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  • Up in the Air

    Up in the Air

    ★★★½

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

    A few too many indie montages for my taste, but even they couldn't ward off the script's undeniable charms. The biggest turn-off comes when we learn Alex has had a family all along and has been using Ryan as an escape. I was all but groaning when Ryan pulls the old "ditching your own motivational speech because of a major epiphany halfway through" routine, so the twist came not only as welcome reassurance that the film was smarter than I…

  • Castle in the Sky

    Castle in the Sky

    ★★★★½

    Suffers near the end as Muska momentarily hijacks the plot with his frivolous ranting, but wow, not many can do adventure like Miyazaki. A few of these gleeful, kinetically charged setpieces deserve consideration alongside Spielberg's best. My favorite is the opening village chase that starts with the priceless flex-off. This whole movie felt like a flex-off actually, and Hayao's got muscles for days.

    I'm coming to realize that animation is the place for action. Contrary to the Cameronian conviction that…

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  • The Purge

    The Purge

    How much more high concept can you get than The Purge? A dystopian America is saved when the government establishes “the Purge,” a national day of murder, theft and god knows what else, all of which is legal, and all in the name of letting off the steam that builds up the other 364 days of the year. The potential for absurd shenanigans seems limitless, right? Nonetheless, The Purge decides not to revel in its ridiculousness and instead opts to…

  • The Kings of Summer

    The Kings of Summer

    ★★★

    The Kings of Summer is the kind of story you swear you've heard countless times before, perhaps in a middle school English class. But what this coming-of-age story lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in honesty and quirkiness. Keenly self-aware, Kings handles even its most trite moments with tongue-in-cheek wit, and scenes with seemingly predictable outcomes seldom turn out exactly as anticipated. Combined with colorful, soft cinematography and charmingly natural performances from two of the three friends (can you guess the exception?), this family-friendly adventure proves a worthy entry into a tired genre.