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  • Blonde Venus

    Blonde Venus

    ★★★★

    76/100

    Second viewing, last seen 1994. A deeply reactionary film, but it gets there the hard way, arriving at a "happy ending" that could scarcely be more funereal; if you're gonna argue that parents should willingly sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of a child, this is how to do it: painstakingly, methodically, unsentimentally. None of the three adults merits much sympathy, and it's significant that Von Sternberg chooses to twice skip past the courtship phase, both at the…

  • Dishonored

    Dishonored

    ★★★★½

    88/100

    Second viewing, last seen 1995 (when I was similarly blown away, having gone in with low expectations due to its relative obscurity). A textbook example of how genre can liberate star power—this is arguably the flimsiest of Von Sternberg's collaborations with Dietrich, but for precisely that reason it showcases her steel-forged sultriness in its most unadulterated, electrifying form. Some folks complain about McLaglen here, but he's (a) totally fine and (b) effectively irrelevant; Dietrich remains in total command from…

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  • Moonlight

    Moonlight

    ★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    49/100

    Okay, here we go: Why I think the year's most universally acclaimed film is sorta kinda not really very good. Took a second look to be sure, both because I'm always open to the possibility that I'm wrong and because I served on a festival jury with Jenkins a couple of years ago and liked him enormously, so take no pleasure in being a contrarian here. Had exactly the same reaction, alas. In descending order of importance:

    • I'm…

  • Sicario

    Sicario

    ★★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    83/100

    Second viewing, no change. Having now professionally reviewed this film four times (for The Dissolve from Cannes, and then for the A.V. Club, the Nashville Scene, and the Las Vegas Weekly), I thought I had nothing left to say, especially since I made a point of addressing the most common criticisms. But since a bunch of folks are praising Adam Nayman's takedown for Reverse Shot, let me quickly address a few of his points.

    “I have to know,” Kate…