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  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

    ★★★★½

    81/100

    My umpteenth viewing. A lot lighter on the perfume commercial aesthetic (fewer elves, you see) and more focus on what Jackson is good at: action set-pieces and genuinely creepy horror moments. The ending tracking shot is terrific as well. But man, I wish he would stop with the cheap fakeouts and comic relief. He's a showman and a bit of a cheeseball, for better or worse. Here. overall, it is very much for the better.

  • Tokyo Sonata

    Tokyo Sonata

    ★★★

    57/100

    Losing your job can affect your family. Who knew? The second Kurosawa in a row where the wife unaccountably falls under the spell of a criminal. A nice ending for a movie that doesn't really go anywhere.

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  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★½

    48/100

    Relentlessly artificial and horribly written (the story beats are so predictable - time for an argument, time for a crisis of confidence, time for a win! - and the mawkish finale completely unearned thanks to the cheap jump in time that completely glosses over who did what and thus lets the audience wallow in a hollow melancholy without having to question either of the main characters' decisions), this is basically saved by the relentlessly energy of the two leads,…

  • Battle Royale

    Battle Royale

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    A victim of people ignoring the "Don't judge a book by its cover" cliche, this is a vital, paradoxically life-affirming splatter film with a stong eye for absurdist detail. It's high school with Uzis and exploding neckbraces.

    It's probably best to start with the facts, address the rumors. Yes, it's about 44 young Japanese high schoolers, placed on a remote island and forced to hunt each other until only one is left alive. Yes, it's violent and very bloody. Yes,…