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  • Suspiria

    Suspiria

    ★★★

    First ever viewing of this horror classic left me a bit bemused -- the barrage of noise and color was suitably jarring and intense, and left me expecting some sort of climactic explosion of phantasmagoria, but the story goes precisely where Argento was aggressively foreshadowing it would go, and nothing... much... happens? What gives? Isn't this 90 minutes of intense build-up to basically zip?

  • Gemini

    Gemini

    ★★★½

    I can watch this sort of specific, hyperarticulate noir pastiche forever -- see also BRICK -- so it didn't much bother me that this fizzled almost mysteriously, offering a resolution that's basically the mystery equivalent of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, and then abruptly ending. A huge treat in the lead-up to the fizzle, regardless, with lots of synergy between genre and milieu (the protagonist is an assistant to a rising starlet) and a really sharp script.

  • Applecart

    Applecart

    ★½

    Annoyed because I trusted Fantastic Fest's curatorial judgment in buying a ticket to this blind, and it feels like a betrayal that not only is it just bad -- in an uninteresting way; incoherent and drab -- but it was also pretty transparently booked because of AJ Bowen's connection to the Austin genre film scene, and brought to the SF satellite festival because the filmmakers are local-ish. I'm usually pretty careful in what I choose to see at regional fests, and I guess I'll have to treat FF the same way going forward.

  • The Wave

    The Wave

    ★★½

    This is a disaster movie where the disaster in question lasts precisely 10 minutes. It delivers on those 10 minutes but kind of blows everything else; the set-up is totally generic, and the aftermath ignores the most intriguing part of what precedes it, which is that the protagonist very nearly killed his children by not getting them the hell out of Dodge when he was supposed to. The titular oscillation looks pretty darn impressive though.

  • Brad's Status

    Brad's Status

    ★★★

    White is, as usual, insightful and incisive, but here he leans so hard into his trademark comedy of awkwardness and humiliation that he turns his protagonist into a crazy person and makes the movie occasionally downright tough to sit through.

  • The Square

    The Square

    ★★★

    A vicious satire of bourgeois pretentiousness, and pretty damn satisfying, with lots of solid potshots taken at worthy targets. But even more so than with FORCE MAJEURE, I felt like there was less here than met the eye; the movie isn't actually very funny (as distinct from, occasionally, delightful in its outrageousness), and you get the sense that Ostlund is building these movies around his resentments rather than any real cinematic or narrative idea, or characters he really cares about.…

  • Gerald's Game

    Gerald's Game

    ★★★

    I love this dude. GERALD'S GAME actually didn't quite work for me -- the story isn't well-suited for a screen treatment, at least not without a serious overhaul of a sort Flanagan isn't willing to undertake, and quickly turns into "Dream Ghost: The Movie"; the twisty turnabout of the last 15 minutes is also fundamentally a literary maneuver that doesn't really translate -- but there are so many little moments here that Flanagan, with his haunted, just-off-kilter sensibility, manages to…

  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle

    ★★½

    Without the first film's track-suit-to-bespoke-suit trajectory, this franchise mostly lands somewhere between lazy (Jeff Bridges' rambling southerner) and lost (the weird music festival detour, the White House stuff). There are still some pleasures here, most notably Matthew Vaughn's clean visuals and relentless energy (a rarity these days: the action scenes don't drag), Julianne Moore's unflaggingly committed performance as the 50s-wholesomeness-themed villainess, and one great running joke that culminates in Egerton (or was it Firth?) repeatedly punching a robot dog while…

  • mother!

    mother!

    ★★★★★

    Count me in the "strongly pro" camp, obviously. Supports multiple interpretations and fun to argue about, but what really got me is the way Aronofsky packages his grand metaphorical vision in a thrilling funhouse ride, packaging his fundamentally abstract conceit not in a surface-level plot, as is more typical, but in a top-notch genre exercise that I, at least, found as tense and scary as any horror film released in years. Lawrence is terrific, her increasingly wild-eyed incredulity played for…

  • Bone Tomahawk

    Bone Tomahawk

    ★★★★

    How lovely to see a western that's intelligent and funny without winking-and-nodding at being smarter than the genre, violent without being fetishistic, and world-weary in an earned, character-driven way rather than as a pose. The title, though perfect in its own right, may have rendered the film more niche than it needed to be -- this is just tremendously entertaining, not least thanks to the presence of Russell, Wilson, and (especially) Jenkins, who clearly smelled a winner when they read the snappy, lively, organically digressive script. Highly recommended.

  • It

    It

    ★★

    No sale, and I won't rehash my CONJURING/ANNABELLE complaints, except to note that James Wan has managed to ruin an entire generation of horror cinema by making a series of good films whose m.o. took over the zeitgeist via vastly inferior imitators, first spawning the "torture porn" trend with SAW and now popularizing the sort of spooky-carnival-funhouse creepfest he himself executed to fine effect in INSIDIOUS and THE CONJURING but that no one else seems to know what to do…

  • The Rider

    The Rider

    ★★½

    Feel the same way about this as I did about SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME, which is that I’d gladly watch a documentary about these people, but Zhao’s choice to instead cast them in thin fictionalizations of their own lives makes for weak, stilted drama. Unfortunately, there’s a good reason that professional actors exist and that filmmakers often choose to cast them in their movies; the non-pros here, particularly in the supporting “cast,” are often painful to watch. Unlike in…