With Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and season one of The Crown fresh in our consciousness, Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour arrives at a moment when we’re steeped in British World War II nostalgia. Wright’s even making his second attempt at the evacuation of Dunkirk, following the middle chapter of Atonement, so there’s a real déjà vu watching this new biopic.
Guillermo del Toro’s new movie The Shape of Water fits into a storied tradition of folklore and fantasy from Hans Christian Andersen to Godzilla. It’s an old-fashioned fairy tale and a classic film throwback that clearly enchanted the director. Though Universal tried to revive its classic monster franchise this year with The Mummy, their failed attempt to create a new Dark Universe, del Toro has beaten them at their own game. The key to a new monster, it turns out, is a lighter–not darker–touch.
Honestly, this movie is so good. I want to move to Northern Italy to read literature and bike through the country and fall in love with Armie Hammer every day. The movie looks beautiful: Guadagnino clearly enjoys the lush flora and blue waters of Crema, where it’s impossible to resist the sensuality of your surroundings. He films the building romance simply, using few close-ups, to suggest a placid exterior that the lovers’ impulses push against.
No matter the odds, Lady Bird is determined to make something of herself. Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, which she directed and wrote, is a warm coming-of-age comedy about growing up different. Based on Gerwig’s own experiences, Lady Bird’s senior year at her Catholic high school is a confusing and exciting time to be alive. She’s got that nickname (“It was given to me by me”) and dyed pink hair, but she’s still figuring everything out.
But The Disaster Artist is so perfectly meta: An hit-and-miss actor-director with endless funding for hundreds of bad movies, playing a so-bad-he’s-infamous actor-director with endless funding to make one really, really bad movie.
Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will definitely be one of the most talked about, and most contentious, movies of the year. This sprawling Midwest invective takes on police incompetence, brutality against people of color, and sexual assault, with heavy doses of small-town racism and sexism. It’s wildly entertaining; you truly don’t know where McDonagh is going. But don’t assume the movie has anything profound to say beyond that.
We just caught two revivals in New York of shows from the eighties: both highly acclaimed back in the day for pushing the boundaries of queerness and gender identity on stage. After thirty-some years, what may have been transgressive about these characters’ sexuality is now more accepted, and both playwrights have revised their work to be effective for 2017 audiences.
The last weekend she ever sees him, Alison Bechdel begs her father to talk to her. Really talk to her. This mundane car ride comes weeks after she comes out to him, hours after she learns he sleeps around with young men—and days before he steps in front of a truck. It’s Alison’s first and only chance to address what used to be their shared secret. He makes a small gesture, suggests a local gay bar, but she reminds him she’s too young to go. Nothing is really said.
For its first two hours, Blade Runner 2049 seduces us, slowly drawing us deeper into the past as we search for the key to upend this bleak authoritarian future. Where everything ends up isn’t as satisfying, but that’s not surprising for a movie motivated by mood, color, and scale more than plotlines.
I know Merrily We Roll Along from its original 1981 cast album. That recording immortalized Merrily’s 16 brief performances before Franklin Shepard and friends closed up shop. Like a few Sondheim shows that came before (looking at you, Anyone Can Whistle), that recording was so important for giving Merrily a life past its initial failure.