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Reviews for April 19th, 2024


      Little Empty Boxes is a poignant and illuminating documentary about Max Lugavere's determination to help his mother, Kathy, as she battles dementia. He moves to New York City to take care of her and speaks to a variety of experts to try to understand the disease better. Co-directors Chris Newhard and Max Lugavere don't wallow unflinchingly in tragic aspects of dementia; this isn't The Eternal Memory which documents a wife's struggles with her husband who has Alzheimer's. Max looks for practical solutions like changing her diet to try to slow the disease down or to cure it if possible. He cooks salmon for her with kimchi that they buy together at the supermarket. Kimchi has probiotics that can boost the brain's memory and cognitive functions. A healthy diet is always a step in the right direction, especially if it means avoiding pharmaceutical drugs which are often very expensive. Little Empty Boxes doesn't offer concrete solutions, though, but it does highlight a few valuable life lessons: the importance of not giving up hope, and the importance of caring for a loved one. None of it is easy physically, mentally or psychologically. However, it's essential and ultimately rewarding to try your best to help someone who's suffering from a disease that ails millions around the world. Kathy is lucky to have such a loving, compassionate and empathetic son who's a critical thinker. Little Empty Boxes is a potent reminder that there's always hope for some light at the end of a dark tunnel. At a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, it opens at LOOK Dine-In Cinemas W57 via Abramorama.

      Mourning in Lod is a provocative, heartfelt and very timely documentary about three families who are interconnected after an Israeli man shoots and kills Musi, an Arab man, during an Arab demonstration in the Arab-Jewish city of Lod in Israel. An Arab throws a stone that kills Yigal, an Israeli man, during the demonstration as well. Yigal's kidneys were donated to Randa Oweis, a Christian-Palestinian woman. Director Hilla Medalia focuses on the perspectives of Musi's family, Yigal's family and Randa. Each family goes through their own emotional battles which makes Mourning in Lod intimate, unflinching and, at times, emotionally devastating. Yigal and Musi's families cope with grief, anger and frustration while leaving the door open to forgiveness. Randa had been in despair for many years because she couldn't find a kidney donor, but that changed all of a sudden when she receives Yigal's kidney. This isn't an easy documentary to watch nor does it offer easy answers or solutions either. Above all, it shows how families deal with the complex, difficult and emotionally painful aftermath of a tragedy. At a running time of 1 hour and 15 minutes, Mourning in Lod opens at Quad Cinema via MTV Documentary Films.

      Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story is an illuminating, well-edited and engaging documentary biopic about Corky Lee, a Chinese American photographer, community organizer and activist who deserves to be better known. He used his camera to document the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) experience in America and started photographing building code violations before taking a photo of police brutality against a Chinese American man, Peter Yew, in 1975. That photo became one of his most well-known photos and it boosted his career while leading to protests against police brutality. Other photos he's known for include Chinese Americans gathered at Promontory Summit in Utah to commemorate the first Transcontinental railroad. Some of the Chinese Americans invited to the photo shoot were related to the workers who built that railroad. He also documented the hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic. Director Jennifer Takaki doesn't merely show Corky Lee's photos with explanations and context; she includes archival footage of him and provides the audience with a clear understanding of what makes him an integral to the AAPI community and how he used his camera as a tool or weapon to combat against racial injustice. A photograph is a thousand words, after all, and many of Lee's photographs speak for themselves. He's not just a warrior for truth and justice; he's also, fundamentally, a warrior for democracy in a country with a dysfunctional democracy. At a running time of 1 hour and 27 minutes,Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story opens at DCTV's Firehouse Cinema via All is Well Pictures.



Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

      Frank (Dan Stevens), Joey (Melissa Barrera), Peter (Kevin Durand), Sam (Kathryn Newton), Dean (Angus Cloud), and Rickles (William Catlett) kidnap Abigail (Alisha Weir), the 12-year-old daughter of a wealthy man, and hold her hostage at a mansion while waiting to receive a $50 million ransom from her father. Little do they know that Abigail is actually a vampire.

      The screenplay by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick is an unimaginative blend of horror and dark comedy. The characters aren't very bright or interesting except for Joey who has a son and pinky-swears with Abigail that she won't let anyone hurt her. Among all of the kidnappers, Joey seems to be the nicest one. She even removes Abigail's blindfold when she claims it's too tight. A systemic problem with the screenplay, though, is that the audience is often a few steps ahead of the kidnappers. They already know who's responsible for killing one of them long before they realize the truth when Abigail reveals herself to be a vampire. There's a clunky attempt to humanize her by explaining the cause of her desire to kill the kidnappers beyond just her thirst for blood. That scene suffers from on-the-nose dialogue as Abigail explains to them one by one what her motives are which, in turn, ruins any room for interpretation. The filmmakers often treat the audience like they're idiots, i.e. when Sam takes a while to remember how to kill a vampire. When she's asked to find some garlic in the kitchen, don't ask what useless thing she brings instead that doesn't even remotely look like garlic. Some of the dialogue is very stilted while trying too hard to be tongue-in-cheek. The ending won't be spoiled here, but it's worth mentioning that, by then, the film officially runs out of ideas and turns into a silly horror comedy that tries to pile on more than a few twists that are far from surprising or clever.

      If blood and guts are enough to keep you entertained, then Abigail will whet your appetite. After a while, though, the gore, no matter how well-designed the effects look, becomes less and less shocking and just leaves an icky feeling instead. Dan Stevens is hilarious, though, and makes the most out of some of his one-liners. He's clearly having a great time here and almost veers toward campiness like he tries to do in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Do the filmmakers really need to have Abigail screaming at the top of her lungs whenever she lunges with her sharp teeth at someone, though? It's not only tiresome, but also redundant because the image of her attacking her victims alone is scary. Her pointy teeth look very creepy. The music score is also problematic because it's over-used and intrusive while reflecting how little the filmmakers trust the audience's emotions. Why use a loud music score while characters are talking? Moreover, there are pacing issues with some scenes moving too slow at the beginning before the pace picks up and then slows down again before speeding up yet again. The running time also does not justify its length of 1 hour and 49 minutes, so it overstays its welcome, especially during its long third act with at least two false endings. Abigail is gritty, gory and well-produced, but overlong, clunky and tedious while low on surprises, cleverness and imagination

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Universal Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

Blood for Dust

Directed by Rod Blackhurst

      Cliff (Scoot McNairy), a traveling salesman, crosses paths with Ricky (Kit Harington), someone from his dark past. He agrees to join Ricky to help John (Josh Lucas), the kingpin of a local cartel, to smuggle cocaine.

      The screenplay by writer/director Rod Blackhurst and co-writer David Ebeltoft has a premise that sounds like it could be a gripping crime thriller, but it leaves a lot to be desired in its execution. Blood for Dust suffers from a very pedestrian plot that is eventually tedious while offering very few surprises. Ricky lures Cliff into a dangerous situation with the promise of making money to support his family. However, the film doesn't do an effective job of establishing Cliff's relationship with his family. It's too concerned about moving the plot forward rather than stopping to breathe life into any of its characters. Cliff doesn't seem like he's too bright if he thinks that he's not putting himself in danger by being part of a drug cartel. He comes across as naive and impressionable, especially since he already knows how toxic and unreliable Ricky is from their past experiences. There are no surprises to be found in Blood for Dust nor does it take any risks beyond being dark, gritty and brooding. Although it never becomes clunky or convoluted, it's ultimately less than the sum of its parts.

      The performances are decent without anyone managing to enliven the shallow screenplay. Writer/director Rod Blackhurst and co-writer David Ebeltoft squander their opportunities of providing enough room for some chemistry between Cliff, Ricky and John. There's no wit or banter or any kind of rapport that would've made the dialogue more crisp. That said, they don't veer toward Tarantino-esque violence; there's some blood, inevitably, but nothing that's disturbing. The cinematography, though, along with the snowy landscapes are among the film's strengths, though, because they add plenty of atmosphere. It's hard to watch Blood for Dust without thinking of far better-written movies like Fargo that explore the dark side of humanity with more emotional depth. At a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, Blood for Dust is mildly engaging and atmospheric, but often dull, uninspired and ultimately forgettable.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by The Avenue.
Opens in select theaters nationwide.


Directed by Daishi Matsunaga

      Kôsuke (Ryohei Suzuki), a fashion editor, falls in love with Ryuta (Hio Miyazawa), his personal trainer. Ryuta lives with his mother (Sawako Agawa) and lets Kôsuke financially support him after discovering that he secretly works as an escort, but soon a tragedy occurs.

      Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Makoto Takayama, the screenplay by writer/director Daishi Matsunaga and co-writer Kyôko Inukai is a genuinely heartfelt blend of romance and drama. Kôsuke and Ryuta are very different in terms of their personality and background; Kôsuke has found financial success in the fashion industry and lost his mother years ago while Ryuta is younger and struggles to make ends meet. A lot goes unspoken throughout Egoist until the last 30 minutes. Kôsuke meets Ryuta's mother, but it's not clear right away whether or not she knows that he and Ryuta are lovers. When he learns that Ryuta works as an escort, instead of ending their relationship, he gives him money to help him get back on his feet and quit the escore service. Kôsuke, in turn, gets to spend time with Ryuta's mother who becomes like a surrogate mother. Essentially, his relationship with Ryuta becomes co-dependent. It's not a perfect relationship, but they do love each other. Egoist doesn't shy away from their more intimate moments when they have sex, so it captures physical and emotional connections unflinchingly. That makes the scenes after the tragedy profoundly moving. Fortunately, the filmmakers avoid schmaltz, melodrama and heavy-handedness. Even the tragedy itself, which won't be spoiled here, is handled in a way that's gente and understated. They do an effective job of bringing Kôsuke, Ryuta and his mother to life, warts and all. Ryuta's mother has a powerful scene with Kôsuke toward the end that's almost as powerful as the father's monologue at the end of Call Me By Your Name.

      Ryohei Suzuki, Hio Miyazawa and Sawako Agawa give natural and tender performances. Most importantly, Ryohei Suzuki and Hio Miyazawa have palpable chemistry, so the beats land when they're together and during the heartbreaking third act. Director Daishi Matsunaga moves the film along at a leisurely pace and trusts the audience's patience while also knowing when to trust their imagination. In other words, there are no issues with clunky exposition or over-explaining. He opts for understatement rather than overstatement, so he trusts the audience's emotions as well. That's a sign of a great filmmaker. At a running time of just under 2 hours, Egoist is an engrossing, tender and heartbreaking love story.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Strand Releasing.
Opens at IFC Center.

Hard Miles

Directed by R.J. Daniel Hanna

      Greg Townsend (Matthew Modine), a social worker at Ridge View Academy Ridge, correctional facility for troubled youths, assembles a team of cyclists for a 1,000-mile bike ride.

      Writer/director R.J. Daniel Hanna and his co-writer Christian Sander have made a heartwarming and inspirational sports drama. Greg Townsend knows how to push the youths to their limits while providing them with valuable lessons that make them better people. Before his cyclist team embarks on the 1,000-mile journey, teaches them mechanical engineering skills like welding to build bicycles. . Although the screenplay follows a conventional formula without any surprises or taking any narrative risks, it follows that formula effectively enough to captivate the audience. The bike ride is exhilarating and suspenseful at times. Other times, there are some moments of comic relief, i.e when one of the cyclists doesn't know how to read a physical map and thinks that it tells how much traffic can be found on a certain road. Greg comes across as a great teacher, guide, mentor and, in a way, a father figure to some of the youths who lack one. He's a wonderful role model for them and also knows how to talk to them with compassion and empathy. Hard Miles wisely avoids preachiness, tonal unevenness, heavy-handedness, schmaltz and lethargy. There are no villains nor does there need to be. Most importantly, though, it doesn't try too hard to please the audience, and it ultimately earns its uplift while keeping the plot lean, focused and grounded in humanism, a truly special effect.

      Matthew Modine gives a charismatic and heartfelt performance as Greg Townsend. The team that Greg coaches include Smink (Jackson Kelly), Rice (Zack T. Robbins), Atencia (Damien Diaz), and Woolbright (Jahking Guillory). Each of the young actors who play the cyclists gives a solid performance while making the most out of their roles. The bond between the cyclists feels real as they time together on the bike ride. The cinematography and editing add some style and help to make the film more cinematic. Moreover, the pace moves at just the right speed without any scenes that overstay their welcome. At a running time of 1 hour and 48 minutes, Hard Miles is an exhilarating, inspirational and uplifting journey.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Blue Fox Entertainment.
Opens nationwide.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Directed by Guy Ritchie

      Gus (Henry Cavill), (Alan Ritchson), Freddy (Henry Goulding), Appleyard (Alex Pettyfer), Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), Heron (Babs Olusanmokum), and Marjorie (Eiza Gonzalez) embark on a mission during WII to sink two Nazi supply ships. Marjorie tries to seduce  Heinrich (Til Schweiger), a Nazi officer.

      The screenplay by writer/director Guy Ritchie and his co-writers, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Arash Amel is based on a true story, but very little of it actually rings true. The film's systemic issue is that it struggles to find the right tone as it mixes action, suspense, intrigue and comedy with tonally uneven results. There are shades of Inglourious Basterds and James Bond movies. The anti-Nazi crew report to their supperiors, M (Cary Elwes) and Ian Fleming (Freddie Fox), who are stationed in England and must succeed in their mission or else Churchill (Rory Kinnear) will have to step down from office. The plot takes a while to get going with all of its exposition and the introductions of new characters. Once Heinrich shows up and Marjorie uses her powers of seduction to distract him with the help of Heron, the film picks up a little steam. However, it soon becomes tedious and somewhat lethargic with an ending that can be easily predicted even if you're unfamiliar with the true story. There are no surprises here nor are there any laugh-out-loud scenes. The dialogue is bland and witless with a few attempts at humor that fall flat. Case-in-point: when Marjorie first meets Heinrich tells him that she's Jewish, he laughs and thinks that she's joking, so she plays along and laughs too. It's a scene that lasts too long and isn't very funny or even amusing. The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare doesn't generate enough suspense and only offer sporadic thrills during the action sequences.

     The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare has a fine ensemble cast, but they're not given much to do beyond being plot devices. You'll forget that these characters are based on true-life people, especially Marjorie who's only task is to be sexy and seductive. She seems to fool Heinrich too easily that she's not a Jew out for revenge which makes him seem like an idiot until the plot requires him to finally come to his senses, but by then it's too late. Also, the prosthetics that turn Rory Kinnear into Churchill don't look very convincing; it looks like he's wearing a costume and doing a pale imitation of Churchill, accent and all. Guy Ritchie doesn't hold back on the violence with some bloody scenes, but nothing too shocking or disgusting. The film overstays its welcome, though, at a running time of 2 hours. It's ultimately a bland, witless, shallow and exhausting action thriller that fails to deliver enough thrills and suspense.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Lionsgate.
Opens nationwide.

Spy x Family Code: White

Directed by Takashi Katagiri

      Unbeknownst to his wife, Loid (voice of Takuya Eguchi) is a spy. Unbeknownst to Loid, Yor (voice of Saori Hayami), his wife, is an assassin. They're unaware that their daughter, Anya (voice of Atsumi Tanezaki), happens to be telepathic. Anya studies at the Eden Academy where she must prepare a dish for a cooking competition that will impress the school's director. Loid hopes to join Operation: Strix instead of being replaced by another spy. He uses his skills as a spy to find out the director's favorite dish and helps her to recreate it by going on a family vacation to a restaurant that serves the dessert. On the train ride, Anya gets into trouble when she accidentally eats a small chocolate with a tiny microfilm inside it that a criminal wants to retrieve.

      Spy x Family Code: White is like a family-friendly anime version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The screenplay by Ichirô Ôkouchi spends the first ten minutes or so setting up the exposition and introducing the characters for audiences who aren't familiar with the anime series. If you've never watched the series, don't worry because you'll still be able to follow the plot. This isn't Tinker. Tailor. Soldier. Spy.. Of course, there's a MacGuffin: the microfilm.  What's on it? Why does the villain need it desperately? The film is less concerned about answering those questions and more focused on Anya's adventures as she tries to avoid getting captured. Not surprisingly, her mother and father will come to the rescue to save her if needed. They have the skills, after all. In a subplot that's less interesting, Yor suspects that Loid is cheating on her when she witnesses him interacting with another woman. Fortunately, Spy x Family Code: White doesn't spend too much time with that subplot. In an amusing turn of events, Loid helps Anya to find the ingredients needed to make the special dessert for her cooking competition. Some of the ingredients are harder to find than others. A lot happens within the plot, but at no point does it feel too convoluted or tonally uneven. There are even some surprisingly funny, zany and surreal scenes, i.e. when Anya meets the God of Poop. So, kudos to director Takashi Katagiri and screenwriter Ichirô Ôkouchi for allowing the film to be exciting and fun while also at least somewhat grounded in realism without going too far in either direction.

      The 2D animation is bright, colorful, dazzling and warm. The character designs are very expressive with great attention to detail and facial expressions which helps to humanize the characters more. The aforementioned surreal scene happens to be among the most well-animated and memorable scenes in the film. It's worth mentioning that the animation style serves the story well without being overwhelming. Also, the pace moves briskly enough and slows down during the right moments unlike some anime films that are too fast-paced and nauseating. Spy x Family Code: White doesn't bombard the audience with action, either. At a running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, it's an exhilarating and captivating adventure with just the right balance of action, thrills, humor and heart. It'd be an interesting double feature with Chicken for Linda!

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Crunchroll.
Opens nationwide.

Stress Positions

Directed by Theda Hammel

      Terry (John Early) is stuck in quarantine inside the brownstone of his ex-husband in Brooklyn. 19-year-old Bahlul (Qaher Harhash), his nephew from Morocco who works as a model, stays at the apartment to rest after getting injured from an accident on his scooter. Karla (Theda Hammel), Terry's friend, arrives and tries to befriend Bahlul. He competes for his attention with others who are infatuated with Bahlul.

      Set during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the screenplay by writer/director Theda Hammel is a meandering, undercooked and unfunny slice-of-life. There are only two villains: COVID-19 and some guy who steals a delivery boy's e-bike. Most of the characters, except for the Grubhub delivery boy, are consistently unpleasant and annoying, so it's hard to connect to any of them. There are also too many characters, none of them particularly interesting or well-written. Jokes, like a debate about whether or not Morocco is in the Middle East, get repeated, but they weren't very funny the first time around. Terry flirts with the delivery boy as does Karla. Nothing interesting happens from that subplot or any of the other subplots either like when Terry slips on raw chicken in his kitchen while cooking and injures his leg therefore requiring him to walk on crutches. Is that an attempt at slapstick humor? If so, it doesn't work. The film coasts along without much dramatic momentum or any kind of momentum. It feels messy, like life, but also very lethargic and pointless. The dialogue sorely lacks witty and funny lines, although there are a few scenes with offbeat humor. Unfortunately, Stress Positions has very little to say about relationships, friendship, love, adversity or anything that would've given it some substance.

      The performances by the ensemble cast are decent, but they're all undermined by the vapid and lazy screenplay that fails to bring any of the characters to life. There's nothing exceptional about the cinematography, the set design or even the setting in NYC. Only a few scenes take place outside of the brownstone, but even those scenes don't help to make the film feel more cinematic. Perhaps it would work a little better as a play; as a film, it falls flat on its feet. Moreover, the editing is choppy at times with clunky transitions between scenes. At a running time of 1 hour and 35 minutes, which feels more like 2 hours, Stress Positions is a meandering, vapid, unfunny, witless and undercooked bore.

Number of times I checked my watch: 4
Released by NEON.
Opens at IFC Center.

The Three Musketeers: Part II - Milady

Directed by Martin Bourboulon

     D’Artagnan (François Civil), Athos (Vincent Cassel), Porthos (Pio Marmaï) and Aramis (Romain Duris) join forces with Milady (Eva Green) to save Constance Bonacieux (Lyna Khoudri), D’Artagnan's love interest who's been kidnapped.

      Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the screenplay by Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Patellière suffers from very dull and pedestrian execution with too many characters and underdeveloped subplots. The first few minutes provide a recap of events from Part I which is already a sign of lazy exposition and not trusting the audience's memory. Before you know it, Constance has been kidnapped and D’Artagnan, who's in love with her, desperately tries to rescue her. Meanwhile, there's a war in France that's intended to remove King Louis XIII (Louis Garrel) from power. Milady happens to be among those who fight in the war. She also helps D’Artagnan on his quest to save Constance. The bond between D’Artagnan and Constance before her kidnapping isn't established, so the audience isn't quite on the same page as D’Artagnan when he yearns to reunite with her. Milady begins as an enigmatic character with little to no backstory and ends as one, too. This isn't the kind of action adventure/thriller that cares about developing its characters or fleshing out their relationships with others in ways that would ground the film. The action scenes are somewhat exciting, but don't turn the film into a rousing or exhilarating experience.  

      Eva Green is The Three Musketeers: Part II - Milady's MVP. She's charismatic, alluring and brings a mystique to her role as Milady. Among the entire ensemble cast, which also includes Vicky Krieps, who's wasted here, Green manages to rise above the bland screenplay. Unfortunately, the actors who play the musketeers don't really have much chemistry. The costume design and set designs are outstanding, though, and at least provide the film with visual style on a superficial level. However, there are pacing issues with too many scenes moving too quickly. The rushed third act feels anticlimactic with a cliffhanger that's frustrating and unsatisfying.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Opens in select theaters and on VOD.

We Grown Now

Directed by Minhal Baig

      12-year-old Malik (Blake Cameron James) lives with his mother, Dolores (Jurnee Smollett), and grandmother, Anita (S. Epatha Merkensen), in a Chicago housing project. When Dolores accepts a higher paying job that would require her and her family to move, Malik has a tough time coping with the change and telling his best friend, Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez), who lives with his father, Jason (Lil Rel Howery), at the same housing project.

      Writer/director Minhal Baig has woven a tender, honest and engrossing coming-of-age film. Set in 1992, the plot remains focused on the friendship between Malik and Eric as well as Dolores' struggles to make ends meet to give her family a better life. She's trying her best, but it's not easy for her to raise her son while also taking care of her mother. There's a lot on her plate. We Grown Now effectively establishes Malik and Eric's friendship from the get-go and it feels organic thanks to the dialogue that avoids stiltedness. Baig has a very good ear for dialogue that sounds natural. The film unfolds in an understated way with tension coming from the characters' inner struggles. There are some shades of Ken Loach's socio-realism, although it's not as unflinching.

      Hitchock once observed that some movies are like a slice-of-cake while others are like a slice-of-life. We Grown Now is a slice-of-life with a little bit of cake. It's sweet without being saccharine and grounded in realism without being emotionally devastating or wallowing in its characters' suffering. Dolores goes through setbacks and has moments of despair and sadness as does Malik as well, but there's some hope for them in the horizon. It helps to understand that back in 1992, children didn't have social media or even cell phones to keep in touch, so moving away was tougher. When children interacted, like Malik and Eric do, it was outdoors having fun while playing games, shooting hoops or anything that doesn't involve computers. In the film's most delightful scenes, Malik and Eric cut school to go on a brief excursion and spend time at a museum. When Malik comes home late, he tells his mom the truth about where he was, and justifiably worried about him. She expresses her anger and frustrations at him for putting himself in danger, but you can sense that it comes from a place of love, compassion and empathy. So, she's a great mother and a terrific role model. Eric's father, Jason, also has a well-written and moving scene where he gives sound advice to Eric when he learns that Eric is sad about a rift between him and Malik and doesn't know what to do. Jason guides him in a way that shows his wisdom, empathy and emotional maturity. The ending, which won't be spoiled here, hit all the right notes without being heavy-handed, contrived or maudlin.

      Newcomers Blake Cameron James and Gian Knight Ramirez give breakthrough performances as Malik and Eric. The performances from the entire ensemble cast, especially Jurnee Smollett, feel natural with just the right amount of nuance. Writer/director Minhal Baig includes exquisite, mesmerizing cinematography that creates visual poetry at times while making the film more cinematic and even generating some palpable warmth. It's rare to see a drama that looks like such a work of art on the big screen. Everything from the lighting to the camera angles add both style and substance. There's also some interesting use of symbolism, i.e. a spider that Malik traps at home without killing it; instead, he frees it which says a lot about him while keeping it open to interpretation. At a running time of 93 minutes, We Grown Now is a triumph. It's a warm, captivating, poetic and genuinely heartfelt emotional journey well worth taking. 

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Opens at Film Forum.