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  • Rebirth

    Rebirth 2016

    ★★ Watched 26 Nov, 2016

    Sounded intriguing, but what it is is a strange, totally unsuccessful riff on Fincher's THE GAME, with zero credibility either moment-to-moment or in retrospect. I take it, since the production company is "Suppressive Pictures," it's an anti-scientology thing?

  • Manchester by the Sea

    Manchester by the Sea 2016

    ★★★★★ Watched 25 Nov, 2016

    Maybe the wisest movie I've ever seen about grief and trauma and the way they morph you and your self-conception and take root in your very being and can't be defeated or suppressed but have to be managed. Amazing.

  • Elle

    Elle 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 23 Nov, 2016

    I see that this was greeted in its festival run as some sort of ultra-transgressive provocation, and I must say I didn't have that reaction: it certainly has an edgy take on rape, but thematically it struck me as fairly routine, a film about trauma, and a woman learning to show hers who's boss. Huppert teams up with a lovely (if a bit languorous) screenplay to create a character who's just a little bit opaque and mysterious -- enough to confound the source material's more schematic conceits and come off as beautifully complex and human. Verhoeven's first real art film, and it becomes him.

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2016

    ★½ Watched 22 Nov, 2016 1

    Infected by the poisonous idea that Hollywood blockbusters no longer need to be about anything, even in the most rudimentary sense -- that they can just exist within a franchise, calling back to prior entries and anticipating future ones, and otherwise just sitting there on the screen. The slightest whiff of a story eventually makes an appearance -- a very Rowling-ian notion about wizards forced to repress their abilities, which then manifest independently as powerful destructive forces, and a Magneto-like…

  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

    Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 20 Nov, 2016

    Looked just great in 2D 120FPS -- possible that the high frame rate has a different effect in hi-res 3D, but I kind of doubt it, and I'm generally sick of the hyperbolic cinephile posturing around this stuff. (The same "abomination"/"death of cinema" bullshit was heard all through the digital transition, which you'd think would embarrass people out of repeating it now.) The movie itself is a bit disappointing insofar as the premise seemed to lend itself to more formal…

  • Hacksaw Ridge

    Hacksaw Ridge 2016

    ★½ Watched 12 Nov, 2016

    Dreadful: I'm not suggesting that Desmond Doss isn't deserving of a hagiography, just that I'm not interested in watching one, and Gibson's film is not interested in anything else. (Except arguably gruesome war action, which I know has impressed some, but which left me cold: it looks fake, shot on a set.) Morally incoherent, too: why isn't it ok for him to carry a gun and kill, but fine to facilitate the effort of millions of others to do so? The movie legalistically handwaves this and other questions away, and instead just stares at its protagonist in awed admiration. Which is boring.

  • The Monster

    The Monster 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 18 Nov, 2016

    Kind of a shame that this has been ghettoized as niche-VOD, because if nothing else it's absolutely stunning-looking: set largely at the scene of a car accident at night, it's lit with such vicious contrasts that light and darkness seem to take on tangible form, shadow regularly engulfs half the frame, and our heroes often turn into silhouettes. It's a cliche to compare shots to paintings, but there are any number of frames here I'd love to hang on my…

  • Tower

    Tower 2016

    ★★★ Watched 07 Nov, 2016

    I guess I was less enraptured by the technique than most, finding the animated reenactments more alienating than suspenseful -- but I admit to unaccountably tearing up when the rotoscoped actors suddenly start turning into the actual subjects.

  • Basic Instinct

    Basic Instinct 1992

    ★★½ Watched 06 Nov, 2016

    I had never seen this. Opens so beautifully, setting up Stone as a legendary, transgressive modern femme fatale, that I found absolutely baffling when it suddenly does a volte face and attempts to create suspense about whether she is actually being framed and whether her affair with Douglas is genuine. What?! No! Agree with Ebert that the answer to that question, revealed in the last shot, is indifferent if not irrelevant, but I was more stunned that the movie devoted so much energy to it after that set-up.

  • The Handmaiden

    The Handmaiden 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Nov, 2016

    Gorgeous, gleaming, delirious fun -- a heightened, grand-scale R-rated melodrama of a sort that Hollywood is totally uninterested in and that can really nowadays only come out of Asia. (Though I feel like if Xavier Dolan was given a budget and instructed to commit to genre, he might come up with something like this too.) I was ready to utterly flip for it until Part III, which adds little and goes on forever (and breaks symmetry).

  • I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

    I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House 2016

    ★★½ Watched 30 Oct, 2016

    Agree about the creepy and beautiful wind-up, but then the movie just extends said wind-up for another hour without ever resolving into anything. Frustrating.

  • Certain Women

    Certain Women 2016

    ★★★ Watched 30 Oct, 2016

    Barely there, like a faint far-away melody carried by the wind. You get the general idea -- women carrying on, trying to shape their lives into something worthwhile, despite being ignored, insulted, used in various everyday ways -- but I struggled to extract more meaning from it than that, at least until the genuinely affecting last segment, in which two shy loners look up for once and, for a brief instant, notice each other.