Nic’s Flicks


By Nicolas Macotto, Staff Writer w/ Guest Critic Alexander Shedd

nic flick

Illustration by Mary Jane DeCarlo


4 = Great; 3 = Good; 2 = Fair; 1 = Poor; 0 = Ooh, let’s not go there

Call Me By Your Name [AS] – “Call Me By Your Name” plays out much like how it’s set — a dreamlike memory of a summer vacation lazing around a place that seems to be paradise. The film is lighter on the story side, but nicely portrays a mood and an atmosphere of nostalgia and heartbreak. Expert performances from Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg bring director Luca Guadagnino and writer James Ivory’s somewhat flat script to life, and it’s hard not to have beautiful cinematography in a movie set in Northern Italy. Overall, “Call Me By Your Name” does an excellent job of portraying a brief and powerful relationship in a peaceful and moving setting, but does not quite explore its leading characters to the extent necessary to make it a masterpiece. [Star Rating: 3/4]

Darkest Hour [NM] – A film that grabs our attention and never lets us go. We follow the reign of Winston Churchill during his first month as British Prime Minister. Churchill is played by Gary Oldman, who is a strong contender for Best Actor. Mixing wit and confidence to convey Churchill’s eloquence and strength as a leader, Oldman is coming up strong in the race for the acting category. Although credit must be given to the costume designers, makeup artists and the film’s overall exceptional execution, Oldman is without a doubt the best part of the final product. It reminds us of the values of a nation and how if we fight the good fight, it can work out in the end. [Star Rating: 4/4]

Dunkirk [NM] – Director Christopher Nolan may have given us his most complex work so far. However, it’s only hard to comprehend if viewers don’t know the context of the events it depicts. As a survival film paying tribute to early 20th century silent films, it succeeds in all its work behind the camera. It brings us the kind of intensity one could expect from an Alfred Hitchcock film thanks to Hans Zimmer’s intense score and Christopher Nolan’s precise direction. Silence is key for these soldiers — there are no words to describe war. [Star Rating: 4/4]

Get Out [AS] – Every once in a while, Hollywood produces a movie that defines the future of a genre. “Get Out” is one of those rare movies. Comedian-turned-filmmaker Jordan Peele masterfully blends horror with humor and politics in a way that is neither heavy-handed nor subtle. Daniel Kaluuya does not fail to impress in what has proven to be his breakthrough role, and fits seamlessly into Peele’s simple-but-powerful script. Along with a fantastic supporting cast including Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams and Catherine Keener, “Get Out” will be a milestone in horror for years to come, while also offering valuable social commentary. [Star Rating: 4/4]

Lady Bird [NM] – The whole feel of the movie is like a female version of the old myth of Daedelus and Icarus in a modern day setting. It may have one subplot too many, the narrative focus may seem somewhat blurred and it’s quite an oddball as far as movies go, but it makes for good comedy and for good drama. It’s a coming-of-age film that focuses on a mother-daughter dynamic, as all the television spots suggest, but it’s mostly just about a high school senior trying to find her place in this world. Her quest starts with ambition and ends on redemption. With Saoirse Ronan embodying all the values of the titular character, the film absorbs us and takes us for the ride, even if it gets cringe-worthy to sit through. [Star Rating: 3/4]

Phantom Thread [NM] – In what may possibly be the last performance in Daniel Day-Lewis’ career, this film presents us with a fascinating character study between its three leads. As it takes its dark turns determined by Jonny Greenwood’s effective score, we learn how the film conveys the issues of power struggles. The perfectionism of Day-Lewis’ character, Reynolds Woodcock, only amplifies the conflict and makes it worse. As an actor, he conveys a wide range of emotions without ever compromising integrity. The premise may seem like it’s all Woodcock’s story, but towards the end, it’s hard to know who wins. [Star Rating: 3.5/4]

The Post [NM] – As timeless film today as it will be in generations to come. The issues regarding the press and the government are prevalent now but this film shows us how it was a conflict decades ago and continues to this very day. All the tension and paranoia evident during Nixon’s presidency resemble present-day political climate. Led by a graceful performance from Meryl Streep, this political thriller takes us for a ride and reveals the valiance of these protagonists as the war on press started to come to public attention. [Star Rating: 3.5/4]

The Shape of Water [AS] – Director Guillermo Del Toro is a master of visual artistry. “The Shape of Water” is a beautiful film, with expert production design — but not the most compelling story. While the cinematography and atmosphere are excellent, the characters are somewhat bland (with the notable exception of Michael Shannon’s terrifying villain), and the plot is a generic Romeo and Juliet romance with Del Toro’s signature touches of magical realism. The script also undercuts itself at times with somewhat jarring out-of-place sexual overtones and B-plots that go nowhere. The story and characters are altogether unmemorable, but Del Toro paints a pretty picture, and Doug Jones makes a pretty cool fish-man. [Star Rating: 2/4]

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri [AS] – Three Billboards explores the introspective mind of a grieving mother in the deep south, barely able to comprehend the blindsiding tragedies of life, while searching fruitlessly for the meaning of justice and morality. The characters are deeply flawed without exception, but altogether human. With incredible performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, this darkly comic tragedy is a tour-de-force in the politics of grief. Martin McDonagh’s expert direction perfectly complements the beautiful cinematography and heartfelt story. [Star Rating: 4/4]