We review films. You see films. You need to know where to see those films. You may want to know what we thought of those films. Here’s where you can read what we thought of the film you’re about the see. Click on the film links to read THE FULL BYT REVIEWS.
Bad Boys For Life – Now playing in D.C.
These heroes are still egotistical monsters, incurious about due process or even their own mortality. Jokes and skulls are cracked without much thought – this film is a series of moments strung together, without much attention to the greater whole. This is why you might have a deadly fight scene, a stupid one-liner, and a maudlin character moment within seconds of each other. -Alan Zilberman
Birds of Prey – Now playing in D.C.
They say a sign of true love is when your partner adopts your cause as their own. Their devotion is so total and pure that they’d gladly die on the same hill as you. By that metric, Harley Quinn’s love for The Joker has a kernel of truth to it. Co-dependent to a fault and prone to violence, the character mostly existed in The Joker’s shadow. Birds of Prey, the new comic book film by Cathy Yan, asks what might happen after Harley and Mr. J call it quits. In storytelling and formal terms, the answer is a film that is playful without being slovenly. It is a riot of violence, color, foul language, and giving the patriarchy the finger. In a weird way, it’s the first comic book film that feels punk rock. -Alan Zilberman
Bloodshot – Now playing in D.C.
Apologies, but here’s a big fat spoiler for Bloodshot, the Vin Diesel-starring adaptation of a 1990s alt graphic novel that’s finally gotten the glossy cinematic treatment: Midway through, when Diesel’s hero has started to figure out his origin story, a supporting character tells the big bad, “You’ve used every movie cliche known to man.”
It’s actually a relief, because rarely are movies this dull and uninspired so nakedly self-referential. Over its 110-minute runtime Bloodshot careens between the sheen of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, lens flares, and camera sweeps of a Michael Bay joint. It has the globetrotting of a Bond film, contraptions of Edge of Tomorrow, the holodeck and technobabble from Star Trek, and a whole lot of Matrix-ish bullet time. Yes, we are still doing bullet time in 2020. -Benjamin Freed
The Burnt Orange Heresy – Now playing in D.C.
The Burnt Orange Heresy is a thriller directed by Giuseppe Capotondi. It stars Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, and Mick Jagger. Those are the facts, and it is difficult for me to go beyond them. Criticism seems frivolous. Thinking about art seems frivolous. Writing this sentence, right now, seems frivolous. Thanks to an abundance of caution about the coronavirus, I already know that I’m not going to see A Quiet Place 2 next week because John Krasinski cancelled its release. It is almost certain we are in a recession, to say nothing of the global public health emergency. This is not a normal film review. -Alan Zilberman
The Call of the Wild – Now playing in D.C.
The Call of the Wild never comes off as poorly presented as something like last year’s The Lion King remake (although one wonders if it would’ve been worse had this been made under Disney’s guidance, instead of by 20th Century Fox). The artificiality inherent in the techniques used to make Buck brings down the story significantly. In this story of man’s best friend, the only thing missing is an actual dog. -Ross Bonaime
Corpus Christi – Now playing in D.C.
Corpus Christi isn’t a film with easy answers, but with its moral opaqueness and haunting ending, it is one of the most thought-provoking films so far this year and an exciting breakthrough for both Komasa and Bielenia. -Ross Bonaime
I was struck while watching Emma. by the idea that this seems like the way Jane Austen would want her stories to be told: the film is funny and smart. It comes with an undeniable connection to an audience even 200 years later. We can relate to the horribly awkward dinners held out of social obligation, to the frustration over the feeling that everyone likes our nemeses better than us, to the feeling of wanting our friends to find happiness, but also secretly worrying about what a life change for them will mean for us. We can be relieved when it all works out in the end, and when we wonder who will be adapting Emma a decade or a century from now, we can only hope that the outcome is as delightful as this one. -Trisha Brown
First Cow – Now playing in D.C.
When a country is in its infancy, it has possibilities. Its people shape its character, and it is unclear whether that character will be tolerant or cruel. First Cow, the remarkable new film from Kelly Reichardt, is about the United States at a crossroads. The film is highly allegorical – a metaphor for the inherent faults of capitalism – and achingly specific. An unlikely friendship defines this film, one between two men who do not meet the frontier’s traditional definition of masculinity. Their affection creates genuine warmth and optimism, without once veering toward sentiment. Those notes are necessary, since the story outside their friendship is downright pitiless. -Alan Zilberman
Frozen II – Now playing in D.C.
Most Disney animated fairy tale sequels were relegated to the straight-to-video path; there’s just not that much interesting to say after “happily ever after.” Luckily, and due to tons of youngsters screaming “Let It Go” ad nauseum all the way to the multiplex back when the original Frozen came out in 2013, Frozen 2 has hit the big screens. If you have a child or a passionate love for Idina Menzel’s singing, you’ll be dragged to the theaters. One of the best qualities of the sequel is the visually arresting animation. There’s a big focus on nature (that explanation will come later) as the characters travel outside the land of Arendelle into a magical forest—with gorgeous vistas and waves of oceans that feel real as a National Geographic documentary at times. The animation is superb, the rest of the film feels not disappointing necessarily, but a bit disconnected. -Diana Metzger
The Gentlemen – Now playing in D.C.
Director Guy Ritchie’s new film The Gentlemen requires patience before it reaches a mostly satisfying ending. It’s not quite a return to form as far as his British crime films are concerned, though it is still entertaining when it unshackles itself from its contrived plotting. The Gentlemen follows a private investigator named Fletcher (Hugh Grant) as he explains an elaborate story to a man named Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) who works closely with semi-retired-well-suited hustler/drug dealer/notable rich dude Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey). He’s trying to buy Raymond for an awful lot of cash, and as insurance he has drafted the story into a screenplay, and threatens to publish it if he doesn’t get paid. Raymond and Mickey Pearson have done something bad while trying to secure a deal, but we won’t learn what right away. -Vesper Arnett
Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan have collaborated — mostly successfully — on satires sending up human frailties for nearly 20 years: the drugginess of the Manchester music scene in 24 Hour Party People, fame and ego in A Cock and Bull Story, aging in The Trip series. Their latest, though, the simply but heavily titled Greed, trades in any of those previous films’ subtleties and novelties for a heavy-handed lesson about why capitalism is bad. -Benjamin Freed
The Hunt – Now playing in D.C.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding this film. Something about Trump condemning it last year without seeing it. Personally, I went into this film completely blind to any commentary/spoilers/chatter and I can’t say if that made the film better or worse… because it’s just not a good film. It’s not even a particularly “fun” film. I love good horror and especially one that errs on the side of dark humor and social satire. This is not Get Out, The Cabin in the Woods, or even Red State. Which is a damn shame because the creative pedigree this film has really should make it something special, but it disappoints in almost every way. It’s directed by Craig Zobel, the writer/director of the fantastic, tense film Compliance and co-written by TV phenom Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse (son of Lindelof’s “Lost” comrade Carlton Cuse). The Hunt lacks any of the nuance, suspense, and clever writing of either of the three men’s previous work. It also wastes the talent of most of their bold face named cast (but more on that to come). -Diana Metzger
I Still Believe – Now playing in D.C.
I Still Believe is a romantic drama based on Christian music singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp’s early adult life and his marriage to Melissa Lynn Henning Camp. For many people, the information in that sentence alone is enough to determine whether they’re going to see this movie. But niche audiences deserve well-made films as much as anyone, so it’s unfortunate that I Still Believe isn’t a better film. It’s even worse that it might actually be a little dangerous. -Trisha Brown
The Invisible Man – Now playing in D.C.
Unless you’re Clark Kent or Sue Richards, becoming invisible is an invitation for mischief. It would be so easy to mess around with someone, or perhaps stroll into a bank. The Invisible Man, a modern reinvention of a classic horror monster, takes another route entirely. He is not a prankster or an ordinary criminal, but a sadist who delights in psychological abuse. This film was written and directed by Leigh Whannell, who created the Saw and Insidious franchises. As opposed to torture porn or jump scares, Whannell puts us almost entirely in a victim’s point of view, one who is reeling from post-traumatic stress. Days after Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape, this thriller arrives with extra resonance and karmic fury. -Alan Zilberman
Jumanji: The Next Level – Now playing in D.C.
When Jumanji was rebooted with 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the premise flipped the idea of the original book and film. Instead of the game coming to life in the real world, people from the real world went into the game. Since Jumanji was updated to a video game, the real world characters could pick their in-game avatars, and half the fun of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was watching Dwayne Johnson do his best impression of a nerdy kid and Jack Black pretend to be a teenage girl. The sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level, wisely goes all-in on the constant impressions of the original with great success. Jumanji: The Next Level naturally tries to double up what worked in the original: bigger comedy, crazier action, and more characters. This is one of the few sequels where bigger is actually better. -Ross Bonaime
Just Mercy – Now playing in D.C.
It was an inevitability that Bryna Stevenson’s memoir, “Just Mercy,” would find its way to being adapted into what seems like the rarest of cinematic birds these days — a courtroom drama. In the hands of writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12), the film of the same name doesn’t break too much new ground for the genre, but it does unpack a case that still feels deeply relevant nearly a quarter-century later. -Benjamin Freed
Knives Out – Now playing in D.C.
Knives Out is great fun, and worth seeing more than once. Director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) proves once again that he is among the most vivid writers of mystery dialogue in film today. Fans of mystery and film noir may remember his first feature film Brick, and perhaps could reach some conclusions of the plot sooner than those unfamiliar with his pre-Star Wars work. The only disappointment to Knives Out is the absence of the Radiohead track of the same name. Boo. -Vesper Arnett
Little Women – Now playing in D.C.
Little Women is so buoyant and joyous, so it is easy to miss the anger that informs it. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the beloved novel has genuine infection for its characters, the March sisters in particular, although along with that affection comes a sense of frustration. These characters are independently minded, you see, yet they are stuck in a story that suffocates their freedom. Unlike past versions of Little Women, Gerwig includes a strain of necessary revisionism. Her follow-up to Lady Bird is somehow even more accomplished, the sort of film that will invite countless revisits. It’s that good. -Alan Zilberman
After last year’s Toy Story 4, Pixar has stated they have no current plans to make any sequels, and their first original film since that statement is Onward, set in a fantasy world that has literally lost most of its magic. Unicorns eat out of overturned trash cans, pixies drive motorcycles instead of flying, and the spells of the past have been replaced with technology. But Onward is also Pixar’s first attempt to show that there is still magic in this company and their original properties since their move away from sequels. While the heart that we’ve come to expect from all Pixar films is still there in Onward, Pixar’s twenty-second film is unfortunately closer to The Good Dinosaur and Brave than Inside Out and Coco. -Ross Bonaime
Sonic the Hedgehog – Now playing in D.C.
If you were wondering if the film adaptation of the 90s Sega classic video game franchise Sonic the Hedgehog could be decent, rest assured, it is true. It is not bad. As an ardent supporter of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, nothing pleases me more, and I am openly admitting that this film is nowhere near that quality. It works as a kid’s movie, one that many will be playing on repeat for years to the point where it becomes a nostalgic kid’s classic by 2030. -Vesper Arnett
The Way Back – Now playing in D.C.
The Way Back does the little and big things right, playing against audience’s genre expectations to craft an honest and complicated look at addiction and provides a much needed career reset for Affleck in one of his best performances in years. -Ross Bonaime
As if trying to outdo Steven Spielberg’s massive Omaha Beach sequence in Saving Private Ryan, or the twisty restructuring of time in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Mendes’ approach to this material is little more than a way to showoff, a directorial approach that doesn’t match with the story Mendes tells. To paraphrase another film that wore its technical achievements on its sleeve, Mendes was so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. -Ross Bonaime