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  • If Beale Street Could Talk

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    ★★★★½

    The rare negative criticism I heard of 2016’s Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning previous film, usually centered around its formal artifice. Jenkins has never been shy about acknowledging his foreign film influences and I found his rich visual palette to be in the service of the story he was telling. But naysayers usually remarked that these gestures obstructed the narrative and gave it an unnecessary aesthetic sheen. At the time, I could respect the opinion. After viewing If Beale Street Could…

  • Annihilation

    Annihilation

    ★★½

    I give Annihilation points for trying to be smarter than the average sci-fi / horror film. But it’s still pretty dumb. Cool soundtrack, though.

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  • Shoplifters

    Shoplifters

    ★★★★★

    Maybe the best film of the year. (So far, anyway.)

    Director Hirokazu Koreeda’s real accomplishment here is his alchemic mix of the sentimental and the steely. Shoplifters never shies away from depicting the precariousness of living on the fringes of society. This is a Tokyo we rarely see in film and shoplifting is only one of many questionable survival tactics used by the characters here.

    But the film is also a wonderfully shaded portrait of a family that both affirms…

  • The Happy Film

    The Happy Film

    ★★★

    Kudos to Stefan Sagmeister for 1) his endless creativity as a designer, evidenced over and over in this film; 2) making a well-crafted, daring documentary; and 3) making a well-crafted, daring documentary that too often made we want to throw whatever was in my hand at the screen in frustration.

    Full disclosure: I find this contemporary craze around finding happiness to usually be nothing more than narcissistic exercises in navel-gazing self-care. The Happy Film is no exception. I kept screaming…