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.
The Aftermath forces upon its audience a near-impossible question that nobody really wants to answer: Can one hold on to justified and unbridled rage at Nazi sympathizers yet also express sympathy to those who were ruled by the Nazis?
The answer, at least in director James West’s adaptation of a 2013 novel by Welsh author Rhidian Brook, wants to be…maybe? -Benjamin Freed
On paper, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez teaming up should be a dream for genre nerds. -Benjamin Freed
Like President Kennedy’s famous proclamation “We choose to go the Moon,” the new documentary Apollo 11 sounds simple in its purpose. Using archival footage and audio, director Todd Douglas Miller and his team recreate the voyage undertaken by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. Within that simplicity, however, is an audacious technical marvel of imagery, sound, and nonfiction storytelling. There simply has never been a documentary quite like this. As an assembly of archival footage, it is a massive undertaking. In terms of cinema, it is breathtaking real-life thriller. This film will help ensure that no generation ever forgets just what was accomplished that fateful July. -Alan Zilberman
Queen’s bestselling album is Greatest Hits. Their second bestselling album, Greatest Hits II. Bohemian Rhapsody, fittingly, is a film made for the greatest hits, a checklist of Wikipedia moments and musical biopic cliches that the film doesn’t seem to realize are cliches. Playing the fabricated EMI executive Ray Foster, Mike Myers states, “Let’s stick with formulas. Formulas work.” Despite the way that Queen clashes with Foster and his way of doing things, Bohemian Rhapsody falls right into the biopic as countless other have before. -Ross Bonaime
The newest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel, is a fun and family-friendly adventure flashback to the 90s, before the creation of the Avengers superhero team. The film is based on the Marvel comic character of Carol Danvers, and is likely to be the first introduction for many filmgoers. It’s both fun and slightly safer than it could be. At its root it’s about empathy, and that’s something we definitely need more of today. -Vesper Arnett
Captain Marvel is not the only movie coming out this week that focuses on nineties nostalgia. Climax, the latest visual and aural assault from Gaspar Noé, takes place in the period where electronic music from Daft Punk and Aphex Twin were all the rage. The cumulative effect is almost like a musical: all the characters are dancers, and throbbing house beat may have you bopping in your seat. But this is Noé we’re talking about, so that transcendence is temporary. His characters devolve into a downward spiral of violence, insanity, and forbidden sexuality. Qualitative “good” and “bad” judgments are moot to a movie-going experience like this. -Alan Zilberman
Nearly five years ago, in these very pixels, I had this to say about Paweł Pawlikowski’s film Ida:
If I am hesitant to say Ida is a great movie, still interpret that as praise – greatness is hard to come by, and more often than not identifiable only after time has eroded the more plentiful but less durable artifacts of culture that clog our vision.
Ida went on to win America’s Most Patronizing Film Award, and now I’m here reviewing Pawlikowski’s follow-up, Cold War, which has already collected the best award a movie can win, and I’m overwhelmingly tempted to say about this film exactly what I said about Ida. -Max Bentovim
With Creed II, Stallone undoes the goodwill that Coogler brought to this new take on the franchise by once again making himself the center of the story, and losing the series’ exciting sense of personality. -Ross Bonaime
Lanthimos is not a subtle director. His misanthropy almost rivals Kubrick, but he has more in common with Peter Greenaway, an English filmmaker who used high society and garish production values to expose the raw ugliness lurking underneath. Like Greenaway, Lanthimos skewers these characters in an unsparing way, except he sometimes lets his camera linger long enough so we can briefly empathize with everyone’s misery. Some of his metaphors are heavy-handed, too: Anne loves rabbits, for one thing, and their position in the frame practically blares what we are supposed to think of the action. That heavy-handed commentary is infrequent, unlike the director’s other work, so The Favourite succeeds as the nastiest high stakes workplace comedy you’ll see all year. -Alan Zilberman
To say a movie is “entertaining” is often damning with faint praise. Watching funny YouTube videos about goats can be entertaining. Scrolling through Twitter can be entertaining. To say something is entertaining is often to suggest it has met the very low bar of not being so boring that you gave up before it ended. But there’s an art to making a truly entertaining movie – the kind of movie in which the acting sells an unusual story, the details draw you in, and you go 100+ minutes without ever discreetly checking the time on your cell phone. Fighting with My Family is that kind of entertaining movie. -Trisha Brown
The folks in the climbing community are not like regular people. They look at the face of a seemingly insurmountable cliff and see something to dominate, often at great risk. And within that community, there are are some folks who takes risks too dangerous for the mainstream. Alex Honnold, the subject of the new documentary Free Solo, is one of those people. He doesn’t just want to climb mountains; he wants climb them without the assistance of ropes, using only his hands, feet, and a handful of chalk. Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, this film is about a seemingly impossible athletic feat. It treats Honnold’s goal with awe and urgency, but there is more to it than that. Chin and Vasarhelyi are keenly aware of the danger involved, so the film also serves as an exploration of obsession and risk. -Alan Zilberman
Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) prides himself on his talents as a bullshitter. He can talk his way into the hearts of New York power players, talk the police out of putting his friends in prison, and can convince others that he’s not racist, as long as he’s getting paid not to be. He can use a racial slur in one scene, then hang out with non-white companions in the next. Tony is a mess, covered in whatever food he ate last and childishly simple in both the way he talks and writes. Yet Tony can also be charming – a parallel talent for the bullshitter – and a man who stands for what’s right, regardless of prejudices. Green Book is a lot like Tony: it’s sloppy, it’s plain, and full of expected bullshit, but when it needs to lay on the charm, it can do so quite effectively. -Ross Bonaime
Isabelle Huppert is one of the most prolific and decorated actors of all time. Two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress wins, 16 César nominations, countless international honors (and one measly Oscar nomination, which really only reaffirms the Academy’s irrelevancy and bad taste). This French actress is iconic for her peculiar Mona Lisa smile, icy demeanor, and track record of sexually deranged roles. In Neil Jordan’s Greta, Huppert doesn’t exactly re-emerge as an awards contender, far from it. Instead, she shifts gears and channels the playful elements of her persona in a silly, sadistic B-movie ripped straight out of the 90s. Greta is not high art, but that in itself is not a bad thing. While the film is rather meaningless, with undeveloped subplots and slight characterization, a hearty serving of intentional and unintentional ridiculousness should manage to strike the nerves or induce belly laughs. -Beatrice Loayza
Happy Death Day 2U serves up the same cheap and slick horror the first movie had in spades. It’s the perfect encapsulation of a Blumhouse film, low budget, fun and jam packed with cute actors you’ve never heard of (but quickly fall in love with). -Kaylee Dugan
Nine years later, the franchise (supposedly) concludes with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – a rarity for a successful series like this to get out early instead of running out of gas. -Ross Bonaime
The Hummingbird Project is a film about speed, how a millisecond of speed can earn millions of extra dollars a year on Wall Street. Being incrementally faster than the competition – even the amount of time it takes for a hummingbird to flap its wings (hence the title) – can make someone dominate the stock market and put them in an extreme place of power. Putting this all on paper might seem exciting, a race against time for success and money in a world that’s already rapid-fire, yet The Hummingbird Project is far too often a slog, moving at an sludgy pace that would put any day trader in the Dark Ages. -Ross Bonaime
Falling in love is the easy part. There is excitement, discovery, and the palpable sense of mutual chemistry. What comes afterward is the hard part: a series of negotiations, betrayals, and apologies that are governed by an overarching need for mutual acceptance. If Beale Street Could Talk, the miraculous new film from Barry Jenkins, shows how the hard part is even harder in the United States where you’re black, effectively a second class citizen. In adapting a slim novel by James Baldwin, Jenkins avoids the trappings of “romance” for a drama that’s more sensuous, and more daring. -Alan Zilberman
Subverting the romantic comedy genre while so clearly and unapologetically living in its space is a tough thing to do. Isn’t It Romantic manages it with minimal missteps. A tight script, great work by Rebel Wilson, and a surprisingly strong supporting cast offer a charming reminder that even in the real world, there’s space for both romance and comedy. -Trisha Brown
Remember back in 2014 when everything was awesome? Well, maybe not everything. But back when the world wasn’t a never-ending hellscape of breaking news and unpredictability? It’s hard to believe it’s been almost half a decade since The Lego Movie defied all expectations by becoming a legitimately great comedy based on building block toys. With the long-awaited sequel, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, returning screenwriters Phil Lord and Christopher Miller present a toy world where everything is no longer awesome as it once was, and yet still find the joy in a world where everything has understandably become a living nightmare. -Ross Bonaime
The film is kind of good, but in such a basic way. It hits all of the expected beats: boy has terrible childhood, meets a girl, works, gets into a bad situation and gets out, and gains success in the end. It’s for people who liked A Beautiful Mind and the like. It’s a good primer on the effects of the post-war Russian occupation on artists, but it must be reiterated that it is fictional. Even though it’s really close to the life of a real life person, and uses his actual famous quotes, it’s fiction. -Vesper Arnett
At this point, Spider-Man should feel tired and uninspired. But Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a vital, vibrant, and unique take on the superhero genre that breathes life not just into Spider-Man, but into superhero films in general.
The work of German director Christian Petzold is relatively obscure in the United States. He mixes period pieces and contemporary dramas that explore the ongoing crisis of post war German identity, and the disorientation of those still reckoning with a past that continues to haunt them. Petzold’s newest film Transit belongs to this thematic tradition, but in execution it is the director’s most formally ambitious film to date. Somewhere between a mainstream thriller and a traditional art house film, Transit has led many to recall the mix of danger and romance particular to Casablanca. The comparison is apt. Transit is a thrilling and unsettling film that tangibly recreates a nightmare of displacement and uncertainty, but in such a way that could appeal to a broader audience. -Beatrice Loayza
Even if it wasn’t a remake of the 2011 French hit The Intouchables, The Upside would still be a story that had been heard plenty of times before. This type of story about two socially, racially and economically different people finding friendship and common ground is a tale as old as cinema, and The Upside certainly doesn’t attempt to navigate around the cliches/tropes that have made this a reliable story to tell. But The Upside’s bland take on this tired idea makes it a mostly unremarkable addition in this tradition, a film whose release struggles are more interesting than the story at hand. -Ross Bonaime
With Get Out, Peele showed a clockwork symmetry. Every piece had its place, every choice had its payoff. Us, by comparison, is overtly about symmetry, and yet the threads don’t quite hold up as well. Yet Us isn’t a sophomore slump by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, Peele is flexing an entirely different muscle, with a sloppy uncertainty, confusion and terror that inherently works for the story Peele is trying to tell here. Everything within Us has a question associated with it, and yet not all these questions are answered. If Get Out had a very clear, straightforward message, Us is the follow-up that will have audiences dissecting Peele’s every decision and intention here. If knowing the entire plan in Get Out made it horrific, the unknowable in Us is even more terrifying. -Ross Bonaime
A sort of spiritual (and credited) sequel to the 2000 Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt romcom What Women Want, What Men Want shares a similar conceit but in 2019 the whole thing just feels unnecessary and a bit of a waste of good talent. While the 2000 film gave a male chauvinist the ability to hear women’s thoughts and ultimately make him a more thoughtful, well adjusted human being, this 2019 turn gives the lead, a highly driven female sports agent Ali (Taraji P. Henson) the ability to hear men’s thoughts, but it’s to teach her a lesson she doesn’t necessarily need. -Diana Metzger
The ecoterrorist heist flick formula (if it’s a formula yet, given critical and commercial failure of 2010’s deservedly-forgotten The East) might drag or bore in less capable hands. But Erlingsson and cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson conspire to keep it fresh, arrhythmic, and gripping. -Alan Pyke