Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms. (IMDb)
The timeline hopping is cleverly and masterfully executed (see the warm vs. cold tones, mirrored shots) and adds remarkable emotional depth (see Jo walking down the stairs x2) to what is an already extremely well-written (and acted) web of characters (to the big emotional moments are added many brilliant little overlapping quips and quibbles). Often hilarious (“I’m making a mould of my foot for Laurie to remind him I have nice feet!”) and always heartfelt, with a delightfully cheeky ending.
Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. (IMDb)
Exquisite in its script, performances, and craft: the feels are real and raw and wrenching, and there’s a lot of them (love, hate, heartbreak, awkwardness, tension, release); the leads, meanwhile, bring them all home, and the camera knows to just stay focused on them and not cut. In its monologues, songs, long takes, and dramatic emotion it almost has the feel of a theatrical play (with the troupe and their babbling commentary serving as the chorus), and it works perfectly with the material.
Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order. (IMDb)
It was the cons I was thinking about when I left the theatre–the jumble of rollercoaster plot threads and tones, the bloated run-time, the sometimes cheesy dialogue (“Every word in that sentence was wrong”)–but it’s the pros that have been popping up for me ever since: The fantastic female representation, the fascinating relationship between pro- and an-tagonist, and the bold (often fourth-wall) subversions of tradition and expectations (see Yoda’s lightning, Poe’s humbling, Rose’s save).
A decidedly odd couple with ulterior motives convince Dr. Alan Grant to go to Isla Sorna (the second InGen dinosaur lab.), resulting in an unexpected landing…and unexpected new inhabitants on the island. (IMDb)
Surpasses the second installment largely thanks to its shorter run time, the return of Neill as the steady Indy-like wry lead Dr. Grant, and the addition of the always-good Macy. A couple of interesting new settings (see the “bird cage”) also help keep this installment of dinosaur escapes fresh and popcorn-munching fun until the end in spite of another contrived plot. It’s campy (see the dino dung digging), but it seems to know it, unlike the cheesy “bigger/more is better” sequel before it.
During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok. (IMDb)
Half build-up, half dino-action: Both acts are well done, with minor flaws: Goldblum’s slick scientist provides both prophetic moral commentary (“What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world”) and comic relief (“That is one big pile of shit”) for the first, but Nedry’s side-plot feels unnecessary; the excitement of the second is second-to-none (the camerawork is impeccable; see the first T-Rex scene) but without many breaks from the action it feels much too long and tires a tad.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into the biggest restaurant business in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence and ruthlessness. (IMDb)
The familiar rising business biopic is given a bit of an interesting twist with the compelling Kroc vs. McDonalds dynamic that pits the former’s growing greed and business savvy against the conservative and sympathetic simplicity of the latter, but it still feels a little conventional and skimmed-over. All told though, it’s a solidly acted story that expertly fleshes out its main characters with well-crafted scenes (see Ray’s bookending monologues; the brothers telling their story at dinner).
7.5/10 (Really Good)