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  • Our Hospitality

    Our Hospitality

    Keaton hasn't quite yet figured out how to adapt his comedy to feature length here, and it finds him uncomfortably waffling between his usual persona and a genuinely viable romantic hero, but it's still fun. The really classic Keaton bit in this film isn't the waterfall setpiece (which is impressive, to be sure, but more thrilling than funny) but rather the sequence within the Canfield house, which almost feels like a precursor to Seinfeld (sorry, it's in my blood) in…

  • The General

    The General

    Watched with the Carl Davis score, which, counter to my recent bad experience with The Alloy Orchestra's Man with a Movie Camera score, worked beautifully for me! Consider my faith in the practice of silent film scoring temporarily restored. Davis plays the movie straight, with an appropriately rousing, adventurous score for a film with pretty high dramatic stakes (and centered around a train chase, no less). So much comic scoring is predicated on a subversion of conventionally pleasing harmonics, whether…

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  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    I think it would be interesting to write a longer essay on the way the black radical is almost always positioned in mainstream Hollywood films as the villain (or, at most, the foil to the protagonist) whose outrage we are made to understand and empathize with but who we are ultimately able to disavow because of the existence of a hero who mitigates that rage in an attempt to affect change through existing systems and institutions. You see it in…

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ½

    There's a moment early on this film that nicely summarizes Damien Chazelle's approach to music and art: Ryan Gosling, sitting at his piano, puts on a jazz record, which begins with a complicated piano riff. He stops the record, plays the riff on his piano exactly as heard on the record, messes up, then spins back the record, replays the opening, and mimics it again. It's the same methodology behind the "Play one wrong note and you DIE" premise of…