jackkyser has written 11 reviews for films during 2017.

  • Aguirre, the Wrath of God

    Aguirre, the Wrath of God

    ★★★★★

    The violence in this film is clumsy, awkward and messy - it's something we don't usually see in movies, and I imagine it reflects the nature of these conquests. The moment in which Aguirre watches the horse on the river bank as they float away is extraordinary. The switch in voiceover from Carvajal to Aguirre is magnificent. The progression of the newly appointed emperor - from knowing he's simply a patsy for Aguirre to fully embracing the privileges of a king - is hilarious. Everything is just impeccable.

  • Logan Lucky

    Logan Lucky

    ★★★★★

    Steven Soderbergh’s welcome return to cinema, Logan Lucky, is one of the most delightful surprises of the year – the working class heist answer to Soderbergh’s own Ocean’s Eleven (2001) series. It’s as tightly constructed a picture as you would expect from the always economical and precise Soderbergh, but imbued with a looseness that makes watching the film such a pleasure.

    Channing Tatum and Adam Driver star as West Virginia brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan, both of whom are decidedly…

  • Brigsby Bear

    Brigsby Bear

    ★★★★★

    I’ll admit that Dave McCary’s Brigsby Bear was not on my radar as one of the must-see films of the summer. I walked into the cinema with no expectations, and by the end of the first act, I was already enchanted by the movie.

    Kyle Mooney (best known for his work on Saturday Night Live) stars as James Pope, a young man who has lived with his parents Ted (Mark Hamill) and April (Jane Adams) in an underground bunker for…

  • The Pledge

    The Pledge

    ★★★★★

    This film is every bit as unsettling and harrowing as it was when I first saw it in cinemas. I was eleven years old, and it was one of the first times I can remember being so scared by a film that I wanted to leave - but, of course, I was also enraptured. In honor of Sean Penn's birthday, I watched this film again, and I was reminded of its power to disturb. The Pledge is one of Nicholson's…

  • Dunkirk

    Dunkirk

    ★★★★★

    “It’s all about time.” That’s the tagline for one of the year’s best films, David Lowery’s A Ghost Story – but it could also easily be the tagline for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, a war movie so relentlessly tense and entertaining that it immediately enters the pantheon of great combat films. There’s a ticking clock in this film from the very beginning – and, in many ways, time becomes a crucial element of how we experience the picture. Dunkirk is divided…

  • The Lost City of Z

    The Lost City of Z

    ★★★★★

    The enormously talented writer and director James Gray (The Immigrant, Two Lovers) is the rare filmmaker who still makes movies for adults. His latest, The Lost City of Z, is a mesmerizing adventure that ranks among his best films. There are so many movies in The Lost City of Z – a tale of madness and obsession, a rollicking journey down the Amazon River, a World War I battle movie, an investigation of British exploration and imperialism – and all…

  • Silence

    Silence

    ★★★★★

    There are so few good films about religion – particularly ones that ask questions rather than give answers. In Martin Scorsese’s Silence, a powerful question is posed: is it right to renounce one’s faith if such an act ends the suffering of others?

    In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests, Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver), travel to Japan to find their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who has reportedly renounced Christianity under torture by the Japanese. Upon arriving…

  • Hell or High Water

    Hell or High Water

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    I don’t have much to write about David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water, other than what about that damn movie! I mean, how about that moment when Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) – spoiler ahead – leans over in horror as his partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham), is shot dead? They’ve spent the whole film teasing each other and trading casual barbs, and then suddenly, in that one moment, we see how much Alberto really means to Marcus. It’s just about heartbreaking.…

  • Fences

    Fences

    ★★★★★

    Fences is a powerful, stirring adaptation of August Wilson’s masterful play, with two of the best performances of the year from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Washington plays Troy Maxson, a garbage collector in 1950s Pittsburgh who once had great promise as a baseball player, but landed in jail instead. Davis is his long-suffering wife Rose, who stands beside Troy even as he begins a downward spiral.

    Davis nearly brought me to tears with her performance here. I was reminded…

  • Arrival

    Arrival

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Arrival still reveals its many layers after several viewings. I thought I had a handle on it after seeing it the second time, but even then, I seemed to miss a key component of its mystery. It’s a triumph of mood and atmosphere, but also of ideas, with its concept of non-linear time being rather ingenious.

    Amy Adams is outstanding here as Louise Banks, a linguist carrying an unknown weight as she attempts to communicate with one of twelve extra-terrestrial…

  • Jackie

    Jackie

    ★★★★★

    Jackie should be celebrated, first and foremost, for being light years away from the by-the-numbers biopic it could have so easily been. The film makes an American tragedy an experiential drama that feels like a nightmare, and does such a terrific job of dramatizing how traumatic the assassination of President John F. Kennedy must have been for everyone involved – particularly Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman).

    There’s no question that Portman’s performance here is extraordinary – she gives us a real…