Justin Chang

The Toy Story movies are about the secret lives of dolls and action figures that find their deepest fulfillment in a child's embrace. But they're really about what it means to be human: the joys of love and friendship and the pains of rejection and loss. But even more than the earlier films, Toy Story 4 feels haunted by the idea of impermanence. What happens when we outgrow something we once cherished? To put it another way: After three Toy Story movies, do we really need a fourth?

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This is FRESH AIR. The new movie "Non-Fiction" is an ensemble comedy about two bickering couples who work in and around the Parisian literary community. It was made by the French writer-director Olivier Assayas and stars Juliette Binoche. They previously worked together on the films "Summer Hours" and "Clouds Of Sils Maria." Film critic Justin Chang has a review of "Non-Fiction."

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This is FRESH AIR. As you might've heard, this week marks the release of "Avengers: Endgame," which ties up the threads of the previous 21 films in this Marvel series. Like last year's "Avengers: Infinity War," this one was directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo and reunites a cast of actors led by Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson. Film critic Justin Chang has this review.

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High Life is like no outer space movie you've ever seen, even if you recognize some of its artistic influences.

A bare description of the plot — about a doomed crew of astronauts traveling millions of miles from Earth — might suggest Ridley Scott's Alien and its countless gory imitators. The spaceship has a lush greenhouse that seems inspired by Douglas Trumbull's eco-parable Silent Running, while the mood of existential gloom feels straight out of Andrei Tarkovsky's science-fiction landmarks Solaris and Stalker.

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Eight years ago, the British comedian Joe Cornish wrote and directed Attack the Block, a sci-fi horror-comedy about a bunch of rowdy South London teenagers warding off aliens from outer space. It was funny, scary and also touchingly sincere in its belief that children are the future, that the fate of the world really does rest on our young people's shoulders.

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So many of my favorite films this year seemed to be in close conversation with each other that it didn't make sense, in the end, for me to separate them. So I didn't. Here are my 12 favorite movies of 2018, listed as a series of themed pairings. You can read my full write-ups of these pairings here, or find a simple list below:

I can't imagine a harder act for a filmmaker to follow than Moonlight. That movie, a quietly shattering portrait of a young black man wrestling with his sexuality, held you rapt with its intimacy; it left you feeling as if you'd stared deep into that young man's soul.

Nearly every review I've read of Alfonso Cuarón's Roma has insisted that you must see it on the big screen, and it's hard not to agree. You can certainly watch and appreciate this immaculately photographed movie when it hits your Netflix queue, but it's hard to imagine its immersive storytelling and virtuoso camerawork having quite the same effect.

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Joel and Ethan Coen have an erratic body of work but a remarkably consistent worldview. So it's no surprise that their six-part Western anthology, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, feels like both an entirely coherent vision and something of a mixed bag.

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The ingeniously high-concept whodunit Searching isn't the first movie to turn the big screen into a computer screen, to make you feel as if you're eavesdropping on online conversations and surfing the Internet alongside its characters. You might have seen the 2014 horror movie Unfriended, where a group chat suddenly turns deadly — basically the Skype version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

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