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  • Motherless Brooklyn

    Motherless Brooklyn

    ★★½

    Edward Norton is the grandson of a city planner, and has clearly read his Robert Caro. Stripping the title novel of all but its lead character and basic gumshoe premise, and injecting with an almost book-report-level of detail from "The Power Broker", is certainly an interesting experiment. The Robert Moses of it all is barely even allusion: the name, most obviously, alluded to in Baldwin's Moses Randolph; but in terms of Moses' accumulation of power, his benign titles of Park…

  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

    Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

    ★★★

    "Heaven is overrated. There is nothing there."

  • When Harry Met Sally...

    When Harry Met Sally...

    ★★★★½

    Set the template for the modern romcom and yet completely transcends what is now an otherwise calcified genre, a structure where the outer edges feel familiar but is still utterly free to move according to the characters and not the other way around. Charming and smart. Mainline it into my veins.

    "Draw something resembling anything!"
    "I want you to know that I will never want that wagon wheel coffee table."

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Ford v Ferrari

    ★★★

    In 2019, "Ford v Ferrari" will get a lot of credit as the last of a dying breed, a big budget, "original", not based on IP or franchise, star-driven old school movie. "The kind they don't make anymore." That's true, adult dramas with these resources behind it are becoming as rare as the dodo. But if the adult dramas are going to be this safe, morally simplistic, and hand-holdy, what are we even mourning? There's fun to be had here.…

  • Doctor Sleep

    Doctor Sleep

    ★★★½

    Decidedly King instead of Kubrick, until it isn't. Balances competing tones of recovery and compartmentalization (literal boxes, but ... fine) and ghoulish bohemian-lite vampire soul suckers, in just the way King is often able to in his books. The visual language of astral projecting and competing mind tricks, the way those with the Shining can feel one another in supermarkets and bedrooms and across the country, is really well done. MacGregor's arc has some nice touches: admitting that he drinks…

  • The Nightingale

    The Nightingale

    ★★½

    When is a movie brutal for the sake of uncovering history's brutality, and when is it brutal for brutality's sake, potentially manipulative and exploitative? You could convincingly argue either side to me on where "The Nightingale" lands. My issue with the brutality here is that it comes to feel fairly rote and predictable, not in a "banality of evil" sense that would undergird the idea of colonialism being inherently violent, but in a blasé routine sort of way, each person's…

  • Jojo Rabbit

    Jojo Rabbit

    ★★

    Imagine thinking this is "divisive", or "audacious", or "cutting", or "subversive". Rather than cracking a few eggs to make his satire, Waititi boils you an egg and scoops it into your little bird mouth, the softest takedown (if you can even call it that) the Nazis ever endured, like a small child lightly hitting you with a pillow. Relentlessly unfunny and unclever (German shepherds ... ha?), so it can't even deliver on the New Zealand brand of humor. Doesn't bother…

  • Chocolat

    Chocolat

    ★★

    A nonoffensive pacifier of peak Miramax, a movie that probably made Clinton/Gore NPR-listening voters feel worldly, a title and plot they could reel off to friends over dinner as an Ani DiFranco CD plays off the boombox in the corner. Milky film stock, cafe-appropriate guitar music, a dash of fairy tale and magical realism, contains none of even the sensuality of the poster and barely a hint of Johnny Depp, who is introduced as another possible disruptor and barely makes…

  • One Child Nation

    One Child Nation

    ★★★½

    Not so much a sweeping look at what something like the One-Child Policy does to a nation, but about the downward pressures, horrors, opportunities and incentives it inflicts at the individual level. A father forced to leave his daughter at the market. A woman who worked in family planning, estimates she sterilized or aborted 40,000 or so babies, dedicating the backend of her life to a monk's mission that every baby she brings into a family plagued by infertility can…

  • I Vitelloni

    I Vitelloni

    ★★★½

    Growing up happens in a series of moments. It happens when you realize your fuckboy tendencies, chasing literally every woman you encounter from a moviegoer to your boss' wife, can cause actual pain on the ones who count on you. It happens in a drunken moment of self-reflection, when a giant carnival clown becomes a mirror for your own clownishness. It happens when you leave town to become your own individual self, not knowing why you're going, only that you…

  • Luce

    Luce

    ★★

    I'm all for a thorough dismantling of the "extraordinary Negro" concept, but, at what cost???? There's certainly something to the premise of every action of a young black man being dissected and analyzed in not so charitable ways, or of pushing back against his ready-made whiteness box, but the details here are so fucking silly and laughable that it erases any credibility or ambiguity to the discussion. That an essay identifying with Frantz Fanon would send a prep school into…

  • Atlantic City

    Atlantic City

    ★★★½

    "Atlantic City, you're back on the map. Again."

    Low-key crime set in the cracks between buildings blown up and buildings being erected, between people either longing a dead past or making plans for a future that probably will never come, of a long ago mob-run era and the bright and shiny promise of a city dominated by casinos. A great encapsulation of a city I've spent too much time in (sister is a chef and lives in Brigantine), a place…