Movie Diary 11/29/2021

West Side Story (Steven Spielberg, 2021). I plan to review this one. It has some ecstatic moments, which have little to do with Spielberg’s reputation as a Born Entertainer and everything to do with Spielberg’s genius for how movies live. There are also puzzling stumbles. The casting is sharp, with one mystifying, stupefying exception. (full review 11/10)

A Hero (Asghar Farhadi, 2021). A typical Farhadi ball of knots, about a man, stuck in a Dickensian debtor’s prison, whose potential way out is loaded with white lies. “You’re either very smart or very simple,” someone says to him, and yes, that ambiguity keeps the movie going. A Capra picture with a fascinating (fascinating in part because of its everyday-ness) modern-Iran backdrop.