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  • Jackie

    Jackie 2016

    ★★ Watched 30 Nov, 2016

    "If you ever get lost about the point of Jackie, another character will come out of the woodwork to explain its meaning. John Hurt as a priest not only recalls a parable but explains its literal connection to Kennedy's life; the film not only plays 'Camelot' twice, but allows her to explains its exact meaning after she notes, 'One last thing—and this is the most important.' Because the film barely forms anything of a suspenseful narrative (just how will those funeral arrangements play out!?), it simply states a number of themes as opposed to embodying them."

    No thanks. My LAist review.

  • Manchester by the Sea

    Manchester by the Sea 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 25 Oct, 2016

    "Three films, as well as a handful of Broadway plays, have cemented Longeran as a classical dramatist at heart. He crafts melodramatic narratives that ring out toward larger themes, just as John Steinbeck and Arthur Miller had done. But he can be a deceptively sly filmmaker who challenges many of our expectations for the Great American Tragedy. If Manchester does invest itself in highly tumultuous drama (the revelations are guaranteed tear duct operators), Lonergan also invites a number of ridiculous…

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2016

    ★★½ Watched 16 Nov, 2016

    "For Fantastic Beasts, Rowling has written the screenplay herself, which attempts to simultaneously introduce a whole new set of characters while also world-building. The success of Rowling's previous adaptations was based on the audience familiarity with the otherwise incomprehensible plot, letting the actors embody characters they already knew. Rowling's script here feels rushed at every moment, the characters particularly ill-defined simply because of the amount of things that have to happen."

    My take for LAist, which goes downhill early after Katherine Waterston eats a hot dog.

  • Arrival

    Arrival 2016

    ★★★ Watched 09 Nov, 2016 2

    "Watching Arrival, especially as a distraction from the events outside the darkened theater, I couldn't help like envisioning its worldview as an alternative utopian vision. Here was a moment of crisis in which the answer to looking at someone literally alien was not met with fear but understanding, not with hatred but an invitation to communication...It strives for basic decency at a moment when that is no longer a widely held value."

    I still have a job to do, so…

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 07 Oct, 2016

    If you haven't listened to it before, my conversation with Angela Catalano on this movie is highlighted in the new Cinephiliacs Horrorthon (featuring a plethora of discussions of otherwise non-canonical horror films you should check out). I recently got to see this again at the New Bev on 35mm and it stands up to every test. For a theater usually primed to laugh their asses off at anything silly, the crowd remained remarkably silent until the last 5 minutes, where screams, laughter, and energy filled the room with an excess of emotion. Cinema at its most alive.

  • Moonlight

    Moonlight 2016

    ★★★½ Watched 04 Oct, 2016 2

    "Contrary to the title, most of the film doesn't take place in the dark—it's mostly set in the hazy sunlight of Miami. The wind on the ocean and the crickets in the grass provide the musical accompaniment until a low-riding Impala roars its engine and the stereos carry the sounds of Miami bass pulsating through the air. This is Chiron's story, divided into three acts (childhood, teen, and young adult) as he emerges as a queer male in a society…

  • The Handmaiden

    The Handmaiden 2016

    ★★★ Watched 24 Aug, 2016

    "There are a number of moving parts in The Handmaiden surrounding sexual politics as well as cross-cultural politics between Japan and Korea. Park is no stranger to inviting controversy, but what remains more fascinating in his latest work is his weaving of cinematic elements in this complicated and winding narrative. He invites alert viewers to pay attention to each element, whether an odd detail of the costuming or the particular articulation of a key line of dialogue, and then rewards…

  • Certain Women

    Certain Women 2016

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Oct, 2016

    "These stories have all been adapted from a collection by Maile Meloy, and what makes them so fascinating is that they actually feel like adaptations of short stories as opposed to stories that are short. There’s no padding or extra material, but instead there are little vignettes that develop details out of a limited shape—the stories don’t announce their ending, they simply cut to the next one. To take the James Stewart line about what movies do, they capture little…

  • The Birth of a Nation

    The Birth of a Nation 2016

    ★★½ Watched 29 Sep, 2016 1

    "The Birth of a Nation aims for mass appeal by claiming such a familiar language in its story with the goal to push a less considered image of black resistance. It's Parker's smartest gambit, but also his most frustrating limitation. The story is simple—rise up and fight against the oppression—but the details and specifics of Turner's life, and thus what makes his story unique, becomes lost in broad gestures."

    My review of the hot mess of the year for various…

  • Deepwater Horizon

    Deepwater Horizon 2016

    Watched 27 Sep, 2016

    "As the helpless oil men (and one woman) attempt to escape the burning wreckage, Berg makes sure that his audience will squirm in their seats, perilous to do anything but watch. The question remains: to what ends? Like United 93, another film that depicted the carnage of a national tragedy, Deepwater Horizon hits you right in your gut as you watch bodies helplessly succumb to a storm of mud, oil, metal, and fire. But why turn the perils of a…

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Stranger Than Paradise 1984

    ★★★★ Rewatched 01 Jun, 2016

    Discussed with NFPF Executive Director Jeff Lambert on the latest podcast episode. Still feels entirely singular—an obvious predecessor for every New American Indie film that flooded the market in the 90s (and reached parodic form in the 2000s), while still feeling entirely unique. This is a shot in the arm of "here's some Real Fucking Cinema for you" in the best way possible.

  • Snowden

    Snowden 2016

    ★★½ Watched 13 Sep, 2016 1

    "Stone continually paints Snowden as an extraordinary genius at his work and later a lone wolf, his inner conflict emerging through the nagging relationship with Lindsay who just cannot understand his inner demons. In short, his story reflects that of a singular Great Man, almost accomplishing the opposite of what Poitras set to do with her intimate CITIZENFOUR. While both Poitras and Stone argue Snowden is a patriot instead of a traitor, Stone tries to fit him into a tradition…