It Gets Better

After a few weeks of relative disappointment, things take a markedly brighter turn: Almost everything opening today is solid or better. And that’s something, after all, since the world is otherwise a flaming shitpile.

American Animals: Bart Layton follows The Imposter with this utterly watchable hybrid about four college kids who planned a 2004 library heist that was … well, let’s call it fundamentally flawed.

The Cleaners: This superficial look at the Filipino contract workers who scour Facebook and Instagram for objectionable images was the least worthwhile entry in the wave of social-media documentaries at Hot Docs earlier this spring.

Design Canada: Fans of graphic design will be very happy to see that someone has made a documentary about “the Golden Age of Canadian iconography”. Me, I was just surprised to learn there was one.

Hearts Beat Loud: Brett Haley — director of I’ll See You In My Dreams and The Hero — returns with another undemanding character piece. But his low-stakes approach allows Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons to do most of the emotional work while we’re not even looking.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: J.A. Bayona’s take on the dinosaurs-jump-around-and-eat-people franchise is pretty damn great — and ballsy enough to drop a Schindler’s List reference. Plus, Chris Pratt gives one of the great silent-movie performances of the new century.

Octavio Is Dead!: Sook-Yin Lee’s new film casts Sarah Gadon as a young woman trying to understand the father she never knew by sifting through the detritus he left behind. It’s a marked improvement after Year of the Carnivore, and if the script tries to juggle one thread too many, at least it’s ambitious.

Paper Year: Eve Hewson and Avan Jogia are a young Los Angeles couple in Rebecca Addelman’s charming, complex first feature, which takes the familiar theme of a romantic bubble and really thinks about what it’s like for the people on the inside.

Oh, and I also wrote a thing about how the new season of Marvel’s Luke Cage is crippled by the structural flaws lurking inside the current Netflix model for episodic television. All thirteen pointless hours of it.

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