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  • The Rat

    The Rat

    ★★★★

    Is any medium other than silent drama as suited to "I despise you -- yet I desire you" melodramas of this sort? In this example, while the plot is so overheated it doesn't bear scrutiny, the acting style and pace carry the story forward before you can think too much. The choppiness of the print I saw (e.g., at one point Stetz and Odile are wrestling; then suddenly they're on opposite sides of the same door) doesn't help the cohesiveness, but did help the propulsion.

  • Diplomaniacs

    Diplomaniacs

    ★★★½

    Normally I like Wheeler & Woolsey, but this movie must set some sort of record for number of offensive stereotypes. On the other hand, it goes about offending everyone and everything with an undeniable energy and propulsion--it drags you along from one calculatedly outrageous piece of humor to the next.

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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.

  • 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.