Justin Chang

Justin Chang is a film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Fresh Air, and a regular contributor to KPCC's FilmWeek. He previously served as chief film critic and editor of film reviews for Variety.

Chang is the author of FilmCraft: Editing, a book of interviews with seventeen top film editors. He serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics and secretary of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

I'm reluctant to explain why Eliza Hittman's new movie is called Never Rarely Sometimes Always. It's a mouthful, to be sure; few people I talked to at this year's Sundance Film Festival could remember it correctly. But then we saw the movie — and after that, a lot of us knew the title would stay with us forever.

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The latest adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma is as handsome, clever and rich as its famous heroine — and I mean "rich" in the caloric sense, as well. I wanted to snack on every pastel-hued surface of Kave Quinn's production design, which suggests nothing less than a frosted cupcake come to life — a feast of lace bonnets and high collars, gilded frames and glass chandeliers.

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Last night at the Academy Awards, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho won fistfuls of Academy Awards for his movie "Parasite."

(SOUNDBITE OF 92ND ACADEMY AWARDS TELECAST)

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I emerged from an early screening of The Assistant a few weeks ago to the news that a jury had been selected in Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault and rape trial.

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This is FRESH AIR. After winning the Golden Globes for best motion picture, drama and best director, the new war movie "1917" opened wide this past weekend to a strong box office, and on Monday, it received 10 Oscar nominations. Set over two days during World War I, the movie follows two English soldiers trying to stop an impending attack and save the lives of their comrades. Film critic Justin Chang has this review.

Over the past few weeks I've had people ask me about the new Little Women with equal parts excitement and nervousness: Was it any good? After so many earlier screen adaptations of Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel — from the 1933 Katharine Hepburn film to Gillian Armstrong's 1994 version — did we really need another go-round with the March sisters?

For the past few years I've gotten in the habit of not only ranking my year-end favorites, but pairing them together thematically. I saw no reason to quit the habit this year, given how many great movies I saw in 2019 and how many of them seemed to be in conversation with each other.

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The emotionally turbulent drama Waves revolves around an African American family living in South Florida, and I mean "revolves" quite literally. In an early scene, the camera swivels a full 360 degrees around the inside of a car, as a teenager named Tyler Williams and his girlfriend, Alexis, drive along the oceanfront.

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Martin Scorsese has made so many terrific crime pictures that you would be forgiven for doubting whether he had another one in him. The great surprise of his haunting and elegiac new movie, The Irishman, is that it doesn't play like a retread so much as a reckoning.

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I was fortunate enough to go into Parasite knowing almost nothing about it. Bong Joon-ho's brilliant new movie packs the kinds of stunning, multi-layered surprises that deserve to be experienced as fresh as possible. I'll tread as cautiously as I can, but suffice to say that Parasite is a darkly comic thriller about two families: the Parks, who are very rich, and the Kims, who are very poor.

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Academy Awards voters can rarely resist a celebrity impersonation, judging by some of the star turns that have won Oscars in recent years. These aren't just performances; they're jaw-dropping feats of mimicry. Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill! Rami Malek is Freddie Mercury!

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This is FRESH AIR. The science fiction drama "Ad Astra" stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut who sets out on a dangerous voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system. It's the latest picture from writer-director James Gray, whose earlier movies include "We Own The Night," "Two Lovers" and "The Lost City Of Z." Our film critic Justin Chang says "Ad Astra" is a space odyssey that sometimes stumbles but ultimately soars.

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In the terrifically smart and genuinely inspiring comedy Brittany Runs a Marathon, Jillian Bell stars as Brittany, a 27-year-old New Yorker who decides to turn her life around. When we first meet Brittany, she has a dead-end job at a small theater and spends most of her nights out drinking and partying with friends. She gets in shape, takes up long-distance running and decides to give the New York City Marathon a try.

The writer-director Richard Linklater has said that he cast Cate Blanchett in his new comedy, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, because, in his words, "only a genius can portray a genius believably."

The title character in the coolly engrossing new movie Luce is a high school student who seems exemplary from every angle. Played in a remarkable performance by Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce Edgar is handsome and popular, an academic and athletic star who gives inspiring speeches at school assemblies.

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This is FRESH AIR. Quentin Tarantino's new movie "Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood" is set in and around the film and TV industry in Los Angeles in 1969, the same year the city was jolted by the Charles Manson murders. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star as a TV actor and his stunt double, leading a cast that includes Margot Robbie, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning and Al Pacino. Film critic Justin Chang has this review.

The best scene in Disney's incredibly photo-realistic remake of The Lion King features a computer-generated beetle rolling a ball of computer-generated dung across a computer-generated African landscape. It might sound mundane, but this particular ball of dung is carrying a tuft of fur from the runaway lion Simba, and its eventual discovery will renew hope that the rightful king of the savanna is alive and well. It's a funny, touching reminder that in the circle of life, every little creature and every lump of waste has an important role to play.

The Farewell opens with five cheeky words: "based on an actual lie." This funny, melancholy ensemble drama was inspired by an experience that the writer-director Lulu Wang and her family went through years ago, when they were told that Wang's grandmother was terminally ill. They decided to keep her in the dark about her diagnosis, hoping to spare her unnecessary fear and anxiety — an extreme decision, perhaps, but one that the movie suggests is hardly unheard of among Chinese families.

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