What materializes isn’t a fresh way of understanding this event, but rather a new set of images for telling the same story. This is obviously the wiser choice, commercially; artistically, it proves frustrating, even as this method has its revelations.
Say what you want about Michael Bay, but at least his movies have their own identity. They occupy their own territory—albeit one I don’t necessarily want to visit often. But Bumblebee could have been made by anyone, as long as they were working from the right style guide.
Spider-Verse is a dreamy, funny, self-aware, visually explosive delight, with a sharper sense of humor than the sophomoric, wearying Deadpool, a keener, more kinetic sense of action than most of the live-action Avengers films (save maybe Ant-Man), and richer ideas than most of the visually muddy, self-serious DC films we’ve gotten to date.
Bohemian Rhapsody’s problems aren’t specific to this movie. They are the bane of biopics broadly speaking, especially those tackling artists. I want to leave this kind of movie with a sense of the artist’s art, not just of the headlined subsections of a Wikipedia summary.
Where Coogler’s movie runs hot, Caple’s runs warm; where Coogler dwells, steeping every scene in a sense of shared history and a love of Philadelphia, Caple takes for granted that this ground has already been sowed.
In The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the West isn’t a source of nostalgic pride or a place we ought to willingly, lovingly reinhabit, like some auteurist-friendly Westworld. Rather, it’s where our great American myths go to die. Buster Scruggs isn’t an act of mourning; it’s laying all that to rest.
It’s funny to be watching a movie about nationalism—something of a hot topic right now—that gives off so little heat. Not because it’s unexpected—but because the missed opportunity seems both so obvious and so beside the point.
The film doesn’t glamorize addiction, or make it irrationally melodramatic, or gussy itself up in bespoke tragedy. (The same cannot be said of Beautiful Boy.) It’s all just right—even if “just right” is just O.K.
Happy as Lazzaro wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does if Tardiolo, whose innate openness and goodwill start to come off as the most surreal thing in a movie full of them, didn’t live up to the title. He’s the halo atop this film’s knotty, disheveled head.
The movie seems to be a study of the artificial limits we put on our desires—and the ways those desires naturally betray us. This being Denis, she of course goes above and beyond merely exposing those limits; she must also, of course, expose the audience’s limits in the process.
The film is rich with male feelings and even manages to have a sense of humor about its own sadness. Phoenix is fine here—his usual loose cannon—as is Gyllenhaal, whose educated snob routine doesn’t overplay its hand an inch. Though I’m tempted to launch a federal investigation into his mutt of an accent. But it’s Reilly who really carries the movie.
It’s interested in the continuum between then and now—and in the ways our own knowledge of community, and of ourselves in the world, can determine how we embody the lives of others. It’s the consummate act of empathy: restoring the past by bringing it to bear, in a real way, on our own lives.
Support the Girls is not a comedy merely because it’s funny (which it is), or because its tumultuous rhythm throws these women’s lives out of whack. It’s a comedy because, without laughter, there’d be no getting by.
What Jenkins gets most right—what astonishes me the most about this film—is Baldwin’s vast affection for the broad varieties of black life. It’s one of the signature lessons of Baldwin’s work that blackness contains multitudes.
In a world full of images—full of people recording themselves and their friends doing dumb shit, or documenting attractive versions of themselves—Bing’s movie stands out for the complexity of its integrity, and its ability to reveal his own experiences empathically.