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  • To Be or Not to Be

    To Be or Not to Be

    ★★★★★

    Playing around a few different cities in honor of our president-elect's [ed. now president ::shoots self::] tendencies toward a certain ideology—my capsule for The Village Voice:

    Ernst Lubitsch's Hollywood films often embed a salacious lowbrow flavor within their aristocratic atmospheres. But with this 1942 magnum opus, the German émigré conjures an anti-war crusade that opens with Hitler being compared to a ham before turning the Warsaw occupation into a masquerade of disguises and innuendo. Jack Benny leads a ragtag group…

  • Split

    Split

    ★★★½

    "Essentially playing out as a chamber drama, Shaymalan's camera weaves in and out of the frame to constantly alert our senses to the finer details of the confined spaces. Casey's two-room prison is imbued with an ominous minimalism, and Carol art director Jesse Rosenthal and It Follows cinematographer Mike Gioulakis keep things on edge, particularly in an extended take as a character barrels down a pipe-laden basement. Most terrifying of all are the Jonathan Demme-style frontal close-ups, which provide an…

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  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    ★★

    For years, Hollywood and the surrounding Culture Wars have asked a question: Do Critics Matter? It's a frankly boring question, but the main anxiety has developed out of a growing disconnect between Rotten Tomatoes Favorites and the American Box Office. But Disney and their expanding intellectual properties have put a new spin on this story: critics don't matter, but studios deliberately position / design films to harness their words in order to enter The Cultural Conversation. Their movies are no…

  • Moonrise Kingdom

    Moonrise Kingdom

    ★★★★★

    I could talk about how this film's structure finally achieves the blissful melancholy that has been at the heart of all of Wes Anderson's films. I could talk about the precision of his framing and tracking shots, and how often he finds visual comedy through a perfect edit, or the slight entrance of new material into the frame. I could talk about how depressing the film is, the hints of both a traumatizing past, and that in a way, Sam…