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  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★★★★

    A movie so rapturously goddamn joyous it brought me to tears no less than three times. It's a throwback, but it doesn't rest on its Old Hollywood laurels; it's pointedly about how nostalgia can be a crutch, an enemy of progress. To that end, Chazelle has his cake and eats it too, making a beautiful, romantic musical in the '50s mold while revitalizing the form for the 2010s.

    Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are perfect. Stone has never been better,…

  • Elvis & Nixon

    Elvis & Nixon

    ★★★

    There's no good reason for this movie to exist. It has the kernel of an interesting idea about Elvis' alienation and paranoia circa 1970 as it relates to Nixon's, but it never goes beneath the surface. As the child of a rabid Elvis fan, and thus a lifelong Elvis fan myself, it was really difficult to accept that Michael Shannon, who does not even attempt to look (besides the wig and jumpsuit) or sound (besides the tiniest wisp of a…

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  • Ruby Sparks

    Ruby Sparks

    ★★★★½

    I've written ten screenplays and several short films. The most widely read script of mine has been read by about half-a-dozen people, but I still consider myself a writer first and foremost. As you're writing, your work is solely yours. Once you've finished, it remains yours. But as soon as you release it into the world, as soon as you share it with one friend or colleague, that changes. It doesn't belong to you anymore. Sure, if your work is…

  • Donnie Darko

    Donnie Darko

    ★★★★★

    A lot of people seem to be backing away from Donnie Darko nowadays, distancing themselves from it like it's a particularly painful memory, an unwelcome flashback to their high school days. Well, maybe so. But don't blame that on the movie. I'm not going to give it credit for profundity that it doesn't have, except that it kind of does. A mysterious puzzle of a film, but pleasingly straightforward about its oddness. Gyllenhaal, Barrymore, and Swayze doing the best work of their careers.