Mission: Impossible – Fallout (McQuarrie, 2018)

Fallout brings little that is new to the Mission: Impossible franchise. It also brings everything that is new. It’s not a contradiction as you would assume. To the first point, it follows similar currents that the other films established, such as death-defying missions with death-defying stunts, villains wanting to overturn the current world order, the reliable sidekicks (Pegg,…

The ABC Murders (Gabassi, 2018)

Sarah Phelps does not hold Agatha Christie as sacrosanct, that much is for certain. Her fourth BBC adaptation of the Queen of Crime is, like the ones before it, a version stripped of the source material’s cozy charms. It is, in fact, her most anti-nostalgic adaptation to date, drawing distinguishable parallels between the rise of…

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Wilkerson, 2017)

Travis Wilkerson’s family history is not one he is proud of. You would forgive him if he never talked about it in public. I, too, would be apprehensive if I knew one of my closer descendants (in his case, his great-grandfather) had been racist scum responsible for killing a black man in cold blood. The…

Vice (McKay, 2018)

It’s been several hours now since I watched Vice, and my opinion of it has dropped as the time passed. In the moment, it is compulsively watchable. You see McKay hitting highs and lows (frequently from one scene to the next), and the kinesis of his style prevents one from drifting off into space. Even when…

The Favourite (Lanthimos, 2018)

I can’t say I was absolutely loving Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest curio about twenty minutes in. A lot is established very quickly, and Lanthimos seems to jump right into his trademark weirdness rather than let it simmer over. For instance, I thought putting the duck race in the first act, when the tone hasn’t been quite set, was…

Sollers Point (Porterfield, 2017)

Sollers Point is a slice of life—a life that has taken a wrong turn and is trying to get back on track. We’ve seen films of this kind before, most recently the Safdie brothers’ Good Time from last year; while Sollers Point lacks their aggressive stylization, it is no less effective in showing how certain socioeconomic forces and displacement from…

Sorry to Bother You (Riley, 2018)

The angry and confrontational nature of Sorry to Bother You is its best feature, there’s no question about it. The anti-capitalist, pro-labour mindset being espoused is not filtered or watered down, and Riley’s absurdist touches help make it stick in memorable ways. I mean, yes, the twisted climax is one of them, but the idea of a…

Leave No Trace (Granik, 2018)

What struck me right away about Debra Granik’s latest achievement is its verdant greenness. Most frames hold one hue or another of Nature’s colour, enveloping its two protagonists like a protective shield against discovery. At once you understand why they are drawn to living in the open air rather than an environment teeming with people.…

Western (Grisebach, 2017)

By virtue of its name, a film called Western should have a horse—and it does. It should also have a cowboy, and here’s where things get interesting. There is a cowboy-like figure by the name of Meinhard, but he is no lone ranger wandering barren landscapes and dusty saloons. He is a part of a German team…

Upgrade (Whannell, 2018)

It’s not exactly sophisticated aesthetically or thematically, being another skeptical morality play on the dangers of biotechnological advancements that seek to erase our humanity, but Upgrade is quite a likable bit of pulp. There’s a Frankenstein quality to it that appeals. Like Grey Trace’s resurrection from traumatizing disability, the film revisits key sci-fi classics such as 2001: A…

Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Masaaki, 2017)

I commend the gutsy animation style on display in Night is Short, Walk on Girl. Expression is maximized from stem to stern, with emotions and physical movements taking on eye-popping (and hilarious) modes. Over-exaggerating affect and spatial boundaries works in this context, because this is a film about those awkward in-between years of adolescence and adulthood—between…

We the Animals (Zagar, 2018)

I did not know We the Animals was based on a book until after the film, which is always a sign that an adaptation did what it needed to do. Jeremiah Zagar’s vision offers a wealth of sensitivity and imagination to this coming-of-age tale of three rambunctious boys of Puerto Rican descent. At least, we begin the…

Green Book (Farrelly, 2018)

Before this film began, I sat in my seat terrified that I was going to like it. Though people whose opinions I follow have liked it, others have panned it for reasons that, to me, seemed sensible just by watching the trailer. I have been suspicious of this film since it won the People’s Choice…

Happy as Lazzaro (Rohrwacher, 2018)

Alice Rohrwacher won the Best Screenplay citation at Cannes for Happy as Lazzaro, though you could make a strong argument that she deserved more. From what I’ve seen from the unusually strong lineup, the film is a true standout: a Super 16mm fugue state that is both elegy and lament for a world that once valued…

The Guilty (Möller, 2018)

Move over, Searching. Papa’s got a truly great single-locale thriller to cheer for this year. I approached it cautiously at first, since it’s set in a police dispatch centre, with a focus on only one officer (commandingly played by Jakob Cedergren). As a rule, I’m not here for art that seeks to valorize the police, making the institution…