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  • Kansas City

    Kansas City

    ★★★½

    Altman directed this when he was seriously ill, right before his heart transplant, I believe. Set in his hometown, he nonetheless proved again that he didn't do nostalgia. In some ways, KC is a lite version of RAGTIME, at the intersection of crime, music, and politics. Altman has been here before, but he knows the milieu well.

  • Born to Be Blue

    Born to Be Blue

    ★★★

    Suffers inevitably from Walk Hard Syndrome: Even though Chet Baker was a junkie, presumably had an estranged father, etc., it's hard not to filter these real-life issues through the indelible satire of "Wrong keed died" and other send-ups in that movie of music biopic cliches. BORN TO BE BLUE is elevated by Ethan Hawke's performance. Overshadowed by the McConnaisance, Hawke, in middle-age, has become a substantial actor. He plays Baker as an ingratiating, soft-spoken fuck-up, whose honesty about drug addiction leaves the movie with a peculiar tang. He's marvelous.

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  • Paris, Texas

    Paris, Texas

    ★★★★★

    An America already nearly forgotten. Gas stations. Hotel rooms. Pay phones. Vast desert vistas and even vaster internal terrain. Harry Dean Stanton's iconic wanderer. Dean Stockwell's fundamental decency. Temporary urban tranquility. A brothel that tends to loneliness and pain. Kindness and forgiveness transcending selfishness and jealousy. Nastassja Kinski bares her soul. A movie that takes you someplace. Lightning in a bottle. A masterpiece.

  • It Follows

    It Follows

    ★★★

    Crafted with undeniable verve, yet still a little silly. While I'm glad Mitchell doesn't belabor his tale with explanation or exposition, I must confess I started thinking of questions about the "rules" like the wiseacres in GREMLINS 2: Can "It" follow you to Europe, if you tried to escape there? Would "It" fly overseas in pursuit? First class or coach? This probably indicates a lack of investment on my part (or Mitchell's?) in the characters: namely Greta Gerwig-girl, our understandably…