jackkyser has written 17 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • The Lost Daughter

    The Lost Daughter

    ★★★★

    The scene where Olivia Colman threatens the rowdy teenagers in the cinema is almost too relatable.

  • Belfast

    Belfast

    ★★★★

    Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, the director’s semi-autobiographical tale of growing up in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, is a vibrant, warm and evocative film. It’s currently poised as a major contender for this year’s Best Picture Oscar, and it’s easy to see why – it’s an upbeat and jubilant affair with memorable performances and striking black-and-white cinematography.

    Buddy (Jude Hill) lives with his parents Ma (Caitriona Balfe) and Pa (Jamie Dornan) in a working-class neighborhood in Belfast. It’s the early…

  • Spencer

    Spencer

    ★★★★

    Everything about Spencer is remarkable - Kristen Stewart’s lead performance, Jonny Greenwood’s jazzy score, the hallucinatory sequences involving Anne Boleyn, the claustrophobic design of the Overlook Hotel-esque royal estate - coalescing into a film much more idiosyncratic and interesting than a run-of-the-mill Princess Diana biopic.

  • Joe Bell

    Joe Bell

    ★★★★

    Mark Wahlberg is legitimately wonderful in this film - it’s so refreshing to see him in a character-driven drama again, and Joe Bell is a great reminder that he’s a terrific actor. And in a formal sense, this movie pulls off a shattering mid-film reveal with aplomb.

  • Fast Five

    Fast Five

    ★★★★

    Ridiculously entertaining.

  • Cruella

    Cruella

    ★★★★

    This is so much better than it has any right to be.

    I went into Cruella, the latest live-action reimagining of a classic Disney character, with little to no expectations. Typically speaking, I’m not a huge fan of reboots, as they often feel unnecessary at best and like cynical cash-grabs at worst.

    But I should have known Cruella might be more interesting than other films of its ilk based on its pedigree alone: director Craig Gillespie is a talented filmmaker…

  • The Little Things

    The Little Things

    ★★★★

    As pulpy as The Little Things is, it’s also admirably content with being a straight-up drama with little in the way of cheap thrills or graphic violence. The film never feels like it’s reveling in the gory details of the murders, nor does any actual killing take place onscreen (aside from a deliberately anti-climatic shovel to the head).

    Any film with this subject matter is, fairly or unfairly, going to be compared to Fincher’s unparalleled Zodiac and Se7en. Taken on…

  • Supernova

    Supernova

    ★★★★

    Supernova is a beautiful and intimate film, featuring a performance by Stanley Tucci that’s been criminally overlooked by awards bodies.

  • Soul

    Soul

    ★★★★

    Soul, the latest film from Pixar Animation Studios, is nothing if not ambitious. The director is Pete Docter, who made two of the best Pixar offerings of the last several years with Inside Out (2015) and Up (2009). Soul doesn’t quite reach the emotional heights of either of these two films, but it is still exceptionally beautiful and thoughtful.

    The movie follows in the Pixar tradition of tackling weighty subject matter (here, it’s the afterlife) in an imaginative and digestible…

  • The Midnight Sky

    The Midnight Sky

    ★★★★

    This is George Clooney’s strongest work as a director since The Ides of March, and you essentially get two movies for the price of one - an arctic survivalist adventure with a rugged Clooney, and a leisurely space opera with an excellent Felicity Jones and Kyle Chandler. Viewed at Austin’s Lake Creek 7 cinema.

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★★★

    George C. Wolfe’s screen adaptation of August Wilson’s play is astonishingly good, not least because of its remarkably creative staging. It irks me when people dismiss a play adaptation as “stagy” simply because it only has a few locations - when in fact many of these films are helmed by directors who know how to block a scene and make dynamic use out of a small space (look no further than any play-to-film adaptation by Sidney Lumet or Mike Nichols).…

  • Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    ★★★★

    Jagshemash! This film is NOT bad!

    I admire that Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t make the same film twice. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm may not pack in as many laughs as the original, but it has something different going for it - a strangely moving relationship between father and daughter.