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  • Hardcore Henry

    Hardcore Henry

    ★★★★

    A couple of years ago, my dad bought me an Ed Hardy necktie for Christmas because he wasn't aware of the brand's "douchebag" stigma. For a very long time it sat conspicuously in my tie rack, mostly unworn. I've never even really liked seeing it hanging there. There's a bit of temporary embarrassment that occurs when such an oft-maligned piece of apparel appears in one's aesthetic arsenal.
    But then I realized that I was putting a bit too much stock…

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  • Pacific Rim: Uprising

    Pacific Rim: Uprising

    ★★

    The first Pacific Rim is pretty dumb, but just the right amount of dumb to be an endlessly entertaining blockbuster. This one’s just dumb.
    It still has robots punching giant alien monsters in the face though, so it reaches some level of cool spectacle. And like its predecessor, it leans so hard into the cheesiness that there's something to respect in the silly jokes, mustache-twirling villain, and idiotic events of its breakneck-paced climax. But the writing's so lazy that the story itself (especially any real sense of real world stakes), ends up a bit too gaseous to hold onto.

  • The Late Shift

    The Late Shift

    ★★½

    This can't shake the stink of its made-for-tv in the 90s sensibility. Daniel Roebuck both looks and acts ridiculous in his heavily made-up Leno role. Rich Little is even more artificial as Carson with his white hair straight from the bottle. Hell, I think the score is MIDI-produced smooth jazz?
    There's a lot of good shit in here though. The juxtaposition between talent and the politics of brokering deals in an incestuous industry is front-and-center. Kathy Bates is reliably good,…

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  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★★★

    If nothing else, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is successful in delivering a raucous adventure by letting the actors hold the awe and excitement of the iconic franchise on their faces. It is a clear homage to the original trilogy, but doesn't feel like fan fiction the way lesser reboots often do. I mean, it does, but it's good fan fiction. Somehow, Abrams' often bravura camerawork and sense of humor makes the movie feel less like fan service and more…

  • Shadow of a Doubt

    Shadow of a Doubt

    ★★★★

    At first this feels very normal; a rote 1940's thriller about a man who isn't what he seems. But Hitchcock's reliable ability to portray darkness within mundane situations (and magically in compliance with the Hays Code) eventually starts to become less of an undercurrent and bubbles violently up to the surface of this strangely paced little film. There's one incredible moment where the camera focuses in on Joseph Cotten as he expresses his violent disdain for rich, older women. The…