Movies of the Week #13 (2019)

Caught Offside?

  • Mario (2018): There are few places where homosexuality goes under the radar more than in professional football. The reasons for that are easily identifiable and Mario does the work to tick most of them. It’s a movie that portrays the football part surprisingly well, setting the story with a real-life backdrop – even if the actors barely look like pro players. Their chemistry works, which is why Mario churns out a tender story of love within the familiar frame of almost-cliched obstacles. I would argue it does the job well, making for a respectable flick, worth its time. 7/10

Nerd Alert

  • Prospect (2018): Indie sci-fis have become quite the spectacles nowadays. After last year’s Annihilation, a very high-brow approach, comes a movie with a similar feel but a lower-brow, if I may say so. Its strengths lie both in the visuals it creates, as well as its main characters – the silver tongued Ezra (Pedro Pascal) and the determined Cee (Sophie Thatcher). In between Pascal’s cheekiness and Thatcher’s reticence blossoms a strong bond, which carries the movie up until the end, when it begins to feel a bit tired – the movie, that is. Ultimately, a thoroughly enjoyable affair. 7/10

Music + Natalie Portman = Love

  • Vox Lux (2018): A big mashup of themes and tones, Vox Lux almost succumbs to its own weight. Thankfully, a late bravado performance from Natalie Portman rekindles the movie’s fading pulse, in this portrayal of school-shooting-victim-turned-child-pop-star-turned-a-wreck-of-an-adult-pop-star. Parts of the story and its characters are stereotypical, yet director/writer Corbet still manages to put in the extra something that elevates the experience beyond its tonal disharmony. 7/10

It Won’t Jump Scare You

  • Us (2019): Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out is every bit as unnerving and entertaining. Starring the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elizabeth Moss, it takes a fairly abstract literal premise (everyone’s shadow is out for revenge) and turns it into a coherent social commentary about the structural effects caused by the access (and lack thereof) to fundamental social amenities. The powerful mirroring game works on several levels, which is what makes Us not only smart, but fun as well, in spite of the odd leaps of faith it asks of the viewer. 8/10

The Slow Burn of Your Dream Job

  • Personal Shopper (2016): It’s fun to see both former Twilight stars, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, take on some really exciting art-house productions. After her previous team-up with Olivier Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), was well received – and rightfully so – Stewart has doubled down with a role that’s both difficult and engaging in equal measure. Her performance is at the core of why Personal Shopper turns out to be a good movie, as Stewart overcomes some of the jarring shifts in tone that Assayas goes for. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but a distinctive take on solitude and grief. 7/10

Movies of the Weeks #11 #12 (2019)

True Love

  • Tangerine (2015): Hard to believe I’ve note written anything on this one, although I’ve seen it several times since its release. It’s unfortunate that it follows Tangerines (2013), while not quite predating the fruit either, which makes for a difficult find on Google. But Sean Baker’s masterpiece (yeah, I said it!) is well worth the find. The synopsis really says everything you need to know about the plot, while not giving anything away at all: “A hooker tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.” It’s a tremendous ride, full of highs and lows, great tempo, fresh characters, big laughs, small chuckles and, indeed, a lot of heart. A proper fairytale. 9/10


  • Contratiempo (2016): For whatever reason, I thought this would be a good movie. Probably that ridiculous IMDb rating. In fact, it’s a moderately enjoyable, yet pretentiously silly drama about a stupid crime, inane characters and twists that are equally uninspired and unlikely. Wow, this movie really pissed me off, although I reckon I got more irritated while thinking about not, not while watching it. I might be in the minority here, but if you do want some similar twists executed way better, just watch the first Saw. Well…if you like a bit of extra-violence and gore with your twists. 5/10

There Was a Time

  • Stan & Ollie (2018): Behind its time, as the lack of awards glitter and box office appeal shows, the tale of Laurel and Hardy still works well, thanks to its strong co-leads: Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly. I recall watching my fair share of the comedic duo on TV when I was younger, but it seems their brand of physical humor has aged a lot in the last decades. The movie rarely deals with this disconnect, which is why it is limited to working well as a biopic and not much else. The relationship between Laurel and Hardy is endearing and, in this regard, director Jon Bird does them justice. Shame he doesn’t go beyond. 7/10

Once, twice, once again.

  • Happy Death Day 2U (2019): I might not have liked the original much, but the genre appeals to me, so watching the sequel was inevitable. HDD2 mixes things up in occasionally fun ways, while straying somewhat from the rinse and repeat format of the original, which makes for a better movie – for a while. The third act, with a tiring amount of twists and turns, left me with the same sense of disappointment as the original, which is why HDD2 doesn’t quite get my recommendation either. 5/10

The Verse Speaks to Us

  • Captain Marvel (2019): Skeptical, as always, when heading into a superhero adaptation, particularly a new one, I was pleasantly surprised by what Captain Marvel had to offer. With a strong leading duo (Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson), good side characters and antagonists, as well as some memorable moments and jokes, CM pulls off the unlikely and makes for a fun and refreshing venture into the Marvelverse. It’s not without flaws, particularly pacing-wise, and doesn’t aim particularly high with its story, but you just want to overlook these shortcomings. 7/10

Movies of the Week #10 (2019)

When ComRom Becomes RomCom

  • Isn’t It Romantic (2019): In this meta-romcom, Natalie’s life is quite average, when a bump on the head suddenly turns it into, you guessed it, a romcom! So imagine all the tropes being milked shamelessly in what is ultimately a mildly amusing affair, thanks to the talented cast and the occasional sample of wit. It doesn’t go far enough though to subvert the genre or be truly incisive, which is why IIR only goes beyond a passing grade. 6/10

Das Russian Boot

  • Kursk (2018): I somehow remember the news storm around the Kursk disaster rather well. I’m not sure why it struck me so at the time, when I was in my early teens, hearing about this nuclear sub and the age-old Russian reflexes in placing life second to intrigue and politics. A freshly minted Putin didn’t bother returning from holiday, while the submarine lay on the floor of the Barents Sea, seemingly so close, yet out of reach. The movie does little justice to the story, trying to stitch together a maudlin drama, with the odd interlude of one-dimensional politicking. Factually off in order to sustain a familiar narrative arc, the Kursk works while on the submarine, but is a total sinker outside of it. 5/10

Spider-pig, Spider-pig…

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Finally, a superhero movie winning an Oscar for something other than technical excellence! With an unexpected change of pace, the newest Spider-Man is surprisingly fun. In this take, a rift in the space-time continuum (or something) allows various Spider-Man characters to enter the same universe, where they have to both stop a villain from destroying the world (shocker), as well as induct a new Spider-Man to the job. Balanced just right, the movie shines through its creative visuals, which compensate for the blander moments of storytelling. Do watch, if you have even the slightest appreciation of the genre. 8/10

When Chocolate Labs Aren’t Enough For You

  • Pick of the Litter (2018): If you’re looking for a thoroughly endearing documentary with good odds for making you cry, then give PotL a try. It follows five pups which are being trained to become Guide Dogs for the Blind, an affair that’s harsher than you might expect. While not always compelling, the whole thing is a successful foray into a story I would never have come across otherwise. 7/10

Romeo, Juliet and All the Rest

  • If Beale Street Could Talk (2018): Odds are, you’ve seen this story many times, centering around the prejudice against African Americans in the modern United States. Beale Street tells it in a different light, an intimately romantic one of a middle class family forced to resort to all reasonable means available to it, in order to save the to-be-groom of their daughter from prison for a crime he did not commit. Director Barry Jenkins (of Moonlight fame) finds the sweet spot once more, in a tale of suffering and hopelessness, managing, somehow, to go beyond it all and find the human thread of hope. While the narrative isn’t without fault, the cinematic experience is pretty special, enough to warrant a strong recommendation, especially for those capable of coping with slow burners. 8/10

Movies of the Week #9 (2019)

LSD eats YOU

  • Climax (2018): You just know that Gaspar Noe is an acquired taste. One that I’ve not fully acquired. Climax is a drug-induced frenzy, turned into a cinematic frenzy, featuring some hypnotic dance sequences, that does all your Noe-esque expectations justice. That being said, I perhaps lacked the proper viewing environment to become fully engulfed by the whole thing, which is why my enjoyment stopped short of actual fascination. Still something to see, if you don’t particularly mind a lot of sex and violence. 7/10

Hey, Ho, Captain Dick

  • Vice (2018): In this poster child for a director’s reach exceeding his graps, Adam McKay plays around too much for his, and the movie’s own good. Chrstian Bale and the solid cast will carry it for you, but there’s interestingly little that I did not know about Dick Cheney which is first portrayed here. While the overall result is both entertaining and scary, the more inspired moments of filmmaking are generally brought down by the lack of stylistic coherence – a consequence of trying to be too witty and irreverent. 7/10

Three To Go, Please

  • Instant Family (2018): It usually amuses me, when a light comedy ends up getting rated similarly to more ambitious works of film, like the two just described. Alas, when things just click in comedy-land, everything seems simple. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne rock the pants off their ‘are we really good enough to be parents’ roles, which is why everything digests so easily. Parts of it feel rushed though and the children could have done with more screen time, which is why IF is not the movie of the week. It is, however, your ‘most likely to be watched’ of this particular list. 7/10

Truly Free

  • Free Solo (2018): Keeping in touch with the award winners, I was both impressed and underwhelmed by Free Solo. It’s a sturdy documentary about something that’s hard to really catch on film, yet somehow the director duo of Chin and Vasarhelyi manage to do it justice. Alex Honnold, our free climbing protagonist, is a quaintly socially awkward guy, whose story, I guess, inspires. What stuck to me was a statement that Honnold makes early on, about the whole affair being low risk/high consequence, and the manner in which he conducts himself somehow underlines that. So much in life is about framing and aiming. The part about me being underwhelmed has more to do with me adoring the non-nominated Won’t You Be My Neighbour, a more mischievous and enrapturing documentary for my tastes. Alas, I’ve never been the mountain climbing type, so we shouldn’t hold that against Honnold. 8/10

When Going Undercover Isn’t Hardcore Enough

  • A Private War (2018): I am completely oblivious about the media, barring whatever I come across in movies. That being said, this is not your usual media newsroom movie, although it has bits of that. It captures part of the story of Marie Colvin, a celebrated war correspondent who – not completely unlike the protagonit of Free Solo – is fearless in doing something that no normal person would even consider. There is more at stake here, which is not to say that this imbues the story with more purpose – I’m all for self-actualization above saving the world. Colvin is a dry and gritty character, haunted by what she’s seen, almost helpless in pursuing this path that her life has put her on. Some criticized Rosamund Pike’s portrayal for being too one-note, but I find it’s a strong effort because you need to capture this drive that ends up making less of a person out of you. It’s what happens with most people who are consumed by their work. So in spite of some weakness in the narrative, I found myself captivated by APW. 8/10

Movies of the Weeks #7 #8 (2019)

Of Mice and Women

  • The Favourite (2018): Just before its surprising (and not quite so) Oscar win for Olivia Coleman, I had the chance of watching the newest from Yorgos Lanthimos. Set in the early 1700s, it’s a half-fictionalized look at the rather feeble Queen Anne and the relationships she (might have) had with her friend Lady Sarah and Abigail, a run-down cousin of Sarah’s. Put together with restrained flair from Lanthimos, it’s easy to follow narratively, while borrowing elements from various other period pieces, with Barry Lindon coming to mind. In spite of dealing with classic archetypes, the characters take on unexpected traits and emotions, which is ultimately why The Favourite manages to hold its own, beyond matters of cinematic composition. And now that I’ve run out of big words, I’ll leave you to it. 8/10

On a Cold Night in Poland

  • Cold War (2018): Another strong contender at the Oscars, which had the misfortune of running against Roma, Cold War is a tale of love and woe. Director Pawlikowski returns to the black and white of Ida and brandishes some beautiful imagery to underpin the emotional and political turmoil that so seamlessly comes together in the tragedy of the movie’s protagonists. Their intimacy in the most complicated of times lingers with passion, which is to say that if you can get beyond some of the splashy drama, there’s a lot to be found in Cold War. 8/10

On a Cold Night in Nazi Germany

  • Der Hauptmann (2017): Director Robert Schwentke returns to form with this movie set at the end of WW2, about a deserter who stumbles upon a captain’s uniform and takes up the role with remarkable skill. It’s the kind of thing you need to tolerate, all the unlikely events that come to be here, but there’s always some shared understanding that stays unsaid between the characters which keeps a shred of believability alive. As the events descend into relentless violence, there are no good guys left to root for, but in spite of it all, Der Hauptmann is a mostly enjoyable flick. 7/10

On a Cold Night in the 90s

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me (2018): Without trying, the movies I watched sort of came in twos. This would be the second one with a hard-to-like protagonist, as the story of Lee Israel is a difficult story to embellish. Thankfully, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant managed to find the appealing sides of their characters, as the movie mostly feels oppressive in its cynical glibness. This all makes for a strong follow-up from Marielle Heller, whose only other feature film credit was the quirky, yet borderline disturbing Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015). With CYEFM I am three for three on the decent Oscar movies this week. 8/10

On Just Any Cold Night

  • Vier Minuten (2006): If you didn’t have enough pain and suffering, Vier Minuten is here to top it all off for you. The story of an elderly piano teacher who works in a prison and stumbles across a talented, but recalcitrant young girl feels like it can go only from bad to worse. Difficult characters in a difficult setting, the movie really piles it on you, to the point that it becomes tedious. Yet, on the whole, it’s not a morally and cinematically bankrupt movie, which is why I’m giving it a slight nod. 6/10

Movies of the Weeks #4 #5 #6 (2019)


  • Bohemian Rhapsody (2018): Expecting a wildly popular movie to be bad is never a good thing. With middling reviews, I kept wondering what’s wrong with BR, which painted some clear expectations for me. And so, I found out what was wrong: it’s bad movie-making, structurally unsound and mostly uninvolving. Bar for the last ten minutes, which consisted of a few musical numbers that left me with a bit of a pump (because the music is good), only the performance of Rami Malek is worth the hard drive this movie was shot on. 5/10

We Are the Children

  • Brexit: The Uncivil War (2019): Half-interesting, but mostly uninspired and depressing, any attempt to synthesize the essence of Brexit in 90 minutes was bound to come up short. There’s a lot of preaching, a lot of they’re right, but they’re right, but #fakenews, yet it’s all for show, with little to chew on. The portrayal of this behind-the-scenes mastermind has some merit, even if it remains unexplored for the most part. Any world where Brexit exists is a sad, effin world. Fuck. 6/10

Let’s Start Giving

  • Wildlife (2018): Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan wrote, while the former directed this thoroughly engaging piece on parental angst, which there’s too little of in movies to begin with. Jerry and Janette’s family of three, with son Joe in the mix, starts tearing at the seams when Jerry loses his job, fails to evade the rut of mid-life disappointment, then heads off to fight some forest fires for pennies, instead of taking care of his family. Janette takes a different spin of things, not particularly laudable either, with Joe having to cope with his parents’s disenchantment by himself. Sounds dire – well, it is dire, but it’s also topical and real, a dissection of sensitive youth in the headlights of midlife drama. 8/10

There’s a Choice We’re Making

  • Life, Animated (2016): A touching, if not particularly riveting documentary on the cause of Owen Suskind, an autistic child turned adult who is about to take on life by himself. The twist of Owen’s fate is how he has grown up to understand the world and express himself through Disney movies – something, I reckon, we all do, to some degree or another. Sure, it’s not always Disney, but there’s this structure we expect to see reflected in our lives, through which we define it and ourselves. In spite of its tameness, Life, Animated is worth a watch. 7/10

It’s You and Me

  • Into the Forest (2015): Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood and Callum Keith Rennie (!!) star in this post-apocalyptic, yet conspicuously zombie-less movie, that looks beautiful, but has a plain, even borderline silly narrative. Set in the not so distant future, with Mad-Max-ian fuel scarcity, but still lush nature to make things feel less oppressive, two sisters and their father try to hold the fort and just…survive. And that’s about it, some stuff goes south, there’s a bit of tension, some harrowing brutality and a pensive conclusion. A bit of a shame, ultimately. 6/10

Movies of the Week #3 (2019)

Say Whaaat!

  • Blindspotting (2018): I had heard of the movie before it featured on Obama’ “best of”list for 2018 – just putting it out there. Indeed, it is a worthy addition to any top list for last year, thanks to rounded performances by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. The two also wrote the movie, which speaks volumes about their ability to portray the various social pressures and expectations in Oakland (esque) environments. It’s not just an effort with depth and heft, but also a joy to watch and listen to – the lingo just rocks and is used to great effect. Perhaps the ending leaves something to be desired, but very strong otherwise. 8/10

Home is Where Your Mind is

  • What They Had (2018): In one of those movies where you just dislike all characters, Michael Shannon and – believe it or not – Hillary Swank manage to bring enough to the table, to make this Alzheimer-themed horror-show close to enjoyable. Or memorable, heck. The couple are brother and sister, each profoundly damaged to the point of it almost being tacky, with the unenviable task of convincing their father that his wife/their mother (i.e. the Alzheimer case) is better off in a nursing home. The whole family dynamic is unsettling, whereas some of the twists and turns the movie takes are just mundane. However, the whole thing has a pulse and some wit, which is more than you can say about a lot of things. Like stones. Stones have neither. 7/10

For the Cliches in All of Us

  • Ali’s Wedding (2017): If you were craving for a different family dynamic, Ali’s is the way to go. We move on to the case of a young, talent-less boy, who is faced with the expectations attached to him being the son of the local Muslim cleric, a man of inspirational wisdom, much beloved by the community. So, of course, when said boy fails his exam to enter medical school, he ends up lying about it, just so you can work up your anxiety levels. There’s a girl involved as well, who has different issues (if you’ve seen any Western movie about Muslims, you know the stereotype), and you just know a big mess will come if it all, before neatly sorting itself out. Thankfully, the movie is endearing, in spite of being a rehash – which just goes to show, even ‘true stories’ have knack for fitting the same, old bill. 6/10


  • Nothing Like a Dame (2018): Gather round to enjoy an hour of dames reminiscing of things you most likely won’t relate to – especially if you were born after the 80s. This is not to say that the four great ladies of British stage and film won’t catch your attention, even raise your spirits before lowering them again, in the frankness of their adventures as octogenarians. It’s a fair cup of tea’s worth of a movie. And like any good cup of tea, it will beg the question: why, Brexit, why? 7/10

A Different Kind of Legacy

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991): No idea when I first saw T2, but it must have been close to twenty years ago, at least. You probably know what it’s about and if you don’t, well, hasta la vista and google it. Funnily enough, the movie left me a bit flat by the end. I definitely liked it the first time around, but the action sequences seem less impressive nowadays, whereas the characters are like ironing boards. Some interesting choices, plot-wise, are still worthy, as is the new terminator, both for the effects, and for his ominous presence. Overall, though, I can’t say any more why T2 is, supposedly, on of the sequels that are better than the original – maybe its context of the day, or maybe I just need to rewatch both. It’s definitely no Aliens, though. 7/10

Movies of the Week #1 #2 (2019)

New year looks new.

On Addictions and Other Things

  • The Monster (2016): As a horror movie, The Monster is bland and boring. As a take on alcohol addiction, it’s not a bad piece of allegorical work. This must be why critics have given it some decent reviews, as opposed to the stark 5.4 it garnered on IMDb. I did think the atmosphere failed to really get under your skin, whereas the characters worked up an engaging story. The gist of it is that alcoholic mother is driving to drop off her daughter at her father’s, for an undetermined period of time. They get stuck in the woods and a monster rears its head. There are casualties. Addiction stuff. So yeah, not the worst failed horror movie I’ve seen. 6/10

A Childhood Stroll

  • Matilda (1996): I know for certain that I’ve seen Matilda before, but it was only the odd scene here or there that truly felt familiar. As one of the big movies of the 90s, a decade seemingly littered with highly successful movies about children, Matilda isn’t all that. It’s cute and honest, with a likable lead and a bunch of excellent villains – Pam Farris steals the show here. Beyond that, there wasn’t much to keep me interested in either the story, or its characters. Old age made me cynical, I’m afraid. 6/10

Back When Westerns Had Character

  • The Sisters Brothers (2018): You come across a movie directed by Jacques Audiard and starring the likes of John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phones and Riz Ahmed, and you are just bound to have phenomenal expectations. Then the movie trots about at a leisurely pace for half an hour and just as you start questioning the routinely Western events unfolding, the characters catch colour. They become distinctive, memorable, and as Audiard plays with the seen and the unseen, I found myself enraptured. As far as sibling movies go, this one is pretty high up there. 8/10

A Childhood Stroll Returns

  • Mary Poppins Returns (2018): It’s hard to find a much bigger MP fan than me. This movie is so meshed up into my childhood, every time I watch it, I get hit by a hurricane of emotions. Obviously, hearing of her return made me weary, although I did have faith it Emily Blunt. What came out was a very faithful recreation, almost scene by scene, which can be a worthy point of critique. However, Rob Marshall succeeded in also recreating some of that warm and tingly atmosphere, even without the aid of any iconic songs. It’s why, overall, I got to enjoying MPR, as a decent piece of fan service, if there even is such a thing as MP fans in need of it. 7/10

When Art Meets Commerce

  • Colette (2018): The story of Colette, the famous French writer of the eary 1900s that you’ve probably never heard of, has a penchant for the unusual, yet manages to feel tediously modern in most of its commentaries. This defied my expectations of authenticity and even if I’m totally in the wrong, it simply didn’t engage. Some very competent acting and a reasonably interesting story make up for its other shortcomings, but that’s meager consolation for what might have been a different experience altogether. 6/10

Movies of the Year #2018

I’ve only seen 69 movies released in 2018, with a bunch of the big ‘uns missing at this point. However, this does not limit my ability to string together a bunch of pics I enjoyed the heck out of and – as it so happens – their number stands at six, including some almost ineligible 2017 entries. No particular order, in spite of their different ratings.

But if I were to have a favourite, a most engrossing experience? The Tale.

Parenthood part x+2

  • Leave No Trace (2018): From the visionary director of Winter’s Bone (2010), wherein Jennifer Lawrence had her breakthrough performance, comes another tale of surviving in the wilderness. A father-daughter couple (didn’t we leave on this note all those weeks back?) survive together in a wildlife park near Portland in a rugged woman’s take on Captain Fantastic (2016). But this is no Captain Fantastic – no lush fairytale of happy hippies. It’s the story of a troubled war veteran who cannot adapt to society any more and now faces his daughter’s longing for a community. Thomasin McKenzie’s piercing glare will stay with you long after the movie is over, in a narratively austere, yet emotionally rich adventure into anti-modern America. Unlike Captain Fantastic’s bohemian pandering, Leave No Trace is a testament both for and against modern society, a taut and uncompromising coming of age story like few others. Have I used all the right buzzwords? 9/10

The real truth

  • The Tale (2018): Wow. Just wow. I don’t usually appreciate movies about abuse at all (well, you know what I mean), but The Tale approaches this semi-autobiographical story in an original, inspiring manner that I’ve never seen before. When our lead is faced with letters from her youth, her perception of how she grew up and the people she met along the way take a big hit. The way in which Jennifer sets out to rediscover the truth and cope with it is presented with so much tact and care, both narratively and cinematically, that I couldn’t help being enthralled with it. Director Jennifer Fox, upon whose experiences the movie is (loosely?) based, captures the evanescence of youth with great flair, while finding a perfectly suitable contrast to make it stand out against without becoming more grotesque than it is. The Tale proves to be one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, without a doubt. 9/10

Happy Go Lucky

  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor (2018): There was a lot of buzz surrounding a couple of unexpected documentaries this summer – the one about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and this, starring Fred Rogers. It’s not only the unexpected characters leading them that embrethrens them, but also their approach to the wider theme of how we build society and foster particular ways of thinking. More on RBG next week, because Mr. Rogers deserves a LOT of attention. The documentary is, really, a great piece of filmmaking, which reconstructs a man and his singular vision of how television can be used to teach children about the complexities of life. It’s an intricate story with surprising emotional heft, stemming from director Morgan Neville’s ability to bring Rogers into your living room. It doesn’t matter if you agree with everything (and the movie does shy away from controversy), because the overall experience is such a wholesome, uplifting one, that it will, in the least, change your day. That’s not a simple feat from a movie about an awkward man playing around with puppets. 9/10

Why are horses so resplendent?

  • The Rider (2017): What a glorious, heartfelt movie about passion and struggling against the odds! The Rider treads the thin-red-line between reality and fiction to paint this stern, yet touching story about Brady, a cowboy who suffers a head injury that impairs him from doing what he’s best at – riding and taming (breaking in) wild horses. You can sense the potential for metaphors and drama right there, and director Chloé Zhao manages to milk it to the very last drop without ever becoming melo. Great cinematography helps in creating the setting, while perfect pacing makes for one of the best Western-themed movies I’ve seen in a while. 8/10

Alternative sci-fi:

  • Sorry to Bother You (2018): The trailer to StBY is intriguing, but it’s greatest achievement lies in saying something while withholding the movie’s essence. What starts out as a corporate ladder climb dipped in racial observations, becomes a full blown social dissection by the end. It’s a no holds barred kind of experience – nothing’s off limits. Which also means that it might not be everyone’s cup of hot tea, but it felt pretty good to me. So as not to spoil anything, just go ahead and give it a try. 8/10

‘Good breeding gone bad’

  • Thoroughbreds (2017): In his very first movie, which Corey Finley wrote and directed, the filmmaker manages to create and capture a spectacularly tense atmosphere, vividly portrayed through the eyes and souls of two emotionally dejected youths. The atmosphere borrows articulately from Chan-wook Park’s Stoker (2013), but Finley’s characters stand out more. Amanda, a girl devoid of emotions, is sent by her mother to get tutored by Lily, an emotionally ambivalent character, with both treading deeply into dysfunctional territory. The movie wraps around your throat with the ominous delight of white privilege and a boa constrictor, without making any concessions. Might need a rewatch to promote it to ‘delight’ level, but it’s really close regardless! 8/10