The Way Back blends the beats of two familiar genres, the underdog sports movie and the addiction and recovery movie, in the process finding a rhythm that feels at once familiar and not quite like anything I’ve seen before.
Pixar’s movies tend to play as metaphors for the creative rise and fall of Pixar itself. When someone says “Maybe this place isn’t as adventurous as it used to be,” it’s hard not to hear an echo of the filmmakers’ voices.
Bong Joon-Ho’s brilliantly constructed art-house hit is the most powerful of this year’s many takes on the theme of haves and have-nots.
Is there anything new to say about Louisa May Alcott’s beloved, much-adapted classic? Thrillingly, Greta Gerwig finds that there is.
Noah Baumbach tells persuasive stories about unhappy families. This is one of his most insightful.
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci star in Martin Scorsese’s decade-spanning gangland opus, which turns out to be a very different movie than it seems … but you have to stick with it.
Taika Waititi has directed some cracking comedies, but can even he make Hitler funny?
An exquisite art-house film about a beatified martyr. The triumphant arrival of a belated documentary of a celebrated gospel concert. A fact-based drama about an alliance of devout and unbelieving survivors of clerical sex abuse calling for justice. These are just a few of an unusually large crop of notable films that tackled religious and spiritual themes in 2019.
Let’s face it, they could play John Williams’ ominous “Imperial March” over scenes of Uncle Deadly from the Muppets lobbing Green Goblin pumpkin-bombs at Scrat the saber-squirrel (I mean, they literally could, legally, and you could watch it on Disney+ forever and ever), and many of us would still feel emotions stir.
An ecstatic, anguished three-hour cinematic hymn, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life sings the life and death of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter in asymmetrical binary form, in contrasting theologies — theology and anti-theology — of the body.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.