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  • The Silence of the Lambs

    The Silence of the Lambs

    ★★★★½

    I guess this is impeccable in so many ways - but the transphobia thing does bother me.

  • Melvin and Howard

    Melvin and Howard

    ★★★★★

    More than any other Jonathan Demme picture, this bittersweet, virtually-plotless portrait of working-class America sums up the director's compassion, his playfulness, and his incredible ear (and eye!) for music. RIP

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  • Man on Fire

    Man on Fire

    ★★★½

    As much as I should (and mostly do) dislike this film, I find myself returning to it time and again, probably drawn in by more than my fascination for Tony Scott's lurid high-contrast aesthetics or yet another powerful but one-dimensional Denzel Washington performance. The whole thing is politically, ideologically, and in most other ways impossible to defend, and yet it has the powerful taste of good, slippery pulp fiction, its many overblown idiocies adding to rather than detracting from its strength as a film. Moth, meet flame.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    ★★½

    The big surprise here is that I find it difficult to even muster up a strong opinion about this bundle of contradictions: crassly commercial but clearly emotionally committed and sincere; cleverly conceived but quite stupid and even borderline incoherent in distracting ways; lightning-fast action that is also ploddingly paced and frequently rather boring; scenes that reach for Emotional Resonance but are somehow instantly forgettable and thematically wafer-thin. It seems to be giving everybody what they want, including what amounts to…