While Glass is an intermittent showcase for his undeniable filmmaking gifts — his meticulous attention to detail, his shivery command of technique — the movie winds up feeling less like a progression than a dead end.
The Upside was probably never going to be a good movie, but it needn’t have been such an unfortunate, spectacularly ill-timed one, the victim of circumstances it ultimately has neither the wit nor the imagination to transcend.
It would be silly to expect this movie to achieve the cinematic equivalent of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s brilliance, but you can’t help wishing it had more to offer than righteous speeches and stirring glances, that it put a few more ideas in your head to go with that lump in your throat.
Bier plunges herself into mainstream horror filmmaking with a gusto that doesn’t always offset her lack of precision. For visceral intensity, she never tops the early scenes of mayhem and mass panic; slow-building, artfully modulated tension in close quarters seems beyond the movie’s interest or purview.
As it is, so much obvious care has been taken to reproduce and update the charms of the Robert Stevenson-directed original — to deliver an old-fashioned yet newfangled burst of family-friendly uplift — that Mary Poppins Returns winds up feeling both hyperactive and paralyzed. It sits there flailing on the screen, bright, gaudy and mirthless, tossing off strained bits of comic business and all but strangling itself with its own good cheer.
By the end of this clumsy, audacious story — the title of which turns out to have a doozy of a double meaning — Ben will be stripped of every last secret and falsehood, left with no more room to run or hide. You believe him at long last, even if believing the movie is a trickier proposition.
Happy as Lazzaro is slow to reveal its full shape: It’s a realist snapshot of downtrodden lives that gradually takes on shadings of fable and myth, a deceptively plain story that, by the end, all but glows with wonderment and surprise.
For those with little prior knowledge of Farhadi’s earlier work, Everybody Knows will play like an intelligent, engrossing drama about a sudden family tragedy that reopens past wounds. The director’s admirers, myself included, might find it harder to get past a dramatic approach that, sturdy though it may be, is starting to harden into formula.
Aretha Franklin didn’t transcend the gospel or gospel music; as first her album and now this marvelous documentary remind us, she did more than most to fulfill its potential for truth and beauty, devotion and art.
Most of all you remember Colman, in a performance that achieves its power, in no small part, by utterly destroying our understanding of what power looks like. She beams and scowls, brays and bleeds, shatters and disintegrates. She rules.
If it lacks its predecessor’s bracing sense of emotional discovery, it nonetheless understands and impressively re-creates the chief source of that movie’s delight: a group of characters who, for all their stresses and struggles, were a warm, easygoing pleasure to spend time with.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a witty, fastidiously imagined adventure and a touching, sometimes troubling ode to the power of friendship. But it also demonstrates some of the problems that can befall a movie when its vast ambition and confidence outstrip its finesse.
The Crimes of Grindelwald is somehow both hectic and leaden, a thing of exhausting, pummeling mediocrity. It offers up dazzling feats of sorcery and realms of wonderment (early 20th-century London and Paris among them) and manages to conjure the very opposite of magic.
Whatever else it may be — a wrecked, towering monument to its own incompletion, a howl of rage at the industry that Welles helped build and forever define — The Other Side of the Wind increasingly comes to resemble a shattered cinematic hall of mirrors.