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  • Julieta

    Julieta

    ★★★½

    San Diego CityBeat review.

    The jigsaw cinema of Pedro Almodóvar can be bombastic and emotionally robust, but it’s always infused with a deep unspoken melancholy that resides underneath the surface. Often focusing on women trying to make peace with past trauma, the Spanish director populates his movies with important details that help craft a singular perspective. Dynamic wallpaper patterns line hallways. Kitchens and bedrooms are infused with bright splashes of color. Photographs portray memories that could materialize at any moment.…

  • Hunter Gatherer

    Hunter Gatherer

    ★★★

    San Diego CityBeat review.

    Desperate men can only outrun delusion for so long. Hunter Gatherer measuredly embodies this process via the lives of two fringe characters that mistake treading water for entrepreneurial ambition. Set in a low-income black neighborhood, the film takes on a low-key tone toward issues of poverty and inequality, occasionally mixing in bits of magical realism. Director Josh Locy’s debut is not your typical American indie, even if it might initially seem to be.

    When Ashley (Andre…

  • Everest

    Everest

    ★★★

    Surprisingly effective masculine melodrama that ascends quickly and then descends like a slow motion horror film. Good performances, restrained editing, insanely epic cinematography. The final third is a knockout.

  • Triple 9

    Triple 9

    ★★½

    There's something interesting going on here, but I'm still struggling to pinpoint what that is exactly. It's a bleak, no-nonsense, bruising drama that, like LAWLESS, is multiple movies in one competing for attention. But the genre tensions more or less live within the same tonal register.

    Hillcoat creates a mosaic of warnings, escalations, unjustified violence committed to prove a point. For what? Our post-Iraq world is essentially a series of dead-ends, meager betrayals, shallow alliances between "brothers-in-arms." I'm fascinated by…

  • Crimson Peak

    Crimson Peak

    ★★★½

    Sumptuous and rotten, beguiling and dangerous. Each frame contains a distinct sense of time and place, color and texture, but also a subterranean connection with an unspoken past.

    Fascinated by the dichotomy between American grit and British deceit, and how those labels are slowly dying away. Charlie Hunnam's character feels like the best of both worlds without any of the sinister trauma. To me, Chastain is the key here, at least to unlocking what Del Toro is trying to say…

  • Hail, Caesar!

    Hail, Caesar!

    ★★★½

    One strange cookie. Performance, profession & passing the time. Hollywood as one grandiose tangent factory. LA plays itself, so quietly. Alden Ehrenreich = MVP.

  • Raising Arizona

    Raising Arizona

    ★★★★

    A 90 minute sprint with heart. Wile E. Coyote's got nothing on this one. "Diaper Heist" sequence one of the funniest, explosive things the Coen's have ever done.

  • The Treasure

    The Treasure

    ★★★½

    A squealing metal detector, plodding inefficiency, short cuts, Robin Hood was never late, telling the truth to cover a lie, nesting crows + a few cases of shotgun shells = the Communist solution. Fools and gold. Men.

  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

    ★★½

    Coherent, precise action, soldiers who actually feel like soldiers (instinctual, pragmatic, doubtful), Dion Beebe's kinetic master shots, reality butting up against myth making, fear of the "other," Bay's worst impulses colliding with his best, saying goodbye to getting ugly, "The come down is the worst", nothing new, but also nothing wasted.

  • Run All Night

    Run All Night

    ★★★

    Serra/Neeson extravaganza coming soon...

  • Merchants of Doubt

    Merchants of Doubt

    ★★½

    Your run-of-the-mill lefty doc that is entertaining, somewhat balanced, and completely forgettable. A dime a dozen.

  • Chappie

    Chappie

    ★★½

    What a strange movie. Borderline incompetent at times, then oddly affecting and intelligent at others. I think there's a pretty interesting statement about policing and injustice in this cinematic Frankenstein, but the narrative is so riddled with tonal shifts and plot turns it's hard to know for sure. The Jackman side plot really suffocates the insanely extended family element going on with Chappie and Dev and those crazy South African rappers. Still, I prefer this to Elysium's strained self-seriousness and incoherence and District 9's brazenly self-righteous narrative.