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  • Never Fear

    Never Fear 1949

    ★★½ Watched 06 Apr, 2016

    In execution, Ida Lupino's Never Fear is a pretty typical melodrama--at least one impassioned monologue along the lines of "TELL ME, AREN'T I STILL A WOMAN?!" gave me the giggles--but the subject matter is interesting. Dancer Sally Forrest's career ambitions are derailed when she's diagnosed with polio and tucked away at a rehabilitation center. She struggles to come to terms with the fact that she may never dance again, and the subsequent depression makes trying seem pointless. Lupino and her co-writer/husband Collier Young get some good mileage out of the sensitive material, even if there's not much here that exceeds the standards of the time.

  • Middle of Nowhere

    Middle of Nowhere 2012

    ★★★★ Watched 05 Apr, 2016

    Ava DuVernay's Middle of Nowhere is a film of raw, honest relationships. Emayatzy Corinealdi, playing a medical student who has put her life on hold waiting for her husband to be released from prison, expresses so much without saying a word. She shows dignity in the face of her mother (Lorraine Toussaint, later of Orange Is the New Black, here exhibiting the bitter disapproval that comes from holding someone you love to higher standards than they hold themselves), as well…

  • Outcast

    Outcast 2014

    ½ Watched 03 Apr, 2016

    Part of Joe & Arlo's Excellent LOLviewings

    I finished watching this movie eight hours ago, and I barely remember what it was about or what happened in it. The most notable thing to come out of Outcast is this tweet: twitter.com/UnpluggedCrazy/status/716512855294664704

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016

    ★½ Watched 02 Apr, 2016

    I went in expecting one of the worst ever, so it's a pleasant surprise that Batman v Superman: Ecks vs. Sever is merely terrible. More here works than in Man of Steel; Ben Affleck acquits himself well as Batman despite the lackluster material, and in theory, I appreciate the nightmarish tone set up by Zack Snyder. If only other superhero movies, directed by better filmmakers, would be willing to venture beyond the industry standard.

    Yet Batman v Superman: Chipwrecked is…

  • A Bittersweet Life

    A Bittersweet Life 2005

    ★★★★ Watched 01 Apr, 2016

    A tragic film with action scenes as clever and precise, though perhaps not as pyrotechnic, as those of John Woo. An enforcer questions his actions for the first time and is swiftly punished for it. I already feel the need to see this again, appreciating it for what it says philosophically in addition to the surface level gangster stuff (which is pretty damn cool).

  • Best of Enemies

    Best of Enemies 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 06 Jan, 2016

    In showcasing William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal’s televised debates during the 1968 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, Best of Enemies expertly illustrates how our political past has informed our political present. There's a fine line between intellectual debate and irrational argument, as well as a slippery slope from enlightening television to mindless cable news punditry. A watershed moment in TV history, and one with unintended and unsettling consequences.

  • The Wolfpack

    The Wolfpack 2015

    ★★★★½ Watched 05 Jan, 2016

    Seven children were raised in the isolation of a tiny Brooklyn apartment by their anti-social (to put it lightly) father. With nothing else to cling to, they became enamored with movies, obsessively watching and re-enacting Reservoir Dogs, The Dark Knight, Halloween, etc. to connect with a world of which they knew nothing. Crystal Moselle’s documentary is a powerful testament to the transformative nature of art and pop culture.

  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

    Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom 2015

    ★★★★ Watched 04 Jan, 2016

    Invaluable for its footage of the Ukrainian Revolution at ground level and helpful in the way it shows how peaceful protest gave way to bloodshed. A little more context and clarity could have brought it up to par with its Netflix counterpart The Square but still very much worth watching.

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight 2015

    ★★★★★ Watched 26 Dec, 2015

    As nasty and cynical as any movie you’ll see this year, and as indulgent as any Tarantino’s ever made. For some, that may sound like a terrifying prospect, but for those who loved every second of Death Proof, it’s thrilling to watch the man dig this deep into his psyche. A chamber piece blown up to the huge proportions of Ultra Panavision 70mm, a stage play in the guise of a three-hour epic, The Hateful Eight is populated with American monsters. If Django Unchained was a pop revenge fantasy, The Hateful Eight has something real--and real mean--on its mind about current race relations.

  • Magnolia

    Magnolia 1999

    ★★½ Rewatched 01 Jan, 2016

    Magnolia is not a timid film. It is operatic, musical in its composition, frequently hitting a crescendo and scaling to find another. I admire Paul Thomas Anderson's ambition, and I wouldn't even say he misses his mark. I think he hits it dead on; it's just not for me. This is the kind of thing that's ether going to captivate you from the opening frame or leave you cold. Sadly, it's never quite held together for me. Of the many…

  • Chi-Raq

    Chi-Raq 2015

    ★★★ Watched 03 Jan, 2016 1

    When it comes to Chi-Raq, his latest joint, Spike Lee's stance against gun violence is on point. It's vital and relevant, with mentions of Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland. As an impassioned wake-up call for America, you have to give it a hand. Based on the Greek play Lysistrata, there's a sex strike to stop gang fights. The gimmick? It rhymes sometimes.

    Then, every once in a while, when it wants to get serious, it drops the whole rhyming shtick,…

  • Sicario

    Sicario 2015

    ★★★ Watched 29 Dec, 2015 7

    Another slick, hermetically sealed offering from Denis Villeneuve. At best, Villeneuve offers a simulation of human feeling; at worst, he makes pretty pictures (though here he gets some of genius cinematographer Roger Deakins' least inspired work). When all Sicario tries to be is an attractive thriller, it gets the job done. Though Villeneuve has dropped the pretensions of Enemy, he still strains to make Sicario more than a genre piece; the attempt is half-formed and a little hollow. The film's intention to illuminate the self-fulfilling nature of the drug war is noble, though it longs for a director who deals in flesh and blood.