First-time feature helmer Grabinski firmly steers his script away from sticking in one mode or another: It’s neither purely scary, nor purely tense, nor purely hilarious, but instead most or all of these at once, producing a uniquely unnerving tone where shortness of breath in one moment instantaneously gives way to cackles in the next.
Chaos Walking feels like a condensement of Ness’ trilogy of books instead of a straightforward translation of the first, and consequently there’s too much that needs to happen in too slim a running time, which leaves little space for making the movie’s conflicts matter.
Similar to how the characters are there to serve Anthony, Colman, Gatiss, Sewell and Poots are there to serve Hopkins. The stage belongs to him. What he does with it is something special, an unmissable performance from an actor with a filmography loaded with them.
The Mauritanian plays by the numbers, hitting courtroom conspiracy drama beats dutifully but without any urgency. From the start, everyone on every side of the court is running out of time, and hitting their heads on brick walls of government silence, which, though drawn from real life, remains a well-worn genre cliché played too heavily by Macdonald’s direction.
As the argument expands, all of these men start to look less like icons and more like, well, men: Regular people with regular concerns and everyday flaws. They’re mortal and imperfect, and to witness their mortal imperfection is One Night in Miami’s greatest joy.
Night of Kings aesthetic dissonance is discombobulating, but the discombobulation is surprisingly pleasing in its headiness, as Lacôte plays with naturalist filmmaking and spectacle right out of The Lord of the Rings, intertwining the two so much that they are, at the end, inseparable from one another.
It’s the thought put into the writing that leads Promising Young Woman astray: The movie knows what it’s about, but waffles over how to be about it. The ferocity Mulligan funnels into her performance hints at the story that could’ve been—merciless, cool and vividly stylized. But her ruthlessness, her “no fucks to give” demeanor, isn’t matched by the picture surrounding her. She realizes her promise as Fennell struggles with her own.
Here, merriment and melancholy go hand in hand, partners in life’s dance just as a stiff drink is an accompaniment to life’s pleasures. The combination proves as intoxicating as the fancy-pants cocktails the boys whip up together—if not more so.
Zengel is a fresh spark in an otherwise old-fashioned production, but old-fashioned here is a compliment. News of the World has no interest in subverting or updating classic Western formulas: It is content with its function as a handsomely-made studio picture, built ostensibly around Hanks but with plenty of room for its young star to make her mark.
Every detail here, every flourish, has a purpose, whether splashes of red on flower petals, soft edges around dusk-lit trees, or three-panel split screen sequences that read like the pages of illuminated manuscripts brought to life.
McQueen has made a textured, warm, breathtaking and heartbreaking portrait of Black experience, condensed economically into slightly over an hour of runtime. It’s exhilarating. It’s gorgeous. It’s moving. It’s also dangerous.
Duvall dovetails the seasonal pap with her characters’ pain, treating it like ointment for their mellowing emotional stings. The message isn’t just about liking Christmas. The message is that everybody deserves a Christmas movie.