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  • The House That Jack Built

    The House That Jack Built

    ★★★

    Mounting an atrocity exhibition that references the rural torture-killing of James Byrd Jr., the urban slaying of Kitty Genovese, and various U.S. military adventures around the world, Lars von Trier's new serial killer movie is, like Dogville and Manderlay before it, a two-and-a-half-hour rant about what motherfuckers Americans are. The central psycho here is Jack (Matt Dillon), a frustrated architect (he spends the film trying and failing to build a nice little house by a lake) who finds a creative…

  • True Stories

    True Stories

    ★★★½

    I saw this for the first time at a multiplex in a nondescript shopping mall somewhere, as I recall, in southeast Denver. May as well have been Virgil, Texas. It was disorienting, partly because the environment we exited the movie into was indistinguishable from the film itself but also because the film itself seemed so hard to grasp. I wasn’t sure if it was a failed attempt at pop cinema or a successful prank from the avant-garde. (Of course I…

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  • Neighbors

    Neighbors

    ★★★

    At 44, I sometimes feel like I've been growing up for decades while popular culture has been standing still. Radio stations I hear in grocery stores and coffee shops play the same songs that were popular when I was in high school. The comic books and fantasy novels that I read in the 1970s and 1980s (or their derivatives) have become the blockbuster TV and film franchises of the 2010s. Saturday Night Live has been on the air, in sickness…

  • Side Effects

    Side Effects

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Soderbergh is as Soderbergh does, and his putative farewell performance at the helm of a studio feature film is the usual tasteful Soderbergh fare, finely directed, with a slightly jazzy achronology to it and its almost pastel color schemes smelling lightly of perfume. For all that, the Manhattan doctor-and-patient tale that unspools here feels overly familiar, but Side Effects makes a case for its existence early on by slyly painting itself as a satire on pharmacological culture. Emily (Rooney Mara),…