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  • Creepy

    Creepy 2016

    ★★★ Watched 22 Oct, 2016

    Fabulous style expended on what seemed to me like an underwritten X-FILES episode, with a super-draggy second hour.2016

  • Kicks

    Kicks 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 16 Sep, 2016

    Feels like a minor classic, organic and specific, evoking a lived-in milieu while telling a story that starts small and gradually raises the stakes over 80 riveting minutes. Probably not the overarching treatise on black male masculinity like (it sounds like) MOONLIGHT is, but has a lot to say about the subject within its productively circumscribed scope. Echoes of TANGERINE.

  • (Re) Assignment

    (Re) Assignment 2016

    ★★ Watched 14 Sep, 2016

    Not hugely offensive -- as far as I can tell its attitudes toward gender and gender transition more or less conform to the current liberal viewpoint, apart from perhaps an unusually rosy view of the seamlessness of the surgery. Worse than offensive, though, it's boring, which I know sounds inconceivable given the gonzo premise and the involvement of Walter Hill (who most recently made the comparatively mundane proceedings in BULLET TO THE HEAD somehow riveting). Just a bad screenplay, I…

  • Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

    Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids 2016

    ★★★★½ Watched 14 Sep, 2016

    Major Demme and surely one of the best concert films ever made. By its very nature (or perhaps the nature of the artists being documented) glossier and more machine-tooled than STOP MAKING SENSE, but that didn't detract from the film for me: it captures what's great about this sort of pop music, which includes airtight choreography and technical wizardry. Also musicianship, spectacle, intimacy, and talent, all of which this movie delivers in a gorgeous 90-minute package with a bow on top. Ecstatically good.

  • Wakefield

    Wakefield 2016

    ★½ Watched 14 Sep, 2016

    Why do people bother with these plain-vanilla, all-voiceover literary adaptations? Inevitably you wish you were reading the book instead, and perhaps never more than here, with Swicord's nigh-on-Stalinist insistence on having Cranston's narration dictate every grace note and thematic button. Shame because a story of marital strife told primarily through distant, silent glimpses through windows could have been really interesting.

  • The Arbitration

    The Arbitration 2016

    ★★½ Watched 13 Sep, 2016

    Taking the opportunity to check in with Nollywood, I find an increasing narrative and formal sophistication (non-chronological structure, different aspect ratios for flashbacks and the present day) and first-rate acting, along with lingering technical issues (most notably terrible sound) and some pretty severe screenwriting miscalculations, most notably a vastly overcomplicated storyline. Still, this is focused, engaging, coherent, and visually fluid, which is more than I can say for any previous Nollywood film I had seen.

  • Mean Dreams

    Mean Dreams 2016

    ★★ Watched 13 Sep, 2016

    Mediocre kids-on-the-run drama should have been a schlocky adventure with plucky teenagers facing off against a growling Bill Paxton. Instead it's a glum, self-serious coming-of-ager, with a handsome aw-shucks hero convinced that he and his girlfriend deserve to live happily ever after because "we're good," and that's that. "Deserve ain't got nothing to do with it," he's inevitably told, except that the movie plods toward the inevitable happy ending anyway.

  • Arrival

    Arrival 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 13 Sep, 2016

    Needs a second viewing from elsewhere than the balcony of the Princess of Wales Theatre, with the screen a postage stamp in the distance and all the audio channels blasting from way out in front of me. And of course the movie basically explicitly demands that you see it again, in a way I don't want to reveal. As things stand I'm not sure that what Heisserer attempts here altogether works, plot-wise (and that's all I'll say about that for…

  • After the Storm

    After the Storm 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 13 Sep, 2016

    Ho-hum, another intricate and specific family portrait from Hirokazu Kore-eda, demonstrating near-Dardenne levels of consistency.

  • Raw

    Raw 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 12 Sep, 2016

    Cannibalism as metaphor for burgeoning femininity -- which might have been ho-hum but for the intensity of Ducorneau's nightmare. Easy to be gross, much harder to envelop the audience in volatile, dangerous, can't-look-away unpleasantness, and to convincingly see it from the viewpoint of a coherent, likable main character. Metaphor is ultimately pretty blunt -- the last scene doesn't help -- but the film as a whole is such a credible escalation of the college experience that unsubtlety seemed forgivable.

  • A Quiet Passion

    A Quiet Passion 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 12 Sep, 2016

    Speaking of biopic pitfalls, Davies scores a big win here by choosing to make a biopic about a person to whom essentially nothing happens; what he ends up with is a pretty heartbreaking movie about someone slowly coming to terms with the shape of her life vis-a-vis her ideals for how one ought to live. Funny how a relative absence of incident can lend a movie like this *more* dramatic shape. Easy to see how Dickinson's life resonated with Davies,…

  • Jackie

    Jackie 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 12 Sep, 2016

    Jackie Kennedy looks back on the dazed, unmoored hours and days following her husband's assassination. Nice and focused, avoiding a lot of biopic pitfalls and creating a mood of stupor and disorientation; ultimately convincing as a meditation on legacy, loss, and responsibility. Portman's performance sometimes comes off as a little deranged.