• Apocalypse Now

    Apocalypse Now

    ★★★★★

    A torrential downpour of indelible images. Terrifying to think that George Lucas might have directed this somewhere near Sacramento if he hadn’t instead turned his attention to American Graffiti when Warners got cold feet about the safety of the shoot.

  • Little Women

    Little Women

    ★★★

    I’m with Demi. Florence, Saoirse, painting and printing presses/publishing houses kept me in this, but … barely. I liked Timmy’s crazy-fool dancing but it is clear that he cannot ice skate—did my eyes deceive me or did they replace him with a CGI skater for the middle-distance shots where his back was to the camera? (For the record, I was fine with the carriage ride.)

  • The Way Back

    The Way Back

    ★★★½

    Clear eyes, full glass, can’t lose. I have a soft spot for Ben Affleck in these types of roles. Hopeless, paunchy Ben. Tearful, drunk Ben. Dishevelled, untucked, sweary Ben. Here he does a decent job of conveying the broken, addicted everyman whose former glory on the basketball court a quarter century prior makes him the unconventional first choice to lead his alma mater’s team of disorganised but competent players, when they find themselves suddenly without a coach.

    The Way Back

  • Dolly Parton: Here I Am

    Dolly Parton: Here I Am

    ★½

    Dolly deserves so much more than this formulaic, hagiographic career retrospective. Even the on-screen lyric typography is bad.

  • Crawl

    Crawl

    ★★★★

    Inspired by a real event, Crawl’s enviable blend of genres (survival, natural disaster, home invasion, creature feature, ticking clock) got me in the door, but I stayed for the near-perfect depiction of attacking alligators, production design and weather effects that embrace its intimate scale, and Barry Pepper’s turn as Kaya Scodelario’s estranged dad. The filmmakers got the most important trait of the gators correct: their heft. As well as being hyper-realistic, they move and interact with their physical surroundings, particularly…

  • It Chapter Two

    It Chapter Two

    ★★½

    Almost three hours long and yet not a word of explanation—or even a joke—about why grown-up Bill is a foot shorter than he should be. A fairly limp sequel that stays afloat due mainly to a couple of inspired set pieces (the bleachers was a stand out) and Bill Hader’s foul-mouthed shtick. And I’m not sure what to think about the decision to leave intact the various jarring, unironic slurs that reportedly appear in the book, something Brian talks about

  • Skate Kitchen

    Skate Kitchen

    ★★★★

    Coming as no surprise to anyone who’s seen The Wolfpack, Crystal Moselle’s naturalistic shooting style and ease with young performers find her equally as capable with dramatic storytelling as with documentary filmmaking. Here she expands her own prior short film—featuring an existing skate crew with no acting experience but a whole lot of Instagram followers—into a coming-of-age tale set in and around the skate parks and rental accommodations of Manhattan.

    Highlights for me: Rachelle Vinberg’s unselfconscious central performance (she’s skated…

  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

    The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

    ★½

    “In December 2017, it was announced Joe Johnston would direct a month of reshoots written by Tom McCarthy, with Hallström agreeing to Johnston receiving co-directing credit.” I didn’t read this till afterwards, but it’s no surprise at all. While the visual effects and production design are right up there, the rest of this endeavour is so earnest as to be completely devoid of substance and personality. Ten minutes later my kids were back to discussing Alita from two weeks prior.

  • Mortal Engines

    Mortal Engines

    ★★½

    This reportedly lost the studio $150 million, which is entirely attributable to the producers not appending A Star Wars Story to the end of its title. It’s not great, in the same way recent secondary tales from the SWU haven’t been great; a potentially interesting world full of good and evil and ships that fly and shoot, but which inevitably falls back on clichéd story points and character arcs. Most of the effects work is pretty good (i.e. not immediately…

  • Fyre

    Fyre

    ★★★

    What a mess. Definite opportunity for Seth MacFarlane to play Billy in the inevitable biopic though eh.

  • Game Night

    Game Night

    ★★½

    Brazenly steals its only visual flourishes from Edgar Wright, and struggles (for me) to balance tone. There were a couple of inspired moments and some very well-delivered lines, but I spent a good deal of it wishing I was rewatching The Game, a film these characters who claim to “love movies” would surely have referenced at some point during their game night.

  • Free Solo

    Free Solo

    ★★★★★

    One of the finest performances you’ll see this year, perhaps any year. Stone cold superhero. I love how the crew become characters in the film, and the dilemma they face about potentially filming their friend die — or worse, inadvertently causing his death — is discussed in some depth. But the film is all Honnold’s; his sense of drive to achieve the unthinkable, his bluntness regarding the stakes, and his remarkable preparation and sustained focus in the moment are nothing less than superhuman.