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Amazon Prime

This funny and charming movie is about a Palestinian slacker named Salam who works on a famous Israeli soap opera. Each day, he has to pass a tough Israeli checkpoint to get to work and in an attempt to make things easier for himself, he agrees to change the ending of the soap opera to please the officer in charge of the checkpoint. At the same time, a temperamental French actress and his Palestinian love interest wish for opposite endings to the show. Stuck between love and politics, Salam has to navigate a complex situation to please all sides. There are a lot of hummus jokes.

7.0

This story of a filmmaker who stayed in Aleppo, Syria during the war, got married then had a child called Sama, is a mix of difficult and inspiring.There are stories of unsurmountable loss, as the filmmaker’s husband is one of the 30 remaining doctors in Aleppo (a city of almost 5 million), and she films many of the victims that come to his hospital. But while this is happening, there are also uplifting stories of resilience and rare but profound moments of laughter and joy.We’re growing too sensitized to violence in Syria, and this movie, possibly the most intimate account of the war, can stir back a much-needed awareness of the injustices that take place.When things get really bad in the documentary, it’s hard not to wonder where the humanity is in all of this. You quickly realize that it’s right there, behind the camera, in Sama and her mother’s will to live.

8.6
Best Film

An incredible documentary about Matt Green, a man who decided to walk every street in New York City. That’s more than 8000 miles (more than the diameter of Earth) that he had been walking for six years up to the point of making this movie.  Matt stops. And that’s the beauty of this documentary, where the filmmaker joins him for part of the journey. You quickly realize that the intrigue is not so much about Matt’s challenge, but about who he meets and what kind of experiences he goes through. You also realize (if you didn’t already) that New York is a place of unimaginable size, with incredibly lively and diverse human stories. Plus lots of other forms of life too: Matt doesn’t have a fixed place, so he cat-sits for shelter.Fun fact: this is the first movie that actor Jesse Eisenberg ever produced!

7.8

You may have heard about this 2019 critic-favorite from clips like this one of a kid running to flee the movie theater during a screening. “little billy ran the f**k out the door”, the caption reads.You will want to do the same. Recovering from losing her sister and her parents in a single incident, a young girl goes on a trip to Sweden to observe a ritual within a bizarre commune that occurs every 90 years. This cult’s idea of death and their traditions intersect with the girl’s grief to create unthinkable monstrosities.Note: while some readers praise the movie for its depiction of anxiety, I highly recommend against watching Midsommar if you suffer from panic attacks.

7.8

Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie (House) star in this espionage drama based on a John le Carré novel.A quick mini-series that spans six episodes, it’s about a former soldier (Tom Hiddleston) who, while working as a night manager for a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, ends up getting hold of very sensitive information. He is then recruited by an intelligence officer (Olivia Colman) to bring down a corrupt businessman (Hugh Laurie.)A highly-acclaimed TV show not to be missed by lovers of spy stories, John Le Carré films (A Most Wanted Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), or just anyone who appreciates excellent acting.

8.0

Like a Wes Anderson movie, The Last Black Man in San Francisco takes artistic risks and nails every one of them. There are many quirky, aesthetically well-studied, and even funny aspects to this moving story.Jimmie has been maintaining a typical San Francisco Victorian house, regularly painting the windows and watering the plants. One small problem: other people live there and they don’t want him around. It turns out this was once Jimmie’s family house, having been built by his grandfather in 1948, and he misses it deeply.This story is based on writer Jimmie Fails’ life, as he tried to reclaim his family home in SF. However, it’s not a movie that limits itself to gentrification. It transcends that to being about the universal yearning to find a place to call home.

7.6

Adam Driver, Annette Bening, and Jon Hamm are among the many recognizable faces of this star-packed political drama.Driver, pictured above in his ‘I’m goofy but I will save the world’ signature stare 😍, plays Daniel J. Jones, an investigator working with the Senate. He is assigned to write a report (“the” report) about the CIA torture program post 9/11.If you so much as liked Vice, the hit movie from earlier this year, you will love The Report. It covers similar grounds: incompetency, unclear intentions, confusion, etc; but in a way that is more to-the-point (which might make it feel dry to some). It also helps in understanding or getting a refresher on, how the Senate works and how organizations like the CIA interact with (bully) other branches of government. I would almost go as far as to say that if you are a U.S. citizen, watching this movie, with its many goofy Adam Driver moments, is your civic duty.

8.0

This is one of those reviews where it’s probably enough to say: watch the pilot. There is no better proof of how good Modern Love is than its first episode.The show is based on true stories that were shared in The New York Times column by the same name. That first episode is about the relationship between a doorman and a New Yorker. But, plot twist, Modern Love isn’t just about romantic relationships. It’s also about friendships, family links, and all displays of love and affection.The second episode is with Dev Patel and Catherine Keener, which I found to be also excellent. There are other ones with Tina Fey, Anne Hathaway, and many other big names, but the first two episodes are still my favorites.The power of Modern Love is in the riveting true stories it tells. It might as well have been called “you can’t make this stuff up.”

8.5

This is a slow but well-made movie about a Jehovah’s Witness family, directed by a former member of the organization.The family is made of Alex, her mother, and her older sister. Alex follows her mother and her religious teachings with the utmost loyalty, especially as she refuses a blood transfusion that is crucial to her health. Her older sister starts showing signs of independence by lying to her friends about her family’s faith and dating a Muslim man.Apostasy is about family bonds versus belief bonds. It’s not a movie that judges or preaches, rather it simply portrays the complex situations that structured religion creates.

7.1

This is a really weird movie starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. They play a wholesome and well-off couple where Farrell is a heart surgeon. The movie starts with him taking care of a teenager called Martin, who's not related to him or seems to have any real connection with him. It later turns out that Martin shares a special bond with the surgeon, a bond that will threaten his family in unexpected ways. The camera work and direction by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Favourite) offset the weirdness to offer an intriguing experience.

7.3

This is a gorgeous French-Canadian movie with out-of-this-world sound work.Laurence is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Fred. On his birthday, he announces to her that he wants to restart his life as a woman, having always hated his male body. Fred doesn't know how to take the news: “everything I love about you is everything you hate about yourself”.Laurence Anyways is about how their romance continues after this revelation. There are so many reasons to watch this movie: the story, the acting, the cinematography; but trust me, the soundtrack alone is reason enough.

8.4
Best Film

This TV show is an award-sweeper in Australia where it’s from but remains little-known elsewhere. Suburban families live in a fragile but quiet environment - marital affairs are rampant but hidden, custody battles that were once fierce have quieted down, etc. However, when the black sheep of the community returns after a ten-year absence, everything comes back to the surface - starting with the discovery of a dead body. Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) is excellent here, and he’s supported by an amazing cast. Tangle is like a toned-down Big Little Lies, or a more cynical Parenthood.

7.2