Reviews

Mulan REVIEW

Mulan (2020)

At this point it seems pretty clear that the kiss of death, creatively speaking, for Disney’s new line of live-action/CGI remakes is a Broadway musical.

Fátima REVIEW

Fátima (2020)

Marco Pontecorvo’s Fátima is the first screen version of the Marian apparitions at Fátima and the “Miracle of the Sun” I’ve seen that feels like the characters are living through the story’s events in the present tense.

Words on Bathroom Walls REVIEW

Words on Bathroom Walls (2020)

Halfway through I found myself rooting for the film to be the best version of itself, a sign that a film is working even when it’s not completely successful.

The Way Back REVIEW

The Way Back (2020)

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.

Onward REVIEW

Onward (2020)

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.

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker REVIEW

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (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.

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.