It’s a fine movie: cute, clever, moving, and engagingly-told, an altogether painless confirmation of what we should all agree is Pixar’s basic aptitude for keeping kids’ asses in seats and parents from pulling out their hair.
The film never obscures what it’s about. This is, after all, the story of a martyr. But because it’s recounted by a director whose cosmic visions are deliberately meted out through the most minute details, things most other films overlook—the ephemera of everyday experience, the gestures, glances, and sudden flights of feeling that define us without our even recognizing them in the moment—it all feels that much more particular.
The mysteries of Atlantics, and there are plenty, are rooted in the question of what the lives of those men were worth—and of what, just as urgently, the life of a young woman like Ada might be worth, accordingly. But Diop’s approach to that question is elliptical, borne of a plot that mixes genres, religious superstitions, and the modernity of the cell phone age, into something wily and unpredictable.
The purpose of the fine-grained emotional details keeps getting scrubbed out of Waves as its runtime wears on and reconciliation feels increasingly imminent. The observations are sharp, but the attitudes and arcs that they paint feel overly simple.
It doesn’t have the polish or prestige of your typical Oscar movie ... But there’s a tension at work in Harriet that’s missing from other, “better” movies. ... It’s also a vaster and in many ways wilder film than it will get credit for, a movie that leans into the excitement of Tubman’s mission so energetically it almost morphs into a heist picture, dredging up odd romantic and religious energies along the way.
[Green has] made a powerful movie about the ways power enforces silence, even between assistants and other underlings—people convinced they have everything to lose. It’s a movie about the tragedy of being brought into the fold and conditioned into that silence. And it’s a movie about how a person feels when they believe they have nowhere to go.
There isn’t truly standout work from anyone in the cast, even if the cast is what makes the movie work when it does work. Thank God for Hader’s unassuming sense of humor, Ransone’s jitteriness, Chastain’s steely, intuitive resolve.
I admire Zellwegger’s performance most of all for risking outright broadness, even badness, to chip away at the truths of the star’s persona. Frankly, it’s a performance that threatens to fly free of the movie enclosing it, which is well-made but not nearly as compulsively odd as its star.
Honeyland is thankfully too interested in the particulars of Hatidze to reduce her to demographic trivia. What matters, the movie tells us, isn’t that she’s exceptional in the trivial sense, but that’s she’s exceptional in who she is. Another message, to be sure, but one that finally rings true.
Yesterday isn’t nearly as fantastical, sweet, or light on its feet as it could be—and maybe that’s because of that darn premise. It’s somehow both too basic and too rich. There’s too much one could do with it, but too little vision in what Boyle and Curtis ultimately put forward—even as real tensions, real sticks in music history’s craw, populate the margins.