Good Time

I’ll say it again: Robert Pattinson is a decent actor. That doesn’t save this film, but it helps make it watchable. A brothers/buddy story, where one of the two needs to be taken care of, in more ways than one, but the caregiver is not always making the best choices…

Bleak and frenetic at the same time, we don’t know what is going to happen, but assume the worst. How can this end well?

The Handmaiden

Is it fair to say that this is┬áPark Chan-wook at his most restrained? And most elegant. Which is appropriate, given the tale at hand, and its source material. It’s great to look at, and very solidly structured. My only real complaint is how easy it is to see what is coming, during the second third of the film…

Isle of Dogs

I like Wes Anderson best when he doesn’t have doesn’t have actual actors being so quirky. It’s better, and less cloying, when puppets are put into these situations, and saying these lines.

Even if the lines are in Japanese. Would I have liked this film as much if there were no Japan connection? I’m not certain. And I’m also not sure about the racist charges that the film seems to be attracting. Again, maybe because I know that Japan is… like this?

At any rate, first-rate eye candy, as usual. Superb attention to detail. I liked it.

The Florida Project

An oddly engaging movie. There is nothing that a synopsis might tell you that would indicate the level of engagement that this story engenders. It may be in part the fact that we see most of the movie from the point of view of the children, who, however mischievous they may be, remind us always that what they represent is hope and possibility, for all of us. Disneyland may be an overt symbol of the fantasy life we all desire, but these kids show us that real life can be full of joy as well.

Definitely Maybe

Disappointing to the point where not even Ryan Reynolds’ charms could revive it. Not even Rachel Weisz as a love interest could save it. There is too much script here. You can just see the writers piling it on. One more wrinkle, another complication, the expected unexpected. And back around to the beginning. Cute by a little too much.

The Shape of Water

I’ve never been a big fan of del Toro, but he does have a signature style that is arresting and interesting to look at. This is a beautifully filmed movie, with impeccable attention to detail. It should win something at the Oscars, or several things – set design, costumes, makeup…

I could even overlook the magical realism – or is this even beyond that? Is this straight-up fantasy? – because this was so engagingly told and brought to life. Sally Hawkins will never get the Oscar for this, though… sex with the creature from the Black Lagoon? The Academy will never go for it…

The Adjustment Bureau

Another one of those films that relies largely on Matt Damon’s charismatic screen presence to carry it through. The plot is so silly as to be a distraction, really, as you poke holes in all of its obvious weak points. But yes, I get it, it’s a parable! True love! Nothing can keep them apart! How romantic…

Bright

Magic is so unsatisfying. When anything is possible, the screenwriter can be so lazy. Just wave a wand at it. So while the premise of an alternate society that evolved with fairies and orcs alongside humans is sort of intriguing, and makes the race relations story somewhat fresh (?), I just can’t commit my full attention to this kind of movie. I spend too much time complaining out loud…

Arrival

There’s no way in hell that she would’ve learned that amount of the aliens’ language in such a short time frame. But that is a minor quibble. And ironic, in a movie about time travel. Or is it simply seeing the future?

Amazingly gripping, when so little really happens. But maybe that’s just the former language teacher in me speaking. What’s really different about this, in terms of a modern science fiction film – or really just about any genre these days – is that it’s more interested in the underlying ideas and philosophical questions that arise when we make contact with aliens – or they with us – than in intergalactic warfare or conflict in general. The only ones fighting here are the humans.