• The Zone of Interest

    The Zone of Interest

    ★★★★★

    Second watch. Somehow even more profound than the first. The conceit is so obvious, so blasé, so easy to detect when you have the library of historical atrocity in the forefront of your memory. I was also struck by how the film's heavy-handed distance creates a subtle violating closeness for things we never see but know to be true. Isn't this how fascism works? Doesn't the obvious, on-screen narrative of Führer nuclear unity always erase the off-screen suffering it seeks…

  • Hit Man

    Hit Man

    ★★★★

    One of the smartest, silliest, tightest popcorn scripts in recent memory. They don't make these kinds of movies anymore. They died a long time ago. Breezy and crowd-pleasing in a way that recalls the tent-pole 90s but versed in the history of genre cinema that recalls old-school Hollywood, Hit Man is a rollicking fun time with a lot of charm and chemistry. A noose-tightening caper that succeeds at almost every beat because of how gosh darn cute the execution is.…

  • The Mother of All Lies

    The Mother of All Lies

    ★★★★½

    When you discover why photos aren't allowed in Asmae's home. When you learn why her grandmother seems so cold and steeled against the past, her family, and the outside world. When you understand why Asmae became a filmmaker, and why she went great lengths to re-create her childhood neighborhood out of dolls, puppets, and handmade miniatures. When you realize what's happening and start to peel back the layers of this enormously painful, highly poetic exercise in historical remembering, you begin…

  • How to Have Sex

    How to Have Sex

    ★★★★½

    Is there a word to describe when something bad has happened to you that no amount of drinking, clubbing, dancing, or laughing can mask? The actress playing Tara, Mia McKenna-Bruce, was absolutely mesmerizing in this regard, possessing about a thousand different stories on her face but none of them able to resolve the conflicting emotions she's feeling. The level of cognitive dissonance only tightens from here, with an atmosphere that's too loud, too chaotic, and too pressurized by a swath…

  • Skywalkers: A Love Story

    Skywalkers: A Love Story

    ★★★½

    New fear unlocked: watching acrobatic skydevils pull off these jaw-dropping, dangerously stupid, cirque du soleil climbs to the tippy, tippy tops of the world’s tallest buildings. The kind of white-knuckle, adrenaline-powered doc modeled after the vertigo of Free Solo and the romantic poetry of Fire of Love. It also works incredibly well as a heist film that defies security risks, prison time, and gravity itself to produce what is essentially art in the sky. More than once did this puppy…

  • In a Violent Nature

    In a Violent Nature

    ★★★

    Gnarly as fuck. A nasty, nasty midnight slasher teeming with everything you love about the 80s subgenre (bad dialogue, bad plot, horny teens, gruesome kills, Myers-styled lumbering, Voorhees-styled origins) but told from the animal-brain perspective of the monster itself. Pretty inventive as a formal exercise. That shift from prey to predator logic is a joke you can only laugh at. You’re trapped in a worldview you’d never empathize with, forced to witness how slow, drawn out, and disturbingly meditative the…

  • Soundtrack to a Coup d'État
  • Brief History of a Family

    Brief History of a Family

    ★★★½

    Comparisons to Parasite, Saltburn, and Talented Mr. Ripley make me wonder if audiences left the theater early to write their LB reviews. What might have been a dark, weaponized stinger about orchestrated revenge, new money, or the sinister ousting of the rich turns out to be surprisingly more poker faced and head-scratching than it leads on. 

    Theories abound: Is the cipher some kind of malevolent home invader? A lower class leech who bluffs his way into a higher, more luxurious…

  • Suncoast

    Suncoast

    ½

    With a script absolutely riddled with cliches, and actors (even the historically good ones) delivering those cliches in the most stilted, painfully scripted way, this dares to rival the second-hand embarrassment of A24’s distribution of Tuesday.

    Watched at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival

  • Out of My Mind
  • Gaucho Gaucho

    Gaucho Gaucho

    ★★★

    Less of a documentary and more of a carefully manicured visual poem that almost fooled me for a cinematic fiction. Perhaps that’s the real mystery of this highly stylized, observational feast—not knowing whether it succeeds as a romantic love letter to a vanishing way of life or fails as a performative smokescreen that leans far too much into its mythmaking and aestheticizing impulses to really glean the interiority of its subjects. Somewhere on that razor’s edge a vérité dance takes…

  • A New Kind of Wilderness

    A New Kind of Wilderness

    ★★★½

    If Captain Fantastic were real, with a very kind-hearted, tree-hugging family that must learn to adapt to a new wilderness after unspeakable loss. “When you choose a life that is so dependent on yourself, there’s a vulnerability there,” says one character, which makes the untimely transition from old to new world that much more affecting. This is a tender film with a tender core dealing with seismic loss, filled with very sympathetic personalities who brave their sorrow into a new, scary, evolving reality.

    Watched at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival