
Vice—the new biopic about our greatest living vice president, Dick Cheney—is the movie our country needs right now: a story about a small-town guy who overcame the odds and kept his fellow Americans safe in an age of nihilistic terror. It is also the hagiography we need right now, a reminder that America’s greatness lies not with its natural resources or fantastic wealth but within the spirit of her citizens.
Vox Lux might be great. I’ve watched it three times now; each time I’ve become more convinced of this notion. And if it is great, its greatness derives in no small part from the voiceover narration of Willem Dafoe.
There’s no reason Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse should work, really. It mucks about with concepts that only deep readers of the comic books will be familiar with. It introduces half a dozen new characters in an incredibly short amount of time. It is brought to life in an odd animation style that serves as an implicit rejection of the super-slick Pixar/Disney ideal that has come to dominate animated films in recent years.
Far be it from me to complain about people who pine for a fantasy world that is superior to our own, but I am kind of curious if California Senator Kamala Harris really thought through this tweet: “We know that if we want to live in a world that looks more like Wakanda, the first …
Roma falls into a weird personal subcategory of films: The movies I admire greatly but don’t—can’t—quite love.
As a film critic of medium-low importance, one of my most sacred duties is participating in the Washington Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) year-end awards extravaganza. During this hallowed time of year, I watch dozens of movies and mine my own recollection of the good, the bad, and the ugly to determine what, precisely, the best films of the year were. At the end of this grueling process—this death march through endless stacks of DVDs, searching for the rarest pearl in an ever-increasing sea of muck—we WAFCA members nominate up to five films/people in each category. The five films/people who earn the most votes in every category are then voted upon by the whole of the membership, the winners are chosen, the press release is sent out, and blessed, blessed relief descends upon us as we put the exercise to rest for 11 months.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout is, like every other entry in the M:I series, a well-paced action-thriller providing ample fodder for its ageless star, Tom Cruise, to wow us with virtuosic stunt work wrapped up in a modestly complicated plot.
Unfriended was an interesting cinematic experiment: a horror movie told in real time using nothing but what we can see from a laptop screen to provide the viewer with information.
After looking up show times for the film on my 128GB iPhone 6, I headed over to the Mosaic District in Fairfax and parked underneath an apartment complex where one-bedroom units start at $1,856 a month. I prefer it to the garage attached to Mosaic’s Target (2017 annual revenue: $69.5 billion) because the dining options are so much more delightful on this end of the shopping center: I can practically taste Brine’s sea scallops ($26); I pine for a glass of Sho Chiku Bai Nigori sake ($18) at Iron Chef House. No time for that, though, since the movie was starting in mere minutes at the Angelika Mosaic, my favorite theater in the region thanks to its eclectic mix of indie and mainstream offerings, fine dining options, and superb screening rooms. The Angelika is nestled in a neighborhood on the edge of D.C.’s beltway where three bedroom/three bath townhouses generally sell in the high-600s to high-700s, with some of the fancier units cracking seven figures. After bounding the Angelika’s stairs and buying my $10 ticket, I was faced with my most important choice yet: which red wine should I drink while watching this evening’s entertainment?
I’m in the main auditorium at the AFI Silver in suburban Maryland when the curtains close on the big screen while the lights dim, but don’t extinguish entirely. A warbling, haunting tune burbles out of the speakers: The overture for 2001: A Space Odyssey serves as both a warning to those still milling about outside the theater and a tone-setting piece of music, an unsettling jingle that signals scope of the picture we’re about to see.
I’m not entirely sure I could recall for you the plot of the first Ant-Man film. There was something about a thief played by Paul Rudd stealing a suit that makes him small from a scientist played by Michael Douglas who had a daughter played by Evangeline Lilly and also the aforementioned characters wanted to stop Michael Douglas’s work from falling into the hands of the congressman from House of Cards, who was evil because capitalism.
This essay discusses plot points of Sicario: Day of the Soldado, including some moments near the end.
Sicario was refreshingly blunt in its nihilistic realism: it was a film about people moving through a broken world they knew they couldn’t set right but could at least gain some measure of control over. And while Sicario: Day of the Soldado has its moments, where it goes most wrong in its failure to live up to the example its predecessor set.
Of all the fantastic things in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom—the cloned dinos; the hand-trained raptors; the black market auction of murderous meatosaurs to Russian crime lords—the most fantastic of them is this: Congress actually gets something right!
The Incredibles is that rare Pixar movie that doesn’t feel as if it were designed to rip your heart out and devastate you. It has nothing like the opening montage of Up, during which we experience the ups and downs of a shared life full of love in just a few minutes; nothing like the moment near the end of Toy Story 3, when it seems as if our heroes are about to end up where all toys end up; nothing like Bing Bong’s self-negation in Inside Out.
Ocean’s 8 is almost certainly the best date movie of the year: It’s a clever heist movie that’s deeply amusing and features the most entertaining and attractive collection of actresses collected in one spot in a great many years. Men and women alike will find plenty to love. Word of mouth is going to be great. I promise you this: It’s going to be a huge hit. See it now before one of your colleagues spoils the ending.
The plot of First Reformed is relatively straightforward. Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke), an ill priest who finds himself unable to communicate with God following the death of his son and the dissolution of his marriage, attempts to help radical environmentalist Michael (Phillip Ettinger) find a reason to celebrate bringing a child into the world following the revelation that his girlfriend, Mary (Amanda Seyfried), is pregnant. Michael’s extremism rubs off on Toller, who begins to wonder if God can forgive us for the harm we’ve done to the planet—or our inaction in the face of said despoliation.