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  • The Square

    The Square

    ★★★★½

    The Square is a Swedish film, but large chunks of it are in English--so much that I'm surprised it qualified for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In style it also has a sort of bilingual dexterity: The ideas it's uncovering are communicated in a language that is exotic but fluent.

    In different ways, The Square is about our responsibilities to other human beings--the line between generosity and obligation. In the panhandlers that populate every corner, the titular art…

  • My Beautiful Laundrette

    My Beautiful Laundrette

    ★★

    I respect subtext and implied backstory, but so much of this film is implied that there isn't much text there at all. Johnny and Omar had a relationship when they were in school together? Johnny used to be a skinhead? Omar's political leanings are informed by his father's radicalism? I'm glad I was paying attention because maybe a half of a line is devoted to each of those important pieces of character development. I know there's some Thatcherism context that I'm missing out on, but it felt as if I had skipped sections of the film even though I hadn't.

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  • Gone Girl

    Gone Girl

    ★★★★

    In a particularly tense scene of Gone Girl, Affleck's character is sipping on Singani 63, a Bolivian brandy obscure enough that I can't get it from the Dorignac's liquor aisles. The character owns a bar--so I guess he's up on his clear brandy made with specific grapes from the mountains of South America--but he's probably drinking it because Singani 63 is Steven Soderbergh's side hustle. And Gone Girl, in its obsession with process, its narrative left-turns, its respect/contempt for the…

  • American Honey

    American Honey

    ★★★★

    I'm still digesting it*, but American Honey is a good example of the difference between story and plot. There's a lot of the former even without much of the latter. It's sprawling, with an adagio tempo that recalls the shifts of the road, and it's unclear how much of the film was written to begin with--I don't know how someone could write something that feels so lived in and spontaneous. It's of-a-piece with Andrea Arnold's other work, (We get a…