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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 Addams Family Now playing in D.C.

The Addams Family has taken so many different forms over the years, from New Yorker cartoons to classic pinball machines. It’s almost surprising this creepy, kooky family hadn’t had an animated film, especially since their gruesome humor is a perfect fit for the medium, proven by the franchise’s two previous animated TV shows. With The Addams FamilySausage Party directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan brings the Addams back from the dead once more. Even if Vernon and Tiernan’s take on the family does fall into standard kid movie themes, The Addams Family makes these feel natural for this specific story, and make the Addams stand out in a sea of animated sameness. -Ross Bonaime

Apollo 11 Now playing in D.C.

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

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Now playing in D.C.

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary,” Fred Rogers once said. “The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we’re not alone.” Mister RogersNeighborhood was all about feelings, teaching children how to deal with all the emotions that were completely new to them. Rogers was a man of care and love, a bursting heart that could easily see what made a person who they are, and help them with their emotions, no matter what their age. Rogers was a man free of cynicism or snark, which makes director Marielle Heller such a strange, and yet perfect choice to present Rogers on the screen. -Ross Bonaime

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Black and Blue Now playing in D.C.

Black and Blue certainly has a prescient idea and an exciting premise, but without the writing and directing to back it up, the entire film feels half baked. Even with Harris and Colter giving it all they’ve got, Black and Blue comes off more monochrome than it should. -Ross Bonaime

Dark Waters Now playing in D.C.

Dark Waters, the latest based-on-true-events conspiracy thriller, seems to tread familiar ground.  It shares much in common with Spotlight, Tom McCarthy’s 2015 Oscar winner about sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy, insofar that piles up hidden offense after hidden offense in the form of an investigation, and how it overwhelms audiences untill we’re thoroughly seething with outrage. Mark Ruffalo stars, as exasperated as ever. Though in this case, the villain is a negligent corporation throwing money at its problems, lining the pockets of powerful men while government institutions prove too slow or entirely incapable of holding them accountable for their misdeeds. Dark Waters may not feature the caliber of performances that Spotlight has in spades, and its muddled script leaves much to desired, but what it lacks in polish it makes up for in visual curiosity. It’s an unorthodox undertaking for director Todd Haynes, a pioneer of queer cinema, but he nevertheless succeeds in bringing to the film a situation-appropriate sense of weariness and decay. -Beatrice Loayza

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Ford v Ferrari Now playing in D.C.

The middle hour of Ford v. Ferrari is a muscly, metallic sequence of roaring engines, whirring dust clouds, and Carroll and Ken’s irresistible determinism to build a prize-winning car. Yes, it’s a men-on-a-mission story set during a time when American exceptionalism (even though Miles was British) still seemed achievable, but the cast, working off a long-gestating script by brothers Jez and John Henry Butterworth, with Jason Keller, makes those moments feel earned. -Benjamin Freed

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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

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The Irishman Now playing in D.C.

Late in The Irishman, there is a scene where a character is flabbergasted. It is the late 1990s or the early aughts, maybe, and he cannot believe a young person does not recognize Jimmy Hoffa. Maybe folks recognize his name or remember that he disappeared, but you cannot overstate he was once one of the most important public figures in the country. Our sense of amnesia is important to The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s latest crime epic. It is similar to his best-known films, insofar that is about gangsters, corruption, sin, and politics. In crucial ways, however, Scorsese has made a different film than Goodfellas and Casino. This one has the wisdom that can only come with advanced age, and that wisdom coexists with heartache. -Alan Zilberman

Jojo Rabbit Now playing in D.C.

Ads for Jojo Rabbit describe the film as an “anti-hate satire.” Before I get to the film, a comedic drama set in Germany during World War 2, I want to parse this phrase. From Swift’s modest proposal onward through Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin, satirists have used humor and irony to ridicule the powerful. Satire is inherently anti-establishment, and hatred is ingrained in so much of what the establishment seeks to accomplish. Can there be such a thing as “pro-hate satire”? I don’t think so. Any attempt would not be satire, but propaganda. It is like Fox Searchlight and writer/director Taika Waititi want to assure audiences that they do NOT endorse Nazism, or Hitler. The thought behind this assurance encapsulates the issues with Jojo Rabbit rather elegantly. -Alan Zilberman

JokerNow playing in D.C.

What is left to say about Joker, Todd Phillips’s R-rated, grimy origin story for the endlessly rebooted Batman baddie that hasn’t already been said (or tweeted) in the six months before its release this weekend? Is it provocative? Is it haunting? Is it the most realistic comic-book story ever put to screen?

Citizens of Gotham: it is none of those things. Instead, Joker is a fairly predictable slog that wants to be taken seriously because it does away with caped crusaders and larger-than-life villains in favor of the bleak tale of young man who’s been done wrong and wants to get even. Oh, it’s plenty violent and nihilistic, but as badly as it demands we sympathize with Arthur Fleck — as the future Clown Prince of Crime is called here — neither Phillips, the director and cowriter, or Joaquin Phoenix ever earn it. -Benjamin Freed

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

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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

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Last Christmas Now playing in D.C.

Last Christmas, Hollywood’s latest Yuletide offering, gets the job done. Feel-good and frothy, Paul Feig’s take on the holiday heart-wrencher folds Fleabag into Charles Dickens and the outcome, as nonsensical as its part may be, makes for an effortlessly charming watch. Set in a tourist’s version of London — picturesque Brick Lane and other landmarks dusted over with puffs of snow — Last Christmas might seem awfully generic compared to Feig’s past output of inventive and raunchy female-fronted romps. But what it lacks in originality it makes up for in brisk pacing and an easy-to-love lead. -Beatrice Loayza

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The Lighthouse Now playing in D.C.

The Lighthouse, the new historical horror film from Robert Eggers, works as both cinema and a theme park ride. Its vision is singular (i.e. only Eggers could have made a film like this), and yet it unfolds like a sensory experience, not something you ponder. Its descent into madness is dizzying in the best possible ways, plus it is a rare treat to watch great actors abandon the pretense of safety and good taste. -Alan Zilberman

Playing with Fire Now playing in D.C.

The worst movies for kids are screamed, not written. The idea seems to be that seeing insane things on screen and adults acting wacky constitutes a film. A perfect example of this is Playing with Fire, a movie that plays more like a series of loony ideas than an actual story. -Ross Bonaime

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Queen & Slim Now playing in D.C.

Movies about outlaws are almost as old as the movies themselves. This kind of story is perfect for a popular medium, since an outlaw’s appeal is that they get away with it, bucking a system that works against any kind of rebellion. It was only a matter of time until appealing outlaws got the Black Lives Matter treatment. Directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe, Queen & Slim is about two good-looking black people who become reluctant outlaws and folk heroes. Waithe takes the road movie structure and deepens it with plausible characters, a heartfelt romance, and bitter commentary on modern race relations. -Alan Zilberman

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Richard Jewell Now playing in D.C.

Clint Eastwood’s early persona was a rebellious type who played by his own rules. Law and due process hardly mattered to Harry Callahan, which is why they is an ongoing debate over whether Magnum Force and the other Dirty Harry movies are fascist. Now that Eastwood is past his prime, his late period work (particularly as a filmmaker) are about different kinds of men who follow their personal code. Sully took dramatic license with the infamous plane crash on the Hudson, making it about a great man stymied by an unfair bureaucracy, while The Mule is about a veteran who breaks the law to provide for his family. Now we have Richard Jewell, a docudrama about the fallout from the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta. There is an anger in this film, particularly at the strongest institutions in America, and that anger is so blinding that the film sometimes undermines its purpose. -Alan Zilberman

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63 Up Now playing in D.C.

In 63 Up, for the first time, Apted asks all the participants if the quote that started the series is true for them. Apted has said in interviews that this might be the final film in the series, and by asking this question, there’s certainly a feeling of conclusion in Apted’s long project. But with Apted nearing eighty, interviewees sick and nearing retirement, and the first death in the series, it’s easy to understand that Apted wants to bring this series to an end before it’s too late. With 63 Up, Apted might have ended this gargantuan project with the most revelatory, emotional, and powerful film in the series. -Ross Bonaime

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Terminator: Dark Fate Now playing in D.C.

Twenty-eight years have passed since James Cameron and Linda Hamilton have had any hand in the Terminator franchise. That period has brought around The Rise of the MachinesSalvation, and Genisys, with each installment further proving how inessential this franchise has become over the years. With its baffling timelines and frequent reboots, Terminator no longer is the future, but like the long-gone past. Which probably explains the return of Cameron – this time only as producer and receiving a story by credit – and Hamilton, star of the two best films in the franchise. Much like Sarah Conner has done several times, Cameron even changes the timeline, making Terminator: Dark Fate a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, completely ignoring the twenty-eight years he hasn’t been involved with this series. While Cameron might make the choice to forget the past, audiences haven’t, and at this point, Terminator: Dark Fate is too little too late. -Ross Bonaime

21 Bridges Now playing in D.C.

Loud, bloody, and utterly unsurprising, 21 Bridges will win no plaudits for reinventing the bang-bang police procedural, but it at least goes through some of the familiar motions with reasonable skill, if not inspiration. -Benjamin Freed

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WavesNow playing in D.C.

Both The Night of the Hunter and Do the Right Thing feature incredible monologues about love and hate, how they both reside in the same person and the struggle to keep them both in check. Whenever one gets the upper hand, the other comes back to restore the delicate balance within us. Waves, Trey Edward Shults’ third and best film so far, could’ve easily featured this monologue. Shults tells the story of how the balance can go too far one way, how the same experiences can shift these in completely different ways for different people, and how both love and hate can also resonate in a larger family structure. -Alan Zilberman

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When Lambs Becomes LionsNow playing in D.C.

Showing both sides of an issue, particularly an issue as  evidently wrong as elephant poaching, seems like a useless idea. By presenting both a poacher and a person attempting to stop poaching, it should be clear from the very beginning that one character is the hero and one is the villain. Yet in director Jon Kasbe’s first feature-length documentary, When Lambs Become Lions, by digging into the economic situations of both aforementioned men, this story isn’t close to as one-sided as one would imagine. -Ross Bonaime

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