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  • Synonyms

    Synonyms

    ★★★

    Part of my emotional distance from this film may be the fact that I don't come from either a French or Israeli background, both of which this film is earnestly specific about (I will be curious to read reviews from people who do). And yet I can certainly appreciate the way this film breaks film conventions, existing in some strange purgatory between past and present where even the myth of Hector's cowardly end ends up playing out. If there's one film from last year that defines culture clash, it might just be this one.

  • Black Mother

    Black Mother

    ★★★★

    Beautiful and pulsing with life. By utilizing non-synchronized imagery and audio, director Khalik Allah finds profound connections between people from all walks of life, daring to find the mythic in the ordinary. A celebration of being seen, and loving being seen.

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  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    If you've ever loved someone, or maybe more precisely, ever truly desired someone, you'd be hard-pressed not to find a part of yourself here. Ostensibly a forbidden romance, Celine Sciamma's simmering period piece opens up, asking questions about the memories that sustain us in the absence of lasting human contact. What memories do we choose to create, and what memories do we choose to remember?

    This slowburn seduction feels more like a sumptuous montage; Sciamma hones in on details instead…

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    ★★★½

    Okay, so this may be a case where the star rating doesn't properly reflect my conflicted feelings about Martin McDonagh's award season front runner (it's honestly pretty amazing I'm writing those words). On the one hand, it's got everything I love about McDonagh: the masterful plotting, the savage humor, characters who suddenly and beautifully reveal their human frailty just when we think we've got them pegged. And oh, the acting. Frances McDormand doesn't need to remind us all how great…