• A Matter of Life and Death

    A Matter of Life and Death

    ★★★★

    Absolutely charming and extremely British romance about a love so powerful it defies the laws of the universe. Lots to treasure here, but to me, nothing beats the opening scene, which establishes a deep connection between a pilot and a dispatcher as the former's plane is going down. Talk about a meet-cute!

  • Inside Out

    Inside Out

    ★★★★½

    Still wonderful. As the parent of a daughter who's now roughly Riley's age, I appreciate the film's insight into a child's difficult but necessary transition into a more complex emotional being. You work very hard to keep your kids happy all the time-- parents are Joy, essentially-- but you learn you can't manage their emotions.

  • Up

    Up

    ★★★★½

    Watched again for an upcoming feature on Pete Docter. There's no topping the first 12 minutes of this film for emotional impact-- how bold for the loss of a child to be included in a Disney montage--- but I found the whole film more resonant this time around than when I first saw it. Strange and beautiful.

  • Wonder Woman 1984

    Wonder Woman 1984

    Shockingly bad. Words like "cheesy" and "lame" cover so much that's wrong about the film, from its cursed-monkey-paw plot about a civilization-destroying object that weaponizes wishes to its Greatest American Hero-level effects to its lazy evocation of '80s culture, which is somehow more obvious than the '90s signifiers in Captain Marvel. True Christmas Eve torture watching this one with the family.

  • The Polar Express

    The Polar Express

    ★★

    Family movie night. I avoided this film at the time before I'd heard it was a charmless journey to uncanny valley, but over the years it's become a holiday classic for many and, you know, it's a Robert Zemeckis film, so there's that. The people who warned me off it were right.

  • Minari

    Minari

    ★★★★

    From the buzz out of Sundance, I had braced myself for one of those painfully earnest indies that collect raves but leave me relatively cold (e.g. Driveways). But this has a beauty and toughness that surprised me, and a specificity of time and place that feels novelistic. The marriage at its center is seriously troubled, and the notion of farming in the middle of Arkansas puts this family on the precipice of disaster in more ways than one. And yet it's still a lovely, heartfelt assimilation story.

  • Another Round

    Another Round

    ★★★★

    Absolutely delightful and wondrous when drunk, kind of a drag when it's hungover-- just like in real life. But lots of inspired and hilarious moments spun off from an experiment where four high-school teachers decide to day-drink to see if it improves their performance. And the ending is absolutely perfect. Mads is a god among men.

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★★½

    Perfectly fine adaptation of the play-- handsome, well-performed, beautifully written, etc. But this is Chadwick Boseman's show. The performance of a lifetime was his last.

  • Safety

    Safety

    ★★

    Standard-issue inspirational sports film about a freshman safety at Clemson who skirts the rules by housing his brother in secret while their mother is in rehab. Virtually no stakes on the field, so the real battle here is between the hero and the NCAA's absurd restrictions on allowances for "student-athletes." Docked it at least half a star for lionizing the Clemson coaching staff, who comes to the player's aid, but of course benefit financially from the same set of rules that stymie him.

  • Tenet

    Tenet

    ★★★½

    I didn't even come close to wrapping my head around the concepts of reverse entropy and time inversion, and I'm not convinced that understanding the film better would unlock some hidden emotional component that's present in all of Nolan's best films. But at a certain point-- early on, honestly-- I stopped fighting it and just enjoyed the quality of the action filmmaking, which was unquestionably enhanced by these incomprehensible ideas. A plea to both Nolans, though, based on this and recent seasons of Jonathan's Westworld: Stop making puzzles for Reddit boards and internet explainers to figure out. Prioritize accessibility, at least a little bit more.

  • The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

    The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

    ★★★½

    Better-than-average music doc briefly finds another level when Marshall juxtaposes Disco Demolition night at Comiskey with The Bee Gees playing to a packed arena on their Spirits Having Flown tour. At the point of their greatest triumph, they had no idea the seeds of their destruction were being sown.

  • Midnight Family

    Midnight Family

    ★★★★

    Exciting ride-along doc about the Ochoas, operators of a ma-and-pa private ambulance in Mexico City, where the government only deploys 45 vehicles for nine million people. Like Bringing Out the Dead IRL, with one incredible sequence where the Ochoas are literally racing a competitor to get to a job.