Reviews

Menashe REVIEW

Menashe (2017)

It has been jokingly suggested that all Americans are Protestants — even Catholics, atheists and Jews. There’s a meaningful insight there, although even as a joke it’s an overstatement, and insular communities like the Hasidim manage to resist American cultural identity far more than most. Menashe is different, though I wouldn’t want to suggest that he is a Protestant Hasid. It would be fair to say he’s a bit of a resister or nonconformist, if not quite a rebel.

All Saints REVIEW

All Saints (2017)

All Saints opens with the most familiar of pious Hollywood setups, the clergyman tasked with saving a threatened church (school, orphanage, etc.). Then something unexpected and kind of wonderful happens.

Detroit REVIEW

Detroit (2017)

Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit has an important story to tell, but what story is it?

A Ghost Story REVIEW

A Ghost Story (2017)

At the heart of A Ghost Story is an audacious visual metaphor. Like many effective metaphors, it is so straightforwardly literal and even absurd that there is no questioning or cross-examining it; like Kafka’s cockroach, or like the pie scene, it challenges you either to shake your head and turn away, or else to take the plunge.

Dunkirk REVIEW

Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk is the first film Christopher Nolan has made that feels bigger than the director’s preoccupations and obsessions.

War For the Planet of the Apes REVIEW

War For the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Too often I find myself in the melancholy position of trying to articulate why a movie I ought to like doesn’t work for me. War for the Planet of the Apes poses the opposite challenge: This is a film that, on paper, ought to leave me cold, but instead seared into my mind like a house on fire.

Spider-Man: Homecoming REVIEW

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

No one almost destroys the universe or the planet, or even demolishes a large European city or a sizable chunk of a New York borough, in Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Despicable Me 3 REVIEW

Despicable Me 3 (2017)

To call Despicable Me 3 desperate would be to ascribe too much effort and passion to the thing. Ice Age: Collision Course, now: There was a properly desperate sequel.

Cars 3 REVIEW

Cars 3 (2017)

At this point it seems like too much to hope for that any Pixar sequel, let alone a Cars sequel, should function smoothly from start to finish, but at least it ends well.

The Mummy REVIEW

The Mummy (2017)

I have never seen a movie work harder or more hopelessly than Universal’s new The Mummy, not merely to launch a new franchise, but to jump from a standing start into a full-blown Marvel-style shared cinematic universe in one go.

Wonder Woman REVIEW

Wonder Woman (2017)

Movies like Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger misunderstand and besmirch their iconic heroes. This movie understands and reveres its protagonist. That’s worth a lot, especially today.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales REVIEW

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Even skeptics of the franchise must admit, I think, that the Pirates of the Caribbean films have generally aimed higher and been smarter than might have been expected.

Alien: Covenant REVIEW

Alien: Covenant (2017)

To succumb to a regrettable but practically inevitable coinage, Scott wants to make the world of Alien great again — to remind us all what was so terrifying nearly four decades ago about being in space where no one can hear you scream.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword REVIEW

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

However Arthur himself is depicted, the Arthurian hero (be it Gawain, Bedivere, Perceval, Lancelot, Galahad or Arthur himself) is a man who stands for an ideal or a cause … If you can’t manage this much, you aren’t reinventing the myth — you’re simply committing an act of cultural vandalism.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 REVIEW

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Here’s the thing: You haven’t even seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yet, but you’re already an incipient fan, aren’t you?

Jesus of Nazareth REVIEW

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

After the four Gospels, if one text is more influential than any other in the tone of Jesus of Nazareth, it might be the Vatican II declaration on the Church in relation to non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate, a watershed document in Jewish-Catholic relations.

The Case for Christ REVIEW

The Case for Christ (2017)

The atheists and nonbelievers in The Case for Christ don’t have horns and tails, or even mustaches for twirling.

Grand Illusion REVIEW

Grand Illusion (1937)

Asked what he was trying to do in Rules, Renoir is reported to have said, “I don’t care.” With Grand Illusion, it may not be much easier to say what he’s trying to accomplish, but there is no doubt that he cares.

Ghost in the Shell REVIEW

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Scarlett Johansson is becoming — no, at this point it’s safe to say she is — the default Hollywood poster girl for transhumanism.

Beauty and the Beast REVIEW

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Can a realistically computer-rendered French gilt bronze candelabra be debonair? Jaunty? Rakish, even?