jackkyser has written 45 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2021.

  • The Tragedy of Macbeth

    The Tragedy of Macbeth

    ★★★★★

    My nearly sold-out cinema burst into applause as soon as The Tragedy of Macbeth ended last night - which is notable considering that it was a crowd of folks who had gathered at 9:30pm on a Monday night to experience a black-and-white Shakespeare adaptation.

    So, yes, this film is impeccably well-made. What's always astonishing about well-performed Shakespeare is how we understand the meaning of a scene not necessarily through total comprehension of every line, but through the feeling and delivery…

  • Being the Ricardos

    Being the Ricardos

    ★★★★★

    Framing this as a story about someone attempting to create a marital home - and only being to be able to do it within the confines of an enclosed television set (as beautifully articulated by that final shot) - is a strong move by Sorkin, who characteristically compresses a historical timeline to put these creative powerhouses in a pressure cooker.

    Being the Ricardos perfectly captures the experience of gnawing uncertainties in one’s personal life feeding into endless, obsessive finagling over…

  • Don't Look Up

    Don't Look Up

    ★★★★★

    “We really did have everything, didn’t we?”

    Those freeze frames at the end really get me. Second viewing confirms this as one of my favorites of the year.

  • Manhattan Murder Mystery

    Manhattan Murder Mystery

    ★★★★★

    There’s nothing more pleasing than Allen, Keaton, Alda and Huston very loudly trying to solve a mystery together at dinner, with the rest of the restaurant watching them in puzzlement. Nobody ever stops talking in this movie, which I quite loved.

    Also, while this film couldn’t be more different tonally than Husbands and Wives, Allen and Carlo Di Palma continue their early 1990s experimentation with jittery, handheld camerawork, which actually works really well with the madcap nature of this whole thing.

  • West Side Story

    West Side Story

    ★★★★★

    Nobody does it better than Spielberg. The “rumble” two-thirds of the way through the film is one of the most astounding and electric set pieces of his career.

    I’ll admit I initially questioned the necessity of this remake. But Spielberg (along with key collaborators Tony Kushner and Janusz Kaminski) make this endeavor feel essential from the first frame to the last. It’s a big, colorful and emotionally wrenching time at the movies.

    Full review:

    Nobody does it better than Steven…

  • Don't Look Up

    Don't Look Up

    ★★★★★

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

    This is Adam McKay's best film. It'd be one thing if the entire movie felt like a lecture (I love Vice and The Big Short, but both films admittedly slip into this tendency) - but there is real emotional heft to this thing.

    At first glance, it appears the entire film may be DiCaprio and Lawrence exhaustively warning the powers-that-be of the impending natural disaster. But then McKay turns it in an interesting direction - DiCaprio's character gets attracted to…

  • The Royal Tenenbaums

    The Royal Tenenbaums

    ★★★★★

    Makes me cry every time. “I’ve had a rough year, dad.”

  • C'mon C'mon

    C'mon C'mon

    ★★★★★

    Holds up beautifully on a second viewing. A few scenes that touched me deeply: Norman asking Phoenix why he’s not married, and the way Phoenix responds by dipping in and out of the bedtime story he’s reading, ultimately admitting he doesn’t know why his last relationship ended; Phoenix’s reaction upon learning his sister had an abortion; Norman’s immense sadness upon realizing he won’t remember most of his travels with his uncle by the time he gets older.

    It’s true -…

  • Licorice Pizza

    Licorice Pizza

    ★★★★★

    I adored this movie.

    It didn’t hurt that our post-screening Q&A with Alana Haim was scrapped and our audience was invited to an impromptu Haim concert at the Highball instead. Those girls can sing!

  • House of Gucci

    House of Gucci

    ★★★★★

    Sir Ridley is on fire this year!

    Some may fault House of Gucci for not going all-in on its soap opera-y potential, but Scott knows the narrative is strong enough without such flourishes. That being said, House of Gucci is still quite a bit of fun, with each actor clearly relishing the opportunity to go big (Jared Leto is basically a cartoon in this movie, and I mean that as a compliment). Adam Driver and Al Pacino bring emotional gravitas…

  • Dopesick

    Dopesick

    ★★★★★

    Really engrossing and infuriating material.

    Dopesick also showed me something I hadn’t seen before - an addict (Michael Keaton) in rehab genuinely nervous that the program won’t work, that he’ll get out and just start using again. He sees how many of these addicts are there for their third or fourth time, and it makes him antsy - and his eventual relapse feels almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. He’s given permission, in a sense, to start using again - because…

  • C'mon C'mon

    C'mon C'mon

    ★★★★★

    Absolutely lovely. C’mon C’mon is the kind of film to get lost in, with its series of small moments resulting in a cumulative power that’s hard to shake after leaving the cinema. Mike Mills is three-for-three after Beginners (2011) and 20th Century Women (2016), and Joaquin Phoenix is utterly beguiling. His relationship with his nephew (a wonderful Woody Norman) is heartwarming in its sincerity.

    This is an opening day kind of movie for me, and the experience felt like a big hug. I look forward to going back to the cinema again for that same feeling.