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  • Creep

    Creep 2014

    ★★½ Watched 28 Nov, 2015

    Miscalibrated: Aaron's video doesn't gradually become creepy, it starts out creepy, albeit in a pretty funny way, with Duplass getting a lot of mileage out of earnest overfamiliarity and inappropriate non sequiturs. (I did laugh heartily the first time Josef goes in to hug the nonplussed Aaron, lurching above and past the camera the latter is holding.) Brice also emphatically does not have a resolution -- what eventually turns out to be Josef's motivation has zero connection to the set-up,…

  • Manglehorn

    Manglehorn 2014

    ★★★ Watched 26 Nov, 2015

    Throwback DGG, digressive and off-kilter, with results that are sometimes priceless ("I'm glad you asked me to dinner." "Where's the bathroom?") and sometimes really obnoxious (all the Harmony Korine stuff sapped my will to live, as anything involving Korine tends to do). At its best portraying the mindset of a man who has foreclosed the rest of his life -- the beehive under his mailbox, his choice of restaurant, his response when someone expresses actual interest in him -- though…

  • The Gift

    The Gift 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 12 Nov, 2015

    This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Loved the way Edgerton shifts our sympathies without resorting to a "twist," exactly: there are revelations about Simon's past and his history with Gordon, yes, but the information they provide meshes with what Edgerton and (especially) Bateman have been doing all along, and is surprising in the best way -- not as a gotcha, but as an organic-seeming recasting of what we already know. And that's really the film, I think; people seem to be getting hung up on the…

  • Magic Mike XXL

    Magic Mike XXL 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 11 Nov, 2015

    Eminently lovable, trading the economically stressed-out coming-of-age stylings of MAGIC MIKE for a laid-back, life-affirming romp populated by characters who are fun, and kind, and comfortable with themselves; for a film about male strippers there's a startling minimum of posturing on display here, and the ego thrill these guys get from being on stage comes from their ability to deliver pleasure rather than receive it. I wish, though, that this were a better (cleverer, funnier) hang-out movie -- the first…

  • Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

    Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter 2015

    ★★½ Watched 06 Nov, 2015

    The real mental illness... was love. Not a huge fan of this sort of thing, turning someone who is (as presented) pretty clearly unwell into the hero of a modern-day fable, on the theory, I guess, that We're All Kumiko, striving after something that's not really there in a cold and lonely world. Sort of aimlessly enigmatic on the surface -- I'm still not sure how to read the opening sequence -- and stubborn in its refusal to veer from…

  • The Lazarus Effect

    The Lazarus Effect 2015

    ★★½ Watched 02 Nov, 2015

    Collapses so startlingly in its last third that one can't help but suspect some sort of malign influence at work -- perhaps the hand of horror super-producer Jason Blum? Before becoming a useless jump-scare factory, the film is uncommonly sharp and thoughtful, with at least one great idea expressed in a massively creepy way (the scene in which Wilde talks about what she experienced before being Lazarus-ed) and at least the appearance that it's interested in questions about the nature…

  • Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak 2015

    ★★★ Watched 24 Oct, 2015

    All supernatural elements are basically totally superfluous to this story, plot-wise, right?

  • Regression

    Regression 2015

    ★★ Watched 18 Oct, 2015

    Bad in a way that recalls THE TALL MAN, another horror film from a director I admired that turned out to be a smoke-and-mirrors nothingburger. Impossible to discuss without spoiling Amenabar's Big Idea here, but suffice it to say that for it to work he needed to sustain an elaborate, credible two-hour fake-out, and he just isn't able to pull it off -- the movie doesn't play as a procedural, doesn't play as a supernatural thriller, doesn't play period. There's…

  • Sunset Song

    Sunset Song 2015

    ★★ Watched 18 Oct, 2015

    [Homer Simpson shriek] I don't know what the hell happened here, but this is torpor incarnate. Maybe Davies' stories need tragedy to propel them forward, because apparently when he tries to do something measured and lilting like this, he ends up with a Mike Leigh movie on lithium. People are unkind to each other, life goes on, the only constant is the land, the camera keeps drifting tastefully into corners of candle-lit rooms, etc.; something about this material clearly moved…

  • My Golden Days

    My Golden Days 2015

    ★★ Watched 17 Oct, 2015

    I don't know Desplechin, and it's entirely possible I didn't give this a fair shake, but in my defense it was the end of a late-festival day, and this is a movie in which French people monologue over-articulately and in poetic tones about their feelings while puffing on cigarettes. Couldn't take it seriously.

  • Truth

    Truth 2015

    ★★½ Watched 17 Oct, 2015

    Riveting for a while as a journalistic procedural, doing a nice job of sketching out enough of the details to be credible while still zipping along; I particularly liked the way it lays the groundwork for the 60 Minutes story's eventual downfall, smart about confirmation bias and the way ass-covering can start to substitute for doing one's job. But it lost me almost completely in the second half, which sets some sort of record for utterly specious grandstanding, suggesting that…

  • Dheepan

    Dheepan 2015

    ★★★ Watched 17 Oct, 2015

    Compelling as a portrait of the refugee experience, and even as an oblique glimpse of France's racially-charged suburban housing projects -- I'm not sure I've ever seen a film more attentive to the dynamics of trying to communicate in a language you only slightly understand, picking up snippets, nodding, and hoping to figure out the rest. Even the gang war that eventually breaks out seemed credible. What I didn't buy was Dheepan's "regression" to his old days as a Tamil…