There is a vital new documentary out in theaters right now called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” The movie, which charts the television career of Fred Rogers (known affectionately as Mister Rogers), is a much-needed balm of human empathy and kindness in these times of conflict and division.
Though “Hereditary” is a meticulously crafted movie, it is unafraid to be ambiguous. Confounding, even. You never get your footing in this one, even after you leave the theater and head home that night to try to get some sleep.
There is a quality of spirituality and universality to the movie that is really difficult to set your mind to at first, where concepts such as “masculine” and “feminine” flesh themselves out through symbols and metaphors. To read into the ideas presented here, one must almost read the movie as one would a tarot card or a poem or a surrealist painting.
To describe the work on display here as amateur is being kind. Think of the caliber of acting you might encounter in cheap porno and you get a pretty good idea of what it's like in "The Green Inferno." To be fair to the actors, the scenes and lines they are given to work with are so poorly written that no one could have made this material work.
The passage of time is about the only certain thing in life. So it is in "Grandma," a richly observed portrait of two women who must navigate the predicaments of life and loss. It is so rare now to encounter a movie that captures the wild, unpredictable textures of life and that is deep and true in its observations of human nature. One wants to seize upon such a thing and blow trumpets.
"Election Year" is so shamelessly blatant with its symbols of social lunacy - the lives of the poor sacrificed for the benefit of the rich, racial tensions, and the generational divide between teens and adults - that the movie loses all sense of fun.
It's a road trip movie but on foot. We expect certain conventions: Bryson and Katz meet colorful characters along the way. They encounter danger. They suffer set backs. They learn lessons. The movie is a digestion of every road trip movie, presented in a way that would be expected of a "good" road trip movie.
The movie has some astonishing sequences of kinetic action in the boxing ring where it captures something of the athletic, sensual experience of blood sport. During the fight scenes, director Antoine Fuqua, is unconcerned with anything but the violent sensuality of sport and the poetic energy of montage. I cherished those sequences.
It's something of a turn-off when the most unpleasant parts of a movie are also the most interesting. I suppose one doesn't go to see a movie called "Everest" expecting thoughtfulness or subtlety. The movie is a hodgepodge of sequences of action and peril, so if that's you're thing, have at it.
"Nightcrawler" lacks the same tinge of subjective nightmare as the great "Taxi Driver." That movie had the relentless focus of its subjectivity going for it. "Nightcrawler" is slick, but but it lacks the rawness - the sheer nerve - of a great disturbed character study.
The movie proceeds with a sense of relentless dread, as if the trajectory of her life was destined for the horrors of addiction, and that tinges every moment of the movie with a kind of wistful sadness. The result is unsettling, a mosaic of archival footage that documents perpetual heartbreak.
No one else can see it except you. It can look like an ordinary person. It can appear in broad daylight on a crowded street. It walks directly towards you. You can't stop it. You can only run away. But eventually it will find you and it will try to get close enough to touch you, to grab you.
"Whiplash" captures the raw, gritty essence of passion and drive, the dark and desperate side of artistic ambition. The final ten minutes of this movie are among the most dramatically charged and powerfully affecting moments of film that I've seen in a movie in years.
The movie perfectly embodies the darkness of the Mexican drug trade. The tone is grave. The cinematography is simultaneously spare and expansive. There are lots of long shots and establishing shots to show the sweeping desert landscapes of the border region. It feels like the edge of the world. And the sparse music drives this vision of apocalypse.
The movie has so much fun in the execution of this material, that we can't help but give in and let loose. It is played for comedy. The audience I saw the movie with squealed and screamed in terror and incredulity at the antics on screen. It is a fun mixture of scary and silly.
The Witch" is a folktale, but at the same time, it is also a commentary on the anti-feminist cultural preoccupations that spawned the witch figure of folklore. It gleefully exploits the creepy potential of the old horror trope of the hag of the woods who engages in perverse sex acts with the devil and who bathes in the blood of babes.
King is a leader, an activist. He makes difficult choices. He is tactful about how he uses his position and his followers to influence political power. This is history made alive. The movie never feels stagnant or dull or too much like a school lesson.
It is nerve-jarring to encounter a horror movie that doesn't immediately reveal the motivations and reasons for the grotesque actions of its characters. We sense a deep, dark well of pain, and when it is finally revealed, we wish we could not know.