Reviews

Spirited Away REVIEW

Spirited Away (2001)

No film in Miyazaki’s oeuvre haunts me like Spirited Away. One reason is the evocation of a seemingly impenetrable, incalculable world with rhythms and rituals that seem all the more opaque and unnerving because they are routine and transparent to those that are of that world.

Moana REVIEW

Moana (2016)

It would be going too far to say that Moana combines everything I enjoy about contemporary Disney with everything I dislike, but it’s got quite a bit of both.

Arrival REVIEW

Arrival (2016)

In some ways it warrants comparison with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, if only because Arrival achieves much of what I was hoping for from Interstellar.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them REVIEW

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

The fact is, moving from the Harry Potter films to Fantastic Beasts feels a bit like moving from the original Star Wars trilogy to the Star Wars prequels.

Hacksaw Ridge REVIEW

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Gibson crafts a resolutely traditional exercise in Hollywood mythmaking: a tale of a man who stoically endures accusations of cowardice before being vindicated as the bravest of all, a man of integrity who stands by his unpopular principles regardless of the consequences; a pious man whose sincere faith eventually wins the respect and admiration of his less devout comrades.

Doctor Strange REVIEW

Doctor Strange (2016)

Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel’s sorcerer supreme, is a rare action blockbuster — and an even rarer superhero movie — that really ought to be experienced, not only on the big screen, but in 3D — and if possible in IMAX.

The Birth of a Nation REVIEW

The Birth of a Nation (2016)

The prominent, polyvalent exploration of the uses of religion and especially Scripture, both to condone slavery and to condemn it, to sedate slaves and to inflame them, is one of the most striking and welcome things about the film.

It’s a Wonderful Life REVIEW

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The truth is that It’s a Wonderful Life is both darker and more subversive than its popular reputation as cheery holiday “Capra-corn” would suggest, and more robustly hopeful than cynics and hipster deconstructionists would have it.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children REVIEW

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

1999 was a very good year for film, and how much more peculiar Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children might have been had it come out that year, before the X-Men and Harry Potter franchises were launched in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

Deepwater Horizon REVIEW

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

The film sketches in these characters just enough to hold the story together. What really interests Berg is exploring how the disaster happened, what it was like, and how those 126 people responded, for better and for worse.

Queen of Katwe REVIEW

Queen of Katwe (2016)

There are so many reasons Queen of Katwe shouldn’t even exist, and just thinking about them all makes me even more vexed at Hollywood for its desperate obsession with exhausted franchise fare when there are winning and wonderful stories like this to be told.

Hillsong – Let Hope Rise REVIEW

Hillsong – Let Hope Rise (2016)

Possibly the best and most cinematic sequence in Hillsong – Let Hope Rise is a montage that strikingly captures how the music of the Australian Evangelical church-based praise band Hillsong United touches, and unites, people all around the world.

Sully REVIEW

Sully (2016)

Many actors come to own the roles they play so completely that once you see them, you can’t imagine anyone else in the part. Tom Hanks plays roles in which you can’t imagine anyone else even before you see him.

The Iron Giant REVIEW

The Iron Giant (1999)

There is a purity to Brad Bird’s directorial debut The Iron Giant, based on the British poet Ted Hughes’ children’s novel The Iron Man, that is inconceivable in the family film landscape of today.

Greater REVIEW

Greater (2016)

Greater has three surprises, which is three more than most faith-based films, particularly of the inspirational sports-movie variety.

Kubo and the Two Strings REVIEW

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings comes close to being a masterpiece, and one of the two best American animated films in years, the other being Pixar’s Inside Out.

Ben-Hur REVIEW

Ben-Hur (2016)

On paper, and sometimes even on screen, there’s some promise and potential in this remake of Ben-Hur.

Pete’s Dragon REVIEW

Pete’s Dragon (2016)

I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, or even in writing, but with Pete’s Dragon joining The Jungle Book and Cinderella, Disney may be giving the lie to the old cliché “They don’t make ’em like that any more.”

Jason Bourne REVIEW

Jason Bourne (2016)

The world has changed since 2007, and not only in the ways the filmmakers are self-consciously trying to engage: concerns about cyber-security, online privacy, government spying and the pressure on tech companies to give the government whatever information or access it wants.

Star Trek Beyond REVIEW

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

It’s not saying much, but Star Trek Beyond is probably this summer’s most entertaining popcorn film to date.