James Gray (‘The Lost City of Z’, ‘Ad Astra’) has made his most autobiographical and pointedly political film yet with this beautifully observed and marvellously acted look back to 1980s-era Queens, N.Y., where he grew up. The story focuses on the Graff family and, more specifically, the political awakening of grade-sixer Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), the director’s stand-in, whose friendship with Johnnie (Jaylin Webb), the only African American boy in his class, opens his eyes to the harsh realities and terrible inequalities that he has been sheltered from. The supporting cast is a dream: Anthony Hopkins is Paul’s wise grandfather, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine; Anne Hathaway is Paul’s mom and Jeremy Strong is his dad. Like most of Gray’s films, this is a powerful, moving, and supremely intelligent work.
‘The movie’s big idea is that the racist and xenophobic political madness that has overtaken the United States in the Trump era has its roots in Donald Trump’s home turf of Queens… Among recent films, “Armageddon Time” most resembles a cross between the Safdie brothers’ “Good Time” (also set in Queens) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza”: like “Good Time,” its overwhelming subject is the presumption and the power of white privilege, and, like “Licorice Pizza,” it delves into the infinitesimal details of memory to rediscover the spirit of the past.’—Richard Brody, The New Yorker