Reviews

A Hidden Life REVIEW

A Hidden Life (2019)

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.

The Two Popes REVIEW

The Two Popes (2019)

For a Catholic critic — or at least for this Catholic critic — a movie like The Two Popes presents a number of temptations.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood REVIEW

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood holds a special place — it would not be too strong to say a sacred place — in the hearts of many. Yet that neighborhood is an infinite distance from where we live now.

Frozen II REVIEW

Frozen II (2019)

Anna and Elsa’s relationship is a major improvement on the first film, but in almost every other way this sequel is lost in the woods.

Harriet REVIEW

Harriet (2019)

The strongest scene in Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet might be a moment when its indomitable protagonist appears at her weakest.

Light from Light REVIEW

Light from Light (2019)

I’m tempted to call Light from Light the first ghost story I’ve ever seen that I completely believe.

By the Grace of God [Grâce à Dieu] REVIEW

By the Grace of God [Grâce à Dieu] (2019)

Near the end comes a moment when Alexandre is asked whether he still believes in God. The scene cuts from a complex reaction shot, the question left unanswered. The point, I think, is neither to affirm faith nor to deny it, but to highlight the stakes. By their action or inaction Church leaders make God more credible or less credible, instill faith or shatter it.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil REVIEW

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

It’s tempting to suppose that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opening in the wake of Columbus Day isn’t a coincidence.

Joker REVIEW

Joker (2019)

Is it possible, in the world of Joker, to believe in real heroism? Do the filmmakers even care about that question?

Ad Astra REVIEW

Ad Astra (2019)

There seems to be no reason for the title Ad Astra, meaning “to the stars,” to be in Latin, except to highlight writer–director James Gray’s elevated intentions.

One Child Nation REVIEW

One Child Nation (2019)

Many movies have made me cry. Very few have been as difficult or impossible even to write about without crying as Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s brilliant, devastating Sundance Grand Jury winner One Child Nation.

The Lion King REVIEW

The Lion King (2019)

Alas, the mission wasn’t to improve The Lion King, only to mount it as realistically as possible. Favreau wasn’t hired as a creative, but as a taxidermist.

Spider-Man: Far From Home REVIEW

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Tony, Tony, Tony. How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

Toy Story 4 REVIEW

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Toy Story 4 does not continue the story of the first three films, but casts about for new things to do in this world with the sprawling cast of characters in Bonnie’s orbit, most of whom once revolved around the now-absent figure of Andy.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters REVIEW

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

It’s the classic movie monster’s dilemma: You either die a villain or live long enough to see yourself become the hero.

Aladdin REVIEW

Aladdin (2019)

It’s the story you know already, almost exactly. They say the lines and sing the songs, the same songs, almost exactly. It’s a good story and they’re good songs. There are no spoilers in this review because how could there be?

Tolkien REVIEW

Tolkien (2019)

“One of my strongest opinions,” J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in a 1971 letter, “is that investigation of an author’s biography … is an entirely vain and false approach to his works.”

Hesburgh REVIEW

Hesburgh (2019)

Patrick Creadon (I.O.U.S.A.) offers a compellingly attractive if one-sided portrait of a figure of exceptional gifts, astonishingly diverse accomplishments and extraordinary influence.

Avengers: Endgame REVIEW

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Running just over three hours long, Avengers: Endgame builds to a denouement with a valedictory air akin to the last act of Peter Jackson’s similarly sprawling The Return of the King, except that it comes at the end of 22 movies instead of three movies.

Mary Magdalene REVIEW

Mary Magdalene (2019)

Somewhere roughly between Risen and Last Days in the Desert in its narrative and interpretive sensibilities, Mary Magdalene presents an interpretation of Jesus’ ministry, passion and resurrection that seems in some ways — with important caveats — fairly traditional, viewed from a feminist perspective with some biblical justification.