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  • Elle

    Elle

    ★★★★★

    This film opens with a rape. And that will trouble some people, so let's get that out of the way. Because it's not a film "about rape." Certainly not in any kind of safe, preachy way the mainstream would tackle the topic.

    What it is, first and foremost, is the unnerving psychological case study of a middle aged French woman with a loaded past. And that it opens with, and revolves around, this woman's violation within her own space is…

  • Hacksaw Ridge

    Hacksaw Ridge

    ★★★★

    It stands to reason that Mel Gibson would make a war movie centered around a man of deep, unwavering faith in his God and conviction in his steadfast beliefs, who is scoffed at for those beliefs and ultimately proves everybody wrong...as the righteous hero of the day.

    The characters may laugh at Desmond Doss. But the movie never does. The filmmaking treats its subject with the utmost respect. And, by the end, Mel Gibson almost quite literally canonizes the man.…

  • Florence Foster Jenkins

    Florence Foster Jenkins

    ★★★★

    There's a pathetic undercurrent running through this thing that you need to accept. And you need to accept it quickly...all during a rather off-putting and somewhat confusing opening.

    But, once you get over that initial hurdle, and once you realize what the movie is up to, it becomes extremely entertaining. Like a high class prestige version of a showbiz farce. 

    The casting is on point and up to the task of pulling that off. With Meryl Streep in the title…

  • Manchester by the Sea

    Manchester by the Sea

    ★★★★★

    A sobering drama, revolving almost entirely around heartache, that is somehow not as punishingly depressing as it sounds.

    It's about things that suck, make no mistake. People find out they will inevitably die while they're still young and healthy, sons lose their fathers, fathers lose their sons, happily married people lose each other...and their reasons for living, people lose hope...

    And yet, this film - although it is deeply sad - is engaging, entertaining, even funny. Yes, funny. It's funny…

  • Nocturnal Animals

    Nocturnal Animals

    ★★★★

    This is probably not going to work for some people. And, to be honest, I'm not sure it's entirely successful in its goals. But it is definitely interesting and it is certainly very ambitious...and I both admire and respect ambitious films.

    It's definitely a movie that writers, or creative people in general, are bound to embrace... Because it is a vivid illustration of artistic catharsis. Quite possibly the most vivid and truthful portrayal of psychological healing through art that I've…

  • Hidden Figures

    Hidden Figures

    ★★★

    There's not much in the way of art here, let's be honest, but we - as a society - need movies like this. Every now and then it seems people need to be reminded that modern history: which, in theory is a time when women can achieve the highest position of power in America, and people of color as well...and black women more so...

    Well that period of time is all too brief and still evolving. So, by all means,…

  • Hell or High Water

    Hell or High Water

    ★★★★

    This perfectly acceptable mid-level programmer will probably achieve a greater resonance for people simply by virtue of the themes it touches upon...the "overlooked" slice of America its low key but effective story portrays.

    I suppose, in the years that follow, people will be looking back on 2016 and wondering why. Many books will be written, I'm sure. Many of them will be brilliant. And there will be, I am sure, a motion picture about the Trump campaign, and the inexplicable…

  • Jackie

    Jackie

    ★★★★

    There have been plenty of movies about JFK... About his life and his death. But I'm not sure any film has ever really mourned him. Until now.

    What this amounts to, basically, is a 100-minute funeral. And that, on paper, probably sounds horrendous. And, to be honest, I'm not sure it would work without the acutely focused emotional center that is Natalie Portman's spectacular performance. 

    If we mourn it is because she mourns. The movie is not about Kennedy, not…

  • Loving

    Loving

    ★★

    A sensitive, truthful, well-observed, carefully crafted, well acted, relevant and altogether good film.

    But also... Well, how can I put this? Well... It's fucking boring. That's the thing. 

    But whatever... Let's focus on the good parts. The relevance, for example, is that as of this writing the true story depicted herein took place less than a century ago. Yes. There are people, still living healthy, productive lives who were either children, adolescents or young adults...and even some people in their…

  • Fences

    Fences

    ★★★

    August Wilson wrote a terrific play. There's no question about that. A series of richly dramatic scenes that an all black cast could really sink their teeth into ... On Broadway!

    A towering, tremendous actor like James Earl Jones could embody a character as iconic and conflicted as Willy Loman. 

    Diverse and urbane audiences, already accustomed to the epic grandeur of the great productions of Broadway and The West End could experience a very special slice of truth.

    And that's…

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    ★★★★★

    You could argue that Spielberg plays it safe by returning to the same well that sprung Raiders, and you'd be right. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    Whatever this may have as a shortcoming in familiarity is made up for in a giant dosage of heart and soul. Because, three movies in, chances are you've come to love Indy... So the emotional richness of the piece has an added layer of resonance. And, for people who thought Temple of…

  • The Girl on the Train

    The Girl on the Train

    ★★★

    Paula Hawkins' celebrated debut novel is well-written and engaging, but it is ultimately just a very classy potboiler.

    And so it follows that Tate Taylor's exceedingly faithful, albeit streamlined, adaptation falls into the same category. It is elegantly composed, nicely shot and given an effective ambience and texture. 

    It's also well-acted. Particularly by Emily Blunt, who is tasked with playing a very unappealing and pathetic character that can be a little hard to watch for two hours, but she makes…