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  • Deadpool 2

    Deadpool 2

    ★★★★½

    Descends to common denominators of a lowness I thought mathematically impossible. Substitutes cheesy 1980s references for plot and character consistency. And I enjoyed it tremendously. Congratulations Hollywood, you've got another too-big-to-fail franchise.

  • Claire's Camera

    Claire's Camera

    ★★★½

    Isabelle Huppert descends like a benign, egocentric goddess of chaos onto a love triangle between a filmmaker, the marketer trying to sell his latest film at Cannes, and the marketer's assistant. I would assume that the titular camera (photochemical, not digital!) is some sort of metaphor for the power of the film medium, but this movie came in at under 70 minutes and still overstayed its welcome.

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  • The Scarlet Empress

    The Scarlet Empress

    ★★★★★

    A fever dream of sex, violence, and grotesqueness. An impressionist sketch of infinite riches in a squalid little room.

    If some Lubitsch comedies are operettas minus the singing, The Scarlet Empress is unsung grand opera: a vestigial plot and a purely nominal basis in history, serving as a pretext for a series of star turns of the highest order. It's demented, and as in the operatic world, I intend that as the highest praise possible. If I knew more about 20th century music, I would lament that someone didn't collaborate with von Sternberg to give this work the musical setting it deserves.

  • You Were Never Really Here

    You Were Never Really Here

    ★★★

    From mohawk to man-bun and man-pain

    Start with Taxi Driver (1976) (political corruption, symbolized by the sexual exploitation of a pretty blonde girl). Now add PTSD (from both Joe's upbringing and military service), organized vigilantism, and heavy-handed indications that Joe is a dutiful son to his fading mother. Moisten with manly tears, and glaze over this hodge-podge with mind-screw film techniques and portentous hints of EXTREEM unreliable narrator.