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Family Feud

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Animal (2023)

Even by Bollywood standards, “Animal” is bonkers. Just as an example, our hero Vijay (“Superstar” Ranbir Kapoor) and Geetanjali (Rashmika Mandanna), whom he had just smooth-talked into breaking off with her fiancé at their outdoor engagement celebration after luring her inside with a rendition of their old school anthem, both exit the cockpit of Vijay’s airborne private jet, leaving the plane on autopilot while they repair to the cabin for some sexy time. As they rouse themselves following the afterglow, the jet nearly crashes into a mountaintop. But that’s not all.

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Apocalypse Now


The End We Start From (2023)

“The End We Start From,” which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a postapocalyptic thriller that begins as catastrophic weather and flooding ravage London and force people to evacuate. Although nature has emerged as a credible villain these days amid growing concerns of global warming, what the story, adapted from Megan Hunter’s novel, does with the premise isn’t exactly unique. In more ways than one, the film comes off like “A Quiet Place Part II” without the scary creatures.

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Brian Roedel/Netflix

Hit Man (2024)

In all my years of moviegoing I have never seen anything like “Hit Man.” I remember the choked surprise echoing around the cinema on sight of Catherine Zeta-Jones’s arse in “Entrapment.” Once a douche-bro military guy reduced himself to tears describing Emily Watson in “Breaking the Waves” to me. I’ve seen people hump publicity photos torn from magazines or write love notes to themselves from an actor to hang on their walls. The only other time I’ve experienced a cinema audience clapping a movie scene was for Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls,” but even that was nothing like this. Within “Hit Man” there’s a sequence where Glen Powell is so hot that the audience spontaneously burst into applause. We actually clapped because of how sexually attractive this man is. And we clapped after a scene – keeping in mind Mr. Powell cowrote and coproduced “Hit Man” with director Richard Linklater – in which two of his colleagues (Sanjay Rao and Retta) discussed how badly they want to fuck him. And – I cannot believe I am saying this because of how inappropriate it makes this review sound, but I also cannot tell a lie – even that fails to convey just how unbelievably attractive Mr. Powell is in this movie.

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Hayao's Moving Castle

The Boy and the Heron (2023)

© 2023 Studio Ghibli

It would seem that, toward the end of their careers, Martin Scorsese (whose films are about greed and jealousy) and Hayao Miyazaki (whose films are about how to grow up) have swapped places. “The Boy and the Heron” is a depressing, out-of-place addition to a filmic legacy built around the importance of maturity to cope with life’s unpredictability. Since “Spirited Away” won the animation Oscar in 2001, Mr. Miyazaki’s movies have been widely anticipated around the world, including at the London Film Festival, while firmly maintaining their fiercely Japanese cultural aesthetic. However, it is inevitable that someone whose work is for children will end up repeating themselves, mostly because the core audience won’t notice. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but “The Boy and the Heron’s” message is one of self-regard instead of self-belief, which curdles the entire plot into a sour mess.

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Life Lessons

Seacia Pavao/Focus Features

The Holdovers (2023)

On paper, “The Holdovers” appears to be right in Alexander Payne’s wheelhouse: much like his 1999 classic, “Election,” the story takes place in a school and centers on a teacher – another curmudgeon played by Paul Giamatti, just like in Mr. Payne’s 2004 Oscar-nominated “Sideways.”

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Moving Target


The Killer (2023)

The through line of David Fincher’s work is contempt. His characters display their contempt for the world around them through elaborately staged revenge plots of various kinds, usually murder. “Gone Girl” was an outlier in his oeuvre in that it was a woman expressing her contempt for her husband, her family and society at large. But with “The Killer” Mr. Fincher is back on home territory with this story of an assassin (Michael Fassbender) who is better than the world and everything in it. Except, of course, this is not true, but Mr. Fincher and his movie only understand one of the reasons why.

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Swim Against the Current

Liz Parkinson/Netflix

Nyad (2023)

“Nyad” is a movie about the body that has almost nothing to do with sex, so of course it’s about lesbians of a certain age; but the lesbianism at the core of this story is both utterly essential and completely irrelevant. Diana Nyad’s (Annette Bening) sexuality is very much a part of her, but it comes second to her frankly irritating self-belief; and she doesn’t worry about that because she has delegated her interpersonal skills to her best friend, Bonnie Stoll (Jodie Foster). The closeness of Bonnie and Diana is beyond sex, and almost beyond friendship, in that it’s two people who love and need each other without their bodies coming into it. But Diana’s body is at the core of the story – will she, a woman now in her 60s, be able to complete a 105-mile swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys without dying? – and the way in which the movie asks these questions without being weird about the body at its core is remarkable.

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Blood and Oil

Apple TV+

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

What Martin Scorsese has done here is nothing less than subvert his entire career. For with “Killers of the Flower Moon,” he has made a movie about the same people he has almost always made movies about – immigrants scrabbling to make a living in an unforgiving nation – but for the first time, he is not on their side. For the immigrants in this film are the white people, guests of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, the richest people per capita on earth thanks to oil on their tribal lands. These immigrants are there to get their hands on that wealth by any means necessary; and their methods are horrible, all the more so for this story being broadly true.

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The Firewall

Robert Viglasky/Netflix

Heart of Stone (2023)

Finally, movies are getting back to what they are supposed to be good at: putting pretty people into mild peril in visually interesting places. Who wouldn’t fly direct from the Senegalese desert to downtown Reykjavik if they could? “Heart of Stone” is a supremely silly action movie that does a fine job of passing the time. And that’s cinema.

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Family Swap

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Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani (2023)

Watching this gleeful, pointed Hindi rom-com makes it clear what’s been missing from most Hollywood movies lately: a sense of fun. It is abundantly clear that every single actor in this movie, even the villains, are having an absolute whale of a time. The characters even laugh! And it’s the kind of laughter that comes from enjoying yourself while doing good work that you know will be appreciated. This feeling of play goes a very long way to help the movie’s surprisingly radical medicine go down: equal rights for women are essential for a relationship to be a truly happy one.

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