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.
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.
Smith is the lifeboat leading us to a more pleasurable film, one where it doesn’t so much matter that the sets look cheap, to say nothing of the CGI keeping Smith’s head plastered on a floating blue body.
The displacement Jimmie feels pervades most every shot of Talbot’s film and gives it all a slow-churning aura of foreignness and melancholy, a diasporic sadness that’s interesting to see in the context of a film about an African American, rather than a recent immigrant.
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.