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  • First Reformed

    First Reformed

    ★★★★½

    In 1998 I dragged my father to see Paul Schrader's Affliction, a movie that was kind of about my father's father. When the end credits rolled on that bleak, wrenching film, my dad turned to me and said, "I feel like I have to take a shower." We walked around a nearby hotel and talked for an hour, not that he was able to articulate why he was so shaken. We discussed the difference between entertainment and art and what…

  • The Last of the Mohicans

    The Last of the Mohicans

    ★★★★

    (Second viewing, no change in rating.)

    Daniel Day-Lewis tried to be a matinee idol exactly once, filling up the screen with romanticism and Romanticism, to prove that he could do it. Then he never did it again. Splashy without being bloated, visceral without being brutal, this is a competent piece of work. It relies on the source material a bit too much to be more than that--the climax is a faulty translation--but it's my kind of epic.

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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…