DubiousLegacy

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Favorite films

  • The Box
  • Wishmaster
  • Unfriended
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic

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  • The Blot

    ★★½

  • Barbie

    ★½

  • Meanwhile

    ★★★★

  • Terminator Salvation

    ★★★½

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  • Miracle on 34th Street

    Miracle on 34th Street

    ★★★★½

    My wife and I have one more Christmas until our daughter understands complex language and we have to decide what to do about Santa Claus. We're torn. I can see arguments on both sides. I came into Miracle on 34th Street expecting something as opinionated as the "Yes Virginia" editorial, but I was surprised to find the movie a lot more nuanced. The movie even argues against letting children believe in Santa, I think.

    If that sounds weird—the whole end…

  • Nosferatu

    Nosferatu

    ★★★★

    I'm gonna float a crazy theory here.

    One of the things I respect about this movie is the way that it makes Count Orlok scary-because-goofy. His goggle-eyes and pointy beaver teeth and doofy smile look nutty. He slides from place to place in undercranked footage like a cardboard cut-out on a pulley system. All of his poses are theatrical. But the same things that make him funny make him creepy! He's plonked right in the uncanny valley. He doesn't look…

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  • The Blot

    The Blot

    ★★½

    The Blot is a stuffy little piece of ethical tongue-clucking. Socially-conscious movies from long ago often make for strange views today because reformist movements blended laudable positions with risible ones. Lois Weber treated her movies like editorials, but while she evoked sympathy for the working class and opposed capital punishment, she also endorsed eugenics and was cool on women's suffrage.

    There's nothing quite so galling in The Blot, which mainly tries to argue that we should pay professors more (I…

  • Barbie

    Barbie

    ★½

    Ideologically spasmodic. Try to work out what this movie is saying about feminism and you will probably die first. Like a comedy that always goes for a cheap joke at the expense of the characters, Barbie lunges for whatever saying or storybeat or inspirational speech feels empowering and politically sharp in the moment without caring whether the jumble of hashtags adds up into anything consistent. They are fragments of superficies, hollow inside.

    You can't find an argument, a message, or…

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  • Sweetie

    Sweetie

    ★★★★

    I want to write about a topic that reviewers here often mention in passing but tend not to discuss in detail. Does the family in Sweetie hold a dark secret of incest?

    Let me throw a spotlight on a thought-provoking take I came across in a Letter to the Editor from a 1990 issue of the Chicago Reader (the Letterboxd of its time, I guess). This is by Paola Lortie:

    Sweetie’s “madness” and pain come from somewhere, are rooted in…

  • The Piano

    The Piano

    ★★★★★

    This movie is not a romance. It has some of the superficial overtones of a romance, but the love story here is just a part of the plot; it does not inspire any empathetic engagement or vicarious lust. The feel of the love story is best captured by that shot of George's dirty fingernail slowly creeping toward pale flesh visible through a hole in Ada's leggings. Maybe that slowly stalking finger is sexy for George, but for us, it's gross…