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  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire is everything you want from a period love story: highlighting the looks to observe and being caught, noting body language and what that means for desire, and making you feel like you're watching something dirty when it's actually just an armpit being fingered.

    It's also as close to the society of Lesbos as we'll ever see, using the setting of an isolated high society rock where a young woman (Adèle Haenel) staves…

  • Marie Antoinette

    Marie Antoinette

    ★★★★★

    Marie Antoinette is all style. And I don’t mean that as a negative— au contraire, mon ami—the style gives it substantial substance. Sofia Coppola’s rudely dismissed biopic treats the young queen (Kirsten Dunst) as a pop star, because well, history has turned her into a pop star. Her unattributed quip “let them eat cake” was a way to dismiss the French peasants during a national bread shortage has survived as a t-shirt. Queen gave her a song (“Killer Queen”) and…

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  • The Handmaiden

    The Handmaiden

    ★★★★

    Twisty, tawdry, and erotic (though, not a sex scene, the most erotic moment to me is when Sook-Hee gently files Lady Hideko's tooth in the tub for a long enough time that Hideko looks up at her). All of those adjectives describe most of Park Chan-wook's filmography, but the moment that makes this my favorite of his (so far) is when Sook-Hee (Kim Tae-Ri) runs to the library and pulls out all the books of erotica and tosses them into…

  • Holiday

    Holiday

    ★★★★½

    Divine! Yes, it’s a classic Hollywood take where everyone’s lives/loves change in the span of 10 days, but there’s movie star acrobatics, heartbreaking truths about the cages of duty and parental oversight, and perfect trust between director and stars that pays off with a shot of Katherine Hepburn’s face long enough that a small gust of wind can hit her hair at the exact moment she’s self-actualizing.

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  • It Chapter Two

    It Chapter Two

    ★★

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

    Stephen King makes a cameo in It: Chapter Two as an antique dealer in Derry, Maine. Although the sequel makes numerous jokes about grown up Bill (James McAvoy) being a popular horror author who can't find the right endings to his books—seemingly an obvious self-aware dig with King's counting-his-money blessing—but it's the antique setting that's actually most appropriate for King. Because It: Chapter Two is a too faithful adaptation of King's work it not only carries the author's excessive busyness,…

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    Bohemian Rhapsody

    ★½

    When rock critics hear Queen’s improbable hit single “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time, Bryan Singer’s film (of the same name) flashes a bunch of dismissive critical quotes. One quote outstretches all the others and ends the sequence, that’s “perfectly adequate” and it perfectly describes the adequate rock biopic of aha musical moments, backstage drama, and 15-year reflections from backstage framing. But the problem is that where it isn't perfectly adequate and vanilla it's actually painfully safe and somewhat erasing,…