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  • The Rules of the Game

    The Rules of the Game

    ★★★

    A mostly average film, with average acting and plot (3 stars), plus half a star for its social satire (3.5 stars), minus half a star for its extended bunny/pheasant massacre (3 stars, and good lord, I don’t care if this is commentary on man’s cruelty, it’s awful).

    At its best, director Jean Renoir gives us brilliant criticism of just how vapid and morally bereft the bourgeoisie of his day were, putting the mirror up so close to French society that…

  • Zouzou

    Zouzou

    ★★★½

    Zouzou feels like a French version of a pre-code Hollywood film, though I don’t believe French filmmakers ever had the equivalent of the Hays Code inflicted upon them. It has bawdy dialogue, scantily clad women, a silly plot, and an alluring star in Josephine Baker. Of course, the fact that Baker was an African-American and simply allowed to be a leading lady, without a lot made over her skin color, is something that was unthinkable in America at the time.…

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  • Rushmore

    Rushmore

    ★★★★

    Quirky, offbeat, and clever; everything we like about director Wes Anderson. We really don’t know what’s going to happen as the story plays out, in part because of how unique the characters are, and in part because the film plays as fantasy. Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a teenage boy at Rushmore Academy, acts as though he’s a worldly middle-aged man, pursuing an improbably large number of extracurricular activities, writing plays, and not caring all that much about his studies. Herman…

  • Too Much, Too Soon

    Too Much, Too Soon

    ★★★½

    It’s a little tough to rate this film, and as I try to drill down into that feeling, I think it’s because it seems a little less than fully honest in its portrayal of Diana Barrymore, despite some of the depths we see her sink to, and the humiliations she endures. It also seems like a much more interesting biographical movie would have been one based on her carousing father, the great actor John Barrymore.

    Over the first half of…