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  • 1917

    1917

    ★★★★★

    Sam Mendes’ ode to his grandfather’s service in WWI ran the risk of feeling like a gimmick. The film is presented as though it is one very long shot. While clearly it isn’t, the effect here is deeply and starkly immersive. The film’s story (in broad strokes, the simple tale of two soldiers tasked with delivering a message across enemy lines) is rendered propulsive by the immediacy. I’m certainly guilty of being the sort of film geek who sits up in…

  • Jojo Rabbit

    Jojo Rabbit

    ★★★★½

    It seems like a staggering amount of the discussion surrounding this movie is less about what actually occurs in the film itself and more about what each critic thinks the tone of a Hitler Youth comedy should be. Some decry it as too light or funny for such “heavy“ subject matter. Others complain that it’s not a searing enough indictment of fascist ideology. If you want to talk about how it should be done, make a movie yourself. I’d rather talk about…

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  • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

    ★★★★

    The decision to unbundle the DC movies from the broader DCEU continuity continues to pay dividends. I didn’t care for Joker but I was happy to see it existed. Shazam! was a joyous little Amblin throwback. Birds of Prey - despite ostensible ties to Suicide Squad - basically does whatever the hell it wants.

    With clear influences from the action stylings of John Wick, Birds of Prey crafts some fun, violent, visually dynamic action sequences. It’s also blessedly bizarre -…

  • 21 Bridges

    21 Bridges

    ★★★½

    I was hoping for a big, dumb, badass action movie from 21 Bridges - "We got twenty-one bridges in and out of Manhattan. Shut them down. Three rivers. Close them. Four tunnels. Block them. Stop every train and loop the subways. Then, we flood the island with blue!" - but instead I got something burly, violent, and... sometimes downright contemplative.

    I almost feel a sense of disappointment that this movie seems to split the difference between serious-minded police procedural ala…

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  • Knives Out

    Knives Out

    ★★★★★

    I cannot say I expected a modern take on the Agatha Christie special to be the funniest movie of the year, but here we are. Leaving aside the masterful film making and astoundingly brilliant editing, the movie is just hilarious. As read by an insanely talented cast, Rian Johnson's script is a beautiful puzzle of intrigue. The film brilliantly cuts between timelines - before and after the murder of family scion Christopher Plummer - through creative use of interview and…

  • Frozen II

    Frozen II

    ★★★★

    I think the most difficult challenge for a movie like Frozen II is justifying its existence. The first film told a perfectly self-contained story with a dramatically resonant, if imperfect, conclusion. The very nature of a musical too makes the songs integral to the film’s success, and extremely difficult to replicate. Frozen II is mostly successful at the tall task.

    My wife and I used Love Is an Open Door as a comedic first dance at our wedding, but I…