Worth (2020)

Kenneth Feinberg, a powerful D.C. lawyer appointed Special Master of the 9/11 Fund, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics associated with administering government funds and, in doing so, discovers what life is worth. (Letterboxd)
A smooth and well-balanced mix of compelling legal procedural and emotive drama that ends nicely with the climax of Ken’s character arc (“You’re nothing like him”). Some of the script is a bit on the nose, some supporting performances slip up, and the dead screen-space for some of the dialogue scenes is strange, but it’s made up for by some moments of cinematic excellence (see the gradual realization on the train), great performances by the main trio, and some cool camerawork in other places.
7/10 (Good)

Now You See Me (2013)

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An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. (Letterboxd)
The end sucks, not just because the twist is nonsensical (flashbacks of the person in a hoodie “there the whole time” isn’t enough explanation), but because the dumb carousal final scene leaves behind the cool Robin Hood-esque motivations of the team for some lame secret club idea–and the cocky characters already weren’t that likeable. Magic and heists are fun though, and fortunately that makes up most of the movie, making it fully watchable when the camera isn’t making you dizzy.
6/10 (Mediocre)

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

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The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith. (Letterboxd)
There’s a lot of stuff packed into this plot and it’s hard to make sense of it all, but as a trilogy finale it has a satisfying amount of fittingly epic highs and lows (see the grueling battle for Zion, ominous and lonely lovers’ mission to the Machine City, the unique climactic deal and defeat) to go with its hit or miss philosophical quips (Agent Smith’s frustrated post-fight speech was a highlight: “You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?”).
7/10 (Good)

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

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Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor. (IMDb)
An incredibly fun film: the treasure-hunt adventure plot is well-crafted without being too complicated, the action is excellent (see the wild goose-I mean falcon chase through Bagghar), the animation makes full use of its creative power (see the delightful transitions and Haddock’s recollection), and there’s just the right amount of great comedy (see Thompson and Thomson of course, but Haddock is hilarious too: “I lit a wee fire” “In a boat?!”) added to the suspense (see the ship escape).
8/10 (Great)

 

Robin Hood (1973)

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The story of the legendary outlaw is portrayed with the characters as humanoid animals. (IMDb)
Disney takes on unjust economics and class warfare: there’s literally a 7-year old bunny with a wooden sword yelling “Death to tyrants!” at one point. Undeniably goofy and fun (the archery tournament is a blast and the villains are hilarious), but it doesn’t shy away from the despair of poverty and oppression (“Sometimes ups outnumber the downs, but not in Nottingham”). The plot lacks a solid thrust and arc, but it still hits all the right notes, especially with that golden soundtrack.
8/10 (Great)

 

Knives Out (2019)

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A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. (IMDb)
An engaging and hilarious whodunnit with one of its biggest twists being an early reveal and a shift in the point of tension that works wonderfully well and adds a good heaping of heart to the already whip-smart script (see the knife line tie-in at the end, the return of the mug in one of the best final shots I’ve ever seen). The final twist is well-drawn but a little drawn-out, but that’s the only misstep in this marvelously decorated, cleverly edited, and perfectly acted mystery/family drama.
9/10 (Amazing)

 

Ghostbusters II (1989)

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The discovery of a massive river of ectoplasm and a resurgence of spectral activity allows the staff of Ghostbusters to revive the business. (IMDb)
The fall from grace and quick rise back to it feels as contrived as it did in the first movie, but the pink slime plot following this is quite enjoyable in its investigation/teamwork angle (the ‘busters are always better together) and “positive emotion” climax. Venkman still slips in some misogyny here and there but it’s mostly overshadowed by the film’s good smattering of quirky comedy elsewhere (Louis’ opening statement was a riot: “Because one time, I turned into a dog and they helped me”).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

1917 (2019)

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Two young British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap. (IMDb)
A riveting journey from quiet beginning to cathartic and captivating end. The real-time, one-shot concept is effective but would not have worked as well as it did without the excellent camerawork, production design, and performances. Far from a mere technical exercise, here the fear, the mud, the tears, and the blood are all too real and heart-wrenching (stand-out moments include no-man’s land, tragedy at the farm, the petals on the river [sob], talking to baby, surreal song in the forest).
9/10 (Amazing)

 

The Two Popes (2019)

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Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict and the liberal future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church. (IMDb)
For a movie about two old religious guys talking to each other it’s surprisingly colourful and dynamic (see the handheld camerawork, lively soundtrack, and bright and goofy end credits) but it’s got dramatic weight too: the leads excel and the great and hefty dialogue is complemented by plenty of personal character moments and an intriguing look at papacy politics (superbly edited). The flashbacks are interesting but awkwardly shift the focus to Francis when it should have stayed on the two.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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On the outskirts of Whoville lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch (Jim Carrey) who plans to ruin Christmas for all of the citizens of the town. (IMDb)
Giving the Grinch a backstory and making the Whos materialistic and snobby creates an interesting new dynamic but it means the mountaintop climax where the Grinch learns the meaning of Christmas misses the mark entirely: it was the Whos alone who needed redemption for their consumerism and fear-mongering; the Grinch just needed some love (and speaking of, the Cindy-Lou/Grinch relationship is a cute one). The film looks pretty bad, but Carrey’s wisecracking, slapstick schtick is fun as always.
6.5/10 (Alright)