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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015

    ★★★ Rewatched 17 Dec, 2015

    Haven't seen the film again yet but I softened considerably on my original view by the time I wrote my review:

    I stand by my reluctance to embrace the film's pandering, and it still feels like something designed to hype up toys and future releases more than its own entity, but I'm just won over by the cast and having just rewatched the prequels, Abrams has never looked like so competent a reliable a director of action and people.…

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015

    ★★★ Watched 17 Dec, 2015

    A pandering, clumsily scripted parade of applause breaks fashioned into passably nostalgic spectacle. Absolute dreck when it comes to establishing even the most minimal context for what has happened in the intervening years, very entertaining in its suggestion that a perfectly valid 2015 update of the Joseph Campbell universal hero myth suggests that a multiracial cast are the identifiable, accessible heroes in a fight against pasty, weak-chinned white supremacists. Probably Abrams' best-directed film, even if too much of it plays…

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight 2015

    ★★ Watched 27 Dec, 2015 8

    Tarantino is a movie freak first and an everything else second, which is usually fine given how his own films serve as conduits to an idiosyncratic history of film. But The Hateful Eight, despite a few obvious touchstones, feels like Tarantino's first movie that stands outside reference, with his movie-geek tendencies ostensibly matured into his choice of shooting format and his decision to hire Ennio Morricone outright for new work instead of reusing old cues.

    And to be honest, no…

  • Creed

    Creed 2015

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 27 Nov, 2015 2

    Some things that I noticed the first time but became even sharper ona rewatch:

    -the close-up of the child Adonis's curled fist slackening when Mary-Ann offers him a home but, more importantly, a chance to learn about his father
    -Stallone fighting back tears with a sharp, ragged breath that is utterly devastating
    -the general quality of Alberti's cinematography in reflecting the kind of washed out palette of any large city (esp. its poorer, neglected areas) without resorting to the kind…

  • Creed

    Creed 2015

    ★★★★★ Watched 23 Nov, 2015 1

    This is a great film. I reviewed it here:

  • Anomalisa

    Anomalisa 2015

    ★★ Watched 17 Jan, 2016 1

    Was originally going to see this at TIFF the day I ended up leaving early. If I'd seen it there, it might have been the worst thing I saw related to the fest after that abysmal Bruce MacDonald horror. Feels like Kaufman on autopilot, with a movie so short that it rushes its late "twist" that its protagonist is actually awful but feels long because for all the gimmickry, you've seen 100 of this film. Also the fact that Hong…

  • Magic Mike XXL

    Magic Mike XXL 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 25 Jul, 2015

    I have never seen a film so resolutely interested in the idea of women's sexuality. Magic Mike, befitting Soderbergh's clinical approach, broke down the banal minutiae of the job, from getting pumped up (in more ways than one) before a show to the difficulty of legitimizing oneself in a society that still stigmatizes sex work of any stripe. This made for an unexpectedly complex film, but it also tended to focus on stripping entirely from the men's point of view,…

  • Jurassic World

    Jurassic World 2015

    ½ Watched 20 Jun, 2015 5

    I never care that much about box office but it makes me sad that a film like this, that so blatantly hates its audience, is now one of the highest-grossing films of all time. The first film extrapolates its maker's deep love for his audience by presenting a man so eager to please that he does not notice the ruinous, lethal mistake he has made until it is much too late. From the start, this film takes pains to point…

  • Youth

    Youth 2015

    ★½ Watched 28 Nov, 2015 1

    The beta-male riff to The Great Beauty's morose alpha. Slightly less unbearable than Sorrentino's other movies, but still a Sorrentino movie.

  • Sicario

    Sicario 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 30 Sep, 2015 5

    Sicario ‘s most immediate pleasures are, naturally, its images. Villeneuve gives Roger Deakins as free a rein as the Coens do, and there are three shots in particular that are frozen in my head: 1) an extreme long shot peering over the border in Juarez as tracer fire erupts between federal police and cartel enforcers as the camera pans over and out to see cop car lights dotting the hills as they converge upon the fight like ants; 2) a…

  • The Heart Machine

    The Heart Machine 2014

    ★★★½ Rewatched 25 Jun, 2014

    THM has an agreeable ambivalence about the Internet, indulging in Catfish suspicion and its flip-side, the enabled jealousy and privacy invasion of sheltered people. But it also sees some of the dangerous, duplicitous games people play online as an arduous process of seeking out new methods of romantic introduction, capable, if not easily so, of making people discover each other emotionally instead of letting physical interaction set the tenor of a relationship. Of course, absence can make the heart grow…

  • Wild Canaries

    Wild Canaries 2014

    ★★★★½ Watched 24 Jun, 2014

    I'm slowly seeing more and more quasi-screwball updates (The Color Wheel, Blind Detective) and if I wrote a thinkpiece about this it would only be to desperately encourage more of them to be made. WILD CANARIES is one of the most structured indie films of recent years, an indie, and a comedy, that only gets more cohesive and purposeful as it nears its end instead of collapsing into wispy, half-assed introspection. manages to add new wrinkles to clichéd scenes of…