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  • Red Desert

    Red Desert

    ★★★★½

    [Originally appeared, in slightly modified form, at the now-defunct cinespect.com.]

    Red Desert is conceived as if no one had ever made a color film before.” – Jonathan Baumbach, “From A to Antonioni"

    “Those who loved the movie…were likely to say things like. ‘I loved looking at it, I don’t care what the content was,’ which probably means not just that they found it visually pleasurable but that they enjoyed drifting away into vague, stylish emotional states…” – Pauline Kael, “So…

  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★★★

    George Cukor’s A Star is Born (1954) features Judy Garland in her most mythic incarnation – a quivering, ecstatic goddess of self-mortification and grief. The film represents the apotheosis of the Garland mystique, both because the material dramatizes many of the tensions in Garland’s own life, and because Garland seems to go beyond herself in the role, as an actress who always betrayed an unsettling emotional commitment to her material somehow descends even further into the abyss, creating not just…

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  • Ideal Home

    Ideal Home

    ★★★

    Maudlin and overfamiliar, but also gentle and unhurried in an amiably artless way. The best thing about this is that the kid is sullen and inarticulate but basically sweet in a way that feels honest, a welcome respite from the kind of precocious movie/TV moppet who constantly acts like he's workshopping material for his SNL audition.

  • Blockers

    Blockers

    ★★

    Yes, the open-minded sexual politics this raunchy teen sex comedy ultimately arrives at - in its fashionably peripatetic and self-congratulatory manner - are admirable, but I still think this is basically The Impossible Years of 2018, and ultimately just as square. Admittedly, it is a compelling index of shifting cultural mores that no one in 1968 even thought about setting up a comic set piece in which David Niven butt chugs a bottle of wine, but I don't think that cultural advance constitutes a significant aesthetic point in the current film's favor.

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  • Double Indemnity

    Double Indemnity

    ★★★★★

    All you need to make a movie is a girl, a gun, and a life insurance policy.

  • In the Mood for Love

    In the Mood for Love

    ★★★★★

    A movie about memory, and about clothes and food and cigarettes and Nat King Cole records, all of which play their part in a story not only of lost love, but of an ancient empire in which love collapsed in on itself in a quiet apocalypse. In his attention to minutiae, Wong realizes the aesthetic ambitions of the 1920s film theorist and filmmaker Jean Epstein, the prophet of photogénie, the fetishistic obsession with photographic detail and arrested gesture. In its…