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  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    ★★★★½

    The seal of the Comics Code Authority, which shows up immediately after the production credits at the beginning of this film, appears on the cover of every Marvel comic book from the inception of the line in 1961 until about 2001 (with the notable exception of The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 in 1971). Its appearance here is not to convey that the content of the film was approved by this now defunct censorship board. Rather, it is an immediate signal that…

  • First Man

    First Man

    ★★★★½

    A touch-and-go survey of Armstrong’s personal history with NASA through the moon landing, with an emphasis on personal. Unlike films like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff which feature spectacular flying sequences, this film largely eschews such scenes, preferring to show things largely from the point-of-view of the participants with much emphasis on extreme close-ups and tactile perceptions. This visceral approach broadens a bit when the film gets to the Apollo 11 mission, but even then wide exterior shots are…

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  • Destroyer

    Destroyer

    ★★★★½

    An enjoyably suspenseful crime drama, elevated by skillfull direction, a cleverly constructed story and a remarkable lead performance by Nicole Kidman.

  • Her Sketchbook

    Her Sketchbook

    ★★★

    Free showing at the Japan Information & Culture Center sponsored by the Embassy of Japan, Washington DC.

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  • The Philadelphia Story

    The Philadelphia Story

    ★★★★★

    This fusion of a comedy of manners with a screwball comedy is truly the best of both worlds. Hepburn, Grant and Stewart have never been better. But what I'd missed in prior viewings is the pain that Tracy feels and Hepburn so expertly displays when she realizes the life and persona she's built for herself isn't working anymore. Every time she is referred to as an idealization (a "statue on a pedestal") you see a little jolt to Hepburn's frame.…

  • Beirut

    Beirut

    ★★★★½

    A very good Cold War-style spy thriller that is set in the Middle East instead, with all the labyrinthine geo-political and religious complexities heightening the intrigue. The plot is very complicated, but I credit a great script from Tony Gilroy for keeping a tight reign on the narrative. And while he will never be Jason Bourne or James Bond, Jon Hamm is excellent as a John le Carre’-style world-weary agent attempting to navigate the shifting currents of loyalty and duplicity to save the life of a friend whose survival becomes increasingly problematic.