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  • Lucky Grandma

    Lucky Grandma

    ★★★★

    It's not a trick that works every time, or even the thought process that most filmmakers are using, but you'll probably get something interesting by taking a story that has been done a lot and then adding twenty years or so to the main character's age. Sure, it may seem like suicide commercially, but you'll wind up with a terrific character actor in the lead, new challenges and solutions in the story, and the chance for nifty juxtapositions. It makes…

  • Up From the Streets - New Orleans: The City of Music

    Up From the Streets - New Orleans: The City of Music

    ★★½

    It's kind of tacky to review a documentary like one is grading an English paper, but somewhere about two-thirds the way through Up From the Streets, I noticed that a half-dozen people had referred to "Mardi Gras Indians" as an influence on various musicians but aside from the occasional cut-away, the filmmakers never get into what that group's deal is, which is even stranger when you consider that this 105-minute movie has at least 18 chapter titles, so maybe there…

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  • Luz

    Luz

    ★★★★½

    A nifty, disorienting sort of horror movie which has the neat idea of combining hypnosis and possession, creating a sense of lack of control and disconnection that many other films like this lack. It's a fascinating way to make what seems very small into something tremendously tense.

    It's an unnerving look, too, shot on 16mm in brutalist, run-down locations, with tons of smoke that makes a room both claustrophobic and infinite. The sound is peculiar and synth-y, too loud and out of sync, but it fits, even if it is also often very jarring.

  • The Kingmaker

    The Kingmaker

    ★★★★

    One of the ways you can tell how good Lauren Greenfield is at this sort of picture is that she's able to highlight how magnetic and seductive a subject like Imelda Marcos is while laying the groundwork for how tremendously destructive she can be. This could play like trucking the audience, but instead she's just bringing this thing out and cleaning off the surface until a more clear picture emerges.