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  • Yaaba

    Yaaba

    ★★

    One of the things that those of us who obsessively watch and rank movies struggle with is how to weigh a movie's strongest assets or best moments against the less-impressive whole. Sometimes a few strong minutes at the end of a movie can leave a lasting positive impression, wiping away the mediocrity that came before. YAABA, a childhood drama from the country of Burkina Faso — and our first movie from this list with an African director, Idrissa Ouedraogo, a…

  • N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman

    N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman

    ★★½

    American Anthropologist John Marshall spent almost 30 years filming the !Kung people of the Kalahari desert in Africa, and one of the products of that lifetime of research is this hour-long documentary — on which editor Adrienne Meismer gets a co-director credit — about the life of one !Kung woman, starting at around age 8, just before her marriage. Overall, NǃAI, THE STORY OF A ǃKUNG WOMAN (1980) is an archetypal ethnographic film, a format which Marshall is credited with…

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  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

    ★★

    I simply didn't care. Great acting, particularly by Ed Norton and Emma Stone. Early on Stone's character lets loose with an eviscerating speech that summed up my feelings exactly. Then it kept going for over an hour.

  • Krampus

    Krampus

    ★★★½

    After hearing and reading in review after review that Krampus was a fun '80s-ish horror romp not unlike Gremlins, I was not expecting something this unremittingly dark and bleak. Still, I far prefer Daugherty's eclectic and unnerving brand of visual creepiness to the canned horror of James Wan and Blumhouse, and Krampus serves up a quality parade of Christmassy ghoulishness. It just isn't an experience you're likely to be smiling about afterward, and at several points I questioned my choice to invite my 12-year-old daughter to watch it with me. And she's been watching Gremlins since she was six.